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Arctic Explorers' Sons Hot on Trail of U.S. Relatives

May 31, 1987|DAVE JOHNSON

Two half-Eskimo sons of North Pole discoverers Robert Peary and Matthew Henson got an unnaturally warm reception from a heat wave when they arrived from icy Greenland to spend a week meeting American relatives. Karree Peary, half-white and half-Eskimo, and Anaukaq Henson, half-black and half-Eskimo, are both 80 and had never been far from their remote northern Greenland villages. To get to Cambridge, Mass., many miles and about 100 degrees away, they and 10 family members, mostly full-time hunters, went from dog sled to helicopter to Air Force jet. "He feels very comfortable because he doesn't freeze here," Eskimo Navarana Harper said, translating for Peary. The two men speak only an Eskimo dialect and normally dress in polar bear skin pants and sealskin tops. They were located last summer by Harvard Prof. S. Allen Counter, a neuroscientist and black historian who was told that Robert Peary and Matthew Henson had fathered children by Eskimo women during their 1906 expedition to the North Pole. Anaukaq Henson "told me his dream in life was to visit America and see his relatives," the professor said. Counter said the Greenlanders will meet 50 Henson relatives and about seven Peary relatives in various states. They will also lay a wreath at the Arlington National Cemetery grave of Peary, who died in 1920, and visit a Harlem church where Henson was eulogized in 1955.

--Another man's long-lost relative, Maria Sokil Rudnytsky, was at home in Dover Township, N.J., when the brother she had not seen since 55 years ago in the Soviet Union called and said he needed a ride from New York's Kennedy Airport. Rudnytsky, 85, knew that her brother, Wolodymur Sokil, 78, had been given permission to leave the Ukraine for a visit but said: "I did not know when he was coming until he was on the telephone." Rudnytsky said she had been trying for 35 years to arrange the visit. Soviet officials granted a visa after Rep. James J. Howard (D-N.J.) made a personal plea to Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev during a visit to Moscow last month.

--Of course, if you can't visit, you can always call--but Clara Beam would rather you didn't. The Decatur, Ala., woman said she listed herself as "Wrong Number" in the telephone directory to get rid of unwanted callers. Then, said Beam, 26, she started getting calls for Mr. Wrong or Mr. Number from the curious. South Central Bell spokesman Robert Horton said the listing was an error and will be deleted in next year's book because "telephones must be listed in the name of someone at the residence."

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