REVIEW - ADAMS. THE WAY IT WAS

Adams, Walter, Sr. The Way It Was! Vantage Press. Softbound. 192 pages. $12.95.

Walter "Splinter" Adams is an incurable optimist. Tlingit, he grew up in Yakutat in the 1940s and '50s, a hard time for a little boy with alcoholic parents in a poor village. That is mentioned, but he primarily remembers the good parts. Chasing along with his beloved big brother, Bert, playing along the beach, dangerous games like climbing around under the dock, sling-shot contests, breaking into abandoned bunkhouses, or carrying water to those without running water in their houses. He makes it sound a very sunny childhood indeed. And, oh, how he did love Bert; his story of the time when, a very little boy, he climbed into a doghouse during a game of hide-and-seek and went to sleep, setting off a village-wide search which included the water, and big brother's reaction when Splinter finally was found, is a sweet story indeed.

A lot of time was spent with the family commercial fishing along the beautiful rivers and beaches around Yakutat, especially the Alsek and Akwe Rivers and Dry Bay; his mother's traditional land. They also kept the old Tlingit ways; lots of subsistence fishing and hunting. He recalls some of the more spectacular events about both.

Both brothers went to Mt. Edgecumbe High School and wound up spending a lot of time working in Sitka, but Walter makes it clear Yakutat is home. Perhaps his feelings about Sitka are colored by the loss of a leg in an accident at the pulp mill while he was working there. Also, his wife died after being hit by a car, so surely the town has sad memories for him.

With the passing of the years, Walter has become quite philosophical. He likes to muse on how little material goods matter and write poetry on different subjects, mostly with at least one moral. This reviewer liked his poem on the sick bird he nursed one winter.

This book will undoubtedly sell well among Splinter's friends. Such a good and kindly person surely has many.

D. L.

 

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