|Home sweet cannery--Uyak Bay|
|Queens of the cannery|
Next came the patch line (my bailiwick) where those cans not full enough were filled with ground fish. We cut protruding bones, inspected cans for dents or cuts, and re-filled them if they were too full. All of this at the rate of three cans per second, about fourteen hours a day, seven days a week.
|The view from the patch line|
|Katy and I in our gear|
were guts and water everywhere. The cannery stank of fish at first. After our noses overloaded the stench got bearable. And after a while we stopped wearing all the gear, except on days when it was storming or snowing. Then the cannery was icy and despite two pairs of gloves, our fingers ached with cold.
e grumpy too. I can still smell the stench of the gurry.
|Mug-up (break) on the dock|
|Jumping with the rowing crew|
I also read scriptures. But when my book ran out, I started going down to gut fish (five in a minute was my average) or fixing the machine. I got so I could un-muck the machine before the machinist even got out of his little room.
|Sunday on the dock|
|The Cross Sound's skiff I painted|
|View from "Cannery Mtn"|
|Kevin, my climbing buddy|
|The Cross Sound and Bill|
Another day (the day after we fiberglassed the skiff) my friend Bill Day (a fisherman from the boa
t I liked) and I took the skiff out to test it. I had his rod and had caught a cod I was proud of. Bill said, "That's not a fish. Give me that." And he hacked my gorgeous cod in half and threaded it onto the largest dang hook I'd ever seen, called a jig hook, which was attached to a rope.
ster than I went in! Everybody on the dock laughed at me, saying it was a salmon shark. They only eat salmon.
a couple of loads and it was distinctly unpleasant. We had to wear full rain gear, a ski mask, goggles, and Vaseline on every other exposed spot. One time when we were snorkeling, I wasn't watching well enough and my heel came in contact with a jelly. My heel was numb for three months!
|Egg room kings|
|Sakura Maru--fetching the eggs|
The end of the season party is a huge blow-out. The cannery boss buys enough cans of beer to fill two huge hoppers. I begged him for a few cans of root beer and in his customary warped sense of humor, he put four of those cans of soda somewhere in the hoppers of beer. After hunting for well over an hour, I finally gave up and went off to find out if I could get a ride to town.
I was hoping to get work on a fishing boat for the herring season, so I didn't want to wait during the stormy season for a questionable plane trip back to town. I finally got a ride on the Mitrofania, a tender. Just as we were about to leave port, four other girls decided to ship out too. I was relieved that I wouldn't have to sleep with my knife, but the girls were all completely snockered.
That night we had waves as tall as one-story houses. The other girls, after the initial wave from the boat side, went straight to bed after barfing several times each. I, on the other hand, was booze-free and jonesing for excitement. I went out to the bow and it was just like riding the Ghostrider roller coaster at Knottsberry Farm. We rode up on the tip, then plunged down into the trough, with a roll to the side tossed in. I was covered in spray and loving it. One of the crew fetched me inside after a while, though. He told me the crew were all worried I'd fall off the boat. Chickens. We didn't stop pitching until late that night when we stopped at Larsen Bay. By morning the water was glassy and calm.
I never did find a boat willing to take a girl on, although I was strong, used to fishing, a fair cook, and great with a knife. Back then there was still some superstition about women on boats. I ended up going back down to the Lower Forty Eight and home.
I didn't tell my parents when I was coming home; I just walked in the door. They all yelled because they didn't recognize the smelly girl with the wild hair still wearing muck boots and a Kodiak hoody. It took me a few minutes to convince them it was me, not a hippy off the street. I suppose I deserved that.
|The mountain from the cannery--how I miss it|