49 Voices: Phillip Eben of Anchorage

Phillip Eben and his wife Karen (Photo by Anne Hillman/ Alaska Public Media)

This week we’re hearing from Phillip Eben in Anchorage. He was born in Unalakleet.

Listen now

EBEN: I spent a lot of time with my mother. I was intrigued as a child ’cause she made mukluks and slippers — she did a lot of hand sewing — so my intrigueness caught her eye, so what I would end up doing is I would chew on he soles of the mukluks to form them for her, ’cause that’s the way they formed them back in the day.

My dad is Francis Eben. He was a great man. He built a lot of houses here in Alaska. He was part of the Territorial Guard, and he’s also pictured in the book, “Men of the Tundra”, being awarded a medal by Col. Muktuk Marston for defending Alaska against the Japanese.

My dad went to the missionary schools as a child. Every time he spoke Inupiaq, they washed his mouth out with soap. So he decided when he had children, none of his kids would have to go through that. So all we learned was English.

My mother and father… they were killed by their eldest son Dec. 7, 1976. With all the anger I grew up with, due to my brother… so I had all this anger I didn’t know what to do with. So I lashed out, and therefore I ended up with 72 arrests, 52 convictions. I haven’t been in trouble going on ten years. I haven’t been to jail in ten years, and my whole family say it’s my wife’s doing.

You know, a lot of changes I have gone through with the relationship with my wife has been very positive, and I thank God every day for it.