I have a village, I hometown, Kodiak Alaska, yes it is my true home, nowhere on earth do I feel more at home, than on this island, well, except when I am with sweet Mary.
I was born in the griffith building downtown Kodiak, I do not have any memory of the 1964 earthquake tidal wave or anything from that time, perhaps, I remember great granny, but that was after, I think. I do not remember when I was 2, I stuck my knuckles on a hot stove, still have the scars, but do not remember. I do not remember being in a chicken coop on the side of the house, but i have seen pictures of me. my first remembrance of my life was about 4 years old in Hawthorne California. we moved out the Canyon Country soon after. that is another story, best place ever, to grow up, or not grow up. I have to mention this story, One year, we drove up the alcan, with 5 kids, 2 dogs, bruno, and feefe, and a goat, yes a goat, the checkpoint was much more lax in those days. We were headed out to Uganik Bay, to fish on East Point for the season, this was a big family affair. my granny, and grandpa had a full fledged house with plumbing electrical and all the modern conveniences of town. we on the other hand, were spending the summer living in burlap tents. it was a true adventure, here we were living in tents in Bear Country, and there were quite a few, we kept a shotgun loaded with slugs, but for the most part, bears keep their distance. across the bay was my Uncle, Peter and his family fishing tashwalk beach. this was a very big thing in my family, at least my dads side, all the grandkids got to come out and spend the summer, work, learn and be in the great outdoors. there was a hill on the side of our camp, we used to play on it all day, rolling up and down. people would comment on how the whole side of the hill was trampled down. for toys, some of the other fisherman made us cars with cork wheels. I remember this is my first experience with hard labor, we used to have to pack sand and water in 5 gallon buckets to the camp. little workers already, true workcamp. One time, the boys all stayed at granny’s house, and I went with mom and dad, when we went to pick them up, they had butch cuts, I was glad it wasn’t me. we used to raise seagulls, most died, but a few made it to live a life, and there are stories of them coming back, and there was the time that dad shot an Eagle that was getting too close to the gulls. meant to scare, but winged him, so we had a mad EAgle to try and peak at through his box cage. there was the time teddy pestrikoff, was taking us home and the outboard quit, the old guy grabbed the oars and rowed us home. I remember riding in those skiffs, it can be brutal, especially if you have to keep bailing out water. wooden skiffs. I remember going up a few more times, just me and my dad, and once it was me my brother and my dad, Tollak was the skiff man, not sure what i was, I do not remember working it. it was a jitney, more of like a big enclosed skiff, that did 6 knots. we fished in that little boat, it was rough, I do remember one time, eating a whole pack of gum, and puking it up on the way to town, or how the whole fleet was stuck at spruce cape, and my dad was the first boat to take on the treacherous corner into town, but we were still the last boat into town.
Kodiak has a distinct smell in town, as it is the largest fishing port in Alaska and 3rd in the country. well that whole adventure was cut off by a divorce, and I did not see my dad again until i was 15 years old, me and my brothers went to live with him in Anchorage. I went to Diamond High School and a week or 2 at west high school. It was my first time learning that Native was a dirty word, for most white Alaskans, salmon crunchers, Klutches, and many other slurs. sad days, much better these days.
more on the move to Alaska in another post, perhaps, So we went back to California and then moved to Washington State, in Lynnwood. My dad got a chance to run a boat for Glenn Sudam, a successful fishing family from seldovia. so me and my brother gilbert and kelly, flew to Alaska, we fished all over the island that summer, had a goodtime. another great adventure. I have a few stories to share. later. I learned to navigate with radar, be skiffman, and even almost crash up on the rocks in Karluk, my skiff, quit on me, the battery or fuel things had quit, I was towing the boat, when it happened, the waves were crashing into shore, good waves, the kind you like to ride. it was getting hairy, I remember using my teeth to get the skiff back running and was able to get hooked back up with the boat and tow us out of danger,
then there was the time, we saved this old bird, who was heading into the cannery, or to packers spit, and he fell off of his boston whaler, his skiff was going in circles, we went out ther in the boat, I jumped onto his skiff from our bow, we pulled the old codger abord, life saved. we got kudos and thanks and a subsequent crabber, a crabber is a radio note from town.
there was also the time, we got web in the wheel, the wheel is otherwise known as the prop, i had to dive in and pull it out, the shock of cold water, takes your breath away.
this was a great adventure for 3 boys from California, and now Washington. I made about 1500 after all said and done, my brother still mad, saying we should have fished, and not chase tail, as dad had a crush on a lady on the invader. they were an all female crew, let see if I can remember, there was LIza, she was the youngest, and a flower child of sorts, there was cinda, who caught the affections of my father. she was tough, but like a teacher but not, and there was Mary, she was a teacher, I half heartedly, tried a move, the life of a seaboy. it was a small black jitney, with teeth on the sides, if you ever go to Kodiak, there should be some pics of it. they called them crick robbers, because they were dark in color and hard to see. not that that was the current intention, and I can not go without mentioning the captain, she was also a Mary, one of the toughest strongest women that I have had the pleasure of knowing, I saw her throw a johnson 35 over her shoulder and pack it up the beach, can we say “respect” she went on to be a highliner in her own right.
That was the last fishing trip until I was in my early 20’s I am not sure of the timeline, but I quit my job at Brown Jug liquors on fireweed, and moved to Kodiak, to live with my dad. I just wrote a note to brown jug, telling them I was tired of this job and quit to go fishing. had no Idea, I lived about 2 years in kodiak, woody island and Uganik bay, it was a time in my life that is perhaps the most peaceful that i had ever been. my routine, was hunt rabbits and deer and hike, chop trails and read, I read so many books, fiction, non-fiction, really like detective and cowboy and indian books, and Archie comics, Sad Sack, I had never done so much reading, my dad would go to town often, or to Anchorage. I would read and visit our neighbors, we had few Neighbors, we used to go visit them all. there was Ron and justine they lived on Corporation land, and had a nice cabin. we would go over and have coffee, they were first cousins, I remember, actually they were my dads cousins, so my second cousins, dad and Ronnie were the same age, I was still skinny, but it was the same time, that i quit smoking, so i was eating more. they had 2 ducks one named quakers, and other…. hmmm forgets. then there was Martha Dunlap, she and ronnie used to be married, and were on good terms, she used to call me Sunny, which I liked, even though, I had an uncle with the same, name, from the simeonoff side. she was very nice. there was dave and jeanie, across the bay an in Mush bay, I heard her on the radio, that was cool, sounded exactly the same. winter time, you could hear the radio chatter, which was always fun. I went bear hunting while our her and we killed a boar and sow, in the rut, it was a spring hunt, still wish I had that hide, damn boozing. the other people out there were the Lindberghs, who moved from bluefox. Dave and Linda, Dusty, Joey, Mike and last but not least shauna, they were a true Alaskan Family. I would go hang out with them and they would feed me for a helping hand, It was truly a life to be imagined, but me in my 20’s had people to see and places to go, we also stayed in a cabin on Woody island when in town, I once took a job in the cannery, so I could hang out in the bars, but hard drinking and hard working were at odds, I fished on the desperado a wooden 42 boat with perfect lines, with freedy devoe his brother, doral griggs and mike selvog, mike gave me the term piss boner, he like to crack jokes. I fished another season, with Ivar Malutin on the Birtha Marie, with Ivar, we went to the Southside, Alitak, and Old Harbor. I saw Ivar when I was working at the Native hospital after his heart surgery, it was a good visit. I miss that job, I had it made, fix computers, printers and do tech support. I got to roam around the hospital and socialize, I blew it when I went for more money in the maitenane dept. bad idea, they kept acting like I was a computer guy, when I was already a builder, not so much a handyman, like they were, well lets not get my ego in the way, I did learn about laminates and putting in needle boxes. and did build a separation wall on the roof, but mosly handyman jobs. boring,when rich ARd gets bored, heads will roll, pun intended, well it was my head that was rolling. down the road :/
when I go to kodiak, I get a peaceful easy feeling, like I belong, and until I had my own family, it was hard time to get.
the boats, the planes, the smell of saltwater, the people, the land of the white Natives, you see, there are lots of Natives, there, lots. most look as white as me, I have been fooling myself all these years. I look just as white as a lot of them, most I was even aware they were Native, even my own cousins, I though of as whiter, dan mees. yes true. now I am more aware. not wholley, as I look at my brothers and they look native, do I look that much different? I was the lightest skinned one, my mom and sister both look lighter, only because they live in anch, but when we were growing up, I was the lightest, not from not trying, tanning was a hobby to me, I could lay in the sun for hours, once in kodiak, march, I was out tanning in Uganik, could barley feel the sun, but did get a slight tan. I do miss the boats, the comrirodiere of a well run boat, but never liked the family gigs, I usually thought of ways to get off, or outright quit. the worst is when they have the wives on board, or visa versa, :/ i mean really, this is a workboat, that reminds me of the time I fished on the Red Baron out of Ketchikan, It was an old wood schooner, I think, anyway, they had a blind dog on it and we had a women on board the captain a tim huff his wife and maybe a kid too. first thing we get out where land is lost on the horizon and this lady is screaming at us. and then gives us some cheap bologna sandwiches with mayonnaise, that was it, for 2 weeks fishing black cod, after about 8 days, one of the other crewman and me are told to go down into one of the holds that water got into, and untangle the spools of line that had intertangled themselves, while under there he pulled out some crosstops and we untangled miles of line. anyway after all this time, he says, hey richard that woman is starting to look good, i had to do a double take on him, she was not you typical texas flower, her arm pit hair was longer than mine, she was a work machine, I only saw another fisherman, I must also mention, she had an odor, no more than most fisherman, but she was ripe, no showers just setting hooks and baiting, we were all ripe. the funny part, his name was Mark White, he was as American and white as apple pie, great college kid, often wonder what happened to him. probably running an empire. our other crewman was a guy named Brian Alison, big guy 6’4 tough hombre, me and him got into a bar fight in tony’s the night we hit town, amped up on coke, we smoked them, they were running, well the one that was not knocked out. this was one of the many times, I was backed into a corner. well. we kept trying to ignore them, they persisted. I never saw Mike again, but I did see Brian on multiple occasions, he was in the longliners union. well got to get some work done, more on kodiak later,