During the summer months - both of them ;-) - the temperature was a tolerable 45 to 55 F degrees (7 to 13 C). The parka was a little too hot if one walked very far in it. Thick shirts, sweaters or jackets were about right. Below is a picture taken on one of the warmest days during my year there.
Of course, the weather dictated what we wore. For office work and living indoors we wore our comfortable winter uniforms made of wool or equal weight civilian pants and long sleeve shirts. The always present parka with hood, plus gloves, was sufficient for trips between buildings. High top shoes, with a gripping sole, was the normal footware.
When we went out in the below freezing temperatures, our wool uniform was covered with padded coveralls. On our feet, we wore boots we called mukluks. They were about five sizes too big so we could wear up to 6 pairs of wool socks. Mukluks were made of canvas and had rubber soles with a thick inner felt lining. I liked them for the dog sled rides, but they were not made for walking very far.
The Greenlander men on the trail usually wore knee-length trousers made from polar bear skin. The fur is water proof and buoyant, should the hunter fall into the water.They were very lucky to have even one pair of these trousers because polar bears were very scarce and hard to find and kill. Many had parkas made of seal and fox skin. Under these skins, they wore imported cloth parkas, coats, and knit sweaters, usually from Denmark. The men wore knee high boots made out of seal skin with the fur on the inside that they called 'kamik'.
Many of the women wore hip-high seal skin boots, with the fur on the inside and trimmed in white rabbit or fox fur. For a more dressy look, the skin is bleached white and trimmed with polar bear hair.
The outfit this mother is wearing is made of seal skin.
This is traditional Greenlandic ceremonial dress worn by Lone Thryse now living in the Qaanaaq area (1998) with her husband Jan. With her in this picture is a Greenlandic friend.
This young boy was like any other boy his age anywhere in the world. He enjoyed playing with me and liked me taking his picture wearing a G.I. cap. He was wearing wool clothing, man-size skin boots, and no gloves.
Every time we went off base we took all of our survival gear with us in the truck. Here is the full dress outfit. I never had to wear the face mask but wore the other stuff many times.
The worst thing that happened to me in the cold was when I once looked down, and my moist lip touched the cold metal zipper on my parka. My lip froze to the zipper for a few seconds until the zipper warmed up! I lost a little skin. Also, my camera froze up a few times when it was out from under my parka too long.
Once one of the officers was standing outside with some new arrivals and telling them how dangerous the cold was. As he talked, he had his parka hood down. He ended up with frostbitten ears! One of the visitors there was a reporter from the London Times who told the story in his column with typical British humor about how the American officer bravely demonstrated the dangers of the cold for them.
The Inuits were authorized to shop in the base store, as part of the agreement to establish the base. This proud father bought a tie for his son at the base store.
Now here is something to ponder: Is it anymore unusual for an Inuit to wear that piece of cloth (called a tie) around his neck than it is for us to wear it around ours?
© Copyright 1999, revised 2014 by Lawrence Rodrigues
All rights reserved worldwide.