Janet Henry was interviewed on August 9, 2018 by Anjuli Grantham at her home in Deming, Washington. Janet's husband, Harvey, also participated in the interview, where he periodically chimed in from the background. A fan running in the room where the interview took place created a disruptive background noise on the recording. The original recording has been manipulated to try to reduce this noise and improve the overall sound quality. In this interview, Janet talks about working at the cannery in South Naknek in the Egg House, as a waitress in the mess hall, and in the laundry. She describes the work done, people she worked with, and the enjoyment she got from being a waitress. In particular, Janet talks about how appreciative she was that she could have her children close by when she was working, and how much she learned from local people, such as Shirley Zimin, Helvie Anderson, and Jeannie Stewart. Part of this interview focused on Harvey's experiences working in the cannery at South Naknek, 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 9, 2018
Narrator(s): Janet Henry, Harvey Henry
Interviewer(s): Anjuli Grantham
Transcriber: Emily Mueller
After clicking play, click on a section to navigate the audio or video clip.
Becoming a cannery worker, and first job at Larsen Bay
Working in the Egg House
Composition of cannery crews in early days
Meeting her husband, Harvey, and going to work at South Naknek
Living at the cannery
Getting hired as a waitress in the mess hall
Duties of a waitress
Bringing her young daughter to work
Serving"mug-up," meal schedule, and kitchen and mess hall staff
Accommodations for mess hall and kitchen staff
Enjoyment in being a waitress, and food preferred by workers
Working in the laundry
Early season jobs at the cannery
Children around the cannery
Annual traditions, and connections with local people
Taking supplies to South Naknek, including a golf cart when worked in the laundry
Good memories of South Naknek, and important history at the cannery
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After clicking play, click a section of the transcript to navigate the audio or video clip.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: Well, I think I'm going to move this closer to you, Janet, so that I can -- HARVEY HENRY: Well, why don't we just move Janet? ANJULI GRANTHAM: Oh, perfect. Yes. HARVEY HENRY: I'll walk up and take a look.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: So Janet. JANET HENRY: Yes? ANJULI GRANTHAM: Similar beginning to question. JANET HENRY: Yes.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: Where were you born and what was it that brought you to your first Alaska cannery? JANET HENRY: I was born in Seattle, Washington. I was a hairdresser at a -- at Greenwood Salon. And I had a client, Mrs. Johnson, can't remember her first name, but she --
It was summer of -- or, it was becoming the summer of 1980. And she had told me about the -- about her son being foreman at Larsen Bay, Alaska.
And I was buying a horse at the time, and she had told me that if I -- if I wanted to get the cannery job, it was a really good experience and -- And if I wanted to go up there, I could buy my horse with the -- with my first check, instead of trying to save and buy it my whole summer.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: And so you were convinced? JANET HENRY: So I -- Yep. Yep, I -- I was convinced it. And went. First thing, I have in my -- I was 21 years old. I just said, "Ok, let's do it." Yeah.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: So tell me about that first summer. JANET HENRY: Well, it was -- Gosh, a lot for -- You know, I still lived at home at the time. Well, no, I did not. I did not live at home. I lived with some roommates in -- in Bothell-Lynnwood area.
But, I went up there. I'd be -- I worked first -- I think -- Well, when we first got up there, we did repair to the cannery. Painting and cleaning and -- And --
And I found out that I was gonna be assigned to the Egg House. So, I -- I packed salmon roe all summer, and made wood boxes. Packed salmon roe. Learned a little bit of Japanese.
We'd go for long walks. It was quite primitive there at Larsen Bay, back in 1980.
The little village. I remember going for a walk up on the mountain that first year. Well, within a couple days of just being there with a group, about ten of us.
And I'm looking along the trail, and I'm seeing this brown curly hair and I'm going "Oh my gosh, we're following a bear trail."
And pretty quick I could smell something, and, you know, every part of me's sayin' "Turn around." And we get to a clearing and part of our group is standing there, and there's a great big Kodiak bear up on his haunches, and -- and that's the first experience I ever had with my knees going weak.
But -- So, it was quite a eye opener for me. Just the difference in culture and -- and so -- you know.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: So, could you describe work in the Egg House? JANET HENRY: Working at the Egg House was cold and damp.
You would have to -- these eggs would be brined, put in brine, and then you'd get a big pile of eggs, and you would have to put them in a -- a box.
And it had to be really neat, and it had to have -- it had to be presented really nicely 'cause they -- they sold those boxes of eggs for -- I -- I have no idea. Hundreds of dollars. And you -- you just, you did that all day.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: So, who -- Where in the process were the eggs removed from the salmon, and then -- ? JANET HENRY: They were taken at -- at the Fish House.
And so, there was a -- they cut the belly and it -- it was sucked out. If I remember right.
And so I never -- you saw that part, but -- but that would've been at the very beginning of when they got -- went onto the iron chink.
And it was sucked out and then they would bring baskets of eggs over and brine 'em. Yeah.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: And who oversaw your work? JANET HENRY: The Japanese crew from Japan. They'd have workers, and they'd have the -- the head foreman. And they would walk behind you and make sure you did it just right.
Most of 'em didn't speak English, but they usually did have one person that could speak English real well. And he would say, "No, we need you to do this and this."
ANJULI GRANTHAM: Who worked in the Egg House, of the cannery crew? Was -- was it any person that wanted to or wh -- was it considered a special job? Was it -- JANET HENRY: You know, I don't know. I think they just decided. It was mostly -- It was mostly women. Mostly girls. Yeah.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: Why do you think that was? JANET HENRY: I don't know. I don't know. I can't remember.
I -- well, that's not true. I think, if I remember right, the -- the women did the packing of the eggs, except for the -- the Japanese crew. They were all men.
And the -- the guys -- the -- The men that worked there would do the forklift and -- and heavier stuff. ANJULI GRANTHAM: Mm. Hm-mm.
JANET HENRY: So, I don't know if it was cultural or -- or exactly what -- why, but --
ANJULI GRANTHAM: Hm-mm. And what was the composition in general of the crew back in 1980? Was it college students? JANET HENRY: Yeah. ANJULI GRANTHAM: Was it mostly Filipinos? Local Native people? What --
JANET HENRY: It -- It was mostly young adults. College. Yeah.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: Did you have to be a member of the union? JANET HENRY: When I -- I first started there, yes. Yeah. It was a union job.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: What union? Do you remember? JANET HENRY: I don't remember. I don't know.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: So, did you sign up at the union hall or once you got to Larsen Bay, do you remember that? JANET HENRY: No, I don't -- I don't -- I don't think Larsen Bay was union. I -- I honestly don't remember.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: Mm, ok. So what happened after that summer? JANET HENRY: Well, that's where I met Harvey, and we went home. We didn't start dating 'til we went -- we went home.
And then he went to -- to South Naknek the next year. And he went up, and then I got a position after he'd been up there.
I got a position and it was flowin' up there. I worked in the Egg House there, as well.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: Was it different at all than Larsen Bay? JANET HENRY: Not really. It was -- it seemed more businesslike in -- with that group. The Larsen Bay was a little bit funner group. Yeah.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: What was your first impression of South Naknek and the cannery when you arrived? JANET HENRY: Well, my first impression was it was -- it was huge. Yeah. It was huge and I wondered, "What did I get myself into?"
But -- But, you know, they end -- everybody there ends up bein' your f -- your friends. It's kind of an extended family, including the -- the village and the Natives that we worked with, the locals.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: And so, that first summer you lived in a bunkhouse or -- ? JANET HENRY: We lived up in the top floor of the machinist bunkhouse, the second room, I believe. Yeah.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: And what were your meals like? JANET HENRY: Our meals -- we had -- we'd have a breakfast, and we'd have a -- I think it was a 10 o'clock mug up.
And then lunch, then a three o'clock mug up, and then dinner, and then a seven o'clock mug up, I think? And a nine o'clock meal where you'd go to the mess hall.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: Would you eat then, at all of the meals? JANET HENRY: Oh gosh, no. I wondered why -- why did they feed so much food? Yeah, yeah. It was -- I think it was -- had to do with union contracts. They'd have to be fed so many hours.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: I see. So, that first summer was Egg House again? JANET HENRY: Was Egg House. I think I was in the Egg House for two years.
And then I remember walking into the cannery, 'cause Harv was down in the cannery, and I -- I can't remember if -- if I was just walking over there or if I was going to go to work over there as a patcher.
But Gary Johnson was there, and -- and he asked me if I wanted to be -- if I wanted to work in the mess hall that year. And I said, "Yes, of course, I do."
And so he made me promise I would keep smiling if I worked in there, and I said, "I will." And so any -- I started as a waitress in the -- in the -- the mess hall.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: So, why did you want to do that instead of work in the Egg House? JANET HENRY: I didn't have to wear rain gear and I didn't have to smell like fish all the time.
And it was dry. Often too warm, but it was dry.
And so I ended up working in -- it was called the Blue Room. And that was the machinist room, where I was the waitress in there. So, I would bring their food in there, and they --
It was a buffet style where they would enter from the back side of the regular mess hall, and they would come in and they would go down a buffet-style, and my job was just to keep the food -- HARVEY HENRY: Couldn't find it. JANET HENRY: -- make sure everything was full enough. Ok.
HARVEY HENRY: Might be there. Sealaska Products Incorporated was the name of the company. ANJULI GRANTHAM: Ok. Ok.
JANET HENRY: Yeah. So that was my job. I did that for -- HARVEY HENRY: This was 1986. ANJULI GRANTHAM: Ok.
JANET HENRY: So, that was my job was to -- to make sure that there was enough food for the machinist room. It was include -- included the machinists, cannery foremen. Yeah.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: Was there another room in the mess hall? JANET HENRY: There was the main mess hall, and then there was the -- the white coll -- was it -- was it called The White Collar room? It was this one here.
It was painted yellow and I didn't go up in -- in 1985 and -- because I had my -- my daughter was born and I stayed home with her.
That was -- that was too hard bein' away from him, so I -- the next year, I -- I went up and I told -- I told Gary that I would do both rooms 'cause he wanted -- he wanted to know if there was some way I could do both rooms.
And I said, "Yep, if you cut a hole in the -- in it." So -- So Gary had the machinists -- or the carpenters cut a hole, and then I served both rooms.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: The Blue Room and the Yellow Room? JANET HENRY: Yeah. Yeah.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: So, tell me about the day in the life of a mess hall waitress. JANET HENRY: Mess hall waitress. Well, ok, let's go back to when I first started there. Mug up time.
Well, first of all, we'd get up and we would serve breakfast. And that was -- breakfast was always out in the main mess hall, and we had -- we'd make sure all the condiments were there, and --
We had to make coffee. It was an old steam coffeepot. So it -- it -- you had the big coffeepot and have to get the -- we couldn't make coffee unless the boiler was running, so we'd have to get the -- the coffee pot steam up to -- to -- ready to -- to spill over onto the coffee grounds.
And you had to do it slow, but you couldn't do it -- you couldn't -- You had to get it just right, otherwise it would blow and make a, like -- blow steam everywhere.
So you had to get it just right, and if -- if you went too fast, it would burn the coffee. So you had to get it just right, and kind of brew it slowly.
They finally replaced that, but -- But I was a good coffee maker. And -- (dog growls) HARVEY HENRY (to dog): Stop it. I'll feed you in a minute. Stop it.
JANET HENRY: And what else? So, we would basically just, you know, make sure they had -- had everything out, and clean -- we'd wipe down tables, clean up any messes.
And then, it -- we would, you know, start setting up for our, you know, lunch and stuff.
But we always had a mug up in between. And back then, we'd have these big totes of coffee and hot water, and they would be on a cart.
And then we'd have trays of cookies and doughnuts, whatever -- whatever mug up it was. It was typically pastries in the morning and afternoon it was co -- cookies.
And so, we'd put these pastries on, and we'd have to push this huge cart down the boardwalk. And, you know, you got to know that boardwalk, 'cause if you didn't hit it right, your coffee would fly off the carts.
And, you know, you'd have to pick it back up and put it back on. So you got to really learn the boardwalk.
And you'd take it all the way down to the cannery. There were, I think, three different -- two or three different carts you had to bring down each -- each mug up. A --
And then they started to replace it with the Cushman, which was a lot -- it was a lot nicer. ANJULI GRANTHAM: And it's a -- a --
JANET HENRY: Motorized, like a -- I don't know, like a little cart that has a spot in the back.
I used to -- my daughter worked with me then. Well, she was a baby, but I had a backpack and I would, not sit in the cart, I would -- I would hold off to the side as she was in my backpack, and ride down with them.
She got to know everybody's name in the cannery as a -- as a young child, as an infant or a toddler. And she'd wave and say hi to everybody, and they'd said that -- how they thought they should hire her up in the office 'cause she could remember names.
She at -- at any of our meals that were out in the main dining room, I had a little clamp-on seat and -- and Gary would always sit right across from her and he would take a little spot on his tray and puts food on there for him.
Tell her, "This is yours, you can eat off of this." So, he kind of got to be the -- the I don't know, grandpa, I guess. I don't know.
HARVEY HENRY: Who's that? JANET HENRY: Gary Johnson. For Sarah. HARVEY HENRY: Kinda. JANET HENRY: Yeah. Probably.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: Where would you serve the mug up? JANET HENRY: Mug up was down -- over -- there was one --
HARVEY HENRY: Depend. In the early season, it was sort of out of the mess hall.
JANET HENRY: Well, it depended. Every mug up in the early to season was in the mess hall? HARVEY HENRY: Typically. Typically it was. JANET HENRY: Oh, you're right.
HARVEY HENRY: 'Til more of the crew got there. JANET HENRY: Until all of the crew got there. HARVEY HENRY: Yep. (inaudible) JANET HENRY: That we would all walk up to the mo -- to the -- to the --
HARVEY HENRY: They would take their little -- their little Cushman and haul it down to the canneries. Mm-hm.
JANET HENRY: At early season, before all the crew -- before the cannery crew and everybody got there, we would walk up to the --
HARVEY HENRY: Course, it wouldn't be efficient if the whole crew went to the mess hall for it.
JANET HENRY: We'd -- we'd walk up to the mess hall. And then, after the crew got -- we had mug up down on the face of the dock. There was one or two carts there, and then there was one over by the Fish -- yeah, Fish House or -- ANJULI GRANTHAM: Ok. JANET HENRY: Or, actually Egg House, and back in the --
ANJULI GRANTHAM: So there were different stations? JANET HENRY: There were different stations. ANJULI GRANTHAM: Ok, Hm-mm. JANET HENRY: Those are the ones I remember. I -- yeah. Yeah. But, yeah.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: So, then there's mug up? And then -- ? JANET HENRY: And then there would be a dinner, and then an evening sandwich-type, right around nine o'clock mug up.
And then if the cannery went late enough, there'd be a midnight meal.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: So you would -- Your responsibility was bringing the food out, taking the food back? JANET HENRY: Mm-hm. ANJULI GRANTHAM: What else?
JANET HENRY: Cleaning up, wiping everything down, helping with the salad maker. 'Cause there'd be a salad maker. There was a -- let's see.
There was a head cook, there was an assistant cook. Well, then there must -- there was a can -- there was the -- the kitchen -- I don't know what to call them. Kind of in charge of the kitchen, and then there was two cooks.
The -- he did some of the cooking, as well. And then his wife was the baker in earlier years. And then there was a salad maker, and then there was -- there was three waitresses, maybe four waitresses?
ANJULI GRANTHAM: What about dishwashers? JANET HENRY: And, oh, ok. You're -- Thank you.
So, there was the head cook and a second cook, and then there was a dishwasher, but also he would do some of the cooking. That's where I was kinda not remembering.
It's been a long time. 'Cause I -- I worked in the mess hall for -- well, until my second daughter -- 'til after my second daughter was born, and then I went into the laundry.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: Mm. So, you mentioned the cooks and the -- the baker and the waitress, were there any other people involved in the mess hall operation? JANET HENRY: No.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: So it wasn't a really big staff? JANET HENRY: It was not a real big staff.
There was a salad maker, and the waitresses would be, you know, taking the food out, and -- But it was -- it was all buffet-style. So, they would -- Or -- or, you know, buffet-style, where you just go down a -- a -- a line.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: Where would the mess hall staff sleep? JANET HENRY: Well, let me think. The -- The cooks --
Well, it was a cook husband and wife. Later years it changed, but the -- the husband and wife.
There used to be two mess halls. One was the -- the Filipino mess hall. And it was kind of back -- it -- well, it was side -- kind of on the side of the mess hall, but it was since closed, and -- and that was just storage.
And they turned part of it into a shower room for the fisherman, but there was a couple rooms back there.
And the cook -- And the head cook and his wife, the baker, stayed there, and their son who was one of the cooks stayed next to 'em.
The dishwasher stayed in the machinist bunkhouse, and the -- I -- I stayed in the machinist bunkhouse until our daughter was born, then we had -- we stayed in that little office.
And the -- the -- the other waitresses stayed in the women's bunkhouse. ANJULI GRANTHAM: Ok. JANET HENRY: Yeah.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: Where was the women's bunkhouse? JANET HENRY: It's the very last one by the -- Was it -- So, it was the -- I gotta picture it.
So, it was the machinist bunkhouse, and then -- machinist bunkhouse was yellow, and then behind it was the women's bunkhouse. ANJULI GRANTHAM: Ok.
JANET HENRY: Yeah. At one -- some -- there was also like, the hospital, where a lot of the women stayed. They were mostly the office women. They all -- They all worked in the office.
Oh, and there was cannery foremans that were ladies that stayed there, as well.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: Hm. Ok. So, what was the best part about working in the mess hall? JANET HENRY: Well, I got to have my daughter with me, that was really nice.
And then, we'd have a little -- we'd have a little play pen in the back and, getting to see, you know, the other machinists when they'd come in and their families, or their -- their spouses.
And, you know, visiting with -- 'cause you kind of got to be the -- the -- you were the center of the whole cannery 'cause everybody came to you and we always, you know, just making people happy and pleasing them, you know. Trying to make something special for 'em.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: Were you involved at all with the ordering of the food or the planning of the menus or anything? JANET HENRY: No. No.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: Did -- Had the cook been there for a long time, or was that a -- ? JANET HENRY: I think he had. Yeah. It was -- it was Don and Pat Graves.
At least they'd been there, you know, before I was there. ANJULI GRANTHAM: Mm. Hm-mm.
JANET HENRY: So, you know, I don't actually know. I don't know how long they were there.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: What were some of the favorite meals that people always expressed that they liked? JANET HENRY: Oh, steak night. They al -- always liked steak night.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: And was that a certain day of the week or -- ? JANET HENRY: Yes, but (inaudible). It was like -- it was like Sat -- I think it was a weekend.
And then, they always liked -- they didn't like salmon night. "Oh god." I don't know why.
And they liked -- well, they had -- they had a lot of different entrees when they would -- It wouldn't be just steak, you'd have somethin' else with it. They fed 'em really, really well up there. It was like, unbelievable. ANJULI GRANTHAM: So -- JANET HENRY: Go ahead.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: Oh, I was gonna ask, why did you switch over to the laundry? JANET HENRY: 'Cause I had -- Well, at that -- I had my second daughter born, and they're -- they're four years apart. So, I worked in the -- in the mess hall for a long time before I switched over.
After she was born in 1989, there was a four-year difference between 'em, and I was -- the laundry was closer to the -- my bunkhouse. And I could have a little bit more freedom.
You know, you would -- you would clean the bunkhouses, make their beds, and I could -- I could have the kids with me.
No, that's not right. I switched over before my second daughter, 'cause I remember --
I remember having her up in the bunkhouse, and in this particular bunkhouse this person would chew Snus, and it would have cups of it all over.
And I set her out in the backpack and told her it was all no-no, she had to stay right there. So, it was before my second child.
I -- I think it was it was ju -- it was just too many hours. It was too long of hours.
In the -- in the middle of canning season, you know, the midnight meal, the -- and then having a -- having a child. And I didn't have to stay up 'til midnight in the laundry. I could -- I worked 'til nine o'clock or 9:30, right in there every night. Yeah, that was why.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: What was your -- What sort of jobs did you do in the laundry? JANET HENRY: Let's see -- Cleaning the bunkhouses. I -- I did all the -- all the small areas, The White House, the Crow's Nest, the hotel, machinist's bunkhouse.
We did -- we didn't do the -- we did do the foreman's house and Bob Metivier's, as well.
Anyhow, you would -- you would clean, bring -- change the sheets once a week, make their beds, give 'em clean towels every day. And then -- and then clean their bathrooms, clean the showers and the bunkhouses.
And in the -- where the fishermen stayed and -- and the Filipino bunkhouse, we just -- we just did the showers in there and cleaned the -- cleaned the bathrooms and the showers. Hall -- and the common areas.
And, you know, they had hotel rooms. Not only in the hotel, but up in some of the bunkhouses. We would have to go in, and once the person was gone, we'd have to clean, you know, change the sh -- change the sheets, give 'em new towels.
I guess we made the beds there every day as well and gave 'em -- Then we'd have to have this huge pile of laundry, and -- and -- and we'd have to, you know, clean it, fold it, put it away, start over again.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: What was the frequency that you would make your rounds? Was it every couple of days you'd have to clean these -- JANET HENRY: Every day.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: So, every day you'd have to clean the bathroom and -- and the White House and the -- JANET HENRY: Mm-hm. Mm-hm. ANJULI GRANTHAM: Wow. JANET HENRY: Yeah. We'd go in.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: That's -- That's some pretty lucky service for some of those people. JANET HENRY: Yeah. E -- Every day in the --
HARVEY HENRY: You gotta remember, everybody's workin' all the time. JANET HENRY: They -- They are. They're workin' -- HARVEY HENRY: So, they -- JANET HENRY: -- so, they want to go back and just get in --
HARVEY HENRY: That's why that union contract was written that way. JANET HENRY: Yeah.
HARVEY HENRY: Because they -- they -- you know, if you're workin' 16 to 20 hours a day, you don't have time to do your -- your laundry, your bedding, your -- make your food, do all that stuff. I mean., you -- you know. JANET HENRY: You have to --
HARVEY HENRY: Typically, we would even hire somebody to do our -- wash our socks, our linens, you know, our -- our socks and our jeans. I mean, you know? It was -- Just didn't have time.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: So, would the -- would you do the clothes, too, then? JANET HENRY: Not usually. The -- They would bring up their clothes, up to the laundry, and they would pay the -- the laundry people to do it.
If I was -- if I was somewhere and -- and just -- just to be nice, if -- if their -- the laundry had stopped and there was clothes sitting out that were wet, I would take out what was dry, and fold it and put it on top, and then put the wet stuff in. You know, just to -- to help them out. But no, no, I didn't.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: It was just the linens and all of that? JANET HENRY: Yeah, just the linens and cleaning the rooms, and --
ANJULI GRANTHAM: Who worked in the laundry? JANET HENRY: It was usually a couple of locals. Shirley Zimin. And Mary Brown, she -- she drove the van, and so she would -- she'd have to do runs and pick people up. But -- But she also worked in the laundry. Myself.
So, it -- it was three local, and Denise. I don't remember Denise's last name. She worked there, as well. So, I think it was three locals and myself. Yeah.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: And so, Mary would -- had the van, but everyone else -- was there any sort of job descriptions in the laundry, or someone was responsible for this and another person for that? JANET HENRY: Yeah, Shirley Zimin was the -- was the head laundry person, so she stayed and -- and did the laundry.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: Ok. And then you and Denise and Mary would go and do the cleaning? JANET HENRY: Mary stayed in the laundry, as well. Yeah. ANJULI GRANTHAM: Mm. Ok. Hm-mm.
JANET HENRY: So it was mostly Denise and I. And it seems like there might have been another person but I -- I don't remember.
Later on -- Later on it was Helvie Anderson (sp?) and her daughter, Jeannie Stewart, that I worked with in the laundry. And I believe Denise was still there, as well. Yeah. Yeah.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: And so, di -- did you continue to work in the laundry for many years? JANET HENRY: I worked -- Yeah, I worked in the laundry 'til -- until nine -- two -- 1995, when we stopped going up.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: Ok. So, you worked in the Egg House, you worked in the mess hall, you worked in the laundry? JANET HENRY: Yes.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: Did you have other jobs at the cannery? JANET HENRY: Well, when I -- When we first got there, we'd would have to do painting and scraping and I remember working down in the --
Where did Bill work at, Harv? McKay? HARVEY HENRY: Stockroom? JANET HENRY: Stockroom. Yeah. There we go. Yeah. Yeah, down in the stockroom sorting nuts and bolts and cleaning up.
'Cause, you know, they -- they gave you stuff to do before cannery started. That was before I worked in the -- in the laundry or the -- or the mess hall.
They'd keep the cannery workers busy 'til the fish came. I -- And, before that, I also had -- did a lot of sliming of the fish, and I worked as a patcher a few times.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: What was your favorite job of all of them? JANET HENRY: I -- I liked -- I really liked the mess hall, but I couldn't keep the hours up with two kids.
But. I also -- I also really liked the -- the laundry, as well, 'cause you got to meet a lot of -- a lot of the people outside the cannery. People that came. The -- the helicopter pilots. The --
You know, at one time, in one of the trailers, I believe it -- well, it was the trailer right next to the laundry. It was one of the Trident upper guys locked himself out of the trailer.
And so, I looked at it and I knew my daughter could fit through one of the little holes. We -- so we unscrewed it and I told her, "Ok, I want you just to go straight through and unlock the door."
So -- And she did, so she got paid for her first job bein' a locksmith. She got paid Cracker Jacks and a teddy bear.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: Nice.
JANET HENRY: And so, just the little things like that. The little stories that went along. The kids could play a little bit.
I would put 'em down for a nap. My -- my youngest down for a nap, and I'd have a nursery monitor, and I would -- I could be around the whole cannery working, and as soon as they would wake up, they would come to me and say, "Mommy, Annie's up, Annie's awake."
And so I would go and -- and get my kids and then take them with me. So -- So, it was nice to be able to work, but also have your kids with you.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: How old were your daughters when you stopped working at the cannery? JANET HENRY: My oldest daughter was in sixth grade, and -- was -- was going into sixth grade, and so my youngest one would have been going into second or third.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: What were some of the challenges of having your children there? JANET HENRY: Keeping -- Sometimes, keeping them -- Keeping them occupied, keeping them happy.
'Cause it was, you know, it was -- could be boring. They wanted to run and play, and, you know, it's kinda scary to let them do that when you're -- you're not actually from there and you know of -- you know, there's bears, there's -- there's --
HARVEY HENRY: There's a lotta hazards there.
JANET HENRY: There -- Yeah, there's a lot of hazards. Working --
I know, working with Helvie (sp?) and Jeannie, they just -- Jeannie had a coup -- had a couple sons that the kids adored and she -- and Sarah and Lawrence played together a lot.
And Shirley had a daughter about the same age as Sarah and they played together a lot. And that was my oldest daughter. Annie -- Annie didn't have -- you know, she was younger. Yeah.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: Were there other -- aside from the local people that had children, were there other children there, as well? JANET HENRY: Yeah, but they -- they were older. Bob -- Bob Deere, when his wife would come up, he had a -- a daughter that was a couple years older than Sarah.
So, it wasn't always -- you know, it was the age difference. You -- Didn't always pan out. So, they just learned to work, and come along with me.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: What were some annual traditions that you had? JANET HENRY: Oh, Fourth of July, we would get sparklers and walk down to the beach and play with sparklers. Yeah. That was about it.
Every once in a while, the -- the helicopter pilots would bring us pizza from across the river. They made the best pizza ever. B and D -- HARVEY HENRY: D and D. D and D Pizza.. JANET HENRY: D and D Pizza. Yeah. What else?
HARVEY HENRY: Next time you're in Naknek, stop by D and D and have pizza. It's pretty good. JANET HENRY: Yeah, really good. It -- It is really good pizza. HARVEY HENRY: Probably still there. Probably still make the same pizza.
JANET HENRY: The helicopter pilot would take us up in the helicopter every once in a while. Actually, two or three times I think we went up.
One was because my daughter was playing out in front of the -- our daughter was playing out in front of the hotel and stepped down wrong. You know, they have those pipes there and the tundra's kind of cut away. She step -- stepped down wrong and ended up fracturing her ankle. So, he took us across to the clinic.
HARVEY HENRY (to the dog): Well, c'mon. C'mon. Get up here.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: Did you take part in the annual volleyball tournament? (dog barking) JANET HENRY: No. One thing I really did like was -- was Helvie (sp?) took me up, Helvie Anderson (sp?) took me up one year and taught me how to -- how she did her smoked salmon.
She was -- She was the sweetest, sweetest lady. And she was a working partner up in the laundry for -- for quite a few years, but -- HARVEY HENRY: She's still there.
JANET HENRY: She is still there, yes. And just listening to her stories, just being part of her life was wonderful.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: Mm, yeah. She worked at the cannery for many years, huh? JANET HENRY: She -- she did, and she was a set netter. And -- That woman would eat an onion a day. She's -- Yes. Still does. HARVEY HENRY: A whole onion. JANET HENRY: The whole onion like an apple. ANJULI GRANTHAM: Raw? Wow. JANET HENRY: Yes. HARVEY HENRY: Raw.
JANET HENRY: Yes. Yes, and she's 80-somethin' years old, healthy as can be. She's --
Yeah. I remember one year, sending her up. And when I didn't work there any longer, I told the principal at the school I worked at back then. "Bring up -- She works in the laundry, bring her -- Tell your son to bring up some -- some -- HARVEY HENRY: Onions. JANET HENRY: -- onions for her." And, you know, so he -- he did.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: Hm. Nice. So, what would you do to prepare to leave for the season? JANET HENRY: To leave for the season? ANJULI GRANTHAM: To head up to Alaska? JANET HENRY: Oh, to go to Alaska? ANJULI GRANTHAM: Mm-hm.
JANET HENRY: Gosh. They always sent every -- we could send every -- send everything up on the barge. So basically, it was -- we -- we would, you know, get stuff we wanted for the kids.
HARVEY HENRY: I had a big crate. JANET HENRY: He had a great big crate. Huge. HARVEY HENRY: I was always -- JANET HENRY: It was always stuffed.
HARVEY HENRY: Yeah. Yeah, big plywood box, basically, about -- oh, probably, at least four by four by four. And then, usually a few little sub-crates, too.
JANET HENRY: Hm-mm. One year when I worked in the laundry, we sent up a golf cart.
HARVEY HENRY: Yeah, so the -- Yeah, so that when she was doing laundry she could tote it. It was an electric golf cart, plug it in every night, and -- JANET HENRY: It was great. HARVEY HENRY: Drive about and -- JANET HENRY: Put the kids in, and go around. HARVEY HENRY: (inaudible) and the kids could go. JANET HENRY: 'Cause, you know, you -- HARVEY HENRY: Hauling laundry from place to place.
JANET HENRY: Yeah, 'cause you'd have to -- you'd end up with this huge amount of laundry you'd have to carry from -- and it would be impossible with two kids.
HARVEY HENRY: But Gary was very accommodating. I -- I bought the golf cart and sent it up there so that -- Yeah, and that was fine. Yeah. JANET HENRY: Yeah, it worked. It was great. We used it a lot.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: Did -- Was that just one year that you had it up there, or -- ? HARVEY HENRY: I think we had it a couple years. JANET HENRY: Couple, yeah. HARVEY HENRY: I think we left it there for a year or two.
JANET HENRY: In fact, we -- Underneath the rec hall, our -- our -- Our apartment was here, and underneath the rec hall, I had a key where I could just park it under there and plug it in. HARVEY HENRY: Yep. JANET HENRY: Yeah.
HARVEY HENRY: I don't remember if we left it up there in the winter. JANET HENRY: I forgot about that. HARVEY HENRY: Or sent it back down.
JANET HENRY: I don't remember what we did with it. Did we sell it back here, or did -- ? HARVEY HENRY: I don't know. (inaudible) JANET HENRY: Yeah, it was -- it was the --
The kids have really fond memories. HARVEY HENRY: They do.
JANET HENRY: They -- They loved it up there. One year, Sarah got up there, and she looked at -- she was standing, and she goes, "I'm home at last." And she said that in front of Carvel Sr. and it just -- it just warmed his heart.
HARVEY HENRY: We're home! JANET HENRY: We're home at last. It was her --
She loved it up there. She loved all the one-on-one. She would get talking with the, you know -- she -- she was everybody's little girl. You know. HARVEY HENRY: A lot of attention. JANET HENRY: Lot of attention.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: Were they sad when you stopped going? JANET HENRY: I -- I -- HARVEY HENRY: Yeah, I think she was.
JANET HENRY: Sarah, I think it was a little bittersweet, you know. She was ready to stay home. HARVEY HENRY: They were gettin' older, and they were in school, and it was -- they had a --
JANET HENRY: It was just -- It was just kind of hard to pack everything up, and -- When they were little it wasn't as hard, so -- HARVEY HENRY: It's not easy to take your family up there and back every year. JANET HENRY: No. HARVEY HENRY: (inaudible)
ANJULI GRANTHAM: Is there anything else you wanna mention about your time at South Naknek or about the cannery work and -- ? HARVEY HENRY (to the dog): Katie, do you have to go outside? Let's take you outside.
JANET HENRY: You know, I remember walking through the can shop, 'cause I'd walk -- take a nightly walk and stuff.
And I remember going -- turning the corner and there'd be a set of stairs, and I remember seein' like dates of -- and some of 'em were written in there nine -- 18-somethin'-somethin.'
And I remember seein' -- Did -- Did you see that part, where I'm talking about? Isn't that cool? And just -- And just the history behind the cannery was so neat. Yeah.
Yeah, I loved it up there. The first year I -- I didn't -- Coming from Larsen Bay to there I didn't see the beauty of South Naknek, but after being there for so many years, it was -- I thought it was a beautiful place. A beautiful area.
I loved the lo -- the locals, especially Helvie (sp?) and Jeannie. We got -- we got really, really close.
And, yeah, it was just -- you know, it was the friends we made up there. The -- that -- they lasted a lifetime. We still -- we still see 'em, we still talk to 'em. Yeah. But, yeah.
And the sunsets were just gorgeous when you finally got one.
ANJULI GRANTHAM: Anything else? JANET HENRY: Nope, I think that's it. ANJULI GRANTHAM: Well, thank you.