Buster McKenzie and Gerry Miller
Interviewers: Marie Bannister and Marilyn Clayton (for the Britannia Heritage Shipyard Project)
Recorded at the Britannia Heritage Shipyard, Richmond, B.C., September 24, 1991
(Project) Tape No. 110:1
(Discussion of Photo Collection)
MC: People that we've been interviewing, you'll probably see yourself in there. Plus a few shots that Doris Forsyth gave to us.
BM: That's the one that I had. (aerial shot of Phoenix / Britannia Site). I gave them, and that's how I know it was 1947, cause that's just when I came out here. That's where they were on the reduction plant.
GM: Yeah, oh yeah.
MC: That's a good one. These are the last crew here.
GM: The Canadian Fish gang, Canadian fish gang. A few of the familiar faces like Adrian in there that worked when I was here. And here's Barbara Shorey, Jimmy Hing.
MC: Jim Kishi.
GM: Has he been using Grecian Formula or something? His hair looks blacker, looks a little darker than it should.
MC: Oh now. Let's see who else might be, do you know this fellow, Jack Weinrauch?
GM: Yes, I know Jack but I don't recognize him with the mustache.
MC: Well, there he, well lets see here he is here, conferring with John over the boat plans. Now he's in the picture here too, I don't recall which one it is. Is it this one in the blue hat?
GM: No, that's him in the, right here with his glasses on, that's Jake.
MC: And this is his wife, Ann.
GM: Yes, she was a Stoltz or something.
MC: That's right.
GM: McKay, and Harold Grahn and Deagle.
MC: And this fellow is Elmer MacKay.
GM: Elmer McKay.
GM: Actually he's a Finn. There's only two of us so I don't know how you'd pronounce it McKay.
BM: ""Mackie"" I think, M-A-K-I.
MC: This is the lady who worked in the stores.
GM: Stores, stock room. You'd know her, I didn't know her at all. I never came here after the Canadian Fish took over. She worked with Dave Ingles.
BM: And she, I hired her for the office up there on..
GM: Oh, over here, yah, I see.
BM: Yah, and to do the Britannia books and then she applied for the job when Dave left.
GM: Oh, I see.
MB: So your office was over in the Phoenix Cannery, not here? Okay. Did you come down to the Britannia Site often?
BM: Oh, about five times a day.
MB: That's often. Just to check up on these guys or what?
BM: Well, yeah, to see what's going on.
GM: Just to get out of the office.
BM: They could be waving their arms, catch me coming down the thing, telephone, conference call is on.
MC: So would you come down first thing in the morning?
BM: Just depends what was going on.
GM: He was obligated to be in by about 9:00 if the fleet was because he used to talk to the fleet every morning and every night and so he couldn't really get away first thing in the morning.
MC: Okay, so in the morning what would it have been like there in the shipyard? Lots of activities going on everywhere?
GM: Sometimes there was nothing going on, or a lot going on. Buster, when I used to go, after I became, when I took over George's job, superintendent, I still went north at the end of June, stayed 'til October, November, then came down. But that was fishing time, so there wasn't much going on here and that's when the crew used to do a lot of under pinning. Then if there was somebody broke down or a problem with the keel, Buster would come up and with his knowledge of machinery and everything, he'd sort of supervise. But Buster was always interested enough in machinery and shipyards, he was never too far from anything that was going on. I remember one time at Christmas time, remember between Christmas and New Years working on ""Phyllis Cormack"" bearings. We were down, there was supposed to be a crew, the crew never showed up. Buster and I were down there all by ourselves, midnight working on the darn thing.
BM: And old John Cormack come down there and I went down with a white pair of over, overalls and the oil, I think he could pour it all over the whole engine.
GM: Oh, it was dirty.
BM: Gee, it was dirty.
GM: He was, they called him Mr. Clean, the natives that went out with him afterwards, he was the engineer, and he looked like Mr. Clean, you know, he was absolutely black. Eyeballs were the only white.
BM: His wife was a very nice woman.
GM: Oh yeah, and their house, you know I went there one day to pick up some parts, to ship up north, and knocked on the door and she answered, ""No"", she says, ""Can you come round to the back"". I figured that she had them stuffed underneath the stairs or something. I went around there and you know they had white tiles at the entrance, the back entrance, the walls were white, everything was white, like a hospital and this is the dirtiest man that we ever had working around here. And I don't know what he did, whether he went out in the garage or the little shed at the back and changed or whether she had a shower out, I don't know. But he couldn't help but be black because he used to go out on the engine and pour it with a coffee pot you know, pour instead of squirt gun. He'd just say help yourself and pour it on, and it would be running down and then all the exhaust would be leaking and there'd be black soot all over all this. It was horrible.
MC: Maybe he used Snap from head to toe before he went in the house.
GM: He was a school teacher in North Van. or some place.
BM: Yah, she taught the retarded children.
GM: Yah, nice woman. He was a nice fellow too. You know, very soft, easy going fellow. But to work on his boat that was something else. No wonder the gang didn't show up for that job.
MC: We had a couple of questions we wanted to ask, questions that we haven't had answers for. Could you tell us what a typical day was like here. Or maybe not typical day, how about pay day, was that out of the ordinary for?
MC: No? You're giggling Gerry.
BM: They didn't go down and get rowdy in the beer parlour.
GM: Yeah, that's right. We had, we always had, there was always a group of people here, and I had a soft spot for alcoholics and drunks you know, until they start leaning on you too much. But that one fellow we had here he was one of the sharpest mechanics we've ever had but he was a drunk. And he had an accident in Langley, Len Weeks, and he'd had an accident and killed somebody. He wouldn't touch a car, but he wouldn't stop drinking and you know he'd be moody, very moody and he'd come in and put his back up against the stove there and you know, he'd talk and get it all out. About 9:30 or so he'd start work and he wouldn't stop for coffee, he'd hardly stop for lunch and he'd work you know. And then he'd start slowing down because around 3:00 he'd get dry. He used to put in a better days work than most of the others that put in their time and yet. And he had such a wide knowledge, he'd worked in the Elk Falls pulp and paper mill so he had insulation and all that sort of thing down far better than anybody in the fishing industry had. And he had so many good points that we sort of went with the tide. But 8 o'clock in the morning, there was, even when George was here most of the talking, especially in the winter time was around the old pot bellied stove in there talk for a while and got everything down.
MC: That was you meeting place in the morning was it?
GM: Yah, you'd always find George, not from there or in here.
MC: Tell us about George (Shorey)?
BM: He was a real good mechanic. He was, if something broke, he wouldn't put it back the same way, it had to be put back so that it wouldn't break again.
GM: Always better, always better. It was always better after he touched something. Yeah, he was fantastic that way. I learned a lot from just talking to him and working with him.
BM: Cec, Cec (Cecil) Fisher, wanted to make a roller for the side of the ""Enterprise"" and we went down in the boat in the morning and talked there and figured out what had to be made and at 6 o'clock that night the boat sailed with it all on. Nobody copied it in less than two weeks.
GM: He was, Cec had to be the best machinist that was ever in here.
BM: And welding, well it didn't matter.
GM: Remember that dryer pot that he made for you or separator pot. Stainless steel, $2500. or what ever the casting cost, and he was machining it on a hay wire, worn out, old Lincoln lathe here.
BM: I took it in to have the holes put it on an angle in it. A big 250 pound casting and he said, ""You might as well get, they can put it in with a [end mill]."" So I took it into this machine shop it used to do work on separators and that and asked him if he'd do it. ""Sure"", he said. And he come out to the car, in the back of the car. He says, ""Where did you get that casting?"", I said, ""I got it in Vancouver."" ""Who made it?"" What was the name of the outfit used to be down by the bridge there? But I had them cast this and then he machined it up. And he said, ""Where did you get your machine work done?"" ""Oh,"" I said, ""we did that in our shipyard out there"". And he said, ""Boy"", he said, ""You got some good equipment"". I said, ""Yeah, we got one lathe there, 16 inch lathe. And I says, ""I don't know how old it is but the machinist been on it for 40 years and it was there when he came."" He couldn't really believe. It just looked like it was chrome, the finish on it.
GM: Yah, I remember when he was doing it.
BM: And they never made one before. The Sharples people make separators and one of the big makers of them and didn't cast them, they'd forge them and they'd turn black. But if you cast them, they're bright. And they made one, I think, and they spun it up and they got scared of it. There was a fellow from Sharples was out here and asked him to get a couple of discs for me and we'd put them in. Then he was back in Montreal and he told them this one needs discs. They says, ""Oh, you can't do that, you've got to have the bowl here."" And he said, ""Well, what for? They can do it, they can balance it."" ""Oh, I don't think so."" they says. ""You want to know something,"" he said, ""they made their own bowl."" They couldn't believe it. After that they were, they made castings.
GM: Now George, I guess you've heard anyway where he came from originally, how he came here. He was the, he trained in the mines in Ontario, Southern Ontario. He went, First World War he went over to England and he was an engineer on a mine, sub marine chaser over there. And old man Bell Irving was the captain on it and they got along very well and he brought George back here to run the engine room on his yacht. He had a big yacht that used to tour the cannery with, up and down the coast. George when he was up there, he kept looking at this and that. And typical, he was up on the beach fixing up the cannery and putting lights in them and all this sort of thing. They came back here, they needed some place to work on their boats. It would be kind of nice. So they looked at this thing, this old cannery, and Henry decided to make a shipyard out of it. And he made a shipyard and he (George) stayed here ever since 1919, 1920 I guess when it was built, somewhere. I don't know what degree the first year it was built, this beginning shipyard.
MC: So where would, like George, like did he have an office or did he just...?
GM: No, he had a counter in there, a little desk in there. He was never a bookkeeper at all. His bookkeeping was just terrible.
BM: Duncan Bell-Irving used to bring his plane in here, land and get George to work on it.
MC: A float plane was it?
MC: Is that right?
BM: Yes, he was a World War I flyer, Duncan Bell-Irving.
MC: We had a talk yesterday with George Shorey's wife, Dorothy. She's over at the Lion's Manor there. Great stories and she said to say hello to everybody.
GM: She was not, never much to come here. But he took a lot of his work home. I guess he talked quite a bit of it. But all the years that I was here, I never saw her here. When I was a little kid, you know, I'd see George come in. I'd be playing in the house. I can remember Mrs. Shorey, she was like a step mother to me or an auntie. And George came in and sat and smoked his pipe. Barbara and I ran around, you know. I guess while we were little kids. I learned to walk in Shorey's house. Dorothy and my mom were good friends and Stella Fisher, so we stopped there once in a while.
BM: There used to be a gas barrel sitting outside the door over there, and you'd see George, he was always smoking his pipe you know. He'd lean against this gas barrel striking his match.
MC: Oh no. You might be able to help us, in a picture here I think its here anyway.
GM: This is an old map really.
MC: Oh here! What is that? (referring to outside shot of the deck at Britannia, opposite the crane) See behind these people.
GM: Well, its an old big drum of some sort, Canadian Fish, you'd know that. I don't know now what that drum was. Was just leaning over here, something they took off a boat or something.
MC: Oh, is that what it was?
BM: Oh yes, was a drag, dragging drum off the...
GM: No, no, this is a, looks like a barrel type of drum right now. Might have been a dragging drum.
BM: I must have came off the derrick.
GM: Oh, I see. But, either that or its a drum well. Tipped up against the, might be a drum well tipped up against. That's what I have for a fish pond.
MC: This is just a shot of a boat, that a fellow named Howard Murrell, that's his boat on the way, there on that winch. He brought that over for us as well.
GM: I never bothered taking pictures in all the time I was here.
MC: No, well we have all of these because Dorothy (correction: Doris Forsyth) her last week or so, last month of work, just thank heavens she did it, went around and took all those photographs of different crew members and everything. So you say you came down at least five times a day did you Buster?
BM: Well no, if things were slack, I kept out of here.
MB: Well, did you start just working as a, repairing ships and that kind of thing and worked up to being a foreman boss? Or did they bring you in from somewhere else?
BM: No, I didn't start with ABC.
BM: I started at B.C. Packers and that was July 1, 1928.
MB: My goodness.
GM: Kildonen, wasn't it Bus? Yah Kildonen on the West Coast.
BM: And got 35c an hour, I figured I'd save a $1000 in no time. 12 hour days, 7 days a week.
MC: 25c an hour?
MB: Don't sell him short Marilyn.
BM: Two promotions and five years later I was getting 25c an hour in the middle of the Depression.
MC: You're sliding here.
GM: Wasn't much changed there for a while because I started at Imperial 52c an hour in '43. So there wasn't that much of a change.
BM: Yes, yes on the West Coast, had the two plants. I remember when we got the raise to 50c an hour and that was during the war.
GM: Yes, it wasn't that much. You know through the Depression nothing moved, it was pretty dormant. After then it started to move up fast.
BM: If you wanted good men you'd sure get them, they was lined up for any job. They phoned up from Vancouver, wanted some salt herring at one of the plants and telegraph operator came and asked if I could get a crew and go and do it for him and I said okay. So I went up to Indian Reserve, there was a bunch of Indians and took them over there, six miles away in a long boat and paid them off out of our own money because gosh they wanted to get paid and we worked for 5 hours at 35c an hour. But you wouldn't turn anything down, nothing. You worked as a longshoremen and they gave you the dirtiest jobs to do. Then when the American salt boats came in, we load 2 or 300 ton on each one, salt.
MC: When we were watching... Sorry, carry on.
BM: But that was when we were 14, I think.
MB: That's pretty young.
MC: How about you Gerry, how old were you when you started to work?
BM: Yeah, I started when I was fourteen.
GM: Buster started the year I was born.
BM: Was out of high school.
GM: Four months before I was born.
BM: Not that I was a good student ever.
MC: When we were walking over here we walked, we looked at the skiff being made there in that boatworks. Was there any connection between the boatworks and the shipyard? Different boatworks here, did the boatworks, were they independent or did they do work for the shipyard?
BM: More independent, I guess, before the war.
GM: Yep, and McGlashin wasn't it that built, remember old McGlashin the Icelander that built, he built those big boats that ""Verna G"" for Bill Gardner and Jimmy Egan, and Thompson and himself and I don't know where they all are. We had the ""Verna G"" for dispatch boat over at Alert Bay for a long time. But that as far as, that was in around 1946 they were built. And the, then Mukai started to build boats sometime after '50. I don't know just when he got in there. George Mukai and he built for a number of years in between times. Like it was tied in with Britannia or ABC then and he'd lease out the property, you know, it was quiet in the winter time. He's rebuild, we'd be fixing skiffs, power skiffs up and different things in there. But he'd tried to build a couple of boats a year in there, one or two boats a year he'd build in there.
MC: So then, who owned the actual building?
GM: It was all ABC property. Kishi owned the building I guess before the war and built several boats there and then through the war when they went out, other people came into it. But I don't think there was very much action in the early 40s. McGlashin was the first heavy duty and that was '46, so that's only four years after the Japanese left anyway. He was the biggest builder that I saw in there in the 40s. And Ljunstrom, he used to live in one of the company houses down there. He, he worked there, all icelanders working in there. This Jim Egan used to be my neighbour at No. 2 Road. That's how I kept coming in here, he had one of the second boats built I think. ""Verna G."" was the first one, Jimmy Egan's boat. And I was in here quite a bit with him. And they were supposed to be 10 - 12 knot boats, all they were is big fat pigs in the water. The stern came out of the water, so much like this you know. And running, the PT boats or running boats, the stern was straight in the water so that they planed. The way he had it built they just ran like a rocking chair. But picking up the net, Jim Egan wasn't any bigger than you, and in the stern the great big 12 foot stern and it used to sit out here and then come down on the waves, bang. And he had to sell it because he'd come off the floor that much, jarring away you know and bang.
MC: He'd be catapulted right out.
GM: Oh yes, it used to be terrible on him, so he sold it because of that and got another boat and he went and quit.
MC: Last week we had a surprise visit on the guest by a fellow named, his real name is Yutaka but he called, he went by a nickname Coby, Coby Kobayashi. Do you remember that name?
GM: I know the name and I'm trying to remember who he is.
BM: There was Kobayashi early. They weren't here after I came here in '47.
MC: He said that when he was a youngster they had a home on stilts just over there and then they moved up to Moncton Street.
GM: There used to be, just inside of this building here, there was three or four big buildings in there. Two storey buildings in there and it was probably one of those.
MC: His was two stories and it became like a boatworks. His dad was a fisherman and he said he had a fishing skiff in there and a couple of boats. He's now in Toronto and he just came out for a visit and by chance came down to the site. He could remember a lot of the names that we've talked about.
GM: But Jim, you know Jim Kishi, he should have known all the names of every boat and every building that was in here because he really was the ... He lived right here. He was born and lived here. And Oscar Yaminaka was down the other way where the cement block buildings are now. But Jimmy was right here and he grew up right here. He should have everything down pat for you ever better than Lanky. Lanky seems to be more vocal but I think Jimmy is the one with the memory.
MB: I think part of the problem is squeezing it out of him.
GM: Yeah, that's right, he doesn't participate.
MB: He's not a very talkative person.
GM: No, he's not, no.
MC: Bit by bit its coming out. We wanted to ask too.
BM: The property was all covered with houses.
MC: Do you remember that Buster?
GM: They weren't knocked down when Buster came, they were all here then.
MB: When did they start tearing them down?
GM: I don't know.
BM: It was right after the Japanese went.
GM: Yeah, yeah, but really they were still lots of people living. In here, they were gone pretty quick. But, and down here that went right away. The ones where the old pool hall and cafe was, or the little store, right at the end of the ramp, coming from the cement building here, before the war there was one in there.
BM: A lot of property around had seven acres on Westham Island and they owned another chunk right in Langley just about or in Ladner.
GM: And the, down at the Stoltz place down there by Stoltz.
BM: Down there were 40 acres.
GM: 40 acres or so down by Scotch Beach.
BM: Down at the Scotch Canadian. In fact head office phoned me up one day and asked if there was any use for that land down at the Scotch Canadian and seemingly a lot of it was gone, washed away you know. And they owned the property right out to the black port. They said, ""We don't really need that too. We could give it to them."" And I said, ""No, you never know maybe we'll put a gate on there and charge a toll for boats going up and down.""
MC: Gerry, you just mentioned the little store, now at one time, I think you said the name Takagaki.
GM: Takagaki, I don't think I did.
MC: Some one did.
GM: Fifteen, Takagaki is which one?
MC: That would be here. (Looking at the map)
GM: Yah, it might have been their name. But that's the one I'm talking about anyway.
MC: Do you remember a store being there?
GM: Oh yeah, yeah, I was in it.
MC: That was a little Japanese store was it?
GM: Yeah, pool hall at the back. A little store, what it was just pop and rice and bread, that's about all.
MC: Okay, one of the questions we wanted to ask was in 1969 when ABC left, was there a big party, celebration or how did it end?
GM: We had one. We had a dandy here. The Britannia gang, I wasn't going to go out without a show. We sold a bunch of scrap metal that was here you know and got I don't know, two, three hundred dollars. I forget how much it was. We went down to King Wah.
BM: Oh yeah, I was at Canadian Fish by then.
GM: Oh yeah, we had a nice party down there.
MC: What time of the year was that?
GM: Well, this place closed in January.
BM: In January.
GM: So it was in January, it was after it closed.
MC: So that was a feeling of happiness with your big celebration was it or?
GM: I don't know whether it was or not. It was kind of sad really but we made the best of it and had fun reminiscing with one another. It was the whole gang from here. I don't remember if Buster was there but I think Norman was there too.
GM: A lot of fun.
BM: You got a hold of Norman did you?
MC: Yeah, but he wasn't able to come today. He phoned this morning and said he was sorry he couldn't make it today but that's why we're going to have another session at a different time with everybody here.
GM: We should all get together and jump on a bus and go and visit Buster.
MC: Out in Langley? We could do that, sure. What do you think about what we're planning to do here Buster? The vision, the vision that this is going to be turned into a living boat works museum. A working museum. What do you think of that?
BM: It's alright.
MC: Got any suggestions?
BM: No. Don't make it too fancy.
GM: Yeah, don't make it too fancy. And the first thing he's going to say is put piles under it. That's my biggest worry with it because it been 20 years since its had any piles put under it now and it should be falling down. Its in remarkable shape. God, think of all those piles we put in there, we didn't really have to put those piles in, its not falling down.
BM: I'll tell yah, that fellow Skuckstad, the director of Canadian Fish, he, we made up a budget and I had so much for Britannia for fixing core bolts and that sort of thing and he was going down, you know, cutting down everything. So he says, ""Well now where's Britannia?"" It's up there. ""Come on we'll walk up there."" We went walking up and he says, ""What's holding it up?""
MC: Oh dear.
GM: You know after the change over to Canadian Fish here, Nelsons and somebody from B.C. Packers, I can't remember who it was, they were in the office down there one day and they said, ""Dammit, we should have taken over Britannia. That's the worst thing we could have done is that we could have got it, could have cut it off here."" They could have had it and they said they could have utilized it because all they had at that time was Queensborough and it was over taxed and very expensive.
BM: Very expensive.
GM: Yeah, this one here was, the way it was managed it was the cheapest shipyard going. Do you remember the London III?
GM: We cut if off right behind the house, right down to the keel, took all the ribs out everything, took all the form out of it and then got, I draw up roughly what I wanted, very basic and Allen Steves went and built it. I wanted the forward timber that goes up over the propeller, dropped down and spread back a good foot. And a wider big stern on it and carried the wood back to hold, support it. Because it used to just about have the whole hull was under water when they put the net on. So and it was tear dropped, the stern was brought in narrow so I wanted a full stern, not like a gillnetter, its a type of thing you know. Said, ""Sure we can do that."" So we did it you know. Norm Goble was telling me that the full year from April to April, the budget here for that boat was $14,000, that included the insurance and doing what we did here.
BM: Well you only had about three men working on it.
GM: Yeah, that's right, three.
BM: Jack Hill.
GM: Jack Hill, Jake Weinrauch and Allen (Steves). And then Axel Pyke and a couple of fellows did the installation of a lot of the metal working. There wasn't much but they finished it off.
BM: And here, they'd be hauling the boat up on the ways there, take the mast out. All of that and just put a plank across and you could walk from the deck to the boat. Your saw was there, everything was right there. And you go down to Sterling Shipyards or one of those in Vancouver and you're never up level with the dock. The docks are seven feet higher and down the ladder every time you've got to do something. You'd walk way up to the shop.
GM: The shop was as far as your office is from here. You know, the stockroom. You forget one bolt and go all that way. Where as here it was right here. Even the shipyards, the mechanics were you know, were right here. This was the most centralized shipyard in B.C. for the size, you know, there's lots of little.
BM: Same with the front of the dock here, you're a good step off the dock and onto the boat when the tide's up.
MC: So you really enjoyed it?
GM: Oh, I really enjoyed working here. Yeah, because I started working in shipyards up at, one up at, by No. 2 Road when I was a school kid, in high school, junior high. A fried of mine's Dad had one. Then the first job out of school in '46-47, somewhere in there, '47 I guess it was, I worked with Allen Steves down at No. 2, at Atagi's old place down at Scotch Pond. I worked there with him and I associated with them. And then up at Todd's Shipyards and then went to engineer with the ""Fir Leaf"" and then started working here in the winter time. Sometimes it was only a month, sometimes it was six months I worked.
MC: You worked quite a long time then with Allen (Steves) did you?
GM: Yeah, Allen and I worked down there in '47 for six months I guess and Allen gill netted then I came back the following year I went up to Todd's and worked up at that shipyard, six months out, between fishing.
MC: Had an interview with Jack, Jake Weinrauch, and he was saying he learned so much from Allen.
GM: Oh, Allen was really sharp and he had a lot of history and so quiet and confident. He was really nice to work with. It was ironic when I came here I was his boss. I started when he was my boss and I had to always be nice to him cause, god he was nice to me. He was a real prince of a fellow. You never had to be anything else but nice to him because he was a joy to be with him.
MC: There was so much activity going on here, were there ever any accidents or, that you can remember?
GM: No, I don't remember
BM: Just one.
MC: Just one?
BM: It was on the ways, had a boat on the ways here and hounded them about that thing, ""When are you going to get that boat in the water?"" We haven't got a big enough tide, won't get a tide til January. I kept after them and after them. Finally there was a big tide and they were going to take it off. So they get it ready. They had it hooked up and they were going to move the blocks over on it and the eye broke and away she went, half tide, right out into the river.
GM: God that was a long run.
BM: I came after them, ""You've been telling me for months you had to have a high tide and you put the boat in the water at an half tide.""
MC: Who was responsible for that? This is a silent pointing of Gerry to himself.
GM: Lucky we had Dave Dyke working here, you know the skin diver, because we had the Loyal Chinook here and she had a long single fall on it and he went and got his gear and it was... The ways was down there. It sat out there and the boat was sitting right out there right broadside and the ways were below it and I had the lines that you pull the blocks in under, they were tied onto the boat. As it went down, this line, the blocks came in and the lines came up tight. So we let them go and set it down. Got the Loyal Chinook out there and Dave went down and I said, ""Make sure you take them from all over so it comes up square."" And he did. He did very good. It came up just like. He said you could feel it start to move so he'd go somewhere else you know. God we just floated it in here and it was up just as quick as if we'd pulled it up.
MC: We heard a good counter part to that story, Jake Weinrauch was working on a boat that was docked here at the edge and working on the end of it and he said, Whooosh, all of a sudden he saw the boat going by and said he was very lucky he wasn't out even just a little bit further.
GM: Yeah, if it'd been sticking.. Quite often they used to keep the bows out that way so if it was tight for a spot if we wanted two boats.
MC: That was one of the fastest launches he'd ever seen.
GM: But to me it looked like it was taking two hours, it lumbered away, klunkety, klunkety, klunkety klunk. Well, I was looking at it right to the end, I couldn't tell how fast it was going.
MC: Except that you knew you didn't want it to be going at all.
GM: Yah, what a helpless feeling. The worst accident that happened when I was here was Axel Pyke, he was starting the engines on the ""Exilda"" and it had a gas engine. And it was tied up on the floats down here, and the exhaust pipe was broken like those caterpillar gas engines were so often. And I heard this engine roaring and roaring and roaring away, you know and I went down to see what was going on and boy when I stepped aboard I could smell the exhaust fumes. I went and I said, ""Axel come on out of there."" ""Oh no, I just about got it going now."" he said. It was a first time start so it was slow to get it going and it had a little engine on the back and it turned the main engine round and round til it was warm and then you'd put he fuel to it and it started. So I said, ""Start it quick and get out of there, never mind"" ""No, no, no."" So finally he gave it the engine gas or fuel, started it up and he struck the little one off and came up on deck and he stood, got out of the galley and he came around behind the galley and he fell flat on his face, right out cold. Got a gulp of fresh air and that put the carbon monoxide in his blood I guess. God I was scared. We got the Rescue 8 people or whatever the ambulance was down here so quick. But to try to keep him going, you know but he was fine. He sort of half woke up, he didn't go completely dead so I knew as long as he was half aware so his system would keep going but he couldn't move. He just lay there.
MC: Do you ever remember anybody falling in?
GM: The skipper of the old ""Fir Leaf"", Wilson or whatever it was, he fell over board once, long time ago. But that was before you came I think. (talking to Buster)
MC: Not even on pay day, no one fell in?
GM: Oh here, they were all up on dry land drinking.
BM: One blacksmith we had here, he was quite an alcoholic. George used to come in and say, ""Don't know where he got that from. He'd comes in sober in the morning and by noon, coffee time,"" he says, ""He was half shot. I don't know where he keeps it. I've hunted everywhere"" So anyway, one day George was going down the ladder and down the floats and he saw this piece of string, you know, at the corner of the dock. He went over there and hauled it up and here's the bottle.
MC: That was a whole sober day for that guy then was it?
GM: Was that George Sturgeon? Was that Sturgeon?
GM: Yeah, he's the one that did most of the welding on that crane up there.
MC: He was the blacksmith?
GM: Yeah, blacksmith, welder. It was towards the end of the blacksmithing days, it was changing over from it.
BM: He was a pretty good blacksmith.
GM: He was a very good blacksmith, yep. He'd worked with Tommy Howard down there for years in Steveston.
MC: So did you ever figure out how he got it over the edge?
BM: Just tied a rope on it you see and put it down in the water.
MC: First thing in the morning, I guess.
BM: Go down on the floats in the morning.
GM: Another favourite spot was all those, you know those racks for plywood in that little lean to in the, half way down on the east side there. That was another spot there was always way at the back, there was always some. You'd got to push a piece of plywood in sometime and clink, clink, clink.
MC: Did you all take lunch at the same time? And where was that? There was a lunch room?
GM: Yeah, upstairs. But quite often there used to be a bench along here, they'd sit on.
BM: Sit outside there and feed the birds.
GM: Yeah, in the summertime.
MC: What kind of birds?
BM: Oh, little sparrows. They'd be on the window there and they'd have a ledge on the window for them and they'd be there looking in the tool room you know and the stock room.
GM: Dave used to do quite a bit of that didn't he? He had that little shelf there right outside his window.'
BM: And they're right outside there.
MC: Barbara Shorey mentioned that. Oh and actually it was Coby who mentioned how there used to be so many birds here and that's what he was looking around and saying. Where are the little sparrows? How long ago did they leave, do you remember?
GM: When place closed down, no more free food I guess.
MB: Had to forge for themselves so they went somewhere else.
MC: But that was one of the things that he remembered, was all the little birds along here. Now Adrian, had a dog, Adrian Allegretto. He's in the picture there. We were wondering if you knew what his name was.
GM: Adrian. Must have been after, Canadian Fish time. He never had a dog when I was here. Adrian had a dog here in the Canadian Fish time.
MB: This little guy, there he is right in the picture.
GM: Oh yeah. No, I don't remember it. I was around to his house too in the late 50s and early 60s. I sailed with him a number of years.
MC: He's coming one day next week to talk with us as well.
GM: He's a nice, nice fellow.
MC: In fact he's coming on the same day as Shin, Shin Nakade. Do you remember Shin?
GM: Oh yah, I know Shin very well, old friend of mine.
MC: I forgot, you grew up right, right here.
GM: Well no, he grew, Shin grew up way down there at the other end by 7th Avenue, 6th Avenue. I grew up at No. 2 Road. Still saw a lot of him.
MC: So you would have been a little boy on the site? So you played a lot along here.
GM: Oh yeah.
MC: Were you restricted as to where you could play, or did you just run havoc?
GM: They never, never bothered me. I don't know anybody ever told me to get the hell out of any place. Because I never, I never damaged anything even when they. In the old days they couldn't leave their boats here because this was all wide open. And they'd take the boats up along the island there past where these piles are up further and they'd have them all tied up in the lee there all winter. And then bring one at a time down, take the mast down and put it inside to fix it. And we used to play on the boats over there and my buddy that just went home. We've got pictures of each other steering the boat, whether it was the ""Kinkasan"" or ""Wa Yas"", or what it was you know. But we never bothered, never touched anything on the boats. We wouldn't even take a bucket or a stick off them. So I was never, never destructive that way. So they never bothered me. If I was doing something that threatened my life they would have stop me. I can remember the Ivy Leaf, way up in there when I was a very little kid. That was quite a big boat, it was a smaller version of the ""Fir Leaf"", short. And it was up in there for a long time and I remember climbing around underneath this huge ship wondering how on earth they got it up in there. Because it was tucked way up in the end in the far side. And you know I used to be around that thing, looking at it and nobody ever bothered me.
MC: So Mr. Shorey wouldn't shoosh you out or anything?
MC: So long as you didn't get into any trouble.
BM: Even when I was here you know I never. I'd park my car beside the office and I never took the keys out.
MB: You wouldn't do that today.
BM: Sure wouldn't. Some fisherman would come along and wanted to go down to Steveston for something I'd say, ""Well take my car its right outside there."" ""Well give me the keys."" ""The keys are in it."" Twenty years over there, I never took the keys out.
GM: We had a house. Its still there, parts of it, No. 2 Road and up along the London townsite and we didn't even have a lock up until the 40s. And it was well on in the 40s when they, lot of transients came into the area after the Japanese left. We started to put a lock on, only because couple of the neighbours said, ""Oh, there was somebody roaming around the house."" We never lost anything but we never had a lock, never.
MC: Do you remember waves of different people coming in? Was it a seasonal sort of thing or?
GM: A lot of them were seasonal. They started to stay around when they got more established. We had neighbours from Native Katzi Indian Reserve. Two or three of them from up river. There used to be an awful lot... B.C. Packers had more coast natives come down than ABC. ABC had, I don't remember how many natives they had here in the 40s. I don't remember them all coming down.
GM: They were discouraging camp people. The cannery didn't really start, cannery, Phoenix cannery didn't really start heavy duty canning til in the 40s sometime. In the 30s it was closed down for. They never had it going for years.
BM: Wasn't it thirty, 34 that they started.
GM: Started 34, 35, 36 somewhere in there. Yeah, Pearl and my aunt started working there at that time.
MC: You know, the site's changed quite a bit over the years. Do you remember when the in fill started? Like the dredging and all that?
GM: Buster's the one that filled it up here, he'd know what year it was. It was after 53, because 53 they built this thing and it was this dredging here that you put up here wasn't it?
BM: Ah yes, that we put in here and then Greczmiel dredged the boat basin for us and made space for 20,000 yards and he filled that up when he was half done. I was paying for 20,000 yards work. I know there was 20,000 left heaped up on the pile after that.
MC: And then filled in all, like where the trailer is now where we walked in, did you, were you responsible for filling all that in too? Was that just dredged out of here?
BM: Yeah, out of here. Even down where those warehouses are and I told the engineers that was designing them that we would use the fill out of here and he just shook his head you know and I said, ""Well, I tell you. You design the building and we'll put in the foundation."" So put a cement wall along there and then filled that all in and he was amazed when he came out and saw a bull dozer working right at the mouth of the 14 inch pipe just shoving the stuff around. It was real good fill.
MC: Make a big difference in the site property then, at least you could walk on.
GM: It was terrible here because that dyke was so low.
BM: And it used to fill up.
GM: Yeah, every year.
MC: We've heard stories about, there was a fairly large Chinese Community, down here too wasn't there? Do you remember that? Chinese workers, maybe they were cannery workers.
GM: Cannery workers.
BM: Oh yeah, they'd be cannery workers.
GM: There was only one Chinese family and that was the Chongs up here and they're very active in the, with the corner grocery store thing. They're still around, the whole family. But they... How many did Hong Wo have? They must have had 30 of them living there anyway.
BM: Oh, about that. We used to have the dills, dill pickles they were making. Big tanks full of them.
GM: I did that one year in '46 you know. After I started, well I quit B.C. Packers in Imperial about the middle of August and George Lam asked me, ""What are you doing?"" I was going home. I said, ""Nothing I just quit, I'm getting ready for school"" ""Oh, you'd better come work for me tomorrow."" ""So what are you going to do?"" He says, ""Never mind, come. Go on down there."" And he took me down and I spent close to a month working there and I filled a whole acre with barrels of pickles. You know those big wine barrels, a whole acre full of them laid down, by myself. And in between time I had to go out with a tractor or the truck and I didn't even have a driver's licence. He made me go up to No. 3 Road. He had a big farm of cukes up there and then all around out in there where these buildings are now. I'd pick up pickles and then they had a whole pile of people grading in there and then they'd come out and they'd, I'd come to work in the morning, there'd be stacks of crates, Number 1s, 2s, 3s, and 7s.
MC: So there'd be big barrels of brine in there, would there?
GM: Yeah, I had brine I'd make and then once I got the salinity up so far I'd put the brine in the barrel after I put the top on, you know, the bun hole. And I'd layer dill weed and different things in too, every 6 inches or 8 inches or whatever it was. And then turn it with the bun. Fill it and drive the bun in it and wheel it out. God my hands were like this (rough sound) when I finished.
MC: Where would they be sold?
GM: White Spot used to take a bunch. Nalley's and people like that, they bought them wholesale. They all went. Nalley's used to take most. But White Spot we did custom theirs, but they wanted garlic, my God every layer of cukes about yeah high there was a white, you know chopping them all up and then spreading them up.
MC: Was that when you were a kid?
GM: Yeah, well I was 18.
MC: White Spot always used to put a big dill pickle slice, a long slice.
GM: Yeah, they liked them quite large, yeah, 5s or 6s.
MC: We've heard different stories about opium dens and things. Were you ever aware of that?
GM: Do you remember what they put in those pipes? Remember those pipes they used to sit on the corner and smoke away.
BM: Used to have water pipes.
GM: Water pipes and they'd gurgle.
BM: Big octagon pipe about that size, and then there was the little connection coming out of it where they like that, where they put their stuff in and then you suck the smoke through the water. They had the water down in a bucket and they'd draw on it. What they put in it I don't know.
MC: Well, where was that? Was that here on the site?
GM: At Hong Wo's.
MC: Oh, Hong Wo's.
GM: After work they'd have them along the...
BM: All the camps had those water pipes.
GM: They were brass things about yeah big and about that long and they had the little things, the only air going down into this thing would go through where the tobacco was and they'd at the top there, there's this little thing and they'd suck on it. You'd hear it gurgling away. Genuine water cooled smoke. They put all kinds of things. Little tiny containers so it must have been for things other than tobacco because they were very, very economical size, they weren't these big English type.
MC: Just a baby finger size?
BM: You wouldn't put any cut plugs in it.
MC: Now we've never been able to hear any real stories about rum runners. You got any good stories for us Buster?
BM: Well, one of our skippers, Curly Auchterlone, he was in the rum running.
BM: Curly Auchterlone.
GM: Henry Auchterlone.
BM: And I was asking him, ""Do you ever make any money at it, Curly?"" ""Money!"" he says, ""You know one trip I came into Vancouver and I walked up Granville Street, I hired two taxis and I walked up Granville Street between them.""
MC: He was a skipper for..?
GM: Yes, for us. His son is still skippering on boats for B.C. Packers.
BM: But Jack Meyers, he was a, he was an alcoholic but he took a boat to Tahiti, the seiner and got a load of liquor and came back out passed Quilchena and lay there for three days I think waiting for the pick up boat and it never showed up. So he went in and put it all in gunny sacks and dumped it in the bay so he could pick it up. But there was a stump rancher (home steader) up there and saw them and reported them and they ended up in jail. After all that, taking a seine boat and going to Tahiti.
MC: So that the rum runners were just ordinary seine boats then?
GM: Anything, anything. They built the little one in here. But Ian Bell-Irving doesn't think that, he said they never built boats here it was always repairs. I said, ""They built one boat."" And Ian looked at me kind of funny, you know. But George liked to talk about this one that they built in here and I forget what kind of an engine they put in to it.
MC: What was it called?
GM: I can't remember, Beatrice or something. It wasn't Beatrice but is was a name like that.
BM: I was talking to Auchterlone, who hired the two taxis, and I was down in San Francisco on a trip, buying machinery. And this fellow, he says, ""Do you want to buy some liquor?"" and I said, ""Why?"" And he says ""Well, this warehouse down in the rock area"", he says, ""there's 10,000 cases of Scotch Whisky"" Now to get into the states it has to be aged four years in the wood and this was only four years, in ten months. And Food and Drug wouldn't allow it in. So they had to get rid of it. And I said, ""How much do they want for it?"" And he says ""$1.75 a case"". So I says, ""No, it'd take me too long to drink it."" So I came back up here and I was telling Curly Auchterlone about this and he says ""By God,"" he says, ""You get the money together,"" he says, ""and buy it, we'll go down there with the Northern Girl"" he says, ""and we'll load her up and clear for San Salvador and we'll come up here and go up Fraser River and sell it to UDL."" He says,""I can arrange the whole thing.""
MC: What's UDL?
GM: United Distilleries Ltd.
MC: Oh dear, and then he'd rent four taxis.
GM: He would have, he was an awful bugger.
MC: That's a good story.
GM: But the one that they built in here it was seized down in the bottom end of South Pender one trip, one quick trip.
MC: Did you guys have nicknames for each other around here or..?
GM: Not with an S.O.B., no,no.
BM: Oh there was lots of them years ago up the coast: 22 Knot Pete, he was a rum runner.
MC: 22 Knot Pete?
MC: That's a good nick name.
BM: Rum runner up there named Howling Dane, everybody called him you know, the Howler. One day he was at the post office and there was a bunch in there in the store and somebody asked, ""Does anybody here know a Pete Jensen?"" And he said, ""Yes, that's me."" ""You! I thought you were the Howler.""
GM: Oh yeah, years ago, when a lot of Norwegians came out here they all had nicknames.
BM: You wouldn't be discriminating against anybody, you know calling them a nickname, they're all right.
GM: My neighbour was called Shithouse Chris.
MC: Was there a reason?
GM: I think I know but I left that one alone. Diesel John. All the, everybody had the nickname.
MC: Diesel John, was he a mechanic?
GM: No, no he was one of the first boats with, a fish boat with a diesel engine.
BM: Gasoline Jack, he was a guy on the west coast, Gasoline Jack he was called.
MC: Did you ever hear of Whistling Joe.
GM: I have heard of him, but I don't know who it is.
MC: You can be our sleuth and find out who it is.
GM: There's not very many people that.. You see, I'm getting to be an old timer now and I was just a kid when a lot of this was going on. I only wish I could have tape recorded my grandparents, you know.
BM: Yah, oh my dad he was, he come out here in, and he worked on the.. He came out here 1892.
MC: Where'd he come from Buster?
BM: From Scotland.
GM: With a name like McKenzie.
MC: Why did I ever ask.
BM: In those days Peter Wallace had a couple of canneries. Wallace, Peter Wallace and John Wallace came from there. John Wallace had Birkdale and Allendale. But Peter had [Flack] and Kildonen. That's when they were building canneries on the Skeena River. B.C. Packers, at one time, had 42 canneries.
GM: They didn't have any boats to pack the fish so they caught them right in front of the cannery and processed them so there had to be a cannery by every river or more.
MC: The fish were that plentiful were they?
BM: No, not that plentiful.
MB: No freezing.
MC: Oh, I see they's just have to be processed immediately.
BM: They had a big freezer at Kildonen but you still had the cans. Can the stuff and haul it. But the labour was cheaper. The labour is what caused all the concentration but B.C. Packers had two canneries now.
GM: They have two. They can do 500,000 cases quite easily now at each one. Northern ones are more than that, I don't know what its got. In the old days 50,000 cases was quite a bit at some of these canneries.
MC: Do you still like canned fish?
GM: Have it regular, yeah, my kids like it.
MC: Barbara was telling us when she was a young girl that she and Stella Fisher's daughter, I don't recall her name.
MC: Shirley, okay. They used to work in the cannery. They'd get time off school and work in the cannery. Would that be during the war years Gerry?
GM: It would have to be after....Yah.
MB: That's what she said.
BM: I worked in the cannery when I was a kid.
GM: Everybody did at sometime.
BM: 10c an hour.
MC: So what kind of things would you do?
BM: Piling cans.
MC: Piling cans.
BM: Piled them by, all stacked up way up and then when things slowed down, you'd take and lacquer. Bring them all down and then lacquer them and go into the cases.
MC: Did you lacquer them with a brush?
BM: No, a lacquering machine, put them right down there and they come up.
GM: Came out and as they rolled they dry.
MB: So what did you do with your money?
GM: Not a lot. We didn't enjoy it. You know we worked when. I, you know, I'm the forerunner of the leisure people but I worked and if I wasn't working at one spot I was working somewhere else. The longest time I was ever off was three months in that herring strike, remember in 52-53 what ever it was. 53 wasn't it? I was three months out of work and it drove me crazy. I was never more that a week out of work for ever. After school I was working, I was always doing something.
MB: So you started working about 12 or so?
GM: In earnest 15. I worked in the carpenter shop. You couldn't work legally until you were 15 and then you had to have parental consent at the time.
BM: In Vancouver, I tried to get in, in Vancouver as an apprentice, machine shop in 1930 and couldn't get in anywhere you know. If you did it was 50c a day. You couldn't get a job for that.
MB: What I'm interested in, like even as a kid when, did you save your money for bikes and stuff?
GM: I bought a car, I had, remember the Packard Phantom I had, that big touring car, that was custom built for Woodwards? It had this big emblem on the hood. But it was a great huge thing from here to the wall long, a big packard. Its in the vintage car club has the one I had and its the most envied car by the members. Its a beautiful car. But it had a huge back seat, space you could walk around in. It had a bar in the back of the drivers seat you know. I can always remember going down. I had a girlfriend in Vancouver, I'd pick her up and there was a bunch of other girls around there. They'd find out where I was going, if I was going to Stanley Park they come down from the apartment and they'd look in the car and there'd be about 10 girls in the damn thing to go around Stanley Park. One day I went to go to White Rock, we were going to White Rock, going swimming. Same thing, damn thing was full and it held a hell of a pile of people, top down, the top used to go way back and down you know. Packard Phantom, huge, and it used to cost me $20 a weekend for gas which was astronomical. Down here where I bought my gas, he used to rub his hands every time they saw me coming. But I went down there and it was all gravel on the beach drive at White Rock and I came down and went towards the tracks and stopped the car and we got out. Came back, the car was right down, the wheels were right under. To the axel, you know and it was sitting on its belly. So I said well you know, there's no use looking on it. Lets try it. So we all got in and I put it in reverse and backed across and it was still on. So I put it ahead when she started to go ahead she climbed out and I looked back here's these two great big streaks across the whole street in white rock. I didn't go back with that car for years.
MC: Was just the weight of the car?
GM: The weight of the car, it was a heavy car, it was about 6,000 pounds, the bare car without people in it and I had about 2,000 pounds of people in it. But no that was my big extravagance as far as money, as far as my earned money which wasn't a whole lot. That was under $500 when I bought it, what I paid for it.
MC: You had a bicycle though here too, didn't you? Didn't you tell us you used to ride your bike along the boardwalk?
GM: Oh yeah, always had a bike, that's how I went to school from the time I was in grade 1, I guess, I rode. It was always here.
MC: Coby told us about riding his bike along the boardwalk there and sometimes the tire would stick in between the boards and whiiiit, because... Said there was more than one time.
MB: Did you do that too?
GM: I never got in between. But I was, my handle bars were loose once so I reached in behind to the pouch and I was tightening it up and there was a nut on top that cracked on the handle bars and it slipped and fell in and caught between the spokes and I went right over, right in front of Kishi's place down there, the old Kishi's down there. Right in front of there. I used to be able to go from No. 2 Road almost to No. 1 Road, as long as there was no body on it, no hands all the way down. It was three planks, it was like this, sometimes it was four, the good parts had four but this is in about the same spacing. I remember down at the old brick plant down here once, I was going home and they, there was planks and there was a brick. Gee that's dangerous, somebody's going to hit that thing so I came along you know and I was riding my bike, put my foot down and I was going to give it a kick over the side. And oh God, it didn't move and I just about broke my foot. So I stopped and I went to take it off by hand you know and I was limping back. I couldn't, somebody had a rod about that big through it and it was down in the crack. I damned near broke my foot trying to kick it.
MC: You mentioned Greczmiel, that name Greczmiel, okay there was a Barbara Greczmiel, do you remember her?
BM: Oh, Greczmiel used to have a house just the other side of No. 3 Road on Steveston Highway.
MC: And what was his business?
BM: He was an electrician.
GM: Yah, by trade.
MC: But helped you with the...
BM: He became a contractor. He was... One of the first things I know he did was he built that theatre in Marpole and..
MC: He helped you with dredging did he and the in fill?
BM: Yah later. He came down one day. He says, ""I wanna pick your brain."" And I said, ""What are you going to pick, there's not much left."" And old Gene he never had a hair on his head you know, not a hair, eyebrows, nothing.
GM: Not a hair, eyebrows, nothing.
BM: We used to kid him about it, you know.
MC: Now did he have a nickname? That was Curly, right?
BM: Said, ""I want to build a dredge."" He was telling me what he was going to do and how he was going to make. And what he should have for power and that and he went ahead and built one and he did a lot of dredging.
GM: He did a lot of little custom dredging. He was the first through the war when sugar was short he built that little glucose factory up by where the ocean fisheries is now. It used to be the Rice mill. He had a glucose factory up there, used potatoes to make glucose. Very, very resourceful. He came to the country and started doing house plans. He did our old house. He did most of the houses in Richmond, really, the old houses.
BM: He did the plans at Alert Bay for us. He was the electrician. Him and Louis [Hertzberg].
GM: His son is Eugene, that built all the Greczmiel houses around here.
MC: His son still lives here, his daughter Barbara lives on the island, Vancouver Island. Evidently she's got a lot of pictures and she's going to make a trip over one day and help us go through them.
GM: Because she was around,I went to school with her.
MC: She said she used to deliver papers here on the site.
GM: When they were going to school, they lived where, roughly where the Safeway is at 3 and Williams. Just south of Williams a little ways on the west side of 3. Scratchy and I were similar age and we used to go play.
GM: Oh, it was her nickname.
BM: Came down to the office one day, Greczmiel. Bill Burgess, he's a comical net boss. He always had something to say, you know. So he comes into the office and here's Gene sitting there. ""Hello Gene, how are you anyway?"" He says, ""I hear you made a fortune"", he says, ""selling hair nets."" He was good natured. I laughed.
GM: Is Bill still alive?
GM: Bill died, what a shame. He would have been an endless source of conversation. I think he'd [be fun].
GM: Bill Burgess.
BM: He was the net boss here from 1954. But I knew him before the war up the coast. I was on the west coast of the Island for over 20 years.
GM: Barclay Sound.
MC: Well, we've gone through almost every question we can think of and you've answered even more.
GM: No answers just talk.
MC: I mean its great. We don't even have to give you questions, you've got so much knowledge.
GM: What are you going to do with this thing now? You're not responsible for it are you? (the crane)
MC: Well, the fellow who, John, and he has been, evidently the motor its impossible.
GM: Rusty, I see he had the head off.
MC: Yeah, he's done what he can. I think it might be Clyde Westman who knows a source that probably get him a new motor to put in there.
GM: Yeah, you should get the same motor. Its a, what the heck was it, the Continental was it?
MC: They've taken a look inside and they figure they know what's in it.
GM: Its an industrial engine and its still being made.
BM: I think I got for 9 or 11 hundred dollars.
MC: Oh, Buster, you got this?
MC: Oh, tell us about it.
GM: It was just a pile of junk.
MC: Where'd it come from?
BM: It was a truck crane.
MC: Truck crane.
BM: For going on a truck and then it was just a crane, no boom on it. So I designed a boom for it and we set it all up there for Cec. Measured it up. I kept hounding them about the hydraulics, hydraulics people, they brought out a valve and I said, ""That's no good. And take it back and bring me another, its not going to work."" I wanted a valve that, that is down and this is up and you let it go and it stops. Nothing moves, its simple. So finally they got the right one.
MC: So when would that have been that you brought this in? Do you remember? Brought in the crane?
GM: Mid 50s. The old hand crank wasn't there much, very long you know about four or five years after I worked here steady.
BM: I guess mid 50s.
GM: Somewhere in there.
BM: That fellow that used to be with Brown and Turner.
GM: Russel Barbie.
BM: Russel Barbie, that was one of the last things he did before he died. Putting in the [stringers down low and that].
MC: It was George Sturgeon that did the blacksmith?
BM: He did the welding.
GM: They all had a hand in it of sorts you know. But I wasn't here steady at that time, I was up north. But I did a lot, I ran it a lot. It was nerve wracking to have the alcoholics that we had around here running it. Cec Fisher ran it or I ran it. Even I don't think even George ever ran it. I don't think that George bothered with it even. I never saw him bother with it. Just Cecil and I for a number of years.
BM: I liked this. It was real nice when we changed it. When I first, first we just had the clutch.
GM: Oh, it was terrible.
BM: Then we made it hydraulic.
GM: Oh no, hydraulics was way safer. Now I see they've put the hydraulic on the topping boom too. We never had hydraulics on the top of it. They have warm drive in it now.
MC: Was it always orange?
BM: That's just the way it came. We never did paint it.
MC: Oh, but the boom even matches it.
GM: Yeah, that's oxidized, orange.
MC: Okay, that wasn't planned.
GM: But it was great. Sure handy. I tried to get the company to move it for taking containerized fish or whatever, having a big winch. They haven't got a decent winch even at Phoenix you know. But they just kept looking at it and walking away. Pile of junk, pile of junk. Oh what, how functional that pile of junk was.
BM: You could take an engine out of a boat with that, simple, easy as anything. Put it right down through the hatch on the top and down into it.
GM: It was complete control. You wanted one inch, you got one inch. Slow as you wanted it, a lot of power.
MC: Complete control, not like the Pine Leaf right? Had to get one more dig in there Gerry.
GM: That was fun, looking back it was a hell of a lot of fun but at the moment I would have changed places with anybody.
MC: In fact you begged, right? Well, thank you both very much. This has just been great. We got a whole new tape of knowledge now.
END OF INTERVIEW