Babs Reynolds

by Sophia from Alaska

"The road wasn't done for us. It was done to us."
Babs Reynolds in front of the mountainside
Babs Reynolds in front of the mountainside

Babs Reynolds is not famous. You won’t find a mini-series or a movie about her. She moved to Whittier, Alaska twenty-five years ago on the railroad, fleeing an abusive husband in Anchorage, Alaska. In Anchorage she was one of the first licensed woman bartenders. She also got a piloting license before Alaska became a state, when female pilots were still rare. When she reached Whittier she convinced the railroad crew not to let her husband through, since the railroad was the only way in and out of Whittier. She was followed shortly by her two sisters, Carolyn Casebeer and Brenda Tolman. Babs opened Cabin Fever (a video rental store), a tanning salon, and Hobo Bay Trading Company (Babs’ Buffalo Burgers.) Babs closed her restaurant as a result of hip and back problems in 2005. She has always been fiercely competitive with Brenda, and once went a year without speaking to her.

Brenda Tolman lives in the same high-rise as Babs and the rest of the community. She is one of three non-native reindeer herders in Alaska, and runs a native arts and mineral shop, most of which are made with reindeer horn or fur.

<a href=>Brenda Tolman with Lavender and Emily</a>
Brenda Tolman with Lavender and Emily

Babs is sixty-eight, born in 1939, and is a diehard opposer of the road to Anchorage. She has been quoted as saying, “Most of us here came to escape the world. The road was done to us, not for us.”

Babs Reynolds resides in the high-rise, and can normally be found in cabin fever with a cigar and a good book. She is one in 2,666,666,666 just for living in Whittier, Alaska.

Babs is my hero because she is one of a few whose character and experiences I can personally vouch for, since my father and I visit her every summer, and who I think qualifies as a hero.

Page created on 4/5/2007 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 4/5/2007 12:00:00 AM

The beliefs, viewpoints and opinions expressed in this hero submission on the website are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs, viewpoints and opinions of The MY HERO Project and its staff.

Related Links

Living on Earth, NPR - Living on Earth Radio, the Jake Halpern story.
Jake Halpern - Excerpts from Jake Halpern's "Braving Home" partially about Whittier