Three cheers for Barbara Hood’s amazing remembrance of her father and his place in the family. You can read it in full on the Anchorage Press website, but here’s the beginning.
Stacks of old photos and documents covered my desk for most of the winter, artifacts from my late father’s life. A banker’s box collected them neatly as I sorted them into files. For years, I had pestered my father to write his memoirs. Dutifully, he began with his childhood in the hills of western Pennsylvania and progressed to his years of higher education. For page after page, he dwelled on the colleges and universities where he had gained the academic degrees that would take him away from the tin mills and small farms where his father and grandfather had eked a living. And he reflected with great pride on his choice to become a scientist, to explore the natural world he loved in a concrete and pragmatic way.
But as an elderly man not versed in word-processing, the pace of his reflections was slow. At fifty pages, he had reached only the 1940’s and the war years, when he worked for the Manhattan Project to help build the atomic bomb. He barely touched on his career as a chemical oceanographer, or the many places his research and teaching would take him, including Alaska. All that was coming, he promised. He would get to it.
But the memoir never made it that far. Three months shy of my father’s 84th birthday, a stroke left him paralyzed and bedridden, barely able to speak or write.