One of the things Alaska is known for is its vast abundance of big, hearty, “ruff and gruff” men. While they no longer outnumber Alaskan women fifteen to one, they do very much still exist. Two of them came to StoryCorps Barrow on Saturday and showed that Alaskan men can be tough, kind, and sentimental all at the same time.
Eric Estes brought his co-worker and friend, John Long, to StoryCorps for a couple of reasons. One is that John has a wealth of knowledge about Alaska. After all, John was just six-years-old when he sailed on the SS Aleutian through the Inside Passage and arrived in Alaska. The year was 1947, twelve years before Alaska saw statehood.
When Ben Greene described his wife, Deborah, as “the stunningly beautiful but somewhat irascible redhead,” it was clear that true love was flowing within the room, throughout the C.E. building of the Ukpeagvik Presbyterian Church, and in all of Barrow.
The Greenes not only have a profound love for each other, but also for the wilderness, which is why they choose to make their home in Alaska. They were living in Anchorage when Ben got the opportunity to move to Barrow and work for the North Slope Borough Planning Department, an opportunity so unusual there was no way he could turn it down.
“After all,” says Ben, “how many people do you know are given the opportunity to live amongst an Inupiat whaling community 300 miles north of the Arctic circle? You get to see a very unique slice of life and you get to participate.” Ben and Deborah have been in Barrow since May.