Oscar Penaranda was interviewed on August 11, 2018 by Anjuli Grantham in San Francisco, California. Due to unforseen circumstances, this interview was conducted in a busy hotel lobby, so there is significant background noise. We have tried to reduce this noise by using audio editing software, but with limited success. Nevertheless, we have chosen to include this interview in the <NN> Cannery History Project Jukebox, because we believe it is important that Oscar's stories are heard. They provide insight into the Filipino cannery experience, a little known aspect of Alaska history, and touch on issues of labor, race, and the history of work.
In this interview, Oscar talks about his experience working at the <NN> Cannery in South Naknek, Alaska and what it was like for Filipino and Filipino-American workers. He discusses getting the job, his impressions of Alaska, the different types of work performed, and the relationship between Filipino, Alaska Native and caucasian employees and between the employees and the cannery administration and the union. He also talks about segregation of the mess halls and bunkhouses, and how the men played gambling games as a form of entertainment.
Digital Asset Information
Project: NN Cannery History
Date of Interview: Aug 11, 2018
Narrator(s): Oscar Penaranda
Interviewer(s): Anjuli Grantham
Transcriber: Emily Mueller
After clicking play, click on a section to navigate the audio or video clip.
Coming to Alaska to work in a cannery
Learning about Alaska and South Naknek, and the hard work and tough rules of the cannery
Allure of wanting to come to Alaska, and finding his voice as a writer
Connection between farm workers and cannery workers
Joining the union, getting his first cannery job, and union influence
Competition for jobs in Alaska, and getting hired
Job duties of the foreman
Early impressions of South Naknek, and building camaraderie at the gym
First job in the cannery
Types of jobs done by different groups of people, and Filipinos becoming upset about a cook who couldn't prepare rice properly
Segregation in the mess halls, and types of food prepared and served
Hard work and lack of sleep, and gaining inspiration for his writing
Strike of cannery workers, and getting a teaching position in San Francisco
Union collecting dues and donations, and gambling at the cannery
Old timers at the cannery, and learning about history and importance of the canning industry in Bristol Bay
Conflict among Filipino workers
Relationship between segregation at the cannery and the civil rights movement, and rise in employment of women
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After clicking play, click a section of the transcript to navigate the audio or video clip.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: This is Anjuli Grantham, I'm here with Oscar Penaranda in San Francisco, California. This interview is taking place on August 11th, 2018, and it's part of the
Oscar, could you begin by talking about when and where you were born, and how it is -- what -- what it is that brought you to Alaska salmon canneries? OSCAR PENARANDA: I was born in the Philippines, in the island of Leyte. And when I was 5 years old, we moved to Manila, the capital city, where we lived 'til I was 12.
And then when I was 12, after the sixth grade, we left the Philippines and emigrated to Vancouver the first five years, 1956 to 1961, and then San Francisco 1961 onwards. And we've been here pretty much ever since. Yeah.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: So -- OSCAR PENARANDA: Yeah, I left when I was -- after the sixth grade, I left -- we -- we left the Philippines, emigrated to Canada, and then in 1961 to San Francisco, and we've been here pretty much ever since.
I got into Alaska because my father was in the foreign service. So, I was the diplomat's dependent, I was the diplomat's son.
And my father was entitled to two pouches a year. Pouch means, if you are a diplomat, you have some goodies coming from your home, from the Philippines, in this case, twice a year.
So, they have two things from the government, they're -- two or three s -- things that they steadily send, and then some that they don't.
One of those things that they steadily send was a case of hard liquor. Twice a year, they'd send my dad -- the government of the Philippines, because my dad was diplomat of the Philippines -- sent him, among other things, in the pouch, a case, at least, of hard liquor.
My dad doesn't drink. My father's friends know when this pouch are coming. They drink. So, they know, you know.
And when the pouch comes twice a year, lo and behold, those people that I'd never seen before start visiting my dad. You know, because they were expecting something from my dad, and that's the drink.
And one of those persons was the foreman of South Naknek, Alaska. Marcellino Devina (sp?). So, Marcellino Devina (sp?) had been taking, I guess, little gifts from my dad. Here and there. I don't know how Marcellino (sp?) and my dad met, but, diplomat, my dad gets to know a lot of folks.
My older brother actually went there before me. In 1965. I went to Las Vegas during the summer, and my older brother went there.
They told me about it, but they never returned. The next year, I went there. 1966.
And I -- And, after that first year, I was so overwhelmed by the work, I just couldn't believe human beings are supposed to work like that, you know? Over 24 hours at -- a day.
Like I told Katie, one day, July 4th, I was 26 and a half hours, I -- I tell you. So, I just couldn't believe it. And I --
Me and five other guys took a vow never to return at that goddamn place ever again. And if you see us there, we would give you a hundred dollars. For 15 years, all six of us came back. ANJULI GRANTHAM: You found us. UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Yeah, I got ready.
OSCAR PENARANDA: All six of us came back. Not one of 'em -- not one of us did not return.
So, it's always been a -- a challenge and a mystery to find out why it is -- what it is that makes people keep coming back.
And when they get there, they're not really too crazy about it, you know. But then, like the salmon, I figured, like the fish.
By April, I feel it already. You know, I feel -- my friends start calling me, "Are -- Are you gonna go up this year?" Are you gonna, you know, who's gonna be -- who's gonna be there?" "Did you so and --
You know, "Did you hear so-and-so died when he was there?" So, all these things. So, every year, I would hear this, and I would hear it around April. And I knew that I wasn't going to miss that year again. So, 15 times, that happened.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: So, what did Marcellino (sp?) tell you about Alaska and about South Naknek? OSCAR PENARANDA: He said, "That's no-man's land, son. You go there, you know, who gives a shit about you, ok? You go there, you got a job to do, you don't do it, people are gonna kick yo ass."
So you're gonna go there -- it's no-man's land. Make sure --
You cannot go there if you're an individualist. Because it's a -- This is what he was tryin' to tell me. Not in so much words, but I figured, there was a community there that you really had to function within. Or else, you -- you will hang up the whole thing -- hang up the production, as they say.
And because we were Filipinos and we were the key to the whole cannery because of the Fish House -- the Fish House is the key to the whole cannery.
You mess up on the Fish House, forget it, you can't do anything else -- I mean, you can't can fucked up food. You can't cook it. See, Fish House, you gotta do --
And they got paid 50 -- 50 bucks extra a month or -- or an hour, or something.
So, without the Fish House butchers, they call them, the whole cannery would fall apart. And only Filipinos can do that. I don't know why, that's another project for research.
But we struck one time -- twice, we didn't go to work. And people from the Fish House, not even noontime yet, the whole operation couldn't walk -- couldn't -- couldn't operate, couldn't go on.
So, the Fish House, very important. And when the Filipinos were taken out, they tried to put the Indians there, and the American Indians, the white folks, they -- they couldn't -- they couldn't get the rhythm.
I -- You know, I -- You -- you need rhythm, you need a lotta stuff for that. Camaraderie.
So, it's kind of -- As my boss, Marcellino Devina (sp?) said, you know -- because he was showing this rookie around -- this rookie, the first time.
And the guy was -- was lookin' at one guy operate, do the machine. Fast. The guy was, you know, almost like his (inaudible) was closed. He was like this -- ba boom.
And then Marcellino (sp?) turned to the rookie guy and said, "You see, technique. You need technique, or else you're gonna be doin' that the whole 20 hours." You need left and right, you're up and down. You can't tired one night and then go -- you -- your -- you just gotta -- you need technique.
So, that's when I found out that, to last a long time, you do need some kind -- some kind of system in your work. I -- In your physical work.
I was doin' four mans’ job one time. I was piling the coolers, I was by myself. You know, I was piling them three high, you know.
And about 15 length long, and I was -- I would get on top, put another, go down.
So, I knew how to do it. But then, I was young, and when you're young you can do anything, I guess.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: How old were you the first summer? OSCAR PENARANDA: 21. ANJULI GRANTHAM: 21. OSCAR PENARANDA: I was 21.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: And so, even though Marcellino (sp?) told you that it was going to be really hard work, and exhausting, and no man's land, what was the allure? Why did you wanna go? OSCAR PENARANDA: The people and the place.
You know, that the -- the people -- all -- all my cannery workers are different. Not that they were great people, it's just that the camaraderie and the singing and -- but it was tense, and it wasn't really idealistic and you can go there and just relax.
No, it was tense, 'cause there was fights, the people get drunk, people are owing money in the gambling. So, you always have to be -- ha -- have a role to play.
Uh, what was the question? I was gonna to get to it. ANJULI GRANTHAM: What was the allure? If you knew it was going to be so -- OSCAR PENARANDA: Yeah. ANJULI GRANTHAM: -- hard, and he warned you -- OSCAR PENARANDA: Yes. ANJULI GRANTHAM: -- why did you wanna do it?
OSCAR PENARANDA: Well, the chemistry between the working people. You know, I didn't know it was gonna be such a tra -- a -- a pull.
And the second one is the place itself, South Naknek. You know, the place is in the middle of nowhere, you know, but -- but not really, because, you know, you learn a lot when you're there, for a long time.
You know, you work, and then when you're not working, you walk around the place, the canneries, and check it out.
You learn a lot, because even though if it's quiet, the place, South Naknek, to me spoke in many different languages, you know, even though the place was a -- relatively a quiet place.
Even the graveyard had a lotta stories. So, I knew that that -- and then I belonged.
And that story, you see, that's where I found my voice. All these things happen as a writer, and that's where I really found my voice. 'Cause when you're an artist, you don't know, you just figure you wanna do this.
But when I started going to Alaska, and -- and -- and not just Alaska, but people who worked in the fields, you know, people -- older folks who are single men.
That's when I found that these guys -- and I was doing work with them, I -- I -- I was tallying the timecards for five other old-timers, and I figured they didn't know how to read and write, and that -- So, was paying for five.
To me, all those guys -- because I had the wherewithal to write and to -- my parents somehow got me into a good education, so I really was put in a responsibility.
I asked myself a question, I mean, you know, "Since you can do all these things, you have a responsibility to let the people hear their voices.
And since you are gifted with the gift of writing, that's how you're gonna have to do it." So, I really did --
And when I wrote, there was so many different stories there. I like -- I liked it so much, because there was so many characters, I disappeared. To me, a good storyteller is -- disappears when he tells a story.
Most people, they like to be in the story. They like to make the others know I was there. But to me, one of the signs of a good storyteller is when the listener doesn't even know you're there. Because of the different characters you're talking about. And Alaska taught me that.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: So, had you, before you went up there -- Had you met other young men, young Filipino men that had been traveling to Alaska? Or did you know other manongs that -- that were cannery workers? OSCAR PENARANDA: Yes, I did. Yeah, because I worked in the farm before Alaska, you know, for --
And that's the -- that's what I call the -- the followers of the seasons trail. You know, they follow the seasons, they pick fruits, and then when it's June they -- the -- the elite goes to Alaska. Not all.
So -- And from Alaska, and then they go back in September, and pick falling -- falling leaves for grapes, and then they -- you know, the whole year, they have a certain pattern that follows the seasons, and that's the -- that's why I call 'em the followers of the seasons.
And those -- in the summer go to Alaska, and sometimes stay for the crabbing and the halibut season.
I had a friend who was in Alaska 11 months out of the year. We had a joke about him, "When he goes home, he goes home with a suitcase, and the wife was waiting for him, to welcome him, but she was waiting for him with another suitcase." To sort of change suitcase, 'cause he's goin' back again, back to Alaska the next -- Yeah.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: S -- So, you had started then, as a fruit picker, and then became a -- OSCAR PENARANDA: Yes, yeah. ANJULI GRANTHAM: -- cannery worker? OSCAR PENARANDA: Yeah. And many of the cannery workers also picked fruits. Yeah.
The great Delano Strike of 1965 -- They were mostly from Delano, and Devina (sp?), my foreman was from Delano. So when they went to Alaska that year, I heard all -- I heard all of them talk.
'Cause I knew from all of them before, who -- who they were, and I felt that the -- the farmworkers' history was being told when they went to Alaska.
'Cause all those actors, all the farmworkers, went to Alaska. Most of them. And they were telling each other, "Remember the time, you know, last when you were there, you -- you -- you were hiding from that cop?" You know, and says, "Nah, nah, I wasn't hiding. That was -- the cop was (inaudible)."
So they were all denying it, but they were all there, you see and I --
And as a historian and as a writer, I have to sort of reconstruct and capture the truth of that experience.
And I figured, that's a big part on -- on me. There's nobody else writing it, for me at least, for my people.
So, I felt a deep sense of responsibility to write it. But I was -- I -- I -- It was ok with me. I -- I welcomed it.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: So, did you join the union that first year? OSCAR PENARANDA: Yes, yes I did. Yeah. ANJULI GRANTHAM: What was the union? OSCAR PENARANDA: It was a kind of fixed -- it was, you know, when -- when one of the -- let's say Devina, Marcellino Devina (sp) the -- When they put --
'Cause I noticed, when we went to Alaska the first year, three of us, right? Three of us from San Francisco went.
My friend Serafin,, he had his own connection in Seattle. His aunt was the ambassador (inaudible). Sulit was her name.
Then, my Danny, her -- his uncle went to Alaska a couple of times before, so we were gonna stay at his place.
And then my uncle Vincent, who also lived in Seattle. So, we all had our connections.
And then I also had my -- my foreman was my dad's connection. But I didn't think about my foreman, because he didn't live there.
I thought about my connection, my uncle. And then he talked about his connection and served (inaudible).
So, we played those for two weeks, nothing was happening, man. Man, we were there every day. We'd go back to the union and we looked like a bum, we looked so sorry.
Later on, my -- my foreman Devina (sp?) would tell me, "Man, you were the sorriest lookin' bunch of guys I've seen. I felt so sorry for you guys."
Anyway. So the two -- th -- three of us were waiting and waiting and waiting, and nothing was happening. My first -- my friend's connection -- My friend Serafin's connection, Ambassador Sulit, somehow didn't -- it -- it fell through. I don't know what happened.
My friend Danny's connection, it fell through, too.
So, at the third week, I said, "I might as well try my dad's connection. This Devina (sp?) guy, you know, I'm gonna look for that guy, man. I'm gonna look."
So, I went to the union hall, I said, "Who is Devina (sp?) here?" This the third week we were there. We'd been starving all the time.
And they said, "That's that guy over there." And, you know, Devina (sp?) had his arm with -- around somebody else's shoulder.
And my friend was saying, "Oh look, that's -- that's the union fix. He's fixing him up, he's getting 'im dispatch, and he's giving him bribe, you know, that's how they fix it."
So, I went to the guy, you know, I just -- I said, "To hell with them." And I asked this guy, I said, "Mr. Devina (sp), I'm Oscar Penaranda, I'm Florentino's son." "Holy shit," he told me.
And I was so shocked. "Are you -- Are you -- " You know, manu means older brother. "Are you -- Are you my manu's so-and-so's son?" I said, "Yeah." "Your brother was here last year, he told me he -- he worked for me."
I said, "Yeah, I know. That's why I'm here this year." "What the hell!. We're leaving tomorrow. Did you just get here?"
I said, "I've been here for three weeks." "Three weeks?! (inaudible) shit, now I've gotta get you in, we're leavin' tomorrow."
He said, "Wait a minute. One of my jitney drivers in jail. I might not bail him out this time. 'Cause this is the second time I'm doing it. I'll let him stay there. Ok. You take his place."
"You have the two friends, do they have a job already?" I said, "No, we've been ma -- " "I'll put 'em in Pederson Point. But you -- they can't be with you, 'cause we're full."
So, since then, my two friends came to Naknek the second year, 'cause at least they got in the first year.
And that was the beginning of my -- And my friend was the jitney driver, he came to -- who was in jail, I took his place -- in jail, he came two weeks later. And took his old place as a jitney driver. He was a good jitney driver, but --
ANJULI GRANTHAM: So there -- That was in Seattle? OSCAR PENARANDA: Seattle. ANJULI GRANTHAM: Ok. OSCAR PENARANDA: Yeah, it was in Seattle.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: And was that Local 37, then? OSCAR PENARANDA: Yes, yes, Main Street. Yeah.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: So, the process then, wasn't that you just like put your name on a list. What was -- OSCAR PENARANDA: Uh --
ANJULI GRANTHAM: What was -- what was the dispatching process back then? OSCAR PENARANDA: Yeah, the dispatching pro -- As I remember, there were several process, not just one, I remember.
First, if they think you know somebody, so you got connection, you go there and see him, and then they'll tell you to go upstairs and write your name down, and then they'll let you know. Th -- That's a bad -- bad feeling already, imagine.
The other one is, they'll write your name down, then -- then you'll go see somebody, and that somebody will take you for your physical. That's a good sign. Once you get your physical, you might get in.
So, in other words, if they tell you, "Wait for a while," you're gonna have to wait. If they tell you, "Physical's Monday," that means you're gonna get in.
So, when I talked to Devina (sp?) and he said, "Ok, I'm gonna get you in. You go get your physical this afternoon. Tomorrow we leave, ok. And then your other two friends, you guys leave next week."
So that's how he -- that's how he fixed it. Then somebody else put in all the paperwork.
But it was all, kind of, no due process. All different type of things. So -- So, it was a lot of crookedness and corruption then. Yeah.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: So, what do you think qualified someone to go from the, "Put your name on the list and maybe we'll call you back," versus, "Go and get your physical?" What was the difference in the person? OSCAR PENARANDA: Yeah, the closeness of the connections that you had.
So, if I went there and my father's connection was Devina (sp?), and they weren't that close or was not strong, maybe I make it, maybe I don't.
But Devina (sp?) owed my father -- he felt he owed my father something. He'll have to probably get me a job.
So it all depends on -- on the feeling of the guy that -- how much he owes this guy who had done him a favor before.
Pretty much, you'll get in. Pretty much, if that happens -- if it was me, and I -- if somebody's son came to me and said, "You know, this is so-and-so's son," and that's -- and I had a positive experience with that guy before, especially if that guy did same to me, I'll do the best I can to -- to put him in.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: So it sounds like there was lots of competition for the jobs. OSCAR PENARANDA: Yeah. Yeah. ANJULI GRANTHAM: Why? OSCAR PENARANDA: Why what? Why --
ANJULI GRANTHAM: Why was there competition for the jobs, do you think? OSCAR PENARANDA: Like I said, the -- most of them were working in the farms, right?
Not everybody in the farms can go to Alaska, it's only a few of them.
So, while you're working on the farms, the people who are the -- what do you call those -- the contractors, I guess. The contractors --
The people who's gonna hire you, check you out as you work. Then if you're pretty good worker -- there's a screening involved, at least mental screening.
You -- you just don't go to Alaska. You get screened by the person who's gonna bring you there. So, it's usually a contractor. Probably seen your work on the farm before.
But if he's never seen you before, he's only trusting on the guy who -- who told you to get -- Then it would depend on how much he feels he owes -- he owes that guy.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: Who was the one that really made the decision about who would go and who would not? OSCAR PENARANDA: The president. Gene Navarro was at the time was the president. Gene Navarro. And after them, it was Baruso. Tony Baruso. And I stayed at their places. Both times. ANJULI GRANTHAM: Mm. Hh-mm.
OSCAR PENARANDA: And I knew the people, too. Later on, when they were involved in a murder, I knew those people, too. I knew those people, too.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: Mm-hm. What was the job of the foreman? OSCAR PENARANDA: The foreman -- ANJULI GRANTHAM: Marcellino. OSCAR PENARANDA: Marcellino. Ok, Marcellino's, to me, a little different from the other foreman, from what I hear from the other cannery workers.
The way I see it, the life of the common worker, common Filipino worker at least, depends on the -- on their foreman's vision of what their role are.
So, if a foreman's vision thinks it's his rule -- it's his role to keep the boys down, disciplined. That it -- that's what the foreman's vision is, then the boy -- the workers will know that.
That's the guy, he's a company guy, you're gonna -- we're gonna follow the rules all the time. So -- So what was the question again? That the --
ANJULI GRANTHAM: What -- What was the job of the foreman? OSCAR PENARANDA: Yeah. So, the -- the foreman is supposed to control -- just speakin' of Marcellino Devina (sp?).
There was also the -- Jimmy Walker. I don't know if you guys know about Jimmy Walker. The Indian foreman. The Native foreman.
And then there's the Japanese foreman. There's three of them. Three short guys.
They -- They picked my bench in the -- in the -- in the -- in the line wash (?) to bullshit all day. To do -- "Oscar, listen to what -- This is where all the decisions are made." They're all five-footers, and they're -- and their feet, not even touching the ground. They're goin' like this. These three guys. So -- Anyways, what was I saying, I got carried aw --
ANJULI GRANTHAM: About the jobs of the foreman. OSCAR PENARANDA: Yeah, so they all had two -- had different jobs. The job of Marcellino (sp?) was to make sure that the Filipinos get the job done when the superintendent wants the job.
So, the superintendent will tell Marcellino, you know, "I want those coolers moved tomorrow, the -- " But, pro -- be probably doesn't have to tell Marcellino. Marcellino (sp) will know, you know.
But anyways, and then he said, "So, some ships are coming in," and so the -- the foreman will tell it to Devina, Devina (sp) will tell to -- to me, and then I'll tell it to the younger guys.
Probably -- Just me, I think. Just -- It was me and Devina. (sp)
Was one or two guys who were more knowledgeable than I was, but they didn't have -- they didn't have the -- the charisma with the other -- the -- the youth. 'Cause I was young. I was just like all of them.
And when I told them -- When I told 'em -- When -- And when they had a complaint, they would come to me. You know, they would come to me.
And I was -- And I was getting tired of it, you know. I would -- I would like to escape and see my Indian friends, and --
But then, they would all be -- See, once you get a complaint then, you know, the other guys wanna start complaining. So, then I had to --
That's why I became the delegate in a few years. 'Cause they were doin' it -- I was doin' it anyways. I was doin' all that stuff anyways.
And you said the role -- ANJULI GRANTHAM: The -- of the foreman. OSCAR PENARANDA: Yeah.
So, Mar -- Marcellino's (sp) role was to make sure our job was done. In fact, I -- I heard him say all the time to any -- any kind of foreman, or anybody.
He would tell 'em, "You know, just tell me what they need to do, I'll make sure they do it. I don't want you to tell them what to do. I will tell them." That's what he tell's them.
And all the superintendents, they sorta do that. You know, they -- they had a pretty good rapport with -- with Devina. (sp)
There was only one or two that went -- they also had a foreman. The cannery h -- had also a foreman. But he -- he wasn't a foreman to us.
But that's a cannery foreman, so technically, he could tell us what to do. But it's just that that Devina (sp) probably told him, "It'd be better if I told 'em."
But then sometimes, can't do that all the time. If something's happening, the white foreman would tell the Filipino guy, "Get the hell outta there."
And the Filipino guy would complain to me, and say, "You know, that guy, he told me that, you know -- " So, I would talk to the guy.
There was only one guy who was the one foreman, and there was -- his name was Johnson, too, but not -- not this John -- I think his name was Chris Johnson. Not -- Not -- ANJULI GRANTHAM: Or Jim? OSCAR PENARANDA: Yeah, maybe it was Jim.
There was -- There was three Johnson's at the time. Three or four. And one was a -- a beautiful -- a woman, too. Everybody was pretending to have coffee around her, and not -- but they were just trying to, you know, take -- take her out af -- after mug up time.
But anyways, she -- she was a Johnson, too, I remember. Three Johnsons.
And that Chris, I over -- I overheard my -- Devina (sp) tell -- I think tell the other Johnson, "Yeah, you know that -- that's Oscar there. You know. You know what the Chris Johnson told me about him?"
He -- He said, "Who is that fuckin' intellectual asshole that's talking -- " 'Cause I guess I was quoting some liberal laws they couldn't just tell people, you know, put the -- put the hairnet and all this other -- I was telling them all this shit.
They didn't really wanna bother obeying all those things, you know. But I was sort of insisting on one or two things. Not all of them. Especially the -- the long hair, 'cause they would say, "Oscar, man, these guys -- "
Even the white guys would come to me, because they were in Local 37, too. That I used to play basketball with them, they would come to me and say, "You know, this guy, he's wanting to cut my fuckin' hair. Wants to cut -- "
I said, "As long as you got the hairnet on, you don't need to cut your hair." I was a big -- big deal in those days.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: So, when you first arrived at South Naknek, what was your impression? OSCAR PENARANDA: Uh -- (pause) It was like in the middle of nowhere. Yeah, it was like in the middle of --
I saw some remnants of some towns, but I didn't see really a -- a town. But I saw some buildings there. I saw like, a school, when -- then the cannery.
So, it was the cannery that really -- the cannery's presence that was -- that loomed over that whole area to me.
You know, because nothing was really happening until we got to the cannery, and then they showed us the bunkhouse and -- Then I got to be friends with the people of South Naknek. I still am.
You know, I -- I -- I got a hold of the gym. I was the -- I had the key to the gym. I became like -- I -- I ran the school there, too, because I was a teacher anyways, you know, so every time we were off, I would go to the gym.
Me and all the white guys and all -- all the people would -- even the girls would play basketball. It was nice to see.
And then, the village people who -- who -- who owned the gym, they loved it. You know, and said, "Oh, Oscar's bringing some people there." So, they get to know some of the local people. They -- They loved it, yeah.
And another thing, I started bullshitting 'em. You know when people start lookin' up to you, pretty soon you start believing them, you know. I -- I told 'em, "Yeah, I'm a -- I'm -- I'm an NBA player. I used to play (inaudible)."
So, now they -- When I left, they thought I was playing for the Lakers or something. But I didn't deny it.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: So, what was your job? The first -- the first -- OSCAR PENARANDA: The first one, cooler. The first one --
The first one, technically, because the jitney driver was in jail, I was a jit -- jitney driver. Right.
Then after about a week, the guy came. I became a cooler -- cooler supplies. For the first couple of years, I was a -- a cooler man (inaudible).
ANJULI GRANTHAM: And what's that mean? OSCAR PENARANDA: Oh. The cans of salmon that are not cooked yet are going to be put in this big tube. About six-foot wide tube that what we call the pressure -- ANJULI GRANTHAM: The retort. OSCAR PENARANDA: The retort. Big one.
And to be put there, these cans need to be -- to be put on a strip of about one yard square of strips of steel or iron. And they put the can there, whether it's one pound can, or one quarter pound or one half pound.
One pound would be the easiest one to do. Half and the quarters are naturally harder because they scatter all over the place. But one pound, and seven high, you stack 'em seven high. Seven coolers high.
Then you sh -- slide 'em down the rail and wait for seven more. And that's the cooler supply.
And make sure -- and me and my partner, only two of us, make sure that those coolers never run out. Because it would stop the production of canning the fish.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: And so, you would move them from re -- you would fill one retort, and then move on to the next retort? OSCAR PENARANDA: Yeah, they were -- real -- The can would come to the retort, just -- other people put them in the retort. The Indians put them in the retort. No Filipinos put in -- Indians put in.
I don't know how they work it with the union, I guess that's their thing.
And the Indians in the retort and I would be, oh, about from here to that pole, right, about ten -- ten -- ten yard.
And that's when I knew that the Indians are really good in sign languages, you know, it's not stereotype. They're really good, 'cause I used to have -- I used to see 'em there. And they would have to communicate to me all the -- all the -- all the noise.
If there was a hangup, I'd see him -- "What, what's the matter? What's hanging it up?" You know, I -- I'd see --
One time, I saw him over there, you know? And he did all this stuff earlier. His name was Red Cap. Indian guy. He looked at me.
And he saw me and my partner bullshitting, talking, you know. So, he looked at me again, he said -- he said to me, "Hey, he was working. But you -- not." Just talking.
And that's another way to, sort of, communicate. It's good. Because it's no easy anyway. You can't talk, you can't hear anything. So, you need to do some kind of communication. And they were good at it.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: So, you noted that the -- the people that were filling the retorts were Natives. But the -- what were other jobs that -- Where was like, the purview of the Filipino crew versus jobs that were non-Filipino. Where did that line seem to be? OSCAR PENARANDA: Mm.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: Did it shift, or was it pretty -- pretty strict? OSCAR PENARANDA: It was pretty -- pretty strict. I don't know how it happened in the beginning, but machinists, Filipinos no machinists.
Cooks. I -- I was involved in a strike because of a cook. Two cooks, one time. 'Cause cooks, no Filipinos. But they -- they have higher pay, cook, in those days.
I think one time, two or three days, the old men were complaining to me and said, "You know, I'm not gonna go to work tomorrow. (inaudible) that goddamn cook. I don't know who's cooking the rice, but he doesn't know how to cook it right," he said.
I said, "What's wrong with it?" He said, "It's too watery." Too watery, he says. It's not -- not as -- or too dry, I don't know. They didn't know what to do.
So I told him -- I think his name was Johnson. I don't know what's right. I told Johnson, you know, these guys here can't eat the rice, you know. I told him they work -- I told him they work really hard, but you gotta feed 'em well. If they don't like what they eat, they're not gonna work.
"I mean it," I said, "You know, I don't even have to w -- tell them to go to strike, they're not gonna work." They didn't believe me.
So, the next day, becasue they couldn't cook the rice, you know, I said you know, "We can solve this, you know, why don't you get two of my -- of the Filipino workers, who are working in the cannery, give them the cook's pay just for that day, or for the -- for the several days it had been.
You have to give them the cook's pay, because they're the ones that's gonna cook it. I can't tell them to go there, and then pay 'em the same." You know. So, they said no.
The next day we're stuck. Not even mealtime, that whole thing fell apart. So they -- there's two -- they gave two of the Filipinos to cook rice -- cook's pay -- cook's pay. So that was good. The two of them.
And then the Filipinos were saying, "Good, give them those two cooks, because they're the lousiest cooks we have anyway, man." 'Cause then the -- the other cooks would cook the Filipino food for us.
We don't really have the party at end of the season. Most of the -- four or five cooks go together and they cook a, oh, hell of -- helluva menu.
And those are the ones -- they pick stuff from the ground. I don't know what it is. Some herbs. Then they put it in their -- (inaudible).
ANJULI GRANTHAM: So, the -- the mess hall before the -- even though there were white cooks that couldn't cook the rice, and then there were Filipino cooks. Were the mess halls segregated before then? OSCAR PENARANDA: Yes, yeah.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: So -- so the white cooks would like bring food over to the Filipino mess hall, or how did that work? OSCAR PENARANDA: Yeah. I don't know, the white cooks -- the white cooks stayed in the kitchen.
I think some -- maybe the -- some of the Filipino men brought the food to the tables. I think some of us would -- would do that.
The -- The foreman and the -- what do you call the second -- second foreman. 'Cause our second foreman, he always made sure --
And then what was the question? So, the one that brought the food, I think were Filipinos, too. I don't think the cooks left their thing.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: But there was -- But the -- they were segregated mess halls, even though there was -- OSCAR PENARANDA: Yes, yeah. ANJULI GRANTHAM: -- It was coming from one kitchen? OSCAR PENARANDA: Yeah, so that there's big kitchen, right there, so, the first half of the kitchen would be the Italians, and then the second half would be the Filipinos, and then across would be the -- the Natives.
I don't know -- I don't know whether the white folks were there or did they have their own? I think they -- they had their own communal kitchen, too, the white fol -- the white workers.
But many of the white workers -- not many, because -- I think two or three, even though all of them wanted to eat with us, because we had -- we had some good food.
We ordered from Chinatown Seattle and brought the food there, frozen. You know, mushroom and everything. And they'd cook good Chinese, Filipino food. So, we had really good -- good food.
And many of the -- of the white machinists that -- that -- There was one, Bernie, I really liked him. And we all liked him. And when we ate, he ate with us. Man, that guy.
If we liked somebody, we always invited 'em to have food. And that was (inaudible) a good sign of camaraderie and acceptance, I guess.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: Would you have been welcome to eat in the white mess hall? OSCAR PENARANDA: I was only invited once or twice. Yeah. ANJULI GRANTHAM: So, it -- it was -- OSCAR PENARANDA: It was called the Blue Room. ANJULI GRANTHAM: Mm.
OSCAR PENARANDA: Yeah. I would -- I met -- Devina (sp?) was tellin' me, "You -- " Like I was the first one there or something. It musta -- Well, like, it was a -- I was starting something -- I was -- I was -- not -- not protocol to have workers in this Blue Room, except for me.
I don't -- It was nothing they said, nothing too much importance to me, but -- But it was -- it was the time of Rockness. I remember Rockness. I went one time with somebody else, went couple of times.
It was really -- it's good, because the ad -- the administration, they tried to handle it. They -- they tried to handle it.
It's just that, sometimes the Filipinos and maybe the Native Americans, they had a lotta stuff inside, and they couldn't articulate it, and they just said, "Fuck it," you know.
So, I didn't want to -- as long as I was there, I didn't want them to feel like that, you know. I wanted 'em to feel like, if they had something to say, they should be able to say it. And I could help them say it, and see what the -- what the administration would have to say.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: So, the mess hall then, where you would eat, there was a section within the same room for Italians, a section for Filipinos, a section for Natives? OSCAR PENARANDA: Yeah, that's right.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: Where would the fishermen eat? OSCAR PENARANDA: Different, yeah. They wouldn't eat there. Yeah. ANJULI GRANTHAM: Ok.
OSCAR PENARANDA: But the -- the Italians, they were all fishermen there. So, if the Italian fishermen would eat there, but not the company fishermen who were -- who were white, and the Natives. They wouldn't eat with us, too. They had their own --
The Native cannery worker, that's a different one, too. The Native fisherman, that's a different -- different one, too.
I don't know where the Native fishermen ate. Maybe they ate on their own. I don't know. They worked for the company.
Some Native fishermen worked for the company, some worked for themselves. Yeah.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: So, that first summer after you left, how did you feel at the end of the season? OSCAR PENARANDA: Boy, I -- Like I said, the work was devastating. It was hard work, but it was really the lack of sleep that was the toughest, especially for young -- young men. We -- We love to sleep.
It was just unbelievable how people could do that. But I -- But I did it, you know, and then the next -- after the -- after the first year, I was gonna go again, you know. At first, I was going to go again the second year.
And there were so many things -- Well, I guess it's like any other -- I -- I was a writer, too, I'm an artist. So, while I was there, the first year, I wrote a lot, you know.
The first few years, I w -- I wrote a lot. So, it was also conducive to my writing.
Like I said, I found my voice, too, when I started going there. So, it was both favorable for me, as much as it was for -- for the people of -- for the workers I was with.
Me, as a writer and as a teacher, it was also this time during Vietnam, you know, crazy time. One of the times I was in Alaska was when the Palestinians killed 17 Jewish Olympics. Oh, crazy times. Around the summertime, all this happened at the time.
So, the conflict between administration and the workers sometimes were -- was a conflict of age. You know, old people and the young people.
They saw us as the young hippy counterculture folks, and they were the -- the traditional things that were -- keep these long-haired people, you know, they -- that's usual, you know, from (inaudible) the old folks started was just a trend. But it was happening all over the world. You know, all --
So, ethnic studies was born during the universities. I was also part of the ethnic studies. I was -- while I was going to Alaska.
In fact, I got my job teaching in San Francisco State University when I was 24, while I was in Alaska. I was involved in the strike here, the ethnic studies strike. We had 15 demands. From September or October, November.
Yeah, so October, November, December. The next year, January, February, March. About five to six months. Closed the school down. But we were in the school every day rallying and (inaudible).
So, after that, we got our demands, I went to Alaska. While I was in Alaska, telegrammed me saying that, "When you come back, we need a teacher. You're the only one that has a master's. You're one of the few. So, to teach --"
So, when I came back, I wrote up the course or something. I think now, 75 percent of the Filipino-American Studies of San Francisco State, I wrote when I was in my 20s.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: Hm. Did your work in Alaska or as a migrant worker in the fields impact that curriculum? OSCAR PENARANDA: Yeah. I was kind of hesitant to -- to write my own works as -- as part of the curriculum, but I told them that anybody who wrote about Alaska should -- And I would always give them one of my things.
But I made sure that that experience was an experience that's worth -- that's well worth writing about. Even if they didn't read any of my works.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: So -- Could you tell me about -- How was it that you -- the union functioned? Like, would they take dues out of your paycheck? OSCAR PENARANDA: Yes, yeah. Yeah, they took dues automatically, and not only that, but by the time when the Alaskeros that -- we were called Alaskeros.
When the Alaskeros came back from Alaska to Seattle, not only did we have to pay dues, we had to pay donations. We -- we were forced to make donations to the different Filipino-American clubs that were in Seattle. You know, here's the ladies club here. Oh, they're li -- line up.
We -- We pick up our check here. Before we leave the hall, there's three or four tables we gotta -- Oh, here's for the ladies thing, here's for the thing -- ok, then we go out. ANJULI GRANTHAM: Hm.
OSCAR PENARANDA: So, there were -- that's how some of the collections were -- were -- were done. Yeah.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: Did the union send up people for gambling purposes? I mean, was there -- ? OSCAR PENARANDA: There was gambling all the time, you know. My cannery, anyways. And I'm pretty sure in all the canneries there was gambling.
And to make things worse, in my cannery it was my foreman who was the one who ran the gambling. I don't know about -- I guess in all the other canneries, the foreman has to have some kind of --
But, you know, it was not a good thing. I heard a lot of the boys complain to me. You know, they said, you know, you -- "I don't know how much per -- percentage he takes," like this like that, you know.
So, I'm a gambler, too, you know. And I said, "You know, you guys, if there was a dice table, that's really the only way you can get some money back." Because the way -- if you play blackjack, if you play rummy, you play all this stuff, all the percentage will go to the house.
If you play dice, three percent will only go to the house. 'Cause I researched it. So, I told everyone to play dice. Until --
And I was the one who ran it. So, I would run it. If the guy was losing, I would run it 'til they get his money back, then I would close it. 'Cause I'd see the two big losers -- I don't want it to be big losers, because they -- they're gonna stab, they're gonna beat somebody up. They don't give a shit anymore.
After they lose all their paycheck, and then they still have a month to work? You think he's gonna be a good boy? He's gonna -- he's gonna -- I didn't want that to happen though, and I know that happened to many of them before.
So, I would wait 'til he makes his money back, 'cause I sa -- I saw two or three, they lost it already. Oh, two thousand dollars. First night. When I ran it, I let 'em run it 'til they got it back, then I closed the table.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: What were the favorite games? OSCAR PENARANDA: Pala -- They call it Pai Gow here. Pai Gow. Pai -- High-Q over there. They have several names for it. But it's the tile that they use as cards.
And then there's some kind of rummy game. That too.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: And what were the dice games that you'd play? OSCAR PENARANDA: The dice, the way I -- I played in the -- in the casino. We didn't need the dice.
You know those guys are geniuses, you know, those -- those workers? Their little rooms -- I mean, they have -- you know me, I'm a slob, you know, I don't give a shit I --
But their little rooms, they take so much pride in it. You know, they put little decorations here. They take the wheel of the -- of the -- of the wires. They make a table out of it, you know what I mean.
To me, I don't know, I just had -- I just had to -- they take pride i -- in something. Because I was so poor, I didn't -- I -- I just admired that in them.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: And in there they would do the gambling? With the dice? OSCAR PENARANDA: No, the gambling's in the lobby. Yeah. ANJULI GRANTHAM: In the bunkhouse, or -- OSCAR PENARANDA: Yeah, in the -- ANJULI GRANTHAM: -- in the rec hall? OSCAR PENARANDA: The bu -- the rec hall. So, the la --
The bunkhouse had a re -- no, not rec hall. The bunkhouse had a lobby, and that's where they did the gambling. They didn't do gambling in the rec hall. They did it in their own -- in their own bunkhouse.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: So, did you sense that the -- this kind of gambling part of the -- of the cannery work -- 'cause, it's something that had been around for a long time, or -- OSCAR PENARANDA: Oh, yeah. Oh yeah.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: Was it part of the system, in a way? Like -- OSCAR PENARANDA: Yeah, I -- I -- I think that, you know, when you have people who are kind of at the bottom of the social status, gambling will always be a part because that's the -- that's the dreamer's -- that's -- that's the dream.
You know, gambling is for dreamers, you know. And --
ANJULI GRANTHAM: Do you know how long Devina (sp?) had been going to Naknek? OSCAR PENARANDA: Quite a while, because I was -- I was their number one listener of Devina, (sp?) of Ji -- Jimmy Walker, the Native American, and Willy, the Japanese one.
They'd see me walkin', "Oh, Oscar! Hey!" Of course I'd sit there, I didn't wanna work, you know. I'd rather sit there and -- and listen to them.
And, I remember they would -- we'd talk, we'd talk, and then I'd do something else. Then I'll come back, right? And Devina would say, "C'mon, c'mon, sit down over here. We're in 1923. 1923 would happen."
So, people were telling me, see, he said, "Oh 19 -- before '20s. In the 1920s." So Devina must have been there, I don't know, quite early, man.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: So, he was pretty old when he was the foreman then, huh? OSCAR PENARANDA: Yeah. Yeah, he was old. He was -- I remember 54 or 56, when we were telling each other that. And I was 21, so --
ANJULI GRANTHAM: What did you learn about the early history of Alaskeros or about South Naknek through those conversations? OSCAR PENARANDA: W -- W -- Well, I learned the importance of that industry. I learned that we've virtually supplied the world. That Bristol Bay is a gold mine. Gold mine of -- of salmon.
It's -- all kinds of ships were there from all over the world. And little by little, I -- I would learn -- are this -- is this the only place in Alaska where they go to? And it --
I learned later on that there were other places they go to, but Bristol Bay, it's gotta be one of the prime places. Where all the international boats go to get to Alaska.
And to me, it became central -- a central for global industry. And I was right in the middle of it.
And, people -- it's right -- it's happening right under people's noses and they don't even at -- see it at his -- as history. And that's why I'm glad you guys, you know, brought this up to their attention, see.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: Were there conflicts between the younger Filipino-Americans and Filipinos, and the Manong generation? OSCAR PENARANDA: Yes, yes. Yeah. ANJULI GRANTHAM: What sorta conflicts? OSCAR PENARANDA: Two -- Several kinds.
There's the conflict in Seattle, which led to murder. Because in Seattle was the union hall, and that's where the power of the union is.
And the union was doing it the old school way. You know, they'll fix you up, like this, like this, and the younger folks were complaining that -- not just the younger folks. Not so much the younger folks, but the younger Filipino-American folks.
The older Filipino -- Filipino folks been there. And the younger Filipino-American folks. Their politics there.
Because of the way things -- the union was being run, the younger ones didn't want this fixing up, fixing up. They wanted to be, you know, to be on the level, and they saw this corruption and all this stuff.
And so, they played their cards like that, and divided the two.
Now, to me, my -- that's why some of the -- the murders happened. But, you know, I wasn't really paying attention to it when I was in Alaska, back and forth.
But if I knew it was coming --Like I said, I knew both of them before, I coulda tried -- I coulda done something then, because the Filipino-Americans who were in the union, and the Filipino old-timers who were in the union, did not understand each other. They did not see.
There was a barrier between them. One was language. I can speak both language. If they, the Filipino men and the young ones -- because they won in their election -- in the election. The old ones lost two important seats, the younger ones won two. And then the younger ones are gonna try to win some more.
But to me, the -- I could've, you know, -- get -- get a bicultural, bilingual person like me, and then let -- let -- let 'em talk. That's what -- That's what we're there for. Th -- That's why there are people like -- like me, so you can maybe talk to. Because I --
To me, the Filipino-Americans, who was murdered, and their -- their cohort, you know, they were -- they were friends of mine. Gene Viernes and --
But I knew them, too, and I -- I knew the hearts of the -- the old folks. You gotta talk to them. If you want change like that. To me, you have to talk to them. You gotta let them know. Talk every day.
You just don't tell 'em, "Oh, fuck you, man. You gonna go that way, I'm gonna go this way." You do that, then -- then you'll never --
You see what happens now? The younger folks underestimated the older folks. They're crazy, they'd shoot you. They underestimated. They were there. In the union hall. No protection.
The guy comes in the afternoon and shoots both of them. That's -- That's naiveté to me, you know, what -- They --
If they knew those old folks weren't -- weren't playing games, they wouldn't -- they wouldn't do that. They would -- they would talk to someone like me and I would try to prevent that stuff. 'Cause that's a tragedy, you know. It's no good.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: You noted that there were two conflicts. What was the other conflict? Between the Manongs and the younger generation? OSCAR PENARANDA: Yeah. That's -- The -- The two cultural -- the Filipino-American and the Filipino one.
Now, the Manongs and the younger generation -- No, what was -- that's -- that's what I was tellin'. The -- The conflict was on -- What -- What did you -- ?
ANJULI GRANTHAM: You -- you said that there were two conflicts. OSCAR PENARANDA: Yeah, that's the one I -- that's the one I mentioned, right? ANJULI GRANTHAM: Well, you mentioned -- OSCAR PENARANDA: Well, which one is the -- which one did I mention?
ANJULI GRANTHAM: You mentioned Gene Viernes and Silme Domingo. Were there a -- any other that you noted between the younger generation and the older generation at the cannery? OSCAR PENARANDA: Yeah. Yeah, there were -- there were quite a few.
But, the younger generation went -- went through it by the books, so that they -- they went to the election, they filled out the forms, they -- they did all that stuff, you know.
Even though I heard other complaints from younger generations, they didn't follow up the way Gene Viernes and they did. So, I heard complaints about -- and conflict between the old folks and the young folks, but they didn't really follow up on all those things.
But one of the conflicts besides that, the old folks (inaudible), is that the younger folks, they're not -- No, I was talkin' about the -- the younger folks doin' the -- the younger Filipino-Americans and the younger Filipino-Filipino. That's the other conflict I was telling you about.
'Cause it -- 'Cause like for example, I was 21 when I came. I was bicultural. I was born -- I speak both languages.
But other 21-year-olds were born here. And other 21-year-olds were born in the Philippines and they couldn't get through, because the younger --
So, that's another conflict, too. Until now, they don't -- they don't understand. So, Filipino-Americans and Filipin-Filipin, they don't --
That's one of the things I do when I travel there. To collab -- make the two collaborate. You make -- when you work together, maybe you can understand each other more, you know.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: So, did you notice as time went on -- How did you feel about the segregated mess hall and all of that?
I mean, was that -- was that something that at first was normal and then became abnormal, or what was the sense and how did that change over time at the cannery, as civil rights became more in the forefront of people's minds? OSCAR PENARANDA: Yeah, that's a good question. Yeah.
You say that again? ANJULI GRANTHAM: How did -- How did, kind of, the budding civil rights consciousness impact what was happening at South Naknek? Or did it? OSCAR PENARANDA: Yeah, it did. You'd framed it another way before. I was gonna -- How did you frame it the first time? ANJULI GRANTHAM: Uh --
OSCAR PENARANDA: Oh, you mean -- I was gonna say something -- say -- say it again.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: Just -- How d -- H -- How -- How did you perceive it, that shift over time, as civil rights became something on the national consciousness and -- and did that impact what was happening at South Naknek? OSCAR PENARANDA: Hm. I don't understand the question again. D -- Say that again.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: Just did -- did -- As time went on, 'cause you were there at the early '60s through the '70s. OSCAR PENARANDA: Yeah. Right, yeah. ANJULI GRANTHAM: And at that time, of course, this is like you were saying, how the ethnic studies program started, and general civil rights as an -- OSCAR PENARANDA: Yes, yeah. ANJULI GRANTHAM: -- important issue.
How did that impact what was happening in Naknek? Or did it? Or not at all? OSCAR PENARANDA: Oh yeah, it did. It did.
In the 70 -- maybe '75, more -- more women, more white women started coming in. So, white guys, too. College-age. Maybe the sons and daughters of the staff, the adminstrative staff.
But more white folks started coming in. And they were at the college -- college level. And that was 70 --
I don't know exactly what happened, but before that there were hardly any women. After that, there were quite a few.
And that was part, to me, that was part of the impact of the civil rights movement. That was part of the result of it.
And I kinda liked it, that the -- that the women were there, besides just the balance of the sexes. But I -- I -- I -- you know, as a writer, I -- I get tired of one sex. You know, I like to observe different sexes, you know, I like to observe different sexes so I can write about it.
And when there's -- when the women were not there, it was -- I don't know, it was -- it was not -- it was like we were pretending women same place.
It's like when the women came, they sort of reminded us of realities of life. We'd have a hard day of work, you didn't have to get drunk so much all the time, and -- but --
And some of the women were our aunties, you know, you know, they were -- they were not just there for -- for us to chase around sexually. Some were -- were there to -- to make sure that family values were still around. So, it was -- it was a refreshing thing.
But one time, before the -- the women came, we had a nurse. The nurse came. Boy, everybody was so -- didn't know -- we didn't know what to do, it was a woman coming in. It was (inaudible). He was -- She was about, I don't know, 60-something years old. Black, black woman.
But to us, man, just the touch of the hand, the arm, I don't know what it was. But -- But it made us -- it made us ok again for -- for little -- Everybody got sick, by the way. Everybody had some kind of sickness.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: So, were the -- were the bunkhouses segregated so it was like Filipinos in one and Natives in another, or was it mixed at all? How -- How -- How were people assigned to bunkhouses? OSCAR PENARANDA: Yeah. Well, when it -- but at that --
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Folks, I'm sorry to interrupt, but we are closing this section. I need you --