Olden Days

As told by Barbara Norman to Jeff McMullen

Audio #1†††††††††††††††

Audio #2

I was born in English Bay and I wasnít even a year old when we moved across to here (Port Graham.)

We had a big tent that we lived in. then, when I was two or three years old my dad built a house himself. I lived there as long as I can remember. We used to go back and forth between here and English Bay. The people used to come over form English Bay to work in the cannery when it was first built and they still do now. We used to go down to English Bay for holidays and have church, but most of the time we lived here in Port Graham. When we traveled, we rowed in a dory, rowing back and forth. I remember once an old man, who was 90 years old, took us on his bidarka from English Bay. We all got sick and threw up from the seal skin, you know. You should have seen Dad and Mother, they were laughing at us!Thatís all I remember.

††††††† Willie, Ephim, and Jennie, the three of them they were born here in Port Graham, and I and Melanie, we were born in English Bay.

My dad was a fisherman in Kenai, he and a fisherman in Kenai, he and my two uncles, they did not use skiffs with machines. They never had an outboard when we needed grub, they would go and buy it from Seldovia. And when they used to go hunting out on the bidarkas from here to Port lock and onto Port Dick.The bidarkas are a kayak made out of seal skins. They used to go down in fall and come back with seal and ducks. They used to go down and get the ducks and duck eggs. They used to bring lots of seal. Thatís what we used to live on. We live on the wild stuff in the woods, berries, wild turnips, and wild rice.

Wild turnips are just like beans. Under the fern, there they used to dig them up and cut them up and cook them, just like beans.

Wild rice, they used to dig them and put them away for winter.

We got most of our stuff from the woods and the only stuff we buy is sugar, flour, tea, and dry fruit. There wasnít much stuff.We never used to use cough medicine. Dad and Mom used to go on the woods and get some tree gum and make us chew it, and skin these trees and take that white stuff inside and boil them, then make us drink it. And these goose tongues they used to eat. Wild celery, (kangkaag), people used to eat them and thereís wild rhubarb all over around here.They used to make jam out of them.

They used to dry fish, smoke them salt them for the winter and bear meat too. Seal meat too. Seal meat they used to salt to salt and put away in barrels.

Many years ago they used spears. The old man (90 years old), he used to tell us, but they quit that stuff and now they use guns.

Lots of poor people used to live on Barbara. They had on house like us. We had on houses like us. We had a house in English Bay and here in Port Graham. And these people, they had hardly anything, they just live on the Barbara.

Most of the old people was using them skin kayaks, but my dad and my uncle, they had big dories to go fishing. They had no outboards, just muscles. You should see Grandpa, our dad, a big guy, way taller than Marvin, nothing but muscle. He used to start out five in the morning and come back at four in the evening with grub. People used to be strong in them days. Now they donít exercise enough. Thatís all they did, cut wood with the cross cut saws. Thatís why they were so strong. They wasnít like these boys now, they were big, husky people.


Barbara Norman standing in the doorway of her house

Going to Barbraís house





Copyright 1981,Kenai Peninsula Borough School District.All rights reserved

Volume 1