Kodiak, had become a kind of refuge over the years, the best of times, the worst of times, actually mostly the best of times, what adventures I have had on that magical island.
from our first experiences of set netting in Uganik, with my parents to fishing solo with my pops, and another trip with my brother tollak on a submarine type craft, they called it a jitney, it was pretty much just a power skiff, with a shell, but this story Is more of the characters along the way.
Ted Pestrikoff, lived in a small cabin our in Uganik, his home now owned by others, he rowed us home, when pops went to the cannery, that is a nice journey for an older gent, but he people of kodiak are not of the same breed as normal humans, more like suped up humans, fisherman, I am still proud to have been one, my biggest pride to this day.
Then there was when I lived on Woody island with my dad, we lived in a shack, it was perhaps 16×8, it still stands today, but not as habitable as it was back in the day, we were alone on the island, except for Johnny Malinak, he was as small man, always smiling, and like alot of us Natives, was a good drinker, sometimes his smiling made me a little uncomfortable, but mostly he was just a happy man, I had often thought, I was glad he liked me, not sure what lurked in his mind, it was sad, I found out he had passed, my father had told, as was with most of the passings of people. I used to see him in town, he was always doing his own thing, funny I never remember seeing him in the bars, drunk, yes, me too, but he was a happy drunk. I did find a skull on the beach, thinking it was an artifact, never thought much of it, by the judges house, in retrospect..
the homes on Woody, were mostly destroyed over the years, me and my son took a trip over there a few years ago, my dad always said there was deer on the island, but I never saw a one, there was usually cows roaming around, and they had lots of squirrels I did some target practice and felt bad, since I did not eat them, but was mostly an anomaly on my part, well, I there was a point, when I shot everything, but that was a short period in my life. I hunted rabbits with a .22 in Uganik, forever and when I finally got one, it was anticlimactic, and very little meat. one of my fondest memories of Woody Island, was the time, I loaded up a long string with hooks and caught a bunch of land locked salmons, cooked them up in butter. Woody Island used to be an old FAA site, there were lots of abandoned buildings, it is a fairly big island, it is where my dads family all grew up, well mostly, they were sent all over with the orphanage and the mission having control, but it seems my family was given more leeway in that regards, at least from reading my aunt and grandmothers writing and recordings. there are few graves over there, kinda hard to find, my uncle Freddy, who was killed in Vietnam and his first Cousin Daniel Harmon, my second cousin. are buried over there, I often thought It would be nice if I had a hole in the ground over there too. or on kodiak.
Another Character was rudy Sundberg, he was a large man, he had a mental issue, not sure if something happened, or if he was born that way, Me and my dad would always talk to him and visit with him, my dad had called me when he passed too. was such a kind soul.
My dad would take me around town, we would be pals, visit people go see my grandparents, it was a fun time, I always love the boat harbor, it always seemed like home. still does. when your drinking, yor really only have drinking buddies, and there were plenty on kodiak, it was a drinking town back in the day, I had come fresh from my trip in Texas, where the drinking age was 18, to Alaska, where it was 19, the bars in kodiak stayed open until 4am, or 5am, and opened back up at 6am. No matter if you had money, there was always someone who would front you until you got a steak, or a few times, I showed up and someone fresh from a big score would be ringing the bell all night long, that meant free drinks for everyone, everytime the bell rang, now I always thought that was silly and a waste of money, as I was as poor as can be, but it was surely good fun. With all this drinking in kodiak, you would think i had been in lots of fights and I had, but not with Natives, almost all my fights were with coasties, or cannery people, there was the one or two exceptions, one time back from black cod fishing a couple of “locals, I think they were, I did not knw them and they were white locals, kept pushing us for a fight, we finally said ok, outside, well that did not end well for them, one knocked out and the other running away, leaving his partner out cold. the other time, I do not even remember, I woke up in Jail, I had no Idea, why I was there, I read the police report in the morning, It seems, that I had thought that an older man was being harassed by a younger man who I got into a fight with, the report, had me saying leave that old man alone, or something to that effect it was many years ago, I just remember being pissed after that, for being arrested for helping out an old man. I remember glaring at the prosecutor, Mr Razo, RIP, anyway, the charges were later dropped, I learned later ponchene was from seldovia, and my mom knew the family, not sure if we were related. I dont remember much people from kodiak, but I used to go visit my Aunt Pat out in some apartments, my cousin fred who was a whipper snapper at the time, was also a fight enthusiast, this was the time of Mike tyson, I remember we watched a fight between chicken bone something or other, and tyson knocked him cold, I think we said he couldn’t break a chicken bone, many years ago, fred had almost lost his leg fishing, glad he is out of the business, he was in with a danger prone ship, 2 boats down and a brother gone. too much mary jane, I guess. he was fisherman, the whole family, now there is cy and john too, but the whole Native thing, had ruined these relationships 🙁 sad but true, hopefully someday I can be on speaking terms, actually most of my family is poisoned my way, not sure how, why or when, water under the bride.
I walked all over kodiak at times, lived in the boat harbor, and the bars too. No relationship are as treasured in my mind as former captains and shipmates, you live together in cramped quarters, you work, and travel in cramped quarters on a boat, I was lucky to have great crews, like on the Birtha Mare, there was Gene Delgado, Ducky and Neil Vonscheele, we were all like family and you could not have a better human than Ivar Malutin, he was a smart man, was part of the russian Church, we anchored up in Monks lagoon, he was a leader.
there was the Desperado, that was my favorite boat, as I loved the Eagles, and it seemed fitting, it was a pretty boat, loved the hull, wooden and classic, the skiff man waw Pete Devoe, the Captain Freddy Devoe , not sure of spelling, he was a favorite of my grandparents, and often seen him up at the house sharing some deer or fish. Mark Selvog was the cook, he was a funny man, I think he was the first one that had ever mentioned the morning wood, or piss hard on, he was always cracking jokes,
my and my brothers fished a year on Glenn Sudaym boat the chignik girl, it was an adventure, we were all over the island, got to meet one of my favorite crews, my dad had a thing for one of the crewmembers, the boat is famous and the Captain also famous, Mary Jacobs, it was a little jitney type boat, not much more than a camper with and engine, I still marvel at the time I saw may pack a 35 horse up over her shoulder, no small feet, for any man, let alone a woman. impressive, my brother gilbert still likes to say we would have been rich had we not been following the Invader, but it was a great adventure. there was the school teacher Mary arelaia? she was a cute cherub, I tried a move, horny kid lol, then there was liza, a true free spirit, but for the life of me i can not remember the name of my dad’s desire…
this was also a time when I learned intimidation, me and my bro’s were downtown kodiak, and this short very short Native, was able to intimidate us with a very loud tirade, we did not know what to think, later I had learned he was one of the christianson, from old harbor, they own the south end, at least back in the day.
Then there was my time out in Uganik, it was really one of the best times of my life. for growth, books, reading, hunting and trail blazing, it is where I learned about or little piece of the Native pie, but more importantly, it was learning about living in the bush, and the people out there, me and my dad, stayed at Cottonwood, it was a full fledged house with a toilet, stove even washing machine. My dad kept chickens, we hunted and ate fish. I lived in a small cabin across from the main house.
We used to go out in the skiff quite frequently and visit with all the people, My cousin Ronnie and his wife, my other cousin Justine, they had ducks, one was quakers and the other.. forgot, they always had some good snacks and coffee, then there was the Lindbergh family, they had moved from blue fox up north, they were the only full family with kids and all, there was shawna, mike, dusty and joey, great people, real people, I would go over and help with chores and get some good food. like a second family to me. then there was Marth, she used to be married to Ronnie, and mr Dunlap, he was infamous, she lived high up on the bluff, we would go and have coffee, she used to call me sonny, I did like that, she was so nice, we would visit for quite awhile with everyone, then there was Chief, he was called, I think his real Name was Wilmer assiksik, or something like that, another character was Daniel Boone/ Reed, both of the latter almost full blooded natives, living full time out there. across the bay in mush bay, near the bear camp was Dave and Jeanie, both great people, I see dave on facebook, he get around, Jeanie maybe still out there, they lived in a house, so close to the water it would get flooded, visiting all these people was such fun times. so many good memories.