The Queen of Fairbanks

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Irene Sherman was well known in Fairbanks, especially if you lived there in the last half of the twentieth century. She was brash and loud, and walked or biked her three-wheeler as she greeted friends, new and old. Wearing layers of old clothes, usually topped with a parka, even in the summer’s heat, Irene was a sight. Further, it was clear that she’d been badly burned at some point. Scars covered her face and hands, the only visible parts of her body. Overs the years, many had repeated rumors of how she was scarred, why she was so forcefully friendly, and where she went at the end of each day.

In 1988, I followed Irene as a freelance journalist and with Anchorage Daily News photographer Erik Hill, found answers and dissolved rumors. The resulting magazine piece appeared in both the Fairbanks and Anchorage Sunday magazines. Thirty years later, Irene and her history barged into my life again when a long-lost relative of hers emailed me out of the blue. What she had to say, what I was to learn, engrossed me for the next several years. And now it is a tangible book holding part-memoir, part-mystery, part-history, and lots of biography. In short it is the story of a community that loved and watched over this woman in the margins. She is still fondly remembered by most who shared the town she loved.  --Author Tricia Brown

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