Not All Alaskans
Our mother recently discovered a photo of our grandfather’s high-school basketball team. This in itself was a surprise, since we had no idea Grandpa played basketball. Or, for that matter, that he was once young, because the eternal role of grandparents is to seem unbelievably old to their grandchildren.
Douglas High School won 12 of 16 games that year, almost doubling their opponents’ points, then went on to take the league championship.
The year was 1923. Douglas was, and is, in Juneau, Alaska, where both our mother and godmother grew up. Close friends, they would leave for college together, and eventually raise families within a short drive of each other. We watched the first Moon landing from our godparents’ house.
We knew Grandpa as a retired carpenter, but the 1940 Census knew him as a “retail grocery clerk”, raising his young family in Juneau on $1,980 a year. We’ll presume the income was sufficient, since neither of our parents has ever regaled us with thrilling Depression tales.
If we had to describe the Juneau branch of our family in a word or two, it would be unfailingly decent. Just folks. Nothing notable, nothing eccentric.
And if there was a word that would never, ever, cross our mind, not in a million years, it would be snowbillies.
So, just for the record: It’s possible to grow up in Alaska, play on a championship high-school basketball team, raise a family, and not be a fucking idiot.