An Alaska sourdough with Washington State University credentials, C. Herb Rhodes has written his memoir book, Hungry for Wood: An American Memoir. The book derives its name from an Indian translation of the author’s hometown of Hoquiam.
The story is both a romance of the sea and an epic. Rhodes’s late father, Charles, a tugboat engineer, was unemployed for eight years during hard economic times, forcing the family to carve out a living in the woods near Hoquiam.
Both father and son were wounded during World War II. Charles, a Merchant Marine officer on a liberty ship, was hit by Japanese machine gun fire in October 1944. Herb, a Navy gunnery officer with the 5th Marine Division, was wounded twice February 19, 1945, while unloading tanks with landing forces at Iwo Jima.
“We put 42 tanks on shore. Forty were lost in 20 minutes as they hit land mines on the beach and blew up,” Rhodes says. He adds, some 2,000 Marines died the first day.
Back at Washington State College, Herb served as editor of the Daily Evergreen and completed a degree in speech in 1947. In 1948 he moved to Anchorage, where he became a reporter and editor of the Anchorage Times. During his tenure, the paper’s investigative reporting resulted in the city police force being fired for corruption. He retired from the Times in 1950, worked as public relations director of the Alaska Railroad for four years, and then started the Anchorage Printing Co., which his son, Greg, now runs. He also founded his own weekly newspaper, The Great Lander, which grew to a circulation of 86,000 between 1969 and 1995.
Wildlife encounters in the Alaska wilderness and adventures with Mac, a yellow dog of the North, round out Rhodes’s memoirs.