Jan Harper Haines
Jan (Petri) Harper Haines was born in Sitka, Alaska and is Athabascan, Irish and Russian. In 1990 she began gathering the stories told by her mother and grandmother about their lives on the Yukon. Her book "Cold River Spirits" grew out of these early stories. Jan’s short stories have appeared in literary publications and magazines. She is a graduate of Anchorage High School (West), and earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. She is a former secondary education teacher, and had a twenty-year career in advertising and marketing.
Jan lives in Marin County, California with her husband, and often visits Alaska.
In January of 1966, I returned to Anchorage after a semester of graduate school at Oklahoma State University.
According to OSU’s catalog, their department of Clothing, Textiles and Merchandising had courses in design, but when I arrived design had been eliminated.
In the winter, in the late fifties and early sixties, when construction season in Anchorage was dead and Dad grew bored with painting landscapes, he got out his tripod and the black Graphlex he’d bought at Stewart’s Photo on Fourth Avenue.
The large box-like camera looked like those used by professional photographers, maybe for Life Magazine.
In the early fifties, Alaska Natives made up less than a third of Anchorage’s population.
In the forties, a court order had officially put a dent in racial segregation, making it illegal for businesses to post signs forbidding entrance to Natives, but it was another ten or fifteen years before the shock to the white population wore off and proprietors greeted my Athabascan relatives with a smile.
It was 1958 and twenty below outside. On Monday, Mom’s day off from her job at the library, 11AM was too early for television. I think it started around 2PM. TV was recent. We had three channels and, with wobbly rabbit ears on the roof, there was a lot of static.