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SCENE Alaska adventure Ed Martin's world has centered in St. Louis all his life. When he was in his mid-205 in 1968, he joined H&S with the prospect of a satisfying career as an accountant in his home city. Then he chanced upon an article about volun-teers who spend a year teaching and working with Eskimos in an Alaskan mission, and something clicked, some-thing akin to the spirit that moved our ancestors to seek a newer world. Ed completed a year at H&S, and then, to a chorus of good wishes from his St. Louis colleagues, he set off for Alaska. "It sounded adventurous and bizarre, and appealed to me," Ed said. He wrote recently from St. Mary's, Alaska, a town that began in the 1950s as a Jesuit mission settlement carved out of the isolated tundra 70 miles east of the Bering Sea and only 300 miles from the Arctic Circle. "Not knowing how I could be of service, but thinking that they might need warm bodies, I ap-plied." Ed soon found out how he could serve. Within two weeks of his arrival in August 1969, he worked as a carpenter, painter, porter and mainte-nance man, joining seventeen fellow volunteers in a race against time to fin-ish building a school dormitory before the school opened. Then, because of his background at H&S and degree from Washington University, he went over to teaching economics, general business, current events and history. Isolation is not only a geographic fact of life in St. Mary's, Ed has found, but a stumbling block to learning as well. His high school business students were utterly at a loss to understand their textbooks, which were written for high school students in the "lower 48." The Eskimo students' business experi-ence was limited to shopping at the trading post. They had never seen a check, had no conception of a depart-ment store or bank or insurance policy, 18 Ed said. So he took them on a field trip through built-up parts of St. Mary's (now rated in Alaska as a second-class city) where construction and electrifi-cation projects and Yukon River traffic vividly illustrated business activity to the youngsters. Among the projects is construction of an ice house, which sounds rather like the old joke about selling refriger-ators to Eskimos. However, summer temperatures reaching the 60s are too warm to preserve the locally caught salmon that are a staple of the town's economy. Beyond a certain point, though, St. Mary's lacks dynamic examples of busi-ness activity. It has no telephone, no television, no local papers, no AM-FM radio. News is available on short wave radio but, Ed said, after a few ear-piercing efforts to listen, "I am con-vinced it was made to be listened to only by sea gulls." Three commercial planes arrive and depart weekly. About six river barges lumber into the dock in a season, "but an amazing number of visitors do drop in and stay for a visit," Ed said—"Japanese fish buyers who he-came stranded because of the weather and National Geographic writers and photographers writing a story on the Yukon." Still, St. Mary's is isolated. But the other side of the coin of isolation is opportunity. There aren't many places in the United States where a man as young as Ed Martin would be called in to advise the city fathers on setting up their accounting system or to help the pastor in a neighboring town prepare his annual financial statement for the bishop. For that errand about 20 miles away, Ed "rode the back runners of a dog sled pulled by a ski-doo, the main means of ground transportation in the winter; dogs are fast going the way of the horse. Although there was wind and the temperature was zero I was very warm in a jacket, parka, two pairs of pants and flight pants. Winter has not been too severe. .." It was severe enough, though, that running water had to be limited to 4½. hours a day because the cistern hadn't filled before the spring froze. "Inconveniences are accepted," Ed said. "I haven't missed the telephone once, though I do miss the St. Louis Symphony and the theatre." A certain satisfaction accrues, how-ever, to a person who has survived sled travel across an Alaskan winter and coped with the privations of an
Wilson, James A. (Mrs.)
Schroeder, Margaret M.
Kerth, Norman R.
Queenan, John W.
Conroy, George E.
Dalferes, Gayle L.
Vogts, Mary C.
Haskins & Sells. St. Louis Office
Haskins & Sells. Executive Office
Haskins & Sells. Newark Office
Haskins & Sells. New Orleans Office
Haskins & Sells. Executive Office
|Abstract||Illustrations not included in this Web version.|
H&S Reports, Vol. 07, (1970 spring), p. 18-20
|Source||Originally published by: Haskins & Sells|
|Rights||Copyright and permission to republish held by: Deloitte|
|Format||PDF page image with corrected OCR scanned at 400 dpi|
|Collection||Deloitte Digital Collection|
|Digital Publisher||University of Mississippi Library. Accounting Collection|