We live on an island
from the Autumn 2008 issue
My husband, our five-year-old daughter, and I live with our horses, our cows, and our 6000 sheep on an island in the Aleutian chain off Alaska. The nearest village, a half mile from our ranch, has a post office, a territorial school with 13 students, a small native store, a Russian Orthodox Church, and 50 native Aleuts—small, dark, pleasant people who look more oriental than Indian. We are the only whites.
We have no movie house, no bank, no bakery, no beauty shop, no dentist or doctor, and no telephone. But we do have freedom, lots to eat, a good home, a cat called Stinkerpuss, a greenhouse, and wonderful fishing and hunting. And once a month we have mail out of Seward, 1256 miles away.
Mail-boat day is like Christmas. We shut up shop for a first quick skimming: letters; catalogues (how we love them all!); our share of the envelopes with the little glass windows; of course, and especially, The Reader’s Digest; and four times a year—Reader’s Digest Condensed Books! (“Did the book come?” the natives ask us eagerly; and when we have read our copy it makes the rounds of the village.)
Can you imagine what your Condensed Books mean out here? During the shearing season, when we are busy indeed and the evenings are all too short, we lack both time and energy to read long novels, however fine. The vivid condensations in Condensed Books come to the rescue. But there are other times when my husband is away for several days at a stretch, rounding up sheep at one or another of our camps. It is mighty lonely out there; but since the current volume of Condensed Books is the first thing that goes in his pack, he can look forward to informative and entertaining leisure hours. Meanwhile, I am no less content with the back copies of our old stand-by, the Digest itself—unless, as is frequently the case, the natives have borrowed them.
Being a woman, I could go on. But it all comes down to this: thank you, thank you, for the help and companionship we have received from The Reader’s Digest and Condensed Books over the years!
Mrs Arthur Harris, Harris Aleutian Livestock Co.
Nikolski Village, Alaska
May 27, 1954
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