Born in the autumn of 1925 in the mining area of Pennsylvania, Janice Minott was raised from age four in Portland, Maine, in a multigenerational household presided over by grandmother Ida Minott, a woman of steady wisdom. This house held unique mementos from the sea voyages of great-grandfather Jabez Minott, who sailed many times around Cape Horn not only to San Francisco but to Shanghai, Sydney, and Calcutta.
From an early age, Janice fantasized about visiting exotic lands and meeting people of diverse cultures. Her first foreign adventure included spending a summer with a work-study project in Jamaica. Women of her generation were destined for smaller things, but Janice moved out of Maine to New York City and unexpectedly received the funds to finish her college degree.