Saturday, February 6, 2016

Tisha As Told to Robert Specht


People know me. I received several books for Christmas and have been busy reading ever since. One was Tisha, the story of a nineteen year old girl named Anne Hobbs who was assigned as the teacher for the small, remote gold-mining community of Chicken in Alaska in 1927.

Tisha reminded me of the memoir of Hughina Harold, the young teacher in Totem Poles and Tea who went to Village Island in Coastal BC to teach First Nations children in 1935. It also reminded me of the book Ralph Edwards of Lonesome Lake because the story was told to another person who served as the co-author.

Tisha (Bantam Books, 1977) was told by Anne Purdy (formerly Hobbs) to Robert Specht who put the engaging tale into a format that read like an adventure thriller. I stayed up late two nights because I couldn't put it down.

Tisha was what an Indian boy named Chuck called Anne because he couldn't pronounce "teacher." Anne grew up in a poor coal mining family. She longed for adventure, so after several years of teaching (she started at sixteen) she signed up to go to Alaska like she dreamed about with her grandmother.

After an arduous journey on horseback through harsh country, she found herself in Chicken, Alaska. It was a very small community with a predominately white population. Indian wives or partners and their children of mixed heritage were looked down upon by town residents. Not only did Anne have to contend with negative attitudes when she opened the school's doors to Indian children, but she had to create a curriculum and develop teaching materials with next to nothing to work with.

Anne was a natural born teacher. My mom was like that. Learning in her classroom was fun and exciting. Anne also got in trouble with the locals for falling in love with Fred Purdy, the son of a white man and an Eskimo wife. But without Fred's help, Anne wouldn't have been able to learn all the skills she needed to live through the harsh winter and come out as a true Alaskan, no longer a cheechaco (outsider).

Tisha is read by youths, young adults, and grown-up like me. It has universal appeal to the adventurer, those interested in history, and anyone who loves a good love story.

For more information about Anne Hobbs Purdy check out:
Anne's School House
Town of Chicken Website
Legend of Tisha Continues
Town of Chicken Facebook Page
Town of Chicken Facebook Album
1976 newspaper article following the publication of Tisha
The mining history of Chicken is still alive 
Tisha is available from Amazon in hardback, paperback and kindle formats. Also, check your local bookstore or favourite online vendor. -- Margy

2 comments :

  1. Thanks for this review, Margy. It sounds like a very good story & one I would enjoy.

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    1. I really enjoyed the topic and writing style. I can see why it appeals to a large range of ages and why teachers would use it to spark classroom discussions. - Margy

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Thanks for stopping by. Comments, questions, and suggestions are always welcome. - Margy