'No Cure Found for Ilwaco Plague'"The average August day at the Port [of Ilwaco] begins at 4:00 a.m. and sometimes ends at midnight.

"By the time charter skippers, charter office workers, gas dock operators, cooks, waitresses, and bait boys are up and around between four and five a.m., trollers are well on their way to the fishing grounds, gillnetters have been working all night, and tuna clippers have been delivering catches, getting supplies, and loading up on ice.

"At 5:00 a.m. the port is jammed with thousands of sportsmen and -women, charter offices are packed, boats are departing, and cafes are filled to maximum capacity while hungry fishermen wake up to a cup of coffee as bacon and eggs sizzle on a hot grill.

"Mass confusion is the best description for the port at this time. The air is filled with shouts and orders as people are trying to locate their charter boat, grab something to eat, or obtain the proper fishing gear. Engines are being revved as the air fills with diesel and gas fumes.

"Between 6:00 and 7:00 a.m., most of the boats have departed, hoping to limit during the early morning bite. Within another hour the port appears to be almost completely deserted. A few people and an occasional stray dog can be observed wandering up and down the waterfront.

"It's 8:00 a.m. and quiet to the point where two seagulls can be heard arguing over some tasty morsel found floating in the basin. An occasional small craft is being set in the water as a few boats unload their catches and salmon trollers load up on ice. Waitresses and cooks with most of their initial mess being cleaned, settle back with a relaxing cup of coffee. Those in need of sleep catch a quick nap.

"Between 9:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. a few boats begin to trickle back to the basin.

"Just as a quiet breeze gradually evolves into a huge storm, the port activity once more begins to increase. Mass confusion again becomes the best description between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. as boats unload people and fish and young fish haulers can be heard screaming, 'Hey, mister, do you want your fish cleaned?'

"By noon the cafes become popular spots for those who have worked up an appetite or lost an appetite while at sea in a slow, twisting, pitching boat. Thousands of gallons of water pour over fish being cleaned in the fragrantly odored fish cleaning huts. Fish bags sell like hotcakes. Ice is becoming as necessary as gasoline for a car.

"Gradually, as the day beings to linger, a peace settles over Ilwaco as though the little village was letting out a sigh of relief. Boats are still being lifted out of the filmed-over water. Ice houses are full, fish buying stations are still operating, the crowded parking lot is near empty and the bars and taverns become the sought out spots.

"Finally it's 10:00 p.m. and after a long day the average dock employee and businessman gets to bed, for the evil monster 'alarm clock' will soon grab out at slumberland and snatch away that restful loving pillow.

"Quick, quick, get up, it's past 5:00 a.m. and you're late for work!"

-Sept. 1, 1972

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.