Sylvia Metivier was interviewed on August 8, 2018 by Anjuli Grantham at her home in Birch Bay, Washington. Sylvia's husband, Bob, also participated in the interview, where he periodically chimed in from the background. The original recording had some audio problems, so it has been manipulated to try to reduce the background noise and improve the overall sound quality. In this interview, Sylvia talks about working for the Alaska Packers Association in Blaine, Washington and in South Naknek Alaska. She discusses her job as an accountant, bookkeeper, and office manager, and describes the overall office environment and responsibilities at a cannery. She also shares her memories of the cannery, the people she worked with, interacting with the community, and social activities. Part of this interview also focused on Bob's experiences working for Alaska Packers Association, and although it is all one recording, this has been included in this project as a separate interview.
Digital Asset Information
Project: NN Cannery History
Date of Interview: Aug 8, 2018
Narrator(s): Sylvia Metivier, Bob Metivier
Interviewer(s): Anjuli Grantham
Transcriber: Emily Mueller
After clicking play, click on a section to navigate the audio or video clip.
Personal background, and getting hired by Alaska Packers Association (APA)
Job duties as bookkeeper and accountant
Relationship between the office in Semiahmoo, Washington and South Naknek, Alaska, and stores at the cannery
Relationship with headquarter offices in San Francisco
Types and numbers of people who worked in the cannery office
Going to Alaska for the summer seasons, keeping in touch by telephone, and first impressions of the cannery
Job duties, how people's work time was tracked, and how they were paid
Diversity of employees
Overseeing expenses and payments for fishermen and cannery employees
Role of APA cannery in Blaine, Washington
Comparing APA with other canneries, and enjoyed working for them
Fourth of July celebration, and volleyball tournament
Working for different cannery superintendents
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After clicking play, click a section of the transcript to navigate the audio or video clip.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: Here Sylvia, I'm gonna move this a bit closer to you. BOB METIVIER: Here, she can sit here.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: Sylvia, could you please talk a bit about where you're from and your young life, and any influence that maybe brought you to become a -- a into the world of the fishing industry and cannery work.
SYLVIA METIVIER: Well, I'm from North Dakota. Dickinson. And my folks moved to Seattle when I was three, and so I went through all the Seattle schools.
And then my folks built a resort at Birch Bay, and that's how I ended up at -- in Birch Bay. And I did go to school a year and a half. I actually graduated from Blaine.
And then after I graduated, I went to Seattle and I worked for Link Build Company for at least a year. And at that time, my sister was working at the employment office in Bellingham, and there was a job that came available in Blaine at Alaska Packers.
So, I took the bus up and -- and was interviewed, and -- He wanted me to start right -- right away. So, I had to go back and -- and tell 'em that I would like to not be employed anymore.
And that's how I ended up Alaska Packers. And that was in -- February the 20th, 1951. And then, I worked all that time until 1996, between Blaine and -- and Naknek.
Actually, I -- I didn't start working at Naknek seasonally until 1976. And then I would come back to Blaine, and then work all the winter months.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: So, what were you hired to be back in '51? SYLVIA METIVIER: I was hired to be a -- more or less a bookkeeper type thing. That's kinda the jobs that I had. Different -- different jobs.
There were six of us in the office, and there was a office manager, an assistant, and a timekeeper, and -- and a warehouseman that took care of the information from the cannery. It was a cannery then, too. You know, it was a operating cannery.
And so, basically, that was about how I started. And then during the canning season, we had to work quite a little over time, because of the canning part. And so, there was quite a bit of book work in that respect.
And, you know, a lot of people were employed and so there was payroll and the usual routines of an office.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: And so, you were responsible for the payroll part of the bookkeeping, or were you responsible for other types of bookkeeping? SYLVIA METIVIER: Actually, other types. More or less the -- in the accounting part of it. Yeah. We had a regular fellow that was the actual bookkeeper.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: So what sort of accounts would you take care of? SYLVIA METIVIER: Oh, it was -- it was actually charges for the cannery, purchasing products for the cannery, and just the usual things.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: So, would you do orders for the cannery then? SYLVIA METIVIER: Yeah, we'd help out with the orders. And write -- They'd have to order cans and they'd have to order fiber boards. Just about everything, you know, for -- for an operation.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: Who were the main vendors? SYLVIA METIVIER: American Can is the one for the cans. And I think fiberboard was the ones for the packaging for the cartons and that sort of thing, as I recall.
And then we had fishermen, too, and so we always had the Pacific Marine and Seattle Marine. We'd buy supplies from them for the fishermen.
And I'm not too sure how many fishermen we had. We had -- How many fishermen did we have? I don't know.
We had a lot of the Indian fishermen, fished for us. They were very nice people. They were from Lummi (Washington).
ANJULI GRANTHAM: Mm. How did -- Did that relationship between the APA and the Indian fishermen continue following the Boldt Decision? SYLVIA METIVIER: That was kind of a sad situation, wasn't it? Yeah. I don't think -- We were fishing then, weren't we, when that Boldt D -- During Reagan's -- That was Reagan, wasn't it? That -- it's the one that did that Boldt.
BOB METIVIER: The thing that killed the salmon industry here was when they gave the fishin' rights to the Canadians. Just died. SYLVIA METIVIER: Yeah. BOB METIVIER: They own all of it.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: So when you say we were fishing, are you talking about the -- the Metivier family, or Semiahmoo APA? SYLVIA METIVIER: APA. ANJULI GRANTHAM: Ok. SYLVIA METIVIER: Yeah. Yeah.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: So, could you describe the relationship between Semiahmoo and Naknek.
Was it that this was the place that everything would be outfitted -- it just -- I'm trying to figure out -- seems that this was a nucleus sort of place for some sort of the operations up there, but I -- I haven't quite figured that out. SYLVIA METIVIER: Well, they used to buy -- order things, purchase order things for the canneries, the various canneries.
It wasn't just Naknek Cannery, it was all the cannery in Egegik and -- and Clark's Point and that sorta thing.
And they had retail stores in the canneries, too, and so they had a department with retail stores. And they would order things for the stores that were at the various canneries.
And that -- The Natives, they loved that because they could purchase things right there on -- on their homesteads. ANJULI GRANTHAM: Hm-mm. That's interesting. SYLVIA METIVIER: Yeah. ANJULI GRANTHAM: And so --
SYLVIA METIVIER: That was something that later on they eliminated. But it was -- it was up there quite a while. They had the re-stores, which was retail stores. Were -- were nice.
That the village people could come in and purchase different items. Food, clothing. They usually have a nice selection.
When I got up there in Naknek, they had quite a nice selection. And that was something else that was phased out later on.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: When was that phased out? SYLVIA METIVIER: Oh, gosh. It's hard to remember all these dates, you know. I guess it was probably phased out in the '80s. I would say in the '80s. BOB METIVIER: What's that?
SYLVIA METIVIER: Yeah, don't you think the retail stores were phased out in about the '80s? BOB METIVIER: Yeah, it was late '70s and early -- SYLVIA METIVIER: Yeah, late '70s, '80s. Whatever, somethin' like that. Yeah.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: And did you then do ordering for the stores at all? Or that was a different department outside of the office? SYLVIA METIVIER: Oh, that was a department. They had a special department for -- for that.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: Ok. And so, how did your job change as the years went on? SYLVIA METIVIER: Oh, gosh. It just seems like when you're in the bookkeeping you get into a -- accounting you -- they just go from --
For a while there, they were trying to get everybody to really feel and know the business. So, you'd kinda go from one department to the other and work there for a little while, which was nice.
And so -- But, basically, it -- it was in the bookkeeping-accounting business, for what I did.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: And what was the relationship between Semiahmoo then, and the San Francisco headquarters? SYLVIA METIVIER: I didn't really know that much about San Francisco. We had people that had worked in the Seattle office. Alaska Packers had a Seattle office. They closed that down, and those people came up to Blaine.
And when they had that earthquake in Anchorage (1964), those people came down to Blaine. And so, we had quite a staff here in Blaine. The office staff was quite a few people. And that -- we had that combination of everything.
And then again, there you are. You have each department. Have a department. You'd have Naknek and you'd have Egegik, and you'd have, you know, you'd have an accountant and you'd have a -- a bookkeeper-type thing for each -- each place.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: And w -- who or where would the information at the end of the season go to? Was that all housed in -- here in Semiahmoo, or was that in San Francisco? SYLVIA METIVIER: A lot of it was San Francisco, I think Yeah. Yeah.
That was the main -- main office then, after they closed the -- the one that was in Seattle and the one in Anchorage.
So then, you'd have to -- it was through San Francisco. Yeah, the communication, you know.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: And was it also San Francisco that did a lot of the hiring of the office people, or -- SYLVIA METIVIER: No, that was always done on a local basis. ANJULI GRANTHAM: Ok. SYLVIA METIVIER: Yeah. On that. So.
They were -- They would come up, you know, and check things out and kinda try to tell us they wanted different th -- things to be changed and that sorta thing. But other than that, it -- they -- they were just kinda run by themselves here in Blaine.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: And was it mostly women that worked in the office, or was it mostly -- SYLVIA METIVIER: A combination. ANJULI GRANTHAM: Ok. SYLVIA METIVIER: Yeah, very much so. ANJULI GRANTHAM: Mm. SYLVIA METIVIER: Yeah.
Because you had the men, you know, you'd have the superintendent, and you'd have his accountant, and maybe the assistant superintendent for each station, each Alaska station. And so, there were a lot of men, as you can tell, yeah. So.
And then they had a -- they got into the computer system down the road, and that -- you know, that was enlightening, of course. ANJULI GRANTHAM: Hm-mm. SYLVIA METIVIER: So, anyway.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: How many people were working at the Semiahmoo cannery? SYLVIA METIVIER: Oh, boy. Oh, dear. I -- that I don't -- I'm not too sure how many were working.
Maybe you would know. Would you know how many worked at the cannery? BOB METIVIER: Depending on the size of the run of fish. SYLVIA METIVIER: Yeah, that's true. BOB METIVIER: They go up to -- SYLVIA METIVIER: Yeah. BOB METIVIER: -- probably 100 people, and then down to -- SYLVIA METIVIER: Yeah, they'd go down to maybe -- BOB METIVIER: -- twenty, 30. SYLVIA METIVIER: -- thirty, or -- Yeah, depending, like I say, the run. The can --
ANJULI GRANTHAM: But what about just kinda like the office, like the year round -- SYLVIA METIVIER: Oh, the office? ANJULI GRANTHAM: Hm-mm. SYLVIA METIVIER: That basically was about the same.
And they'd go up in the -- in the spring, they'd go to Alaska. And so then, we would just be here in Blaine.
And we had the shipyard type thing, and, of course, they quit canning so we didn't have a cannery here anymore.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: So, what is it that inspired you to start joining Bob in Naknek every year? SYLVIA METIVIER: Oh, I don't know. I just -- Well, he -- I think he was kind of lonesome probably. And there was just kinda -- BOB METIVIER: I wouldn't have stayed.
SYLVIA METIVIER: Kind of an a -- adventure for me, I think. And they asked me to go. And so --
Actually, I -- Gary Johnson was up there, and he was working as a bookkeeper and then he -- he got promoted. And I took his position up there. And so that's how it all started for me. ANJULI GRANTHAM: I see.
SYLVIA METIVIER: And he was -- he was the assistant superintendent. And then he became superintendent. And so, actually I took his place up there as -- as the bookkeeper.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: And that was 1974? SYLVIA METIVIER: And that would've been 70 -- '76. ANJULI GRANTHAM: Oh, '76. Ok. SYLVIA METIVIER: That was about '76. Yeah. ANJULI GRANTHAM: And -- SYLVIA METIVIER: That's how I got started.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: And were you eager for the opportunity to -- to go up there or, what -- SYLVIA METIVIER: Oh, yeah, I guess I had mixed emotions about it, but it was kind of an adventure, and I enjoyed it.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: Had you been up before, any summer, to visit? SYLVIA METIVIER: No. No, I hadn't.
'Course, he'd been there since '68 so, he -- I knew pretty much the situation, you know, so -- Yeah. Yeah, so it probably would've been a shock to me if I hadn't known when you once get up there.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: How did you keep in touch over the summers when you were down here and Bob was up in Alaska? Did you -- SYLVIA METIVIER: Tel -- Telephone. ANJULI GRANTHAM: Ok, so there was always a phone? SYLVIA METIVIER: Yeah, it was telephone. ANJULI GRANTHAM: Mm. That's nice.
So it wasn't -- You weren't stuck to just letter writing? SYLVIA METIVIER: No. ANJULI GRANTHAM: Mm. SYLVIA METIVIER: Yeah, it was the phone. And letter-writing.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: Was there -- Were there multiple phone lines at the cannery? SYLVIA METIVIER: Oh, gosh. I -- BOB METIVIER: I don't think so. SYLVIA METIVIER: -- don't know tha -- No, up there they had that -- BOB METIVIER: The village had the phones. SYLVIA METIVIER: The village had telephone.
And if you wanted to call out, you had to go up to the village and stand in line and call out. Now, did you have problems calling me or you -- BOB METIVIER: Well -- SYLVIA METIVIER: -- picked the right time to call? BOB METIVIER: Rockness always took me across the river. I was kinda spoiled.
SYLVIA METIVIER: Oh, that's right. You went across the river on the north side to call me, which was usually on a Sunday night, I think it was.
And -- So, basically -- And then you'd call -- that's when I talked to you. Yeah, that's right.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: So you'd have a weekly phone call? SYLVIA METIVIER: It was kinda antiquated, wasn't it, when you're used to the telephones up there.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: But that's nice that -- 'cause a lot of places, you know -- A lot of people would wait in line for hours and hours and hours. SYLVIA METIVIER: Oh, I know it. 'Cause I know I used to want to call out or something, call home to -- to my folks and you stand in line. You wait your turn.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: Mm-hm. What year were you two married? SYLVIA METIVIER: '57. ANJULI GRANTHAM: Ok.
And, tell me about your first impressions when you arrived at NN. SYLVIA METIVIER: I guess my first impression, I think -- I think I got stuck and I didn't -- I missed the plane to Pen Air, I think it was.
So I had overnight with my dog. In -- in a motel, and I had to go to the restaurant and then to get food for the dog. And -- And it was really interesting.
I got up there to the airport -- Or up to -- Yeah, up to the airport, you know, and, oh, my gosh, I -- never been there before and I thought, "Oh gosh."
And happened to run into one of the bosses from Alaska Packers. And so, he was really good about helping me find this motel and that sorta thing. And so, then I went out the next morning, and went --
So that was the first thing, and then lost my luggage, of course. You know how that goes in Alaska. So, it was kind of a different -- a different learning curve. Yeah.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: Was your job different than it was in Semiahmoo when you started at Naknek? SYLVIA METIVIER: Well, yeah, different things. Yeah, it was different thing.
But, you know, when you get into bookkeeping and accounting, your -- it's just for the business, you know who it is. So yeah, it was different.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: What was different about it? SYLVIA METIVIER: Actually -- Actually, I started out as an office manager. Yeah, so I was that for four years, and then they wanted to put somebody on year round as an office manager for Naknek. And it would be stationed in -- you'd be stationed there in Bellevue.
So then I just continued going as a accountant up there, and not an office manager. And so I was just that until we retired.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: So, what did -- What was the office manager position? What was your responsibilities? SYLVIA METIVIER: Oh, gosh. Well, you had to make sure everything went pretty good, you know.
You had to overlook the timekeeper and the fish clerk and help out with the fishermen if they had any problems. And just general office functions.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: What did the time keeper do? SYLVIA METIVIER: They took -- The timekeeper took time for the employees in the cannery.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: Was there a place to clock in and clock out? Is that how -- SYLVIA METIVIER: No, they picked up the time cards. Yeah, and it -- some of the foremen down there in the cannery would bring the time cards up to the office or the people in the office would go down. They had a certain area where they -- where they were --
ANJULI GRANTHAM: And so, would people -- SYLVIA METIVIER: -- picked them up.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: Would people write the time that they started at the beginning of the day on their time card? SYLVIA METIVIER: Yeah. ANJULI GRANTHAM: Ok.
And then the timekeeper would funnel the information to the payroll person, for -- SYLVIA METIVIER: Yeah, that's right. Yeah, you actually have two people. Yeah. You had a timekeeper and the payroll. Yeah. ANJULI GRANTHAM: Were people -- SYLVIA METIVIER: They worked together.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: Were people paid over the course of the season, or just at the end of the season? SYLVIA METIVIER: No, the -- they were -- the people were paid. They were paid monthly.
At one time, we were paid on a weekly basis and then they changed it. I think to a month, as I recall. Yeah. ANJULI GRANTHAM: So --
SYLVIA METIVIER: And you could draw on it. You could get an advance. If you needed money or something then you could get a cash advance on your payroll. And there were a lot of people that did that.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: So people would be paid in -- They can choose to be paid in cash or check, then? SYLVIA METIVIER: It was all checks.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: Where would people cash the checks in Naknek? SYLVIA METIVIER: Oh, gosh. I don't really know, I think most 'em sent 'em home. ANJULI GRANTHAM: Mm. SYLVIA METIVIER: As I recall.
I think if they got a cash advance, they'd have cash in their pocket. And I think most of them sent their checks home. ANJULI GRANTHAM: Ok.
SYLVIA METIVIER: If they were a family man, they would just send them home. ANJULI GRANTHAM: 'Cause I can imagine there probably weren't -- SYLVIA METIVIER: Yeah, 'cause there's no banks there, per se, you know.
There -- I don't know if the -- They had a grocery store up there, but I don't know if they actually cashed 'em up there. I doubt it. I don't think they had that much money up there. They had a little grocery. The Natives had a little grocery store up there. ANJULI GRANTHAM: In South Naknek? SYLVIA METIVIER: Yes. Uh-huh. Yeah.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: And that was -- did the store at the cannery, would they cash checks, do you remember? SYLVIA METIVIER: Oh, you mean the retail store that they had? I don't think so. No, no, I don't think they did. Yeah.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: Were people still using, like mess hall tickets and cannery tokens, by the time you got there? SYLVIA METIVIER: No, they weren't. Did they used to do that, I wonder? I don't -- Did they? ANJULI GRANTHAM: Yes. I just -- SYLVIA METIVIER: That's before my time.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: Yeah, I'll show -- I'll show you -- In a moment, I'll show you. Sonny just gave me a book of tickets that was used for -- SYLVIA METIVIER: Oh, how interesting. ANJULI GRANTHAM: Hm-mm. SYLVIA METIVIER: Yeah. ANJULI GRANTHAM: Hm-mm. SYLVIA METIVIER: No, they didn't do that.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: So, when someone was hired then, they would be hired knowing that they had a place to sleep and as much food as they wanted to eat over the course of the year? SYLVIA METIVIER: Well, yeah, that's true. A lot of 'em enjoyed that.
Well, you know, they're going through college. They're going -- You know, the cannery workers, most of 'em were college kids.
And so, you know, it was a good deal, because they could save their money, pretty much, for college. Yeah, and they didn't have a lot of expenses. So, that was good.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: When you started was it mostly college kids, or did you not -- kind of any changes? SYLVIA METIVIER: When I started in the cannery, I think it's always been college -- pretty much. Yeah.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: There -- Did you notice any kind of shifts in the -- in the workforce over the years that you worked there, in age, or ratio of men to women, or ethnicity? BOB METIVIER: When it changed over to the eggs. That changed it. SYLVIA METIVIER: Oh, that's right. We had the -- we had the Japanese -- BOB METIVIER: (inaudible) SYLVIA METIVIER: -- didn't we?
They had the Egg House there. And the Japanese came.
And there were -- There were quite a few of those guys that came, those processes, weren't they? They overlooked all that egg business.
Yeah, I don't know, it just -- There was always a mixture. We had a lot of fellas from California that came to the cannery. Filipinos, yeah, they worked, you know, they're slimers and stuff. They were really good at that.
So, in the cannery it was just a combination of everybody. Between that and all those fishermen.
When I -- When we quit, there had -- there was about 425 fishing boats that fished for us. And so, you had a lot of fishermen. And you had all their deckhands and stuff.
And we used to have to do the settlements and that sort of thing. ANJULI GRANTHAM: Wow.
SYLVIA METIVIER: And we used to have to record all their purchases when they went out and they went to the tenders and delivered, and they would pick up groceries and that sort of thing.
And then, the tenders would have to send in the copies of the -- the bills and everything so we could charge them to the individuals. And that was quite a deal, too, for a while. So, anyway --
ANJULI GRANTHAM: Wow. So you would -- When you were -- did -- do the settlements for the fishermen, that was always at the end of the season, right? SYLVIA METIVIER: Oh, yes, right.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: And so, versus the cannery workers and staff, they would be paid over the course of the summer? SYLVIA METIVIER: Oh, yeah, right. Yeah.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: So, how -- When you think about the average summer out at Naknek, how many people do you think you would end up paying? SYLVIA METIVIER: Oh, boy. You know, I really -- I didn't -- ANJULI GRANTHAM: It sounds like a lot.
SYLVIA METIVIER: Well, yeah, there is -- was quite a few. You know, and I -- Cannery workers, I don't know how many people they needed in the cannery.
Did you know, about how many can -- people were the cannery? Then you had the mess hall, you had all the people in the mess hall.
BOB METIVIER: Must've been about ten people in a line, so --
SYLVIA METIVIER: Ten people on a line, and you had how many -- How many lines were there? BOB METIVIER: Thirty. Probably about a hundred, people in the -- in just the cannery operation. SYLVIA METIVIER: Yeah, I suppose. In a round figure, you know.
That's all people. Gas man. Well, that was another thing, the boats would go out and -- and purchase gas. It was stationed out in the -- in the water, and then you'd have that to charge to their accounts.
So, you had bills comin' from all over to charge their account. So that was a big job.
And, fortunately, on computer by then. So yeah, you didn't have to do that -- a lot of that on hand like you used to have to do. With the ledgers, the old-time ledgers.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: That'd be a big job. SYLVIA METIVIER: Yeah. Yeah, when you get that many fishermen, yeah.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: So who, then, worked in the office at Naknek? SYLVIA METIVIER: Let's see. Well, I had the receptionist and the office manager, and the timekeeper, and the fish clerk. And then you had a couple other ones that -- like filing and doing that kinda stuff.
Different -- different jobs where they were needed. That's kind of basically what was in the office.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: Was the superintendent also in the office? SYLVIA METIVIER: Oh, yeah.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: And would most of these people just work in Naknek, or were there many people like you, who also worked for APA? SYLVIA METIVIER: No, most of 'em -- Well, let's see. Actually -- I don't know actually, it depends if they were Bellevue that --
There were a couple of 'em, like we had the office manager worked in Bellevue. And, of course, the superintendent worked in Bellevue. So, it depended on what year it was.
Otherwise, the other people were just seasonal people.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: I'm curious when you started back in 1951 with APA, what role did the cannery play in the community of Blaine? (phone rings) SYLVIA METIVIER: Shut that -- Shut that off. (recording pauses)
ANJULI GRANTHAM: So, we were talking about what role APA played in the Blaine community. SYLVIA METIVIER: Well, it seemed like everybody in Blaine worked at one time in Alaska Packers. They worked in the cannery or they worked in the warehouse. 'Cause they used to have the salmon -- They shipped the salmon down here and warehoused it here.
BOB METIVIER: There was 27 canneries in Blaine at one time. ANJULI GRANTHAM: That's amazing. SYLVIA METIVIER: Yeah. ANJULI GRANTHAM: That's even more than in Bristol Bay. BOB METIVIER: Much of that was Fraser River. SYLVIA METIVIER: Yeah, I guess it was something else. Yeah.
So anyway, when it came to -- to Blaine, I think that was one of the -- the biggest work places that there was. He would probably know more about that prior to me coming -- ANJULI GRANTHAM: How 'bout -- SYLVIA METIVIER: -- to Blaine.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: But when it shut down, what did -- how did the c -- how did people feel about that? SYLVIA METIVIER: Oh, I don't think they were too happy. You know, they -- That was the job they had and they enjoyed that job, and that was the end of it. Yeah.
Blaine is not a place to really find jobs, you know. You have to go to Bellingham or someplace. Yeah.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: What did you do after '82 when they sold Semiahmoo? SYLVIA METIVIER: Well, went to Alaska. ANJULI GRANTHAM: Ok, and so you -- SYLVIA METIVIER: That was just seasonal. ANJULI GRANTHAM: Ok.
SYLVIA METIVIER: I did -- there was two years, I think it was '83, maybe '84, that I worked for An -- Anvil, which was an engineering firm in Bellingham. And I worked two years there.
Then I decided I'd go back. Go back to Alaska. I guess it was in my blood.
And so I -- I resigned from that job. I was a -- a -- a myth -- administration assistant there. And then I went back up seasonally, and then I was accountant up there again.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: So, of the canneries that operated in Bristol Bay, what sort of reputation do you think APA had, compared to the other canneries? BOB METIVIER: Number one. ANJULI GRANTHAM: Why is that?
BOB METIVIER: One -- one of 'em was water. Some of them ran out of water and -- I don't know. Nelbro across the river was probably number two. And (inaudible).
But the rest of them had phasing out. When I went there, they were closing down lot of 'em. Libby's and a lotta those places are gone. So. Bumble Bee or PAF had sold right down, too. SYLVIA METIVIER: Yeah.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: So, were you ever tempted to work for any of the other outfits? BOB METIVIER: Every day. No. No, I don't -- never. Never. I liked the company. They treated me wonderfully. So --
SYLVIA METIVIER: Yeah, when you came home it took about a month to get over all those long hours, you know. Oh, gosh. Seven days a week, you know, you're just -- it's like being on a treadmill, you know. Can't get off of it.
But, when you look back you think, well, it was pretty much of an experience, you know. Glad -- Glad you had the experience.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: So when would you take vacation if you worked in the winter for the company and then in the summer? SYLVIA METIVIER: Well, when we got back. From -- BOB METIVIER: Took two weeks off.
SYLVIA METIVIER: We would take about two weeks and go someplace, I guess. That was about our vacation. Yeah.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: And did any family ever visit you up there? Did you bring family with you? SYLVIA METIVIER: No. No. Nope.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: Can never tempt them north, huh? SYLVIA METIVIER: I don't think they were interested. They had their own lives. ANJULI GRANTHAM: Hm-mm. SYLVIA METIVIER: Yeah.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: Well, what do you think is important for people to know about cannery work at Naknek and about the Alaska Packers Association? BOB METIVIER: Both of us, or just her? ANJULI GRANTHAM: Both of you. SYLVIA METIVIER: Yeah. BOB METIVIER: I -- I think they were excellent. You see, I was always -- I worked so long for the company, pretty near 60 years with -- with 'em. So --
SYLVIA METIVIER: I -- I enjoyed all of the people, and I also enjoyed all the village people, the Natives. Very nice people. Yeah.
In fact, I missed those people when we, you know, retired, and we wouldn't see them. Otherwise, it was like a homecoming when you'd go every year. You probably realize that, 'cause you're from Alaska, so you know.
Little bit different down here than Alaska. But, you know, everybody was so friendly and it's just kinda like a big family type thing. So, anyway, that's kind of what you look back at. Working in the canneries and stuff.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: What sort of annual traditions did you have up there? SYLVIA METIVIER: Fourth of July. They always celebrated Fourth of July with everybody. Had a big picnic.
And I think that, basically, would be -- might be the only holiday, I think, wouldn't it? From --
BOB METIVIER: What was it, volleyball? What the -- SYLVIA METIVIER: Oh, they used to have -- Oh, yeah, they went -- They have a tournament, didn't they? BOB METIVIER: Yeah. SYLVIA METIVIER: Volleyball tournament. That was a big thing. And then they'd have -- BOB METIVIER: Took the whole warehouse over when it was (inaudible) SYLVIA METIVIER: Yeah, and they'd have a big picnic after that, you know. So, that was kind of a nice thing.
Of course, the kids were all that age, you know. They just all really liked that volleyball. So, yeah. BOB METIVIER: That was a day off, just get outta the way. SYLVIA METIVIER: Yeah, I was gonna say that. That was the day. Yeah, you didn't have to work. You looked forward to it. Oh, dear.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: When was the volleyball tournament? SYLVIA METIVIER: Oh, gosh. ANJULI GRANTHAM: Was it at the -- before fishing started, end of the s -- BOB METIVIER: Uh -- SYLVIA METIVIER: No, I think it was during the season. BOB METIVIER: It was during the season, and then -- SYLVIA METIVIER: It was during the -- maybe during the closure. BOB METIVIER: (inaudible) SYLVIA METIVIER: Yeah, you'd have the closures. Yeah, so.
BOB METIVIER: There'd be two or three days that would be -- wouldn't be fishing. SYLVIA METIVIER: Yeah. And so that would probably be when it was done, you know, so -- BOB METIVIER: They closed the rivers. SYLVIA METIVIER: Yeah.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: Well, is -- I'm sure that there are questions that I did not even think to ask. Is there anything else that you think is important to share? SYLVIA METIVIER: I don't think so. I think pretty much covers all of it, I think. BOB METIVIER: Basically, we rubbed the -- I think it pretty well.
SYLVIA METIVIER: I think Bob covered it pretty well. Being in the position that he was, he knew everything that was goin' on.
BOB METIVIER: It was a great job. Untouchable, what you'd call it. SYLVIA METIVIER: Yeah. I think he liked that job.
BOB METIVIER: My first -- First job I was there, and the fella that was the beach boss and all that, did all the dock work and all the -- And we had breakfast in this -- you know, the beach boss looks at me and he says, "Not gonna be easy for you, guy. You'll see that we're not gonna be very cooperative."
Well, the superintendent was sitting at the end of the table and he says, "Just a minute, fella. I got news for you. He'll be here 30 years after you're gone. Let's stop right there." That ended the whole thing, from then on.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: And you were there for -- BOB METIVIER: Yes. I felt like crawling under the table.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: And who was the superintendent? BOB METIVIER: Norman Rockness. My favorite. He was my kinda people. SYLVIA METIVIER: Yeah, he was very nice. He ended up dying of cancer. So he -- he was only -- he was only there two -- two years when I was there. So, yeah.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: And then who followed him? SYLVIA METIVIER: Uh, Tom Takeoka. BOB METIVIER: Tom Takeoka, and then Gary (Johnson).
SYLVIA METIVIER: Yeah. And then Gary was the assistant under Tom and then -- then Gary was the next year after Tom, so, yeah.
BOB METIVIER: Gary was a -- treated me like royalty, too. SYLVIA METIVIER: Yeah, Gary was a nice -- he was a nice superintendent. Yeah.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: And when you retired, was he still superintendent? SYLVIA METIVIER: He was. BOB METIVIER: Yeah. SYLVIA METIVIER: Yeah, he was superintendent. I think he was --
BOB METIVIER: He had an accident one year after. SYLVIA METIVIER: About a year after we left, yeah.
BOB METIVIER: It got pretty tough right there, changing people. And different people trying to do things that --
Like I mentioned, that they wanted to change this and that and that and that. You can't change the whole system in -- in the season. It'll shut down on you. SYLVIA METIVIER: You don't have time, you know. Everything is so fast and furious. BOB METIVIER: Just glad I wasn't there. SYLVIA METIVIER: Yeah. So I don't know --
BOB METIVIER: No mention any names, it's just the way it kinda held with the group, and they -- SYLVIA METIVIER: Oh, yeah, that's true.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: Well, thank you both so much for your time and sharing all of this with me. SYLVIA METIVIER: Well, it's been very nice. BOB METIVIER: Well, hope it -- Hope it had some truth to it. ANJULI GRANTHAM: I think so. SYLVIA METIVIER: Yeah, hopefully that's -- ANJULI GRANTHAM: I think so. SYLVIA METIVIER: Yeah.