By 1010 WINS’ Larry Mullins
Okay so I made a mistake. I accidentally told Barbara Hillary that she was like a “big momma” to me. But the 82 year old “firecracker” told me, “don’t you ever call me “momma, or Madea” again!
This lady is a hoot! And I guess after you’ve accomplished what she’s done at the ripe old age (sorry, young age) of then 75…you can talk some smack to a young buck (28 years old) like me. Stop it…I’m old enough to be any age I want.
She is the very first known African-American woman to ever reach the North Pole (2007) and the South Pole (2011). She was reared by her mother in Harlem (where skiing and polar bear hunting wasn’t fashionable, she’ll tell you), but with a value which still sticks with her today.
Sharon (Barnes-Waters) brought her by the studio today for this interview. And there’s no way you would ever suspect that she’s now 82; she moves like a teenager and talks like a…well… teenaged sailor (but in a nice way). She reminded us what it was like to take on such a major undertaking-going to the North Pole!!
Never mind the physical conditioning that she’d do to prepare, but she says one of the toughest parts involved raising the money for the expedition, and convincing people that she wasn’t pulling their leg.
She told me one black lady mumbled something like, “that girl dun lost her mind…black people don’t do no (expletive) like that. Apparently the stranger met the wrong lady (Ms. Hillary), who didn’t get that memo.
Ms. Hillary says she became fascinated, after reading a book about photographing polar bears in Manitoba. Next thing she knew, she’s taking pictures of the bears, dog-mushing, skiing, and other cold weather acts. And that lead to books about the North Pole. The rest is history! She says she once dragged boxes and bags of sand across the beaches here in the tri-state, to simulate the arctic. The sand on the beach would rip the boxes open-so she ended up doing “on the job” training.
She’s now in the books for pulling off a feat that others have tried, but failed. And would you believe this is the same woman who battled cancer…and this is “pre-North Pole”!!
Barbara Hillary is one of the most fascinating people I’ve ever met. And when you least expect it, she’ll toss you a zinger; “Larry, by the way, you left your watch on my nightstand when you left this morning”.
You get the impression after talking with her, that Ms. Hillary didn’t bite her tongue back in the day. I couldn’t get her to tell me what her next big adventure is. I just hope I live long enough to see it-because she’s such a fireball, she’s probably going to outlive all of us!
Love you Ms. Barbara! (And that watch on your nightstand isn’t mine…but I’ll take it)!