Sat, April 09, 2016

Scratching the Surface: One Can, from Cordova to North Carolina

Cannery work is often monotonous. Standing in one place for hours, repeating the same hand motions over and over, attempting to keep alert as the predictable hums and clangs lull the worker towards dozing. However, Alice Ryser enjoyed her time at the New England Fishing Company’s Orca plant outside of Cordova. Remembering mug-up and her fellow NEFCO cannery workers brings a smile to her face, fifty years after she left the cannery.

But one incident in particular sticks out in Alice’s memory. One day, she was transferred from the reformer (which made the flattened cans into cylinders) to the seamer (which secures the lid on the cans), a yawn-inducing process. She had to do something to pass the time, so she took a pin from her hair and wrote, “Write me,” with her name and address on the lids of several cans. And don’t you know it, she got a response from a man in North Carolina. Here is Alice’s story, available within the Alaska Fisheries Report.