Trefon Angsan, Jr. was interviewed on December 13, 2018 by Katie Ringsmuth at the Alaska Peninsula Corporation headquarters in Anchorage, Alaska. LaRece Egli was also present operating the digital audio recorder, and Trefon's son, Brad Angasan, also sat in to listen to his father's stories. The interview starts abruptly because Trefon was so excited to share his stories and memories that he began talking before the recording equipment was set up and the formal interview began. Some initial conversation has been edited from the beginning, in order to keep the discussion within the confines of the actual interview. In this interview, Trefon talks about growing up around the <NN> Cannery, his parents working there, and his time working for the cannery on spring/fall crew and as a fisherman. He openly discusses the preferential treatment given by particular superintendents, the racism that persisted, dealing with segregation, and the relationship between different ethnic groups and the local community and the cannery. He also mentions the importance of the cannery to the community and preserving cannery history.
Digital Asset Information
Project: NN Cannery History Project Jukebox
Date of Interview: Dec 13, 2018
Narrator(s): Trefon Angasan, Jr.
Interviewer(s): Katherine Ringsmuth
Transcriber: Emily Mueller
People Present: LaRece Egli, Brad Angasan
After clicking play, click on a section to navigate the audio or video clip.
First working for Alaska Packers Association
Commercial fishing and leasing a cannery boat
Family background and village of Old Savonoski
Effect of flu pandemic
Remains of Old Savonoski, the church, and old way of life
Relationship between Italian fishermen and local people
Childhood memories of playing around the cannery buildings
His father, Trefon Angasan, Sr. working for canneries, and doing spring/fall crew work
Importance of spring/fall crew, and cannery loyalty
Outfitting boats with radios and compasses, and difference in how Native and non-Natives were treated
Native involvement with commercial fishing
His mother, Vera Angasan, working in the laundry
Treatment of Native people by cannery superintendents
Dealing with racism and segregation
Working with people from a variety of nationalities and cultural backgrounds
Learning skills, like patching nets
Getting food from the mess hall
The hospital at the cannery
The store at the cannery
Benefits of having Alaska Packers Association in the community
Good changes introduced by superintendent Gary Johnson
Commercial fishing with a boat leased from Alaska Packers Association
Collecting clams after getting stuck on a sand bar
Importance of preserving cannery history
Changes in segregation and Native employment at the cannery
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After clicking play, click a section of the transcript to navigate the audio or video clip.
KATIE RINGSMUTH: So, thank you very much Mr. Angasan, for -- for meeting and talking with us today. My name is Katie Ringsmuth and I'm the director of the
TREFON ANGASAN: Yeah, little -- little Kate, little -- KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yeah, most people -- TREFON ANGASAN: -- runnin' around the White House. KATIE RINGSMUTH: That's right. Exactly.
So, we decided that -- when we heard that the
And so, with my background with the National Park Service, I thought, "Well, let's just at least nominate it to the National Register." And, that's taken great momentum. Not only is Katmai National Park interested, but also San Francisco Maritime Historic Park, because that tells a more complete story of the canneries and the voyage north. And so -- So, we're gonna nominate to the National Register.
We are also conducted a storytelling workshop with young people in Naknek, with the high school kids. And they produced stories about their connection to the canneries. And one of 'em was actually just nominated -- accepted into the Anchorage International Film Festival -- TREFON ANGASAN: Wow. KATIE RINGSMUTH: -- in the youth category on cannery art. That was pretty exciting.
And -- And then, finally, we are going to take all of the research that we are collecting right now, and we're going to develop a museum exhibit with the State Museum in Juneau called "Mug Up," that will tell the story not just of the fishermen, but the processors. The -- the people who put food on people's table all around the world.
And are using the
And what this particular interview is gonna to be for -- we're working with UAF, Project Jukebox, and doing interviews on people who worked at the canneries and who can help us better understand the activities that occurred on the historic landscape. So, that's the project, and I really appreciate you taking the time today to -- to sit with us.
So, before we kinda get into talking about the -- the cannery, maybe we could talk a little bit about you, and you could gimme a little bit of biographical information for our listeners.
So, today is December 13th, 2018, and we are at the Alaska Peninsula Corporation headquarters in Anchorage, Alaska. And --
So, first of all, can you please state your name? TREFON ANGASAN: Trefon Angasan, Jr. I've -- I was born in South Naknek, or Savonoski, in 1947. And I've been involved with Alaska Packers my entire life, from the time I was knee-high to a grasshopper, because my mom and dad both worked for the cannery. So, we had -- So, our cannery life was from the beginning to where we are today.
And I -- I've gone from working -- soon as I worked -- soon as I turned 18, I was hired. Old enough to work at the cannery, I went to work early -- early May, and was gone at the end of September, every year. But, I took about 30 -- about 30 days off in the summer to go fishing for Alaska Packers.
And for the first ten years or so, I leased the company boat. They had, you know, the -- the company, back in the '60s, they owned all of the boats. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Right.
TREFON ANGASAN: And, if you didn't have a -- if you didn't lease a company boat, you didn't fish for them. And there was a -- There were --
There were a lotta people that were excluded from the fishery, because they didn't have the methods and means to harvest. S -- And Alaska Packers, NN, had one of the largest fleets in Bristol Bay. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Right.
TREFON ANGASAN: And so, my dad was able to lease a boat from Alaska Packers, and him and my brother, older brother, fished.
But while he was doing that, he'd purchased two -- two of them -- two skiffs that used to be kinda like dory boats for Diamond O, one of the old canneries from NN. And, we setnetted down in Diamond M beach.
KATIE RINGSMUTH: Wow. Yeah. TREFON ANGASAN: And I did that until I was 14.
KATIE RINGSMUTH: Can you tell me very quickly what your father's name is? TREFON ANGASAN: Trefon Angasan, Sr. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Senior, right. TREFON ANGASAN: Yeah.
KATIE RINGSMUTH: And -- and did you grow up at South Naknek, or at Savonoski? TREFON ANGASAN: I grew up both places. I -- Early on -- I was born in Savonoski, but when I went to school we moved down to South Naknek.
KATIE RINGSMUTH: A -- And how did the village of Savonoski get started? TREFON ANGASAN: They -- They migrate -- The people from Savonoski migrated down from the Katmai National Park, in the village of Old Savonoski, up in the Savonoski River when the Novarupta (volcano eruption) happened in 1912. Yeah, 1912.
The people migrated down, moved from Savonoski -- Savonoski and settled seven miles up from the -- the poi -- Naknek Point, on the south side and called it Savonoski.
KATIE RINGSMUTH: And your father was living in Old Savonoski -- TREFON ANGASAN: Yes, he was born -- KATIE RINGSMUTH: -- when the eruption -- TREFON ANGASAN: -- in Old Savonoski, and I was -- I was born in New Savonoski.
KATIE RINGSMUTH: Ok, and that was 1912. And then, the village of Savonoski was established. And then -- And again, the canneries, Alaska Packers, they had started the canneries then.
And by 1919, with the -- the -- World War I had been uh -- uh -- uh -- engaged, and the packers were sending canned salmon to France to feed the -- the troops and as a result, a lot of things happened.
One, in Naknek, exactly a hundred years ago this year, the Spanish Flu pandemic hit. You, of course, weren't alive at that time, but do you have any -- TREFON ANGASAN: Oh. KATIE RINGSMUTH: -- are there any stories or memories -- TREFON ANGASAN: My -- KATIE RINGSMUTH: -- of the flu pandemic?
TREFON ANGASAN: My mom's parents died from that. Her -- You know, she was born in Ugashik, she -- KATIE RINGSMUTH: Oh. TREFON ANGASAN: -- she was an orphan. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yeah.
TREFON ANGASAN: She was -- Well actually, it wasn't the 1919 flu -- the pandemic that -- I think the more -- the more devastating one was the -- the 1927 epidemic down in the peninsula. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Oh.
TREFON ANGASAN: That seemed to be the one that had the most impact. Because there was probably, in the 1919 era, there was very little connection between the outer communities and the -- the -- the center of the universe in Bristol Bay at that time. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Right.
TREFON ANGASAN: So, I would think -- I would surmise that because my mom in Ugashik, and their family down in -- and the family up in Savonoski weren't really impacted as severely as they -- they could've been, except for when they became -- when they became exposed to it in 1927, in that era, when my mom was two years old, she became an orphan. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yeah.
TREFON ANGASAN: And that particular flu was when people -- Savonoski virtually became a -- a ghost-town in that era -- from that time.
I remember, you know, the -- the -- the development, the layout of that community -- of New Savonoski. They had boardwalks, they had running po -- power and all of that. I mean, it was just kind of like a -- you know, the Incas in the early settlement.
I mean, it was a -- it was really forward. Really developed for a village that was way out of the ordinary. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yeah.
TREFON ANGASAN: But, In 1927, they became -- it began to de -- self-destruct. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yeah.
TREFON ANGASAN: To the time in 1947, there were just -- there were only about five families living there then. But -- But before that, there were (coughs). Excuse me.
Before that, there were a lotta communities. Lotta houses. What people did, because there's no wood -- KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yeah. TREFON ANGASAN: -- in the community, they would ta -- once people abandoned their homes, people started to tear down the homes and use 'em for firewood. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yeah.
TREFON ANGASAN: So, that's what happened to Savonoski. KATIE RINGSMUTH: And it just went away. TREFON ANGASAN: You would think that they would -- there would be some relics, you know, but there's nothing there.
KATIE RINGSMUTH: Just the church left. TREFON ANGASAN: Just the church, and McCullough's.
KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yeah, I had a opportunity to go to Savonoski. I've been up there a few times looking --
TREFON ANGASAN: I used to be an altar boy in that church there. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yeah, I've been to the church. Right.
TREFON ANGASAN: Yeah, my -- my -- my godfather was a reader. His name was -- Well, we called -- he -- his name was One-Armed Nick (Melgenak), but we called him taata (literally "great father"). And he was my -- He was the reader.
And so, we would -- we -- we, you know, we -- we lived and died by the church, but, unfortunately it, you know, gets away from you to the point where we don't live the way we used to live. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yeah.
TREFON ANGASAN: I mean, Lenting was really a -- back in those era -- back in those days, you know, we couldn't play, we couldn't -- you know, we couldn't eat until we saw the first star, and no meat, no nothin'. You know, just basic staple. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Hm-mm.
TREFON ANGASAN: But -- Backbones from dry fish. I mean, things were really spartan. But, uh, today it's a different world. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Right, it is.
TREFON ANGASAN: But, you know, Alaska Packers, I -- I have to say one thing, though. There were two things that's come to mind with Alaska Packers as a -- when I was growing up. Before I even started working there, or before I even -- before things started to happen.
One, my mom and dad were real good -- were -- had real good friendships with -- developed some real close friendships with some of the Italian fishermen. They would come up and chop the wood for her smokehouse, they would help her with the strips and Louie Grillo and, you know, and that group would come up and -- every day attend the pyres and everything.
But -- And, they would get some of the fish to take home with them. But, the thing that they left behind was -- they would g -- they would -- all the fishermen that owned -- the Italian fishermen, the outside fishermen, they -- they were in a different system than -- they fished differently.
You know, the arrangement for them fishing for Alaska Packers on their company boats were different than they were for us who fished, you know, as in -- as independents.
We -- We leased our boats from the Alaska Packers. The -- The outside fishermen didn't lease the boat, they had -- they -- the cannery took a third, the fish -- the skipper took a third, and the deckhand took a third.
And the cannery frontloaded all of the costs. They paid for all the groceries and all the transportation, and all of the supplies for that fishermen.
But how we benefitted, was at the end of the season, the can -- the fishermen, they're supposed to turn their food back. You know, all their canned goods back to the provisions warehouse, and, you know, that would be heated all year so that they can use -- use the canned goods again in the -- you know -- KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yeah. TREFON ANGASAN: -- the next year.
All of the fishermen would come to -- would put all their canned goods and their food from their boat into gunnysacks, and at night, they would carry them up to my mom's house.
And I remember our big windbreak was just -- I remember the corner of the windbreak was stacked with gunnysacks.
And, you know, and it was our job to -- to store -- you know, to stock the shelves that we had in our basement with all these canned goods. And, you know, to this day, I prefer canned fruit over fresh fruit, and that's -- that's a given.
I prefer sardines over smoked salmon, would you believe. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Really?
TREFON ANGASAN: Yes, because there was always lots of sardines. I would eat sardines, and then I would prefer olive oil over Wesson oil. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Interesting.
TREFON ANGASAN: And -- And that's the way I grew up. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yeah. Yeah.
TREFON ANGASAN: And so, that's the impact that I -- that the canneries -- the Italians, they would come to the house and they would cook.
We would -- They would -- the -- we would put together big parties to go down -- we would jump in their jalopies and run down to Diamond M beach, and they would dig clams for -- we would dig clams. Buckets and buckets of clams.
And they would come up to the house, and they would soak them out, and they would cook it. You know, steam them in garlic, and bring their -- their French bread and their wines and their -- You know, we were just -- and that's how I grew up.
KATIE RINGSMUTH: Nice. Well, speaking of growing up. Let's talk about the -- one of the things that I really like to explore are how children and young people remember the cannery. I was a cannery kid, Brad's a cannery kid, and it sounds like you are a cannery kid, too.
So, as a child growing up at the cannery, in the 1950s -- TREFON ANGASAN: It was our play -- It was our playground. I remember there was --
A good example. This dock here, this inside dock, we used to love to go down here at the end of the sea -- you know, when the -- when the cannery was abandoned.
We would take our bicycles and just go up -- it was just a Shangri-La for kids on bicycles.
And I remember that I -- I put my -- there's a boat there, one foot, 10 by 10 or 12 by 12 bowhead bulkrail. What they call a bulkhead. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Hm-mm.
TREFON ANGASAN: It's a dock to keep you from stumbling over. I -- I -- I remember one time as a kid, I put my bicycle up on that thing, and I pedaled out and I lost my balance and I fell over the dock.
And you could see where I landed. Big impact. Big rocks all around me. I didn't get any -- KATIE RINGSMUTH: On the sand, huh? TREFON ANGASAN: -- get hit, but I hit the sand, and you could see a big indentation. I mean, that's --
KATIE RINGSMUTH: Did your mother know? TREFON ANGASAN: No. I mean, my sisters will still talk about that, because they were there, and they come running down and everything else.
But, the cannery as a kid -- We would always get chased off. Freddy Grindle and some of the other guys, you know, they would come down and -- Grant Brown.
We were always looking for things to scrounge. It was, you know, it was like a -- especially in these open warehouses with boats, we knew that, you know, we knew that there was gasoline in them engines and we could siphon little hoses and fill up for our old jalopies.
We ne -- Nobody ever got caught. My -- And I have a feeling that they probably knew that that was going on, but they never d -- nothing was over said about how, you know, there -- you know, these old company boats with their old -- you know, with the -- with their gas -- gas engines. You know, just get a little can, and siphoning hose, and fill up your can, and -- KATIE RINGSMUTH: Ralph told me -- TREFON ANGASAN: -- take it down to your skiff and --
KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yeah. Ralph told me that you guys used to play up in the rafters -- TREFON ANGASAN: Oh, yeah. KATIE RINGSMUTH: -- when you were kids.
TREFON ANGASAN: That's -- that down Diamond M. Different cannery, but that's -- We played in the rafters, but not in the building. We played under the dock. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Oh, yeah.
TREFON ANGASAN: Yeah, the rafters were under the dock. They had little boardwalks. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Mm-hm. TREFON ANGASAN: Little gangplanks under the docks, and we would go down there.
And we liked to do that when the tide was in, because you could look down there and you could see the water splashing and everything. And so --
And, once in a while somebody would get spooked, because it was always dark under there and we were -- you know, it -- it -- it was just real quiet.
And so, we -- we always thought that there were ghosts down there. And somebody would yell ghost, and we'd scurry back outta there. But -- Yeah, under the dock was a -- was a real neat place to play when we were kids.
They would chase us off the top, 'cause they didn't like kids running around the cannery. And so, we would go -- we learned how to play under the dock. And it -- And it was a lotta fun under the dock.
One of the things that we used to do was to -- kinda -- it was kinda like a -- goin' through a treasure hunt for us, along there, because fishermen, at the end of the season, they would throw things -- throw things overboard. And it would wash up. You know, like mugs and -- even oranges and apples, for God sakes. I mean, they were edible. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yeah.
TREFON ANGASAN: And, you know, they -- That's the things that we used to do.
KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yeah. So, your father worked at the NN Cannery. And, what was his job? TREFON ANGASAN: Well, early -- First off, he used to be a winterman down in Diamond O. That -- That's how he got started.
KATIE RINGSMUTH: And then the -- So, the superintendents of NN were also manager of the Diamond M and the Diamond O? TREFON ANGASAN: Yeah. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Correct?
TREFON ANGASAN: And -- Yeah, 'cause, back in the early '50s or so, he was a sup -- he was a winterman down in Diamond O. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Ok.
TREFON ANGASAN: And so, he got to run the ways (Marine ways used to store boats during the winter) down there. He launched the scows.
And then, when I -- about the time that I turned 18, old enough to work, we worked with him down there at the ways. Launching -- in the real early s --
It was a short-time job, that wasn't a -- you know, you go in and you launch your boats and you're outta there. So, we would go back --
Well, I did it going to Diamond J. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Hm-mm. TREFON ANGASAN: I was sent up there to help launch boats up there and -- KATIE RINGSMUTH: Diamond J on the Kvichak? TREFON ANGASAN: On the Kvichak. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yeah.
TREFON ANGASAN: Koggiung. Workin' for Grant Brown up there. He was a -- he was a beach boss up there. And they sent me up there to work for him, and then I was there for about three weeks, and -- launching and pulling up boats and whatnot.
But, we would go -- You know, when we were done, we would go back to work at the cannery itself, continuing the project of getting ready for the summer. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yeah.
TREFON ANGASAN: Did a lotta painting. I painted the little pipes. You know, I used to hate it when they used to give us little tiny brushes, and tell us to go paint the pipes white in the cannery room, you know, in the cannery itself.
You know, where you have all these little water pipes. You had to paint them white. They had to be, you know, inspection, and, you know, all of that. They had to be sanitary and all. So -- KATIE RINGSMUTH: Right, right.
TREFON ANGASAN: So, it was our job every year to scrape the paint off these little white pipes and then repaint them. And that was a -- you know --
KATIE RINGSMUTH: I feel ya. I di -- I -- I -- I -- I -- I did my chores scrapin' and -- TREFON ANGASAN: Yeah. KATIE RINGSMUTH: -- and paintin'. TREFON ANGASAN: That was really something. And so -- KATIE RINGSMUTH: In the spring, yeah.
TREFON ANGASAN: That -- That was part -- You know, I -- I never got to talk about that as much. I -- They put me there when things were slow, because they --
You know, I was -- I was a big guy, and they needed heavy lifters down at the front dock. You know, unloading all the plunder that comes in. Especially when boats come up from Seattle and they had to be unloaded. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yeah, right. TREFON ANGASAN: All the tenders that came up.
So, we would go down into the -- You know, go down and -- and sling load and stack the pallets full of cargo. And then at -- then at the up -- on the other end.
When that was all done, we had to open up -- work for the carpenters up in the swamps building that boardwalk. With Nels Swedlund.
And mug up was a real treat for us. Except that Nels Swedlund was a big Swede, and he didn't like -- he -- he didn't believe in coffee.
And I'm -- I'm sittin' there buggy, hot, miserable, hungover and saying, "Nels, the whistle just blew, it's coffee time."
And he would mumble all kinds of expletive deletives, and -- and tell me to keep workin'. So, that -- I didn't like workin' for carpenters as much as I liked workin' for Grant Brown and --
KATIE RINGSMUTH: Well, it seems like just the whole preparation, getting ready for the -- the season was almost a full-year job. I mean, it was --
TREFON ANGASAN: Yeah, it was, you know, starting in late -- early May, and ending in September. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yeah.
TREFON ANGASAN: And then, you have that three weeks in the summer that you went fishing.
KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yeah, right. So, you -- you fished, but you helped -- you were part of the -- the spring/fall crew -- TREFON ANGASAN: Right. KATIE RINGSMUTH: -- that readied and then -- TREFON ANGASAN: Spring and fall. Both. KATIE RINGSMUTH: -- closed it.
And took care of it the whole time, as part of the cannery caretakers. And that's -- that's, I think, a really important part of this story.
TREFON ANGASAN: Well, it was -- There weren't too many of us that were really loyal to the company. Because the company didn't really treat everybody the same.
You know the Angasans -- KATIE RINGSMUTH: Sure. TREFON ANGASAN: -- were, you know, were treated well. My mom ran the laundry. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Right, Vera.
TREFON ANGASAN: And my dad was the plumber in the springtime. And I -- you know, the plumber's helper. And then, la -- he was the -- you know, launching scows. So -- And he always got a boat from the cannery.
There was something interesting when Hank Bison was superintendent. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Hank Buyson -- Bison? TREFON ANGASAN: Bison.
My dad -- I was fishing with my dad then. NN 25. It was a company leased boat. And my brother Ted and my brother Ralph were fishing in a conversion. NN 86.
And they -- they had -- they didn't have radios. And -- Well, all the other company boats had radios, and so, I remember -- I always remembered is Dad went up to Hank Bison and asked him for -- if we can get radios.
And Hank turned to him and says, "Why do you want a radio? Who are you gonna talk to?" And wouldn't give us radios.
So, I mean, that was something, you know. I mean, when we go fishing and no radios, no compasses. I mean, just nothing. No fathometers. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yeah.
TREFON ANGASAN: I mean, the only thing that we had was line of sight and you got to -- you got to spend a lot of time sitting on sandbars wondering. You know, because you were dry.
KATIE RINGSMUTH: Well, and -- and the fact that you bring up a radio, I think, is pretty important. I mean, radios absolutely were the communication. TREFON ANGASAN: Exactly. KATIE RINGSMUTH: You know -- TREFON ANGASAN: Out in the -- Especially out in the fishing grounds. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yeah. TREFON ANGASAN: And when you don't have a radio and don't have a good compass and no fathometer.
See, the compasses the company gave us -- They came with a compass, but the compass was -- the Gray Marine boats engines that were in our little sl -- our wooden slabs, you know, they had magnetic -- magnetos in the -- in our distributor cap.
And our compass was always 30 degrees off because the -- the magnetic north always pointed toward the magneto.
And so, no matter what we did, we were always lost. And so, that's how it was. You know, we just -- you know, we just had a --
And the other thing, when you leased the boat from Alaska Packers, Sal Abyo was the fish boss. He was the boat boss. You had to live by Sal Abyo's rules. You had to go see him if you wanted a net, you had -- you know, he gave you the best or he gave you whatever. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yeah.
TREFON ANGASAN: And so, Sal made it very, very clear to us when we got the boats, that we wouldn't have the boats for long if we anchored.
And so, we'd -- you know, when the wind came up, we didn't anchor. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Wow.
TREFON ANGASAN: So, we had to go out there and plow away in the storms. I mean, some of the biggest storms come along, and if your fish boat's out there, the Alaska Packer boats were always there, because Sal Abyo would -- would -- you know, he was -- he would run around in a monkey boat looking' at -- lookin' for you. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Wow.
TREFON ANGASAN: And, you know, if you were s -- slackin' off, you lost your job. And if you lost your job with a fish boat, you didn't fish for anybody. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Right.
TREFON ANGASAN: Except for when Trevor Beason (sp?) came along for Nelbro (Packing Company), the local Native people never really had an opportunity to fish the way that they do now.
KATIE RINGSMUTH: Hm. TREFON ANGASAN: So, Nelbro came along and in the mid -- late '60s after Whitney-Fidalgo and some of these other canneries.
But, the grift in the fleet was -- was Bumble Bee - Ralph Hendrickson, Red Salmon with Wen Brindle (sp?). KATIE RINGSMUTH: Hm-mm. TREFON ANGASAN: And Alaska Packers with Hank Bison. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yeah.
TREFON ANGASAN: They were the big three in the fishery. And, if you didn't like -- If they didn't like you, you didn't fish. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yeah. TREFON ANGASAN: And that's how it was. KATIE RINGSMUTH: That's how it was.
So, you mentioned Vera worked in the laundry, and that's -- that's a pretty important kind of --
TREFON ANGASAN: Oh, we hated that job. Ralph and I -- KATIE RINGSMUTH: Oh, really? You and Ralph? Did your mom hate it, or just the kids?
TREFON ANGASAN: No, what happened was mom was a -- for the first ten years, was a -- she was a laundry helper. Emma was the laundry woman. The old lady, Emma. And --
KATIE RINGSMUTH: Was she from the community? TREFON ANGASAN: No, no, no, she was from Washington. Somebody brought her up -- KATIE RINGSMUTH: Oh, ok. TREFON ANGASAN: -- to run the laundry.
And so, every year, we -- Emma would get Ralph and I down there, and she would make sure that we -- we had -- she gave us baths, for one thing. And, how she gave us baths was she put us in the washing machines. That thing with -- KATIE RINGSMUTH: That big cedar one.
TREFON ANGASAN: Yeah, the big things. And, didn't turn 'em on, but -- KATIE RINGSMUTH: Well, that's good. TREFON ANGASAN: -- just filled it up with water. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yeah.
TREFON ANGASAN: And so, we'd sit there until we got clean, and then we would -- then she would have us lug these Army blankets out to hang on the sheets -- and then the sheets --
KATIE RINGSMUTH: I've done that, too. TREFON ANGASAN: Yeah. The Army blankets, the sheets.
We -- We had to do all those things for -- for -- when we're seven, eight years old. So, you know, that's why we hated the laundry. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yeah.
TREFON ANGASAN: Like, my mom would kinda send -- try to send for us, and we'd stay away and -- and not come down. And --
KATIE RINGSMUTH: My memory of Vera, when I was just a little kid -- 'cause she ran the laundry -- TREFON ANGASAN: Yeah, she ran the laundry later. KATIE RINGSMUTH: But you didn't mess around in there with Vera. TREFON ANGASAN: Yeah. KATIE RINGSMUTH: 'Cause she -- she let you have it if you got ii --
TREFON ANGASAN: Your dad came along -- your -- I remember -- the -- Before your dad, there was Hank Bison and Norm Rockness. And they lived in the White House.
My mom helped do the -- and I used to have to go down there with her once in a while to haul out their garbage. But, she did the janitorial in there for them.
And they had -- they had a servant in -- a Chinaman. Ing. Ing was their Chinaman. So, Chinese -- KATIE RINGSMUTH: His name was Ing? TREFON ANGASAN: Ing. I-N-G. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Huh.
TREFON ANGASAN: He was always singing. I mean, he was just a happy-go-lucky guy, but he was a classic Charlie Chan. I mean, he wore the outfit, he looked like him. And he was just a -- you know, that kind of a guy. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Hm.
TREFON ANGASAN: But he was their servant, and he -- he carried their -- you know, he -- he brought food from the mess hall for them, and, you know, just did everything. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Right. TREFON ANGASAN: I mean, you lived high on the hog if you're in the White House. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yeah.
TREFON ANGASAN: So, your dad kind of tapered it off a little from the old hierarchy. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yeah. TREFON ANGASAN: And so --
But before, you know, I think there was another guy that really set the tone for the strictness of how the village tre -- how the cannery treated the -- the local people.
And it wasn't the superintendents and it was -- there was a guy by the -- it was a guy by the name of Frank Phillips. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Frank Phillips. TREFON ANGASAN: Yes -- KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yeah.
TREFON ANGASAN: He -- He was the superintendent. And, he didn't really like Native people, so -- And his wo -- You know, he was part of the -- Wen Brindle (sp?) and Hen -- Ralph Hendrickson from Bumble Bee, and --
KATIE RINGSMUTH: Did he work for APA? TREFON ANGASAN: Yeah, he went the Alaska Packers -- KATIE RINGSMUTH: I think -- Yeah, I think I've seen his name.
TREFON ANGASAN: And -- and, he hired a guy a guy by the name of Jimmy Ceradel (sp?), who was another bigot kind of a guy.
I mean, it was one thing to have a guy as superintendent that didn't like Natives, but to hire a guy that run -- to run the operation to be a -- a racist, as well. I mean, you know, there was just no way we could get into it. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yeah.
TREFON ANGASAN: 'Cause, I -- I remember -- I'll always remember this. Frank Ceradel (sp?) (says Ceredal but later says it was Frank Phillips) had -- he had two big black labs, and there was -- we were -- were goin' up to be -- we used to park in the creek, going up.
And, you know, going up from the -- going from upriver, you know, the upriver side of the cannery, there's a creek there. And that's where we used to park our skiffs because it was outta the wind and -- that's just where we parked our -- our boat -- our little runabouts.
And there was a gangplank going up into the -- you now, up into the upper end of the hill there. And I remember when we were -- One time, we were were walking up that, and there was a -- there was Jimmy Ceradel (sp?), and he had about eight little, tiny purebred labradors. Black dogs.
And the dogs were -- he was putting 'em in the gunnysack and we wondered, "What the heck you -- " And he put 'em in the gunnysack, and he put some rocks, and then he threw 'em in this tub of -- KATIE RINGSMUTH: What?
TREFON ANGASAN: -- this drum of water. I said, "Well, can we have one of them?" "Absolutely not." He wouldn't give the -- give the dogs away.
And they were -- they was purebreds. They were -- you know, they weren't mixed breed, they were pure thoroughbred dogs. And so, he destroyed all of his little pups that came along. Wouldn't give any of the --
KATIE RINGSMUTH: And that was Phillips? TREFON ANGASAN: Yeah, Frank Phillips.
And so, Frank hired a guy by the name of Thor Ordigard (sp?). Another -- I don't know if you know -- heard of Thor Ordigard (sp?). He's the guy that ran Diamond O. Diamond O cannery. He was the winterman down there, and he ran the crew down there.
And we used to kind of hate to go to work down there, you know. Be there's -- full of -- you know, they -- we would go as needed. We were part of the launch crew, and we were part of the pull up crew. And, you know, just kinda bouncing around from Dimaond O, Diamond J, and NN kinda thing. Wherever they needed us.
And Thor Ordigard (sp?) was -- he was a -- I would say he was along the same ilk as Jimmy Ceradel (sp?). It wa -- There was that strain of -- of -- I mean, you ate in the Native mess hall, and that's the only place you ate, kind of. A -- A -- And you didn't go into the Blue Room. I mean -- KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yeah.
TREFON ANGASAN: Yeah. It was really odd, because you were walkin' up from the cannery, and -- and my buddies that I worked with go into one -- you take a right, or a left, into the first boardwalk, and I'd keep walking, and walk into the other end of the mess hall. Way down at the other end of the mess hall eat in there, in the -- way in the corner.
And it -- it was just a -- But, you know, it was -- I didn't -- It -- It -- It was just a way of life. I mean, what else was there? KATIE RINGSMUTH: Right.
TREFON ANGASAN: I mean, you know, I didn't have any ill-will toward that at all, I -- I just accepted it. I mean, I got -- I got paid.
In the wintertime, I would -- when I wanted to go to school, I would write them a letter and they would send me a little check, you know, advancin' for next year.
I mean, that -- interest-free. I mean, what else was there? So, that's the kinda way -- that's the way that I grew up.
KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yeah. So, your brother called me a couple months ago to tell me a story about when you guys were kids. And he said he remember --
And one of the stories he told me is that, when you were kids, there were -- was a Hawaiian guy who worked at the cannery, named Tiny.
And you liked tho -- him because he protected you guys, 'cause -- from -- and -- and he had all these wonderful stories about stuff. TREFON ANGASAN: Yeah, he was a jitney driver. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yeah.
TREFON ANGASAN: Big Tiny. Big 400-pounder. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yeah, and it was --
TREFON ANGASAN: Wore a little derby hat, I mean, classic Charlie Ch -- I mean, Charlie McCarthy type of outfit.
KATIE RINGSMUTH: And it was amazing to me that, number one, he was talking about Hawaiians working there, and then he also men -- mentioned Mexican workers who worked at the cannery. Do you remember Mexican workers?
TREFON ANGASAN: I -- Let's see. I -- I -- I don't -- I can't recall any Mexican workers. I -- you know, I -- I was in a different group than Ralph was. You know, I was in the --
KATIE RINGSMUTH: Is Ralph older than you? TREFON ANGASAN: No, he's younger than I am. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Is he younger? Ok.
TREFON ANGASAN: And I was -- You know, I was in the -- I was bigger, you know? So, when you're big, you get to get -- you know, you get on those certain lists. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yeah.
TREFON ANGASAN: And I got to work seven days a week, 12 hours a day.
KATIE RINGSMUTH: So, what was it like? I mean, obviously, being Native and having the -- the kind of biased, you know, prejudiced viewpoints of, you know, the industry, like Ralph -- or, not Ralph, what was his name that you mentioned? TREFON ANGASAN: Fra -- Frank Phillips.
KATIE RINGSMUTH: Frank Phillips and others. But, also, it must have been pretty extraordinary as a kid, especially a young person as you're growing up, having all these people from all over the world right there at -- TREFON ANGASAN: Oh yeah. KATIE RINGSMUTH: -- South Naknek.
TREFON ANGASAN: Definitely. I -- I -- It was -- It was pretty exciting, really. I mean, because I would -- Once in a while --
You know, they would all have to come to the laundry to get their blankets and stuff. So, Ralph and I would once in awhile we'd go down there and pe -- as people would come in to get their laundry or get their blankets, we got to see who all was in the cannery.
And, they -- If they took a liking to you, and -- and a lot of the Italian fishermen did. They took a liking to Ralph and I, and so we got -- you know, they -- they would come up to the --
In fact, I -- I'm -- I'm one of the better net-hangers in the business. I was, because as a -- as -- growing up, that's all I -- you know, they taught me how to hang nets. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Hm.
TREFON ANGASAN: And then, they taught me how to patch holes. Big, monster holes in the net.
And so, I got to do -- Because they would look at our gear that the Sal Abyo would give us, and the holes were bigger than this house, so Louie -- Mike Grillo, Louie Grillo's -- I don't know if you know Louie -- Mike Grillo? KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yeah, it --
TREFON ANGASAN: He was a net man. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yep.
TREFON ANGASAN: He would come up to the house and help rack on the gear, and he would, you know, tie in all these big tears, and he would show us the knots that don't slip, and, you know, why we needed to have extras meshes here, and -- and how to lock in our corks and -- and doin' all those things.
So, that's the kind of thing that we treasured from -- And then, that was Louie -- I mean, that was Mike Grillo.
His brother, Louie Grillo, was the cook. And, he would come up with his little garlic and his little olive oil, and his little parmesan cheese, and, you know, he would make the best garlic bread I -- I -- I could -- I.
To this day, I -- I'll always savor this garlic bread of his, because it tasted -- I mean, the way he did it, he'd -- He took the bread, buttered it, garlic butter, and he even put -- I think there was even tomatoes and stuff in it. It was just a -- It was just incredible.
KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yeah. And you mem -- remember the mess hall, and your -- the pots that --
TREFON ANGASAN: Oh yeah, the -- while we're waiting for our pots to get filled, we would run around to these long walkway, and stand in front of the doors.
And as the fishermen came out, they would bring us their apples and oranges, ice cream -- little cups -- little cartons of ice cream, and --
They would give us -- You know, they would give us the -- you know, all of their dessert-types from this end, and then -- and when they were done eatin' we would go around and collect our pots and take 'em home and eat them.
KATIE RINGSMUTH: Was it a special kind of pot, or was it just any old-- TREFON ANGASAN: Well, no, these were regular cooking pots.
KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yeah. How big were they you think, usually? TREFON ANGASAN: Well, our family was --
Well, this is during the summertime, when we're fishing. But, when -- earlier -- when we're not, Renee was their ch -- chef. Him and Cliff, they were both cooks at the cannery.
I don't know if you remember Renee? KATIE RINGSMUTH: Mm-mm. TREFON ANGASAN: He was a -- He was a -- what'd they call the -- the chef. Steward. He was the chef's steward. And then Cliff was another one.
And they kinda took a like -- They would -- They would put together boxes of food for the -- for us -- for the family. And they would bring it up to the laundry and mom would send us that -- we'd have to go down every day to -- to laundry to pick up the food that they prepared for us. Because mom wasn't there to cook for us. But -- You know.
And that's probably why I -- I think the sardine -- I said earlier, I prefer sardines over smoked salmon. Because growing up, my mom didn't really spend that much time in a smokehouse. The --
The only thing that she put together were king salmon, and that's because they're -- the -- the kings were -- were put up by the Italians. They took care of the -- the strips, and we would -- you know, they would get their share of it.
But, you know -- But, eating smoked fish itself, I remember I -- I couldn't figure out -- I -- I could never eat sockeye salmon. I -- I just never ate it.
KATIE RINGSMUTH: Well, should we take a little break? You wanna take a break and then we'll -- TREFON ANGASAN: Yeah. I -- I -- KATIE RINGSMUTH: I just wanna -- TREFON ANGASAN: Yeah, I -- I've gotta run pretty quick here. I'm sorry, but --
KATIE RINGSMUTH: Oh. Ok, I just wanted to ask you about the hospital. TREFON ANGASAN: Oh, yes. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Before you take off. So, before -- Let's -- Let's -- TREFON ANGASAN: Let's finish that. I -- I --
The hospital. Walter Craig -- Doc Craigon (sp?) was the doctor. He probably saved my life. He saved my brother Steven's life.
I -- I have a massive cut in my leg. It -- it went right into the bone.
KATIE RINGSMUTH: And -- And you said it was -- Can you say the doctor's name again? Real quick? TREFON ANGASAN: Craigon. (sp?) KATIE RINGSMUTH: Craigon (sp?). TREFON ANGASAN: Doctor Craigon (sp?).
Yeah, he was an old Army surgeon or something. And, he -- he gave us physicals in the beginning.
You know, one of the requirements of going to Sheldon Jackson High School was that we had to have physicals. And in South Naknek, there really was nowhere to get physicals. So, Dr. Craigon (sp?) would -- would give us our physicals. And so, we got him to fill out the form for us.
And that was one of the things that he did for us in -- in the Angasan family. But -- and --
But at the hospital itself, I remember I -- I got a deep, deep cut in my knee. Right through the bone, you could see -- way inside, and there was just no way that -- and blood was just pouring. I severed the tendon, all kinds of things.
And so, I remember being rushed down to the hospital, and Dr. Craigon (sp?) tourniquet, and he did something. I don't know what he did, but he got the bleeding to stop, which was a miracle. And then he sewed it.
And -- And, I was -- I had a bad knee for a long time. But that was Dr. Craigon (sp?) there.
And then, my brother Steven, he had a crushed hip and Dr. Craigon (sp?) took care of him until they medevaced him out of there. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Wow.
TREFON ANGASAN: Yeah, he got run over by -- by a truck down -- going up on the motorcycle on Diamond O hill.
And they -- the motorcyc -- the truck ran over him and crushed his hip, and so Dr. Craigon (sp?) probably saved his life.
KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yeah, that hospital played an important role in save -- TREFON ANGASAN: Oh yes, definitely. And -- Yeah, there was -- I liked to go in there, because it was always quiet. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Hm-mm.
TREFON ANGASAN: The only downside to Dr. Craigon (sp?) was you had to pay upfront. Cash upfront.
KATIE RINGSMUTH: Oh, the company didn't take care of it? TREFON ANGASAN: No. KATIE RINGSMUTH: -- then -- TREFON ANGASAN: No, he was there not so much as a company doctor, but a -- you know, he was kinda like a -- you know, Providence state care kind --
KATIE RINGSMUTH: Oh, ok. So by then it wasn't -- he wasn't an APA doctor? TREFON ANGASAN: He was an AP -- He worked at the ho -- APA hospital -- KATIE RINGSMUTH: But he wasn't -- TREFON ANGASAN: -- He lived there. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Gotcha.
TREFON ANGASAN: But he -- because we probably weren't in his contract, we had to pay cash upfront.
KATIE RINGSMUTH: And the other thing -- The other building that I think played a big role for the community was the store, too. I remember the early store. TREFON ANGASAN: Oh, yes.
KATIE RINGSMUTH: What do -- What do you remember about the store? TREFON ANGASAN: Well, I liked the store because we got to go in there and steal candy bars every once in a while.
The way they had it configured there, you know, they -- KATIE RINGSMUTH: I know, I stole my few, too.
TREFON ANGASAN: Yeah. Down -- back when the store was up next to the office downstairs. That's where they first store was. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Oh. Yeah. Right. TREFON ANGASAN: And then they moved it up to the -- you know, at the top of the warehouse there.
But the store itself, I remember they always -- they brought in seasonal issue -- seasonal things that we never would have access to normally.
I remember Christmas stockings, Christmas candy, all kinds of different toys that they would sell during the Christmas season.
I remember back around December, January, when you're outta money, if you worked for Alaska Packers you got to charge your food and groceries and fuel until the next season.
Coupled with the old IRS, they would pay your tax bill. If --
But, they didn't do that for everybody. But they certainly did it for me. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Hm. TREFON ANGASAN: And I -- And I'll always remember that.
KATIE RINGSMUTH: Well, I know you're getting ready to take off, but is there anything really important that you think we should know about as we move forward on this project? About the cannery and the community, and the -- the history?
TREFON ANGASAN: I -- I think that Alaska Packers is -- has been critical to the survival of that community, in more ways than one. I mean --
And I think that had it not been for that cannery, I don't think South Naknek would've existed. Even though there was Bumble Bee and PAF, it was Alaska Packers that was the -- you know, the service provider. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Hm-mm.
TREFON ANGASAN: And you didn't have those kind of service benefits coming from PAF or CRPA.
Fuel, for example. They always made it available to any -- any local person that wanted to buy fuel. They kept their storage tanks open, and they would have a meter there and you'd go down and fill these -- fill your little can or your drum or whatever. And --
And for us, whatever we needed. I remember, if I needed some mechan -- machine shop part in the wintertime, I would go down and see the winteman, Grant Brown, or somebody.
We would trudge down to the machine shop and scrounge around until I found the part.
Or if I needed a tool, or certain kind of nails or something from the carpenter shop, we'd go over there and I'd scrounge around and get the right carriage bolts or whatever.
So, that -- that's the kinda life that I had at Alaska Packers. But -- KATIE RINGSMUTH: Well, I --
TREFON ANGASAN: But again, it wasn't open to everybody. You had to have been -- You know, part of you had to have been there from the cradle to the grave like I've been.
KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yeah. Well I -- I told my dad I was gonna -- I talked to him on the phone the other day, and I told him I was gonna come in and interview you, and he said, "You be sure to say hello and, you know, you tell Trefon how -- how much I -- I remember those days and -- and how much they really matter."
TREFON ANGASAN: Well, he was -- You know, Gary was the new age, and I really -- you know, he -- he brought in the different -- different mindset towards us.
And it was really hard for me to fathom, because I was used to the old Frank Phillips and the Hank Bisons and the Norm Rocknesses.
And along comes this young bookkeeper, Gary, who wore tennis shoes when everybody else wore combat boots, kind of thing, you know. And so, I never really got to --
It took me years to finally recognize, you know, that he was different.
You know, I've al -- I was always, you know, standoffish to Gary, because I didn't -- you know, I -- I was just, you know, being -- I -- I wouldn't call it humble or anything, I would just say because of the subservience role that I had with Alaska Packers since -- since I was ten years old when they gave me my first boat, little 16-18 footer with a 18 -- with a 9-horse Johnson to set net.
And, you know, those were important days for me. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Hm-mm. TREFON ANGASAN: 'Cause nobody else had those kind of markets that I did. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yeah.
TREFON ANGASAN: And then, soon as I turned 18, they leased me a boat, without even -- I -- I mean, that was it. You know, you had -- I had to be 18 to get a boat. To -- to lease a boat.
And I was one of the only -- there were only, I think, three of us in the village that had leased boats from Alaska Packers. I think my dad, Ted, and myself were the only ones that leased -- that had leases for the boats.
KATIE RINGSMUTH: And they're all up there on the high-catch numbers, too. I have the documents that show the rankings, and you're -- you -- your name is always right up there in the -- at the top.
TREFON ANGASAN: Well, I leave that to him (pointing to Brad Angasan) these days. Well, I tell you, it -- it's like, you know, my dad, you know. He -- They -- I remember Sal Abyo telling him we couldn't anchor up.
We had to get ten thousand fish if we wanted to keep that boat. And so, it was -- And that was the first year.
Sel didn't want me to -- didn't -- didn't want my dad to take me out 'cause I was -- he said I was too young. I was thirteen.
And I was really -- I was pretty big, and my dad said, "No, I -- I'm gonna take my son." Sal said --
You know, they gave us an AP double-ender, and that was the year that they went on a combine with -- with Wen Brindle (sp?). It was a poor -- slated to be a poor year, so they pooled all the canneries together, and they called -- what the call a combine between Bumble Bee, Alaska Packers and Red Salmon.
If you were one of them -- If you fished for one of those companies, you got to deliver to any one of those tenders.
And so, I remember, we got this -- what they call -- they -- we had AP 10. It was a big -- what they call a squawk -- "Squaw Creek Double Ender." And it was a big boat, one of the biggest boats that they had.
And the -- they told my dad that he had to catch ten thousand fish with me onboard in order for him to stay -- to keep his market.
And man, we went out and we fished. I mean, I remember. I remember wondering, "What the hell." I mean, storms were upon storm. It was a stormy year, but it -- it just didn't -- we didn't stop for anything. Night and day, just boom, boom.
And my dad is -- you know, he was good at that. I remember when he got the Vera A, he was -- we were all fishing over on the west side, and the rest of us were kind half -- our boats were kinda half full and we came up to him, and his boat was just heaping with fish.
And it was blowin' like crazy. And he was headin' to the east side and, you know, we -- You -- You --
You just have to know what you're doing in order to head -- you know, to -- when you're start, end of the season or you're coming off a Half Moon Bay and you're heading -- and you got a 35 east -- southeaster, and tide's out, and you gotta figure out where you wanna cut across the mound below that lower ship, and then turn 90 degrees once you're past your lower ship, kinda --
You had to know all that. Because you don't have any -- you know, I mean.
I learned how to pick clams. In NN 33, I was fishing my first year. No compass, no fathometer, no nothing.
And I'm fishing, and I'm fishing Diamond M, 'cause that's the only place -- I just was too afraid to go out further. And so, I --
There was no fish in Diamond M, but they were catchin' lotta fish up in Hungry's Flat, and so I figured, "Im gonna go up there."
And so, I -- I pulled up, and I was heading up to Diam -- Hungry's Flat, and I got stuck. I got stuck heading over there from Diamond M. On top of the sandbar.
And my dad always said that if we ever got stuck in a sandbar, throw your boat in reverse and the prop wash will build up the sand and it'll -- your boat'll be automatically blocked. And when the tide come in, you won't tip like that. And, that'll keep you -- you know, keep you from swamping.
So, I did that. I just threw it in reverse and built, built, built up the sand. You could feel it building -- hitting.
And then, I went to hit the rack, and then an hour later, I heard this incredibly loud cackling sounds. Just couldn't figure out what the hell was all that noise.
I happened to look out and there was hundreds of seagulls around the boat. They were eating all the clams that I washed up.
And so I jumped out and we gathered up what was left. We got a pile of clams out of that. They were just laying on top of the sand. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Wow. TREFON ANGASAN: So, that's how I got to dig clams.
KATIE RINGSMUTH: Well, I just wanna say thank you to -- And -- And you know, one of the things that I'm noticing, the reason I'm doin' this project is pretty simple. And it's -- it's because this place gave me so much.
And -- And I think it's important for me to understand my family's connection to this place.
So, here you have Brad here, and, you know, what -- what do you guys think? Why do you think this -- this project is important? Why do you think the history of this place should be preserved?
BRAD ANGASAN: Oh, I think it's, you know, it's a legacy orientation to the community of South Naknek. It's such a, you know, a foundation for the community.
Both in terms of the infrastructure that it brought to the community, but as well as the economy that supported the community for -- for many generations.
And it's -- it's become evident just how important the can -- the cannery was to the community. You see that after its shutdown and, you know, the impact that it's had.
South Naknek is, you know, nearing what we call abandonment now. It's got such a small population.
And it's difficult to watch that happen; it's history unfolding before us. But, that's how strong and how much of a prominent role the cannery had on the community. That's how much of an impact it was.
TREFON ANGASAN: Yeah. I was the first gen -- what you've heard as the first generation of local Native people, we were the first there. But after us, when your dad came along, they began to hire more and more local ki -- people to work in the canneries.
The Frankie Beans's (sp?) and the Stanley Beans's (sp?) and, you know, the (inaudible). Everybody went -- Then, you know, they finally had to get a job workin' there, and that was really important. That -- that whole -- That's --
That's something that they -- it wasn't open to them in the beginning. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yeah.
TREFON ANGASAN: And I think that the only reason why it was open to -- in -- them in the beginning was because my dad was the winterman in Diamond O, and he was the windstriper and the plumber.
And my mom ran the cannery (means the laundry?). And so, the rest of us got to benefit from that. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Right.
TREFON ANGASAN: But the rest of the community didn't. 'Cause remember I told you that there were only three boats that were leased by the -- and they were to Ted, myself, and my dad. So, you know, that tells you somethin'. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Right.
TREFON ANGASAN: But that was before your dad came along, and then when he came along, the local people started to get to go to work. And that's the progression, the progressiveness.
And when you talk about your dad sitting in the Filipino side of the mess hall, that, you know -- I wasn't -- that didn't come to mind at first that what your descri -- that -- why -- why he said that people left him alone.
I think it sent the signal that, you know, you -- you could go eat in the Filipino mess hall if you wanted to. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Sure. TREFON ANGASAN: You couldn't before. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Right.
TREFON ANGASAN: You couldn't eat in the "Blue Room" before, you couldn't eat in the -- you know, in -- in -- you know, in any of those places. The Native food, I mean, I talked to you -- some of Walter --
You ought to talk to guys like Walter -- I mean, the good friend of mine, Jimmy Walker's boy. He's -- he grew up in -- working in the cannery there. And he -- he -- I don't know if you know him or not, His name is David Walker. He's Jimmy's boy. Jimmy Walker's --
KATIE RINGSMUTH: The -- Is he Filipino? TREFON ANGASAN: No no, he's a Native. KATIE RINGSMUTH: No. Is he Native?
TREFON ANGASAN: He was -- His dad was from the Yukon and he was -- he did all of the recruiting for the Native workers down in the, you know, for Chignik and for Diamond E and for -- KATIE RINGSMUTH: Ok. Yeah. TREFON ANGASAN: -- Diamond NN.
Jimmy Walker was the recruiter. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Ok. TREFON ANGASAN: David, he's a friend of mine, and him and I talk all the time.
We -- We've talked about the times that we used to have in South Naknek. We talk -- more so -- not so much the cannery, but how we used to stay alive in the bar. "The Pit," you know.
KATIE RINGSMUTH: The Pit. Yes. The Pit. Well, what's your favorite Pit song? TREFON ANGASAN: Ah. "Wooly Bully." KATIE RINGSMUTH: "Wooly Bully," of course.
Well, thank you so much for taking the time, and hopefully w -- this project will just keep -- keep goin' along, and --
TREFON ANGASAN: If you ever need me again, I'm here. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Oh, well, I just might take you up on that. TREFON ANGASAN: I mean, I -- I just cracked the surface of --
KATIE RINGSMUTH: I have a whole bunch of photos that I'll make sure you -- TREFON ANGASAN: Sure. KATIE RINGSMUTH: --- get copies of, and -- and if you guys wanna keep the map. BRAD ANGASAN: I -- I'd love to.
KATIE RINGSMUTH: Ok. Yeah. Please, please do that, so. Well, thank you, so much. Alright. TREFON ANGASAN: Ok.