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Harriet Berikoff
Harriet Berikoff
Harriet Berikoff talks about moving to Unalaska and her experiences in the community.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 2009-16-01

Project: Unalaska Communities of Memory
Date of Interview: Apr 26, 1996
Narrator(s): Harriet Berikoff
Location of Interview:
Location of Topic:
Funding Partners:
Alaska Humanities Forum
Alternate Transcripts
There is no alternate transcript for this interview.

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Coming to Unalaska

First experiences in Unalaska

Listening to old stories and visiting with new people

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HARRIET BERIKOFF: I'm going to talk about when I first came to Unalaska in August the year of 1965. I'm originally from King Cove, but I married Emil.

Everybody knows who Emil is. And we came up on a boat on the North Sea. And them days it was hard to get a flight in and out, so we came up on this fishing boat.

And it was pretty rough, we were ...well, I was sick anyway. He says it was nice, but I was sick the whole way coming up here, and... Got up here to, uhm, I told my dad, "I'm taking a boat, we can't fly up this way, so we're taking a boat."

And so he used to tease me, he'd say, and I believed him, he said, "Well, you're going up there, the Russians are gonna get you." So I thought, "Oh, my God, what am I getting myself into?"

When I got up it was daybreak, and looking around, and I thought I could see these submarines, so I thought it, oh god, there was submarines all over coming up on the water, I just had nightmares (laughter).

And so we arrived here. And it was, I think it was during, it was daylight when we got here.

We got to the old, used to be old PanAlaska down here, at the dock, Alyeska. And they were repairing the dock, and we didn't know it at the time, and there was a, I think it was Carl's, one of their vehicles there.

Anyway, we borrowed their truck to unload our stuff and take it home, and come to find out that we could have fallen through the dock, because they never told us anything, they were doing repairs on it.

So learned that, that was a nightmare. Got home and very, very sick. Go up and see Murphy the, I think that next day or something. I was still sick for about a week after.

I can remember going to the store where it used to be the old NC Store. Walt and Marie were running it then, it was just a real small part of it.

So I told Emil, "I'm gonna go to the store," I said, "If I don't come back in about 15, 20 minutes you come looking for me." Cause the grass used to be really tall, and I thought, it seemed like a long ways and everything.

And I said, "Well, I'm going to the store." So I go down to the store, and my first acquaintance was with Walt and Marie. And they were standing there.

Need to ask for everything, because they had a little counter there. Well, I want that -- you'd point to everything -- can of milk, a can of corned beef, Spam, and things like this.

And you got credit, you know, like maybe they allowed you like $50 or something like that, of credit, so I bought my groceries like that. And managed to get home. And, let's see, what else can I say.

There was, we used to go over every morning and visit his dad. Old Bill Berikoff.

And he used to tell us a lot of old, old stories. And I'd sit there in the mornings, cause Emil he used to go take a bus and have to go up to used to be San Juan and work in the cannery there.

And so I didn't want to stay home and so I'd get up and go and have coffee with them around 7 o'clock or so every morning.

And they'd all get off to work, and he'd tell old stories about, uhm, he'd tell me about these outside men, and I used to be afraid to go home after he tell (laughter), cause I thought, "Oh, I'm scared to go home, because they're probably hiding in my house," or just always weird stories he'd tell me.

So, I'd sit there and listen to him, and when it got daybreak I'd go home and creep into the house.

I was so afraid after listening to all his stories, I'd look under the bed and into the closets (laughter) everywhere. I got really paranoid of his stories.

And did a lot of visiting, like with Nick's wife, Polly. Used to, used to go down there every morning and wake her up.

She used to get mad at me, 'cause she liked to sleep in, and I'd tell her, "Well, I'm coming down tomorrow to have coffee with you, better be up."

And she'd never be out of bed, I'd have to go down there and wake her up all the time. So I met a lot of, you know, a lot of new people.

It's a real, I can really see a change now. The growth, like 31 years ago, it's different, very different. That's all.