In 1927, Anne Hobbs is an amazing teacher who, after teaching in the western frontier town of Forest Grove, Oregon (where I lived once upon a time), decides to teach in the Alaskan wilderness. The journey to the gold-mining settlement of Chicken is grueling and unbearable, and ironically, somewhat flattering:
“Along the way I had so much attention paid to me by men that sometimes I didn’t think I was me. Even though I’d heard that there weren’t too many women in the North, I hadn’t expected to be treated like a raving beauty wherever I went . . . A couple of times, in my cabin, I’d look at myself in the mirror thinking that maybe I’d changed in some way, that maybe I was really much prettier than I’d always thought I was. But after a good examination I knew I was just the same plain Anne Hobbs- same gray eyes, not a bad nose, good white teeth. One of the front ones was a little crooked, so about the best I could say was that if I didn’t open my mouth and if my hair were still long I might have a faint resemblance to Mary Pickford. But even here in Eagle, where the riverboat had left me off, there’d been a dance given for me.”
A captivating story of determination and grit that will swell your heart. Anne became known as Tisha because that is how the Indians said Teacher. She challenged the limitations and prejudices that were commonly placed upon the native people by the white miners and villagers. This was my second read of the book and I had forgotten how much swearing there was- but when you are quoting miners and trappers, I’m not sure how else you are to be authentic. You can’t exactly change their colorful phrases and have them be the same people!
The western frontier, particularly Alaska, was a harsh place for women, but Anne Hobbs proved that women are a great force for good and are able to raise the level of humanity and compassion in the world. Our nation was changed for the better when women like Tisha ventured west, often in response to ads, to educate- not just in school, but in matters of community as well.
Tisha is part of my reading for Women’s History month. (I know it’s the end of the month- oops, I mean April, but I’m working on it and hope to have a few more eventually)