SI Vault
September 23, 1963
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September 23, 1963


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A good idea, but to be truly effective it should be established on an interstate basis. Dognappers would be astute enough to ship stolen animals out of the state—as they often do now.

Marion Sanderfer, former vice-president and drilling superintendent of the Henderson Drilling Corp., was ordered by his company to go on a deer hunting trip in 1961 as the firm's public relations representative. He fell from a tree during the hunt and was permanently paralyzed. He contended he was injured in the line of duty. Henderson's insurance company lawyers argued plaintiff was not injured in the course of regular employment. A jury in Houston found for plaintiff and brought in damages of $14,285 for medical expenses and $35 a week for 401 weeks as compensation, observing that Sanderfer was tending to business. This decision may get into the lawbooks and settle for all time that public relations—if not deer hunting—is work.


Eskimos are pretty good conservationists. Of the 1,300 walrus they kill each year, they make weapons and boat keels of the ivory; split the hides of females to make umiaks, skin houses and the soles of mukluks; tan the stomach linings for drumheads; convert intestines into waterproof snow shirts; freeze the blubbery meat, heart, liver, brain and flippers for food for man and dog; expel clams from the stomachs for human food; and pretty much waste nothing whatsoever.

Except, what to do with the walrus' whiskers? Tough, strong and transparent, they are too resilient to make fishhooks or needles. The walrus uses his whiskers as clam rakes, but they have always stumped the Eskimo.

Now the white man has discovered that there is nothing quite so swank as using a walrus whisker as an hors d'oeuvre pick, especially if the pick spears a tidbit of muktuk, the fat skin of beluga whale. Muktuk has an unconquerable chewy texture and tastes like secondhand bubble gum, but Wien Alaska Airlines Inc., which carries tourists to Eskimo settlements, has found that the trippers actually enjoy it, especially if the muktuk is served on the end of a walrus whisker. The whiskers then disappear, as souvenirs, into handbags and pockets. So Wien Alaska has engaged Trader Ed R. Shepherd of Gambell to supply the whiskers, and the Eskimos are delivering upwards of 3,000 a year.

The Eskimos are delighted but, wielding pliers on the walrus just as they pluck their own scant beards, they pass a joke back and forth among themselves.

"Trader crazy man," they say. "Him want us shave walrus now."

It's always good for a laugh.


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