Thursday, June 19, 2014

History - Past and Present

I would like to share with all of you readers a little bit of historic preservation in action.  I believe it will give you ideas on how you too can become involved; and also a reminder that history is always in the making!

I also need to thank John Moist for allowing me to share his words with you.  John and Lita Dawn Stanton sit on the Board of Directors of the Coastal Heritage Alliance (CHA for short), a non-profit 501(c)3 organization, whose mission is the preservation and advancement of commercial fishing family cultural heritage.  To continue in his words:

“We do this by becoming a pivotal and guiding advocate for the maintenance and preservation of this cultural heritage through development, design, and implementation of effective research projects, documentation techniques and public programming both at sea and within coastal communities. …

Skansie Brothers Shipbuilding Netshed and Related Structures with Fog Hovering

“In short, our West Coast operation has leased the Skansie Brothers’ Netshed from the City as our base of operations, classroom, workshop, and display center for objects which were removed from the Netshed for safe keeping while piling replacement and renovation of the building took place.  We (CHA) are fairly new in Gig Harbor; however our East Coast operation , out of St. Michaels MD, was formed by our founding director and president, Captain Michael Vlahovich, a Master Shipwright, in 1994.  Michael originally from Tacoma was himself a fisherman and a member of a prolific fishing family.

“Another valuable asset that CHA possesses is the fishing vessel, Commencement, which has been converted into a floating educational center with charter trips available locally as well as to Alaska to observe the Gig Harbor (commercial) fishing fleet first hand and in action.”
Coastal Heritage Alliance's "Commencement"

The following is, as stated, the keynote Address, at the Second Annual Croatian Salmon Dinner held on June 6, 2014, at the Skansie Brothers Netshed.  Again, the address was presented by John Moist.

2014 Coastal Heritage Alliance Second Annual Salmon Dinner
Keynote Address

First please let me welcome each of you to this our second annual salmon dinner and thank you all for coming.

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is John Moist and I am a member of the Coastal Heritage Alliance Board of Directors.  I have been active in Downtown Gig Harbor civic affairs for the past 12 years.  I am one of the three founders of the Downtown Waterfront Alliance, formally the Downtown Historic Waterfront Association.

I want to thank our Salmon Dinner Committee for their hard work and effort putting this gala event together especially Lita Dawn Stanton, without whose tireless dedication this wild caught salmon dinner would not have been possible.  Let’s give Dawn a huge round of applause.   
While I do not hail from here or even Washington State, I first passed through Gig Harbor in 1963 on my way to British Columbia.  Things have definitely changed these past 51 years.  Then in 1996 I moved my family to the Puget Sound where I fell in love with Gig Harbor and vowed to retire here.  Well, I have not retired yet, but Gig Harbor is now my home.  I have been the General Manager for Arabella’s Landing Marine since 2001 working for Stan and Judy Stearns.

Tonight I want to talk to you for a few minutes about another passion of mine, Coastal Heritage Alliance and this net shed.  I got involved with this 104 year old blue and red behemoth, as a volunteer, in 2007.  

This old place instantly reminded me of my childhood and my grandfather’s aging fishing shack on Herman’s Slough on the north east end of San Francisco Bay.  His shack was one of about thirty, 20 by 30 foot shacks filled with old fishing gear, memorabilia, homemade dinghies, boat parts machine and woodworking shops and more.  As a woodworking craftsman my grandfather contributed to the war effort by hand building more than 50 life boats for the US Navy.  He fished in the Bay for bass for 50 years out of his old double ender Italian fishing boat with its old one lunger engine – ka chunk – ka chunk.  If I ever pushed it above 3 knots he had a fit.  At night we would sit around 55 gallon drums of burning diesel fuel to keep warm and listen to the fishermen’s stories while my grandfather hand carved boats and wooden animals for me.  It was a wonderful time in my life and endeared me to the water, boats and fishermen for the rest of my life.  So as you can see I have a kindred connection with this Netshed and Gig Harbor.

May I see a show of hands for those of you have not been in the Netshed before?  

So why are we here tonight?  If you are a first timer to the Shed we are here to introduce you to this historic landmark following major renovation work or if you are an old timer to reintroduce you to the shed with hundreds of the original artifacts returned and on display. 

That said there is still a lot of work to be done.  Tonight I am here to ask for your help achieving these goals of returning this building to a place for fishermen to work on their nets and other gear, a place for crew members to train, a place to pass on traditional maritime skills, a place for guest speakers, presentations, workshops and storytelling related to fishing culture a place to introduce guests to Gig Harbor fishing family culture, a place to gather, to celebrate heritage or simply find a bit of solitude on the waterfront.  

We need people with a passion for all of those things I just listed and a desire to learn and pass along those skills.  

I am not going to stand before you tonight and ask for your time or your money, rather to point out the stamped self addressed cards on your table for you to fill out and return to us.  Think about what it is you would like to do to preserve this building and our proud and successful fishing heritage and let us know.

We are selling raffle tickets for an opportunity for you and five friends to enjoy a three hour summers evening on a champagne and hors d’oeuvres cruise under the bridge and around the south sound and Gig Harbor Bay aboard the FV Commencement.  The Commencement is available for both educational and pleasure charters.  We have brochures if you want to learn more about the Commencement.  The raffle tickets are $5.00 each or 5 for $20.00.  

If you are a fisherman
…Ever was a fisherman
…Are related to a fisherman
…Know a fisherman
…Ever dated a fisherman
…Want to be a fisherman
…Or just plain like fishermen
You belong at Skansie Netshed where 
We are making the invisible visible again by celebrating gig Harbor’s Fishing Heritage”

Boat under Construction during Active Shipbuilding Operations at Skansie Netshed

I am hoping, as stated at the beginning, this provides you with one more opportunity to become actively involved in our Gig Harbor, Washington community’s historic preservation and make a little history in the process.

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