Thursday, September 20, 2012

Nicholas Castelan Daughter, Pauline Castelan Stanich

Castelan home. Left to right: Winnie Malich, Rachel, Anna, and Pauline Catelan

I dearly love it when I can let the voices of the past reveal the history that lies behind present day Gig Harbor. I love it even more when the voice I am sharing is that of my former neighbor, a most lovely lady, Pauline Castelan Stanich. 

The home Pauline shared with her husband and daughter is on Harborview Drive, at one time referred to as "Captains Row." Close your eyes and "hear" Pauline's voice as she described Gig Harbor to us (Pauline recorded this in April, 1986)...

"Gig Harbor was a small village, a harbor protected by the forest and the bay and founded over 100 years ago. The first cement road was paved from the west end of the town known as Millville to the east end of the town known as the Head of the Bay (ca. 1919-1920). For pastime, young girls walked from one end of the road to the other to greet the steamers and ferries at the private docks. There was a grocery store on the dock, a pool room and a saw filing shop. A large building housed a bakery, clothing and barber shop where the Shorline Restaurant is today. It was called Sweeney Block since the Sweeneys owned. Also, Gig Harbor's post office was located across the street in the Sweeney house. Around the bend, was Donkey Creek. The "donkey" engine was stationed in the middle of the creek pulling logs out of the woods, under the bridge and into the bay. Girls picked berries along Harborview Drive. Many fishermen from Yugoslavia came here to make a living fishing. The rumor was that Washington had an abundance of fish. When the fishermen settlers came to this country, they left their families and fiancees in Yugoslavia. Later, they brought them to the "new country" and married them.

"Today properties, as well as occupations and businesses, are passed from generation to generation. Some people live in their grandparents' houses.

"In earlier years, fishermen used large skiffs, oars and a net. They rowed out to the "fishing ggrounds" outside the harbor and came back later in the day. The crew members, three or four men. had nowhere to sleep.  The boat owners built cabins for the crew on their waterfront property. A considerable number of cabins were built. Later, they moved the crew to new homesteads and used the cabins as garages. The last cabin was recently torn down on the property of the family of Nicholas Castelan.

"Next, the gas engine and larger boats were used. There were 6 to 8 men plus the captain as crew. They had a roller on the stern with a winch to bring in the catch. The Puretic Power Block, which was attached to the boom, came later. This was a much easier way to pull in the catch.

"Then came the bigger boats run by diesel. Most of the older boats had their engines changed to diesel. The large boats went to Alaska, Bering Sea and San Juan Islands. The boats had to anchor in the middle of the bay because the tide was too low to dock at the wharf. They had to wait for high tide to bring the boats to the net sheds. The crew had to prepare for fishing. The men wore canvas gloves, boots and oilskin fishing gear. The fishermen would tar the nets to preserve them. They would build a fire under large vats of 150 to 200 gallons of tar. When it was hot, they dipped the net into the tar. The net was made of white twine. A wringer attached to the end of the trough was connected to the vat. Slowly, they would take the net out of the vat. Step two was to take the net to a nearby field and stretch it out to dry. The creqw would stretch it two or three times a week. When  it dried, they took it to the net shed to put on rope, lead, cork and brass rings. Tarring was performed to prevent the salt water from eroding the net.

"The tar vat used by Nicholas Castelan has been donated to the Peninsula Historical Society by his son, Mike Castelan, from the estate of Nicholas Castelan."

Pauline Castelin and John Stanich wedding portrait, 1937

Next week I will continue Pauline's story of her father, Nicholas Castelan, and the family.

Pauline was a beautiful lady, she never appeared outside her house if she was not perfectly groomed. Not even to pick up the newspaper, to gather the mail, or any other task performed out-of-doors.

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

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