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Friday, October 15, 2010

Cannery Row

When I was a kid, my cousin Cindy and I would eat sardines right out of the can.  I liked them, believe it or not, until someone told me that they are so tiny that they don't bother  gutting them.  You get the whoooole fish when you eat them.  I didn't eat them for 50 years.  After this trip I found out they really did gut them. Well, did I waste 50 years of not having my sardines.  No, I had them by accident on a pizza in Idaho and thought they were TERRIBLE!

Remember the movie "Cannery Row" starring Nick Nolte and somebody else?  Me either, not really very much anyway.  I need to rent it to refresh my memory.  I do remember the frog scene and the Cannery Row feeling so that when we got here, I knew a little about what I was looking at. Cannery Row is the waterfront street in the New Monterey section of Monterey, California.   It is the site of a number of now-defunct sardine canning factories. The last cannery closed in 1973. The street name, formerly a nickname for Ocean View Avenue, became official in January 1958 to honor John Steinbeck and his famous novel "Cannery Row". I have to confess, I have never read the book.
According to Wikipedia, the canneries failed after the collapse of the fishing industry in Monterey Bay in the mid-1950s,  due to overfishing. Before the collapse, the fishery was one of the most productive in the world.  Today the area around Cannery Row is a marine sanctuary and is home to a large population of California sea lions, of which I never saw.  I only saw seals.

Cannery Row itself is now a tourist attraction with many restaurants and hotels, many of which are located in former cannery buildings, and a few historical attractions. A few privately owned and operated fishing companies still exist on Cannery Row, and it still smells fishy. 

The Monterey Bay Aquarium (opened 1984) is located at the north end of Cannery Row, at the former site of the major Hovden Cannery which closed its doors in 1973. It was the last sardine cannery on the row to close.

"Cannery Row in Monterey in California is a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream." — John Steinbeck, opening sentence, Cannery Row (1945).

          This is a sign/walkway that crosses the road on cannery row

 This is a photo I took of a picture that shows what it looked like during it's heyday. 

                  One of the poster signs hanging in the museum

                                             Factory Workers

Can you imagine what you must have smelled like after your shift?  I have a hard time even washing the tuna or salmon smell off my hands after I fix it for lunch.

Several of the original boiler cookers still sit in the Monterey Aquarium. Wayne is standing in front of one of them.

I worked at a vegetable canning factory when I was in high school, but we only had to pick grasshopper heads or other debris off the conveyor belts and you could go home and wash your hands and go on a date.  If I had worked here, I would spend so much time in the shower, I would have never made it on a date.