This is the continuation of an interview with Brad Angasan on November 27, 2018 by Katie Ringsmuth at the Alaska Peninsula Corporation headquarters in Anchorage, Alaska. In this second part of a two part interview, Brad talks about local people being hired at the cannery, segregation, and the benefit of working in the cannery's multi-ethnic environment. He also describes some of his experiences as a commercial fisherman and how the fishing industry has changed since his father and grandfather were fishermen. Finally, Brad shares his feelings about how working at the cannery shaped his life, the important role the cannery has played in the community of South Naknek, and why it's important to preserve the history and legacy of the cannery.
Digital Asset Information
Project: NN Cannery History Project Jukebox
Date of Interview: Nov 27, 2018
Narrator(s): Brad Angasan
Interviewer(s): Katherine Ringsmuth
Transcriber: Emily Mueller
After clicking play, click on a section to navigate the audio or video clip.
The laundry at the cannery, and hiring of local people
The store at the cannery
Mess halls at the cannery
Segregation and race relations at the cannery
The benefit of working in the cannery's multi-ethnic setting
Working as a fisherman, and feeling connected to the cannery and to South Naknek
The importance of "mug up's"
How the cannery work and his upbringing shaped him
Changes in technology and in the fishing industry
The relationship between the cannery and the community, and the impact of the cannery closing
Importance of preserving cannery history
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After clicking play, click a section of the transcript to navigate the audio or video clip.
KATIE RINGSMUTH: Ok, so, welcome back, and we were just gettin' ready to talk a little bit about the laundry. BRAD ANGASAN: My -- my earliest memory of the laundry is when my grandmother worked there. And --
KATIE RINGSMUTH: Your grandmother? BRAD ANGASAN: My grandmother Vera. Vera Angasan.
And Grandma worked there, you know, doin' the laundry. Washing the bedding and, you know, clothing for the -- for the static employees that -- that didn't live outside of the cannery who'd come in and -- you know, the general workforce.
One day, my mother brought me down because Grandma invited us down, and there used to be this big -- I call it a wooden -- wooden barrel, almost. It was a big washing machine. It was like --
It was a big wooden tank that spun. And there were these big open doors, and I -- I remember she -- she filled it up and, you know, I got to go swimmin' in this washing machine.
Well, that was part of a tradition, I guess. And a lot of my cousins and, you know, friends from other families remember doing the same thing. It was sort of a, you know, sort of a -- sort of a tradition for -- for us younger -- younger kids.
KATIE RINGSMUTH: Well, you -- you swam in the -- the washing machine and I swam in the fish bins. BRAD ANGASAN: Right.
Well, there's the one big -- the -- we called it the hot tub, right, behind the ice house there. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yeah. BRAD ANGASAN: I remember that. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yeah. BRAD ANGASAN: Yeah. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Big ol' cedar -- BRAD ANGASAN: Yeah.
KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yeah. I remember, too, with the washing machine, you had a -- it had a clutch, and you needed to shift it. BRAD ANGASAN: Oh, my gosh. KATIE RINGSMUTH: And that thing could wash something like 40 wool blankets. One -- BRAD ANGASAN: Oh, my God. Can you imagine how heavy that musta got? KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yeah. Extraordinary. BRAD ANGASAN: Uh-huh. Well --
KATIE RINGSMUTH: So -- Well, I was going to say, so -- so Vera worked in the cannery, and not just kind of entered it, but she ran that laundry.
And it seemed like that would -- became a tradition, where you had the local community kind of moving into the workforce through the laundry, and particularly women. BRAD ANGASAN: Sure. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yeah, BRAD ANGASAN: I can see that. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yeah.
BRAD ANGASAN: My grandfather was a plumber. You know? Remember Charlie Salvo? (sp?) KATIE RINGSMUTH: Mm-hm. BRAD ANGASAN: Yeah, he was -- he was a spring and fall -- fall-time plumber, too. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yeah. Yep. BRAD ANGASAN: Nick Pete. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yep.
BRAD ANGASAN: My grandfather was part of that crew that'd go there, and they'd connect the pipes. Connect the pipeline, and, you know, break it apart when it was time to go. Time -- Time to close up.
KATIE RINGSMUTH: So, you talked a little bit about the store. So, that was one of my very first memories, was the store. 'Cause that was my dad's first job, was to -- BRAD ANGASAN: Storekeep? KATIE RINGSMUTH: -- to be the storekeeper. He worked down in Ugashik, and some of the other canneries, too.
But I have a very vague memory of the store. Do you have any -- Can you describe the store? BRAD ANGASAN: So, the store, it has evolved significantly. You know, how they managed it from our time there, to how it's managed now.
Fishermen had a -- a provisions warehouse where they would put their food orders in, and people would stock their food orders for them.
So, Judy Gerkin -- Gerke (sp?)? KATIE RINGSMUTH: Gerke (sp?). BRAD ANGASAN: Is it -- Gerke (sp?)? KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yep. BRAD ANGASAN: Judy Gerke (sp?) and Frank -- Oh gosh, what's Frank's last name? KATIE RINGSMUTH: I can't remember. BRAD ANGASAN: Devona's (sp?) husband. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yeah.
BRAD ANGASAN: Judy and -- and -- and Frank would -- KATIE RINGSMUTH: Hansen or -- Oh, anyway, go ahead.
BRAD ANGASAN: They would -- they would put the -- the grub orders together. And, you know, then you'd go over to the store, and the store was, you know, just really a place for -- for -- for just the general dry goods and stuff.
KATIE RINGSMUTH: And was the store -- you're imagining the store as the -- in the big warehouse -- BRAD ANGASAN: No. KATIE RINGSMUTH: -- that became the (inaudible). BRAD ANGASAN: No. Yeah, up across from the office -- KATIE RINGSMUTH: Right. BRAD ANGASAN: -- there. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Mm-mm. Yeah.
BRAD ANGASAN: So, you know, I can remember when Allison Davis, and, you know, her family worked there. 'Cause Clyde's wife was -- KATIE RINGSMUTH: Shelly. BRAD ANGASAN: Yeah. Clyde and Shelly. Clyde was a watchman and, you know, I think Allison was her sister, right? Allison and Jared. Shelly's brother and sister. And Allison worked there at the store. And, you know, that's --
Growing up later, you know, I'd say my -- my late teen years, early adult years. You know, when -- I remember when they transitioned away from that and brought it down to where the -- the cook hall is. The mess hall is. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Right.
BRAD ANGASAN: So, they -- you know, where the new store is at now, and I call it the new store. I don't even know if it operates anymore. But I remember that was -- that was the mess hall area for, you know, like the operation executive management of the --
KATIE RINGSMUTH: The Blue Room. BRAD ANGASAN: Yeah. KATIE RINGSMUTH: And the Yellow Room. BRAD ANGASAN: Yeah. KATIE RINGSMUTH: And then you had the big main hall. BRAD ANGASAN: Yeah, then -- then --
Yeah, then where -- you know, where the laborers and then the fishermen ate. You know.
Yeah, I remember that place would be packed, you know. Early summer. Early summer and through the summer. I mean, you'd have to eat in shifts, you know. And if you were lucky, you got a seat at the end of the -- end of the mess hall.
You know, over the course of the last twenty years or so in it's decline, I mean, it's so different now. You know, they cordoned it off now and there's only like a couple of tables that they open up now.
KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yeah, could -- it used to be able to feed what, five, six hundred people -- BRAD ANGASAN: Easy. KATIE RINGSMUTH: -- seven times a day. BRAD ANGASAN: Easy.
KATIE RINGSMUTH: So, about that time, too, in the early '70s -- or late '70s, actually, they still had the Filipino mess that was connected. Do you remember that? BRAD ANGASAN: I remember when the Filipino cook hall was up in one of the bunkhouses. Do you recall that? KATIE RINGSMUTH: Mm-mm. No.
BRAD ANGASAN: Ok. It was the one that was -- it was close to the tanks. Or was that the Italian cookhouse? KATIE RINGSMUTH: There was a cookhouse up there? BRAD ANGASAN: Yeah. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Oh, I didn't know that.
BRAD ANGASAN: Well, no, it was a -- it was a -- it was a bunkhou -- bunkhouse that was outfitted with -- with stoves and, you know, cooking.
KATIE RINGSMUTH: It wasn't the one -- the Filipino mess hall next to the -- the -- the mess hall, right? Over here. BRAD ANGASAN: No. KATIE RINGSMUTH: It was up here somewhere, huh?
BRAD ANGASAN: Yeah, so there was a -- there was a Filipino bunkhouse and an Italian bunkhouse. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Uh-huh.
BRAD ANGASAN: And I recall even up until -- oh, gosh, the later years, there were still -- there were still elements of the Italian, you know, cook mess hall up in that -- up in that bunkhouse there.
KATIE RINGSMUTH: So, it was in that open space probably -- BRAD ANGASAN: Yeah. KATIE RINGSMUTH: -- in the -- the family room? BRAD ANGASAN: The common area. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yeah. Ok. Yeah. BRAD ANGASAN: Yeah.
KATIE RINGSMUTH: I think Dad shut that down because of fire fear. And I think that's about the same time he integrated the mess hall.
So, no longer the -- 'cause he segregated before the -- the law passed. BRAD ANGASAN: Wow.
KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yeah. And again it was good business. No one, you know, opposed. BRAD ANGASAN: Oh, yeah.
KATIE RINGSMUTH: But, yeah. So -- so canneries were segregated. Did you have any kind of experience with any kind of segregation? BRAD ANGASAN: Well, you know, there -- there -- Yeah, I think that there was an informal, unspoken form of it growing up.
You know, there was the local -- the -- the local element, right? And then the -- the out-of-state workers would come in and sort of just take over.
And I remember David Hodgton (sp?) had the sentiment where, you know, he just really had a lot of distaste for it.
You know, because you -- all that hard work that he put forth to get it all ready, and people would come in. We're not talking about the cannery workers. We're talkin' about the summer beach gang crew, you know. And they'd come in and just sort of take over. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yeah.
BRAD ANGASAN: And it just -- it always -- it always rubbed him wrong, you know.
To me, it wasn't a big deal, because I was evolving and integrating, you know, socially into the -- into the mix. I was coming into my -- my early 20s. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Sure.
BRAD ANGASAN: And, you know, I just -- I absolutely looked forward to going back to the cannery after, you know, college would get out. And that was -- that was part of my deal. You know, I just loved it. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yeah.
BRAD ANGASAN: You know. I mean, I came of age in a cannery. My first experiences were in a cannery, for crying out loud. I mean, that's probably not a good thing, but -- KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yeah. BRAD ANGASAN: -- you know. Just it was -- It's, you know, how I came into -- to being.
You know, a lot of people don't get those experiences until they, you know, break away from the nest and go to college.
Well, I had those experiences at thirteen, you know, and -- just incredible.
I mean, just e -- everything about it. I mean, the city of the cannery. I mean it was a city, really. It was its own community and there were so many different cultures there, and so many different, you know, types of people.
The California kids that would come in. And, you know, the Filipino processors that still came in, even though they -- you know, they -- they -- they were integrated, they, you know, they'd still come in and -- as their own group.
KATIE RINGSMUTH: Japanese technicians. BRAD ANGASAN: Yeah. Yeah. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Scandinavian crew, the Italians. BRAD ANGASAN: The -- Yeah. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Croatians. BRAD ANGASAN: The Croatians. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yeah.
BRAD ANGASAN: Yeah, you bet. I mean, it's just -- Even though there was -- You know, segregation was, you know, largely stamped out, you know, socially, the footprint of -- of that still existed. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Sure.
BRAD ANGASAN: And, you know, I -- I -- I -- I would like to say that I -- I enjoyed, uh, you know, very multi-ethnic upbringing in the cannery.
Because at the end of the day I could go home and, you know, live with my grandma and grandpa, and then I'd get to go down and, you know, work in the cannery and just be exposed to all types of lifestyles and -- and everything.
I mean, it was a huge educational experience for me. Probably the most profound, because I was exposed to so many, you know, so many different ways of life. So many different thought processes.
I know that that has influenced how I am today. You know, in large part because it -- it was its own world, you know, and you had to coexist in the world. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yeah.
BRAD ANGASAN: You couldn't not. You couldn't fight against it. You know, you just wouldn't have survived or done well.
And I just enjoyed very much the ability to come back for the five or six years that I got to work there. You know, very short amount of time, not very much time at all. But, you know, just integrating into that workforce.
So, there's that time that I have there, and then my time as a fisherman. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Fisherman, right. BRAD ANGASAN: Which is lifelong. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yeah.
BRAD ANGASAN: You know, and those two are connected, very much so. KATIE RINGSMUTH: How so? BRAD ANGASAN: Well, it's, you know, the location, the commonality of the cannery brings it all together.
So, it's home. It really is. I will always know and say that South Naknek is my home, even though I might live here.
And when I say that that's my home, you know, two places stand out to me. One, my grandma's big green house up in the middle of the village, and the cannery. Two places that I absolutely have to go.
Oh, and the old Orthodox Church, you know. Just -- It's just part of who I am, and --
KATIE RINGSMUTH: And we -- when you're out on the water, you can see it. BRAD ANGASAN: You can. As a -- You know, as a --
Growing up, fishing with my Dad, we had the old Homeward, which is now the FV Kimmy. It's a little fiberglass boat. And I grew up on that boat there.
My dad fished a number of company boats before then. PEN4 when he fished with Peter Pan. He had NN 58 when he fished for APA. CWF when he fished for Bumblebee, which was an old little -- little bow picker.
And in my time, we had the Homeward, which was a old fiberglass boat. And I was telling you this the other day. Excuse me.
You know, one of the most distinguishing features of the cannery is not when you're within the cannery itself, but when you're miles out on the water and you can see the light of the Egg House in the middle of the night. And especially during a rough storm, I mean, that's almost like a beacon.
You know, it was a sense of security as a kid, for me. I -- the -- the glow of that -- that orange glow, that amber glow that just sort of lit up, you know. And you can see that from way out -- out the Y. Out in the Naknek district.
And I -- I just have a v -- very -- I remember one night, it was just really crappy weather, you know, really rough, and we're out in the back of the stern and fishin' wasn't really good, and I was miserable and tired.
And I remember lookin' up and seein' the cannery all lit up, you know. It was miles away from where I was, but it was just, you know, it was just a fantastic sight to see, really. I mean, it just -- it was a sense of security, I suppose.
That lights -- lighthouse effect, you know, when you actually see the light at the end of the tunnel, and you know that at the end of the day you're gonna be able to go home. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yeah. BRAD ANGASAN: Yeah.
KATIE RINGSMUTH: So what do you remember -- when you come into the cannery, you're -- You know, let's say they have a closure, you come in for the day, what's -- like what is it -- What do you -- like, you go into the mess hall, all that food?
BRAD ANGASAN: So, do you remember at -- in the creek side of the cannery, the upriver side when they used to put the scows out, the flat barges? Ok. So, that was like a -- that was like a little harbor. It was like a little port in there.
And they stopped doing that years ago. And, anyhow, during closures people would tie up to those flat scows and, you know, the general rule of the thumb is, when you're on a boat, you stay on the boat until the boat goes dry.
So, that -- that was its own community there. So, you tie up and everybody, you know, especially on a nice day, you'd go out and everybody'd be on their decks. Everybody'd be talking. You know, it was just sort of like leaning over the fence in your backyard, talkin' to your neighbor.
And, you know, then the boat would go dry, and then you'd go up and, you know, resupply and get ready for the -- for the next opener. Or go to the bar. You know.
And, you know, just -- a little bit of R&R went a long way. And I'm talkin' rest and relaxation, you know. Just to be able to clear your mind and go to the cannery.
Y -- You know, with commercial fishing, especially Bay (Bristol Bay) fishing, we try to squeeze in a year's worth of income into a couple of short weeks. And sometimes we can do it. Sometimes you can't. A lotta times we can't.
And the amount of effort and labor that goes into that is just all-consuming and physically exhausting. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yeah.
BRAD ANGASAN: So, you don't take -- you don't take things for granted like going into the cannery on a closure, to go and and grub up or, you know, get your case of pop or your -- your can of coffee, or your -- you know, your fresh cookies from Devona (sp?) or whatever, you know.
You don't take those things lightly, you don't take 'em for granted. Because those are treasures, you know, really. That's part of -- you know, part of what I identify with.
And the cannery was sort of a breadbasket, not just, you know, for -- you know, social -- you know, thriving socially, but, you know, for general sustenance, you know. You needed that sense of security.
It was almost a very nurturing type of element. And I knew that, you know, when we'd go into the cannery, when we'd have time, that was -- that was home to me. You know, in addition to bein' -- you know, my grandmother's house, I spent the majority of my time at the cannery.
KATIE RINGSMUTH: When I say "mug up," what comes to mind? BRAD ANGASAN: Coffee time and socializin'. Yeah. And fresh maple bars and cookies.
KATIE RINGSMUTH: What do you see, when you just imagine "mug up?" What's goin' on? What's the scene look like? BRAD ANGASAN: Ok.
What I see when I think of "mug up," I think of everybody sittin' on the bull rail in front of the beach gang office, you know. Right outside of where the -- the mug up room is now.
And everybody lined up and, you know, sittin' back. You know, just enjoying time. You know, fifteen minutes goes a long way. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yeah.
BRAD ANGASAN: You know, when you're tired and you're exhausted and -- and -- or maybe you're just not havin' a good day, you know. That solace, you know, just a 15-minute cup of coffee can go a long way when you're a laborer, and when you're a fisherman.
And, that's what comes to mind. You know, it's just a -- you know, that moment where you actually get to let go and unwind and maybe forget about where you're at.
You know, a lotta people detested being back there. The van (sp?). I could never figure that out. 'Cause I absolutely loved it. I mean, when I got to go back to the cannery, I mean, I was at home. And I felt at home.
And, you know, you'd -- you'd hear occasional fishermen gripe about, you know, wantin' to go home, or, you know, they can't -- they only come here to fish and then they go and can't wait to leave. I -- I could never get that. Because I absolutely --
KATIE RINGSMUTH: They'll never remember the work. BRAD ANGASAN: No. KATIE RINGSMUTH: When they tell the stories. No one ever talks about the work.
BRAD ANGASAN: Yeah. I had a -- I had some great experiences there. You know, I talk about, you know, working with David on the beach gang.
My first job, I worked with -- Bob Metivier was my supervisor. Bob asked me -- pulled me aside, he goes, "Kid, why you wanna work here?"
It was like a test, you know, and I was like -- I gave him this philosophical, profound answer and he was like, "Well, you're gonna go work with Eric and Eric in the pipe shop and you're gonna be a plumber for the -- Your grandpa was a plumber, so you're gonna be a plumber."
And I had to go be a plumber with -- Do you remember Eric, the Filipino guy? He was a -- KATIE RINGSMUTH: Hm-mm. BRAD ANGASAN: Ok. I had to -- KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yep. BRAD ANGASAN: -- work with him and this other guy named Eric. And they were Eric and Eric. And it was hilarious.
They were like two -- I mean, Eric was Filipino. One Eric was Filipino, the other guy was like, Midwestern, you know. It was like, two totally different people, and -- you know, Laurel and Hardy types, you know, workin' with these two clowns.
And they just -- they made that -- that first -- first work season just incredibly fun. Yeah.
KATIE RINGSMUTH: I think -- I think what you said about how -- You know, because of that experience, you know -- It's funny, because when --
I grew up in a small town in Washington and people would be like, "Oh, you're goin' to Alaska. You're goin' to the end of the earth." But in reality, we were going to one of the most cosmopolitan places that you could ever, you know, recreate. I mean, you compared it to New York City. I mean --
And I think for me, looking back, as I -- as this project has given me that opportunity, it's those years, those summers that I think shaped who I am.
You know, not necessarily my academic background, but it was being able to work with people who are completely different than me and doing it. You know, workin' it out. And -- And I think that's a -- I think that's extraordinary.
BRAD ANGASAN: It is. It's -- It's certainly shaped who I am and how I work today.
Because, you know, my grandmother, likely the greatest influence of my -- you know, my -- my -- not just my professional career, but, you know, everything that I own I attribute to my grandmother.
When I was -- At a really young age, my parents sent me to set net for her. I think I was like five years old. And at five years old, you can't do much. But you can pack fish.
Back then, we would -- we would manually pack the fish up, you know, from -- from the -- from the beach up to the rocks w -- where the setnet -- or the -- the beach trucks would come down from Bumblebee and they'd pew fish into the back of the -- into the trucks.
And I remember just going from, you know, the womb of -- of -- of my home in Anchorage into that alien environment of -- of labor was really, really difficult for me that first year, but after that --
My grandmother, she ran her setnet operation like a military operation. Perfectly -- With perfect precision. And that's how she -- that's how she ran things. She was tough. And you knew it, you know.
Then she'd have these moments of tenderness that would melt all of that and made it all incredibly worth it.
I remember, you know, I just -- I -- I remember hating it, you know, and then at the end of the season my grandmother handed me a check. And she says, "You earned every bit of it," you know, and gave me a big hug. And it was just like, "Oh, my God."
My first big paycheck, you know, at twelve years old. I -- I earned a couple thousand dollars and -- and I understood then that, you know, you reap what you sow.
You know, it was a valuable lesson that my grandmother taught me. The harder you work, the more you gain. And that's how she raised her family. She didn't raise children for the sake of having kids. She raised kids for the sake of contributing to the economy of the family. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Right.
BRAD ANGASAN: That's why they had ten kids. And all of that was targeted, you know, to the cannery's workforce. If you think about it. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yeah. BRAD ANGASAN: You know, the fishing industry.
KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yep. And so, what would be, kind of, your final thoughts on the relationship between the local community and the cannery? BRAD ANGASAN: Almost -- almost as if it's the life of a community, really. A lot of things --
South Naknek, I believe was born from the cannery. Naturally, I mean, it -- South Naknek is the result of a natural disaster. You know, the eruption of Novarupta, 1912.
And then, you know, compounded with the pandemic of 1919. You know, and people migrated to where the economy was. And it was -- it was an evolving era, you know.
Back, turn of the century. From the turn of the century to the 1950s was -- was an era of adaptation. And then from the 1950s to present day, you know, the advent of modern technology to now just in the -- the last 46 years that I participated in the fishery, the advancements have been just incredible.
You know, you think about this: When I was twelve and thirteen years old, fishing on my dad's boat, as a crewman. I'd always gone out with my dad, you know, ev -- From the age of three on. I -- I'd go out on the boat with him.
There were a couple years where I fished with my grandmother, but from -- from the age of twelve on, I was an actual employee of my dad's. You know, that's when he actually began to compensate me and pay -- pay me as a crewman.
But, you know, watching how the fishery evolved from these old wooden boats, you know, to the modern technology that we have today. I -- I -- You know, I spent a ton of money on my boat last year into the -- the general radio technology for my boat. The electronics. The sonar and, you know, the -- the radio communications, all -- all -- all in secret, you know, like we've got secret coded radios now.
And, you know, my -- my great-grandfather didn't have that when he fished in the sailboat, you know. They oared out if there wasn't any wind, you know. Maybe they got a tow from the monkey boat. They called it the monkey boat. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yeah.
BRAD ANGASAN: And, you know, just a -- a totally different era and lifestyle from the 1950s to modern-day Bristol Bay now. It's a totally different world.
You know, what kills me about that, Katie, is that many local people can't compete with the advancements of technology, because it's so expensive. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yeah.
BRAD ANGASAN: So, those who have secondary careers or primary commuters -- careers, because fishing may only be -- may be just a hobby or a way to spend money so you have a good tax benefit, you know, are -- are -- are flush with money so that they can invest into these -- these, you know, technologically advanced fishing vessels.
They're a lot faster, they pack a lot more, and they just, you know, edge the competition out, really. Their -- Their main -- They're constructed and made to be superior, you know, to edge out the competition.
And, the little guy that's comin' in with the little fiberglass boat from the village of, you know, Clark's Point, or, you know, wherever, those people are gonna have a hard time. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yeah. BRAD ANGASAN: Because they don't have the resources to keep up with -- with that.
You know, I -- I was down in Egegik last summer and I'm sitting there and, you know, trying to compete with everybody else on the line, and it was incredibly frustrating day 'cause there wasn't a lot of fish, so I decided to go inriver.
And I came across a local that was, I mean, nailing 'em, man. He was by himself. Every -- all the other guys like myself, all the dummies, were out in the line, you know, bangin' boats and, you know, wastin' fuel and tryin' to earn a buck.
And here we had this guy in the river. I -- I just came up on him and I was like, "His net's goin' to town. Man, he's been doin' this all day."
And, you know, I just -- I mean, the local knowledge, you know. It -- It somehow is just enough to, you know, maintain the thread of life into the -- into the industry.
We know, you know, just through general statistical tracking of permits managed by the limited entry commission, that more people out of state own Alaska or Bristol Bay permits than -- than Alaska residents.
Even fewer Bristol Bay residents own permits than, you know, what was -- what was intended for when it was created, unfortunately.
KATIE RINGSMUTH: And I imagine, too, that the closure of this cannery is kind of a -- a big representation -- the end of the era. BRAD ANGASAN: It is the end of an era and it's really sad, because the closing of the cannery has also had w -- what I consider to be a very profound impact on the community of South Naknek.
South Naknek is where I come from, and I remember as a child, you know, the year-round population was, oh, rather healthy. A hundred and fifty, two hundred people lived there.
But, even the village -- You heard life in the village, whether it be a four -- three-wheeler cruisin' up the road, or you know, the Holstroms chopping wood or chainsawing steambath wood, you know. Or, you know, cuttin' up smokehouse wood. I mean, there was always life in the community.
Well, you know, since the cannery shut down, I mean, you know, the village of South Naknek is -- is, you know, it's just emaciated. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Right.
BRAD ANGASAN: It's gotten to a point to where I know that it's just -- it's likely just a matter of time before, you know, we write the history on South Naknek, because it's become abandoned. Like what's happened in Ugashik. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yeah.
BRAD ANGASAN: Ugashik at one -- one time was -- was a community like South Naknek, where they had a cannery. And now, you know, we've got one shareholder left in the village of Ugashik. One guy and he's 82 years old.
We're watching history unfold there, you know. And it's just a matter of time before the inevitable happens and that -- that's sealed. And that's unfortunate.
But we're watching that happen with South Naknek, too. And I think a lot of that is, you know, economically related. And that's how significant this, you know, this facility has been on the community.
KATIE RINGSMUTH: So, in terms of, kind of your perspective looking back, going from child to teenager to young person in their 20s, 30s, and now is in your position, now, looking back.
And considering this project, why do you think it's important to preserve this history? The history of the canneries, the history of the people who work there, and what advice or what -- what would you wanna remind us as we go forward?
BRAD ANGASAN: History is important, because, you know, we -- we -- we need to record the history and the general record of those who were really brought forth by the cannery.
Not just the outsiders that came in and contributed to the general workforce, but, you know, the actual community. You know, the integration that was allowed to happen.
Your father was obviously instrumental in that 'cause he, you know, he allowed -- he allowed the local workforce to participate in the fall and the spring crew.
My fondest memories are -- are being able to go -- go to work for -- for Trident. You know, and -- and, you know, e -- earn my keep, so to speak.
My grandmother woulda used that term, "Earn your keep." You know, so we did.
And my -- I just have the -- the greatest -- you know, the greatest sense of appreciation for what I was able to gain from those experiences at this particular cannery. From this industry.
The commercial fish -- commercial fish industry is -- it's brutal. It really is.
One, because it's -- it's really based on a -- a sense of do-or-die competition. You know, it's really -- I liken it to my crew every year, when I'm -- when I'm bringing new crew onto my boat. You know, I tell them, "It's like -- it's like you're in a vacuum tube with a bunch of dollars flying around, and whoever grabs the dollars the fastest is the ones that win. And if you're slow and you don't grab the dollars fast enough, I mean, you're SOL."
And I would say that that element has, you know, has -- has really enabled me, one, to apply those -- those general values and standards away from the fishery to what I do now.
Fishing is not my primary source of income any longer. It's more of a tradition than it is anything else. My son's a fifth-generation Bristol Bay fishermen. I'm very proud of that.
You know, my -- my great-grandfather, my grandfather fished on sailboats. My grandf -- my -- my father fished on a conversion boat. On the old company boat.
And, you know, he's able to participate and he's fished on my boat, which -- the new Homeward, which is a big aluminum boat now.
And we've got, you know, five generations of commercial fishermen born out of this particular facility. Out of this cannery.
Someone in my family has always been here. There's been a presence from my fam -- And I don't doubt that. And I -- I -- I -- I like to think that that's actually, you know, that's true. That some -- somebody from my family, going back way back when, has -- has been affiliated or associated with the advent of the the ca -- cannery in South Naknek. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yeah.
BRAD ANGASAN: And that -- that's very significant to me. It's significant to my identity, to myself as an Alaska Native growing up in the village of South Naknek.
And, I would say the identity of the cannery has left its mark on me. You know, it's -- it's there. It -- It -- It'll never be taken away from me.
And the preservation of the history of this cannery is so incredibly important to myself. I just -- you know, I struggle with trying to figure out, you know, h -- how do we do that, Katie?
I mean, this is like -- This is a huge undertaking and I have so much respect for, you know, the effort that you put forth, you know, to -- to do the historic recordkeeping for this, you know, for this thing.
I -- I -- I -- I hate to call it, you know, something inanimate because it's not. It was a living thing, you know.
And I think we have a responsibility to the heritage of this -- of this cannery to keep it alive. Even if it, you know, just goes back into the earth, you know. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Right.
BRAD ANGASAN: Its soul. We have a responsibility to nurture the soul of the cannery. KATIE RINGSMUTH: Agreed. BRAD ANGASAN: Yeah.
KATIE RINGSMUTH: Well, great. Is there anything else? BRAD ANGASAN: You know, I just -- You know, I just --
I've pondered how I can contribute to this, Katie, you know, and I -- I didn't want to say anything goofy or, you know sorta, gee whizzy, or anything, you know.
I just -- Like yourself, I mean, I just have so many intimate memories of -- of the cannery. You know, getting into mischief. I mean all kinds of stuff -- KATIE RINGSMUTH: Right, right. BRAD ANGASAN: -- you know, really.
You know, growing up, and then becoming a man and, you know, earning -- earning an income to raise my family.
I mean, that -- I have -- I have lots to be thankful for, you know. I've -- I've benefited significantly from its existence.
I would like to contribute and figure out how to, you know, do my part to keep that memory sustained. You know, I think it's important to do that.
KATIE RINGSMUTH: Well, I am just thrilled that you participated today and -- And I think we're just -- just getting started. BRAD ANGASAN: Good. KATIE RINGSMUTH: So --
BRAD ANGASAN: Alright. Well, my dad, Trefon, Jr., would love to -- he'd love to participate. And I told him that -- He -- he wanted to go out to lunch today and I told him I was gonna do this, and he was like, "Why didn't she ask me? I was workin' there for, you know, blah-blahdy, blah blah blah."
KATIE RINGSMUTH: Yeah, no, we'll get him. BRAD ANGASAN: Good. KATIE RINGSMUTH: So -- Great. Ok. Well, thank you.