Working as a skin boy, Fur Seal Processing Plant

Recorded on October 2, 2003


We went to the field on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

On Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, we spent our time in here removing the blubber off the skins.

[crack] You would hear that noise, and the echos in here, imagine 16 people all doing the same thing all down this whole row here, and a lot of laughing, a lot of yelling, and whatever else that goes in a rough work place, which this was.

As we go around here, you'll see after the blubber came off, it was on this side of the rack, the concrete wall, and this kept the skin boy from slipping.

And he would take the blubber down this direction and throw it into this trough, which would go outside into the back of a dump truck backed up to the building.

And we had two skin boys here, one on that side, one on this side of the trough.

The object was to make sure we didn't poke the blubberer while he was working because these are quite sharp.

As a skin boy, you actually were pretty privileged among the blubberers because it was you who chose the size of the skin that they got to blubber.

The larger the skin, the harder it is to blubber and the longer it takes to blubber.

And they had a competition going between all blubberers on who would be the best blubberer at the end of the year.

So the skin boy, actually, was well taken care of, he would drink anybody's coffee and he'd be offered bribes of candy bars or whatever.

And we shared the load between loading the skins up and removing the blubber, or going back out and getting more skins--quite busy.

This was the wash-down hose here and hooked up here.

It had a booster pump on it and the floor was very slick.

Imagine holding onto a fireman's hose with ice skates on in a skating rink, that's exactly what it was here.

Often times it would take two people to manage the hose and there's been times when people on the hose would lose control of it and start sliding and they couldn't stop and they would start popping all these windows out.

So there was lot of glass being kept on hand around here.