On Homer: why I went

Halibut Rodeo is a collection of interconnected stories which take place in the small Alaskan town of Homer.  The stories are inspired by my stay there in the summer of 1988, the summer between my undergraduate and graduate studies, the summer before the Exxon Valdez split open and dumped its cargo into Prince William Sound.  I hadn’t yet seen much of the world so when Hans Montelius, a Swede I had met in creative writing classes at the University of Kansas, suggested we work at a cannery in Alaska in order to fund a trip to Europe, I jumped at the chance.  Hans was dating a woman whose father was mayor of Homer.  Legend has it that the mayor was once a graduate student in chemistry at KU, but was busted making LSD for the mob.  Although he turned informer, the authorities did not grant him adequate protection from his former employers.  He left Lawrence, and like many of the characters in my book, went as far as he could go without a passport:  Homer.  He remained in hiding for some years, but when the threat dissipated with time, he reentered society, soon becoming a prominent citizen in this small town of 3,000 on Kachemak Bay.  He and his fourth (I believe) wife offered us three digs, along with another son, a guy I had known from a composition class at a community college I once attended.  We arrived in mid-May when the wildflowers blanketed the foothills behind Homer.  Hans and I planned on working for six weeks at one of the fish processing plants in the area, then using our earnings to travel to Europe in the second half of the summer.  It didn’t work out as planned.

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