Hardscratch Press

Jackie Pels,
editor/publisher
658 Francisco Ct.
Walnut Creek, CA
94598-2213
phone/fax
925/935-3422

email: jrbpels@
hardscratchpress
.com



 

Because
you've asked:

Hardscratch Press is named for an early-1900s family codfishing station on Unga Island in the Shumagins, easternmost group in the Aleutian Islands. The first author we published was Ralph Soberg, who wrote about his life on the island, about his roots in Norway, about his brief career as a bootlegger and his lifelong passion, building bridges and roads for the Alaska Road Commission ...  and who was the publisher's dear stepfather. "We" refers to editor-publisher-sometimes writer Jackie Pels and designer David R. Johnson, whose work has won awards and applause since Ralph Soberg's first book in 1990.

... Hardscratch Press of Walnut Creek, a small publishing house known for its fine-crafted books ...  The Independent (Livermore, Calif.)

Coming in September: There's a Freedom Here: My 100 years in Alaska, by Patricia Ray Williams, whose history is also the history of Seward, on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula. Her mother first visited Resurrection Bay in 1901, two years before the town was founded; her father established his law practice there in 1906, and their daughter was brought home to Seward as an infant, in 1910. Her stories, accompanied by upward of a hundred photos and illustrations from early newspapers, are by turns poignant and earthy, always well told. It's a great honor for Hardscratch Press to have been chosen to shepherd this book. Look for the cover and other details here soon.

In second printing: Sideways Rain, an itinerant Alaskan doctor's memoir of 20 years of travel in the stormy Aleutian and Pribilof islands. Besides her work as a dedicated and resourceful medical practitioner, Nancy Elliott Sydnam, M.D., is a pilot and a poet, a hunter and gatherer, and an empathetic observer of human nature. In journal entries, letters and poems she writes with deep affection about the landscape, both bleak and beautiful, and the people she encountered on her hazardous routes--often with her cello or her Labrador retriever, first Tigger, then Vita, along for the ride. Included are photos and other illustrations as well as a map of the islands and an index of names. ISBN: 978-0-9838628-2-6.

To order, you may contact the author at nancysydnam@alaska.net or the publisher at jrbpels@hardscratchpress.com.  Books will be sent with an invoice for the cover price of $20 per book plus postage. Standard bookstore discounts apply, as well as a courtesy discount for libraries.

(Another feather in designer David Johnson's cap: Sideways Rain's award at the 43rd annual book show of Publishing Professionals Network [formerly Bookbuilders West].).

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Hardscratch Press celebrated a 20th anniversary in 2010 with two new books plus three awards from the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association (BAIPA) and one from Bookbuilders West:

"Best Cultural History," for The Life Story of Henry Ramsey Jr.;
"Best Regional History," for
Family After All: Alaska's Jesse Lee Home;
"Best Memoir," for
Autumn Loneliness: The Letters of Kiyoshi and Kiyoko Tokutomi (all from BAIPA); plus
"Recognition of Merit," for
Vasco's Livermore 1910 (Bookbuilders West). Book details below.

And as if that weren't heady enough, 2011 brought two new honors: BAIPA's "Best Local History" for Vasco's Livermore 1910, and "Best Migration Memoir" for Homesteaders in the Headlights.

Homesteaders in the Headlights: One family's journey from a Depression-era New Jersey farm to a new life in Wasilla, Alaska,
by George Harbeson Jr. (ISBN: 978-0-9789979-8-4, 6x9, 312 pages, many photos, index of names, 2nd printing, $18).
"Best Migration Memoir," 2011 BAIPA award.

"George Harbeson's life--cut short at age 64--is the perfect illustration of how one person can make a difference in the life of a community. Congratulations to George Jr. for writing this meaningful tribute to both his parents." —From the Introduction by noted Alaskan Katie Hurley.

 

 

Vasco's Livermore, 1910: Portraits from the Hub Saloon, by Anne Marshall Homan and Richard W. Finn, is a collection of 100-year-old portraits by Australian caricaturist Vasco Loureiro, with stories about each of the early Livermore residents pictured (ISBN: 978-9789979-7-7, $24). "Spotlights on community members ranging from an oil man to the ice man," says Linda L. Ivey, asst. professor of history at Cal State East Bay. And Sam Viviano, art director of MAD Magazine, writes, "Loureiro manages to make each figure individual and unique, which is no small feat." Winner of Bookbuilders West 2010 "Recognition of Merit" award; named BAIPA's 2011 "Best Local History."

All of Anne Marshall Homan's books, including the two earlier volumes detailed below, can be ordered direct from the author at 925/443-9440 or annemarshall_2000@yahoo.com.

 

 
 

THE 2010 BAIPA AWARD-WINNERS ...               

The Life Story of Henry Ramsey Jr., of Rocky Mount, N.C., and Berkeley, Calif., is 6x9 inches, 600 pages, soft-cover, with many photos and a full index; $25. ISBN: 978-0-9789979-3-9.  BAIPA's 2010 "Best Cultural History."

Henry Ramsey's "frank and eloquent account of the journey from Jim Crow childhood to a life of activism, public service, and high achievement will be familiar to some, a revelation to others. The challenge he issues is for all: Never forget our past. Never stop working for our future. Always cherish our  children.” 
Benjamin Todd Jealous, president and CEO, NAACP.

 

 


Autumn Loneliness: The Letters of Kiyoshi & Kiyoko Tokutomi, July-December
1967, translated by Tei Matsushita Scott and Patricia J. Machmiller, is 368 pages, 6x9 inches, soft-cover, with many photos, two glossaries, and an index of names; $27.50. ISBN: 978-0-9789979-4-6. BAIPA's 2010 "Best Memoir."

"A story of healings, border crossings, cultural cross-breeding ... in the form of letters that are an intimate and moving portrait of a marriage, as absorbing and delicate as a Japanese novel or a film by Ozu.” 
Robert Hass, U.S. poet laureate, 1995-1997.

 

 

Family After All: Alaska's Jesse Lee Home has been honored with the Alaska Historical Society's "Contributions to Alaska History" award in addition to BAIPA's 2010 "Best Regional History" recognition. Volume II of Family After All was also nominated for the Alaska Library Association's “Alaskana Award.” Click on images or see CATALOG for ISBNs and other details. 

The Qutekcak Native Tribe of Seward calls Family After All “a testament to the survival and persistence of today’s Alaska Native elders. [It] has brought history to life for our children. …”

NOTE: The Puyallup Tribe of Washington state hopes to hear from people, including Alaskans, with experiences in boarding schools and other vital history for tribal archives. Details at www.puyalluptribalnews.net/article/732, or call Amber Santiago at 253/573-7965.


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About Anne Marshall Homan's earlier books: Historic Livermore, California: A-Z, already in second printing, is a generously illustrated and impressively researched encyclopedia of facts, photos and artifacts. "What a pioneering and useful work of scholarship she has produced!” says Kevin Starr, professor of history at the University of Southern California. In 2008, the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association chose Historic Livermore A-Z  as “Overall Best Book (a tie) plus “Best Interior − well-deserved honors for the author and for designer David Johnson.

Anne Homan's
The Morning Side of Mount Diablo: An illustrated history of the San Francisco Bay Area's Morgan Territory Road is also in second printing. Morning Side is $28.50, 256 pages, ISBN: 0-9678989-2-7; Historic Livermore is $34.95, 584 pages, ISBN: 978-0-9789979-8-9; both are 8x9 inches, with full indexes. Queries may be directed to the author at 925/443-9440 or annemarshall_2000@yahoo.com.

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This is not to forget two remarkable nonagenarians (see CATALOG for cover images, ISBNs, and other details):

Any Tonnage, Any Ocean: Conversations with a resolute Alaskan: Walter Jackinsky Jr. of Ninilchik, Alaska, signed on at age 47 as an ordinary seaman for the 1963 launch of the M/V Malaspina, first of Alaska's famed marine highway ferries. Thirty-four years later he retired as senior captain and honorary commodore of the entire fleet. Any Tonnage, Any Ocean, named "Best Memoir" in 2008 by the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association, melds Alaska Native history and family drama, zest for travel and deep roots in the home place.

In Fin, Fur & Fiber: The life and [fishing] times of a New England textile man, antiques and art dealer Nelson F. Getchell tells his part of “a broad stretch of history” with extraordinary recall and dry, sometimes mordant New England wit, offset by the loving homage paid his parents and grandparents. “My father saw the last days of sailing ships; I am experiencing the last days of the American textile industry,”  he notes with regret.

 

"Each of the memoirs published since Hardscratch's founding in 1990 is handsome and meticulous in detail, illustrated with carefully chosen photographs and hand-drawn maps. ... They ask to be picked up and leafed through." Contra Costa Times 


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MORE NEWS


Jackie Pels will introduce There's a Freedom Here at the 2014 Alaska Historical Society conference in Seward, Oct. 1-4.  

 

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The Farmers Market Lover's Calendar for 2014 features David Johnson's fine watercolors and Lesley Stiles' sensuous recipes, as tantalizing as ever. To order, or for more information:

David Johnson, 510/848-7545 or 925/977-8512; or lesleystilesfoods.com.

 

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Hardscratch Press was pleased to participate in the 200th anniversary of the Russian presence at Port Rumiantsev (Bodega Bay) and Fort Ross on the northern California coast. In Sitka, where the story began, Jackie Pels presented some of the associated history at the 2012 conference of the Alaska Historical Society. And in 2013 she reprised that history for members of The Institute for Historical Study, convening in Oakland.