Tom graduated from Dental School at Ohio State and, while considering opening an expensive clinic, found a chance to work for the Commission Corps and go to a government sponsored dental clinic in one of the northwestern states (including Alaska). Yep, you guessed it…he was offered a chance to work in Barrow, AK for two years. Barrow is the northernmost community on the North American continent and has a population of 2,500. This was (gasp) 41 years ago! He jumped on the opportunity and arrived 6th October, 1980. He found that the population was 3/4 Eskimos who were mostly involved with energy and construction work.
In Barrow, which is 336 miles north of the Arctic Circle, they had a DEW Line station (Distant Early Warning) and 2 restaurants (the better one was a Mexican restaurant). They had 2 months of darkness (from late November through February). Tom was there for the first 6 months by himself, and then he was joined by Connie and their two boys (2 years and 6 months old) who moved into a 2 bedroom, raised house with a 120 gallon water tank that was filled by a pumper truck on demand (they did a lot of water conservation). Their transportation was a 3-wheeler that stayed around town except for an adventure where he traveled 10 miles north to Point Barrow, the actual northernmost point on the North American continent. The weather was generally cold, with 76 degrees below zero at the coldest and a balmy springtime temp of 30 to 40 degrees when it was appropriate to wear knee-high boots whenever outside of the house due to the melting and the huge puddles.
All-in-all he was up there for 1 year and 11 months and 3 days (but who is counting?). What a great start for a wonderful career in dentistry!
Tom’s appreciation for helping with this presentation goes out to Cathy Erichsen and to Connie, Steve and Dani Maier. Way to go, team!
That was a great presentation, Tom! Thanks very much!
PS To the readers of this summary, feel free to ask Tom for details about that bone is that he’s holding in the photo. It is the Ossik from a Walrus and has a cute poem written about it.