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"Henson is one of my greatest heroes..."
A letter from Ed Webster, November 2008
Dear Verne,

I live in Topsham, Maine, only 5 minutes from Bowdoin College and Brunswick, Maine where the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum is. The museum is currently hosting a new exhibit to celebrate the upcoming Centenary -- and it's just a fantastic exhibit, complete with many photos of Matt Henson, one of the actual North Pole sledges (built, I'm sure, by Henson), the North Pole flag, and even an early 1950s TV interview with Matt when the interviewer asks: "Mr. Henson, would you do it again, go back to the Pole?" and Henson responds: "If I was 70 or so, I'd give it a try -- but I'm 85 now and well...." This little snippet, to me, gave such an insight into his character: always friendly, ever eager to help, a true and trusted companion.

The exhibit at the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum honors, in exceptional detail, with loving care, and great fairness, ALL the members of the 1909 Peary North Pole Expedition, using photographs, biographies, original artifacts, recorded interviews, and old filmstrips. It is a " world-class " exhibit in every respect, and absolutely worth a visit.

I also wanted to add that a couple of years ago I was fortunate enough to find and buy online a copy of Dark Companion, signed by both your father and Matthew Henson on the title page. I even bought a second copy that had a Fine condition DJ, put the jacket on the signed copy, and it is now one of my prized books. I read Dark Companion some months ago and I thought your father's prose and writing style was just beautiful, and I reveled in how skillfully he wove together the threads of Henson's amazing life.
"I am a Mt. Everest climber... I suffered frostbite on Everest—we climbed the peak with no bottled oxygen, no radios, and without any Sherpas helping us... I have a bit of an insider's view of the sub-zero hardships that Henson endured..."
The author ( More...)

Henson is truly one of my greatest heroes, now that I know his story. I am a Mt. Everest climber myself and I suffered frostbite on Everest—we climbed the peak with no bottled oxygen, no radios, and without any Sherpas helping us, by a brand new route, up Mt. Everest's most remote face in Tibet, with a team of just four climbers in 1988. Our Everest expedition lasted a mere 4 months.... but I have a bit of an insider's view of the sub-zero hardships that Henson endured, and boundless admiration for his warmth, determination, and strength of character.

Obviously I just wish he had received his share of praise, fame, and financial compensation during his lifetime —AND a public acknowledgment from Peary that Matthew Henson had been his ABSOLUTELY INVALUABLE Partner, who had stood beside him at the North Pole. It is not in any way an overstatement to declare that Peary would NOT have reached the Pole WITHOUT Henson. I looked through a copy of Peary's North Pole book the other day at our local library, and I was absolutely astounded that there was no full-page or even partial-page portrait of Henson in Peary's book. A disgrace!

I just got a copy of the Invisible Cities Press revised, re-printed hardback of A Negro Explorer at the North Pole — that I am eager to start reading to learn Matt's own story of just what happened during those cold, wind-swept months 100 years ago.

Verne, thank you again for all you have done to tell the Real Story of what Matthew Henson accomplished! I thank you very sincerely for your own unyielding efforts to bring Henson's accomplishments to greater public awareness.

Sincerely, and with best wishes,

Ed Webster

Matthew Henson on the Roosevelt. This photo was taken in 1909 when they returned from the North Pole. Matt hand built, from raw materials, every one of the Peary design sledges they used. This style evolved from years of experience; the front runners strong enough to survive travel over rough blocks of sea ice. Henson had to repair their sledges along the way in minus 50 degree cold as described in his book "A Negro Explorer at The North Pole" (published in 1912).

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