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San Juan Islands, Washington State, United States
A society formed in 2009 for the purpose of collecting, preserving, celebrating, and disseminating the maritime history of the San Juan Islands and northern Puget Sound area. Check this log for tales from out-of-print publications as well as from members and friends. There are circa 500, often long entries, on a broad range of maritime topics; there are search aids at the bottom of the log. Please ask for permission to use any photo posted on this site. Thank you.

01 April 2011

OUR ISLAND SMOKEHOUSE

Cedar smokehouse, 
designed and built c. 1925
 by Art Hoffman (1900-1981) on Shaw Island.
Photograph 2010.
"When Dad was just a little kid, his father had a large fruit orchard. He often traded fresh fruit for fish from the local Indians. The Indians who lived in the San Juans were friendly and liked the white settlers, unlike the warlike Haida tribe that came from British Columbia in their large dugout canoes. They killed some of the local Indian men and took many of the women and children back home as slaves. Fortunately, the Haidas never stopped at the Hoffman beach. Of course the local Indians were terrified of the Haida. But then, the younger Hoffman kids were just as afraid of the local Indians, probably because their older brothers and sisters had told them that the local Indians would scalp all of them if they ever got the chance.
      One day when the local Indians came to the Hoffman beach in their small dugout canoes, they caught my dad and uncle Art by surprise. They couldn't get to their favorite hiding place, which was the upper room of a two story smokehouse that my grandfather had built. To reach this upper area, there was a built-in ladder which went through an open hatch in the floor of this upper room. It was a favorite hiding place for all of the Hoffman kids to use whenever they needed one for whatever reason, because there was always plenty of smoked salmon hanging up there to feast on while you were hoping to not get caught. This time Dad ran to the main house and hid under a bed. Uncle Art hid somewhere else. Shortly after Dad hid, an Indian woman came to the house for tea and cake with grandma Hoffman. The guest couldn't help but notice Dad's two feet sticking out from under the bed, so she dragged him out kicking and screaming bloody murder. He was sure he was going to be scalped. Instead she lifted him into her lap, hugged him, and shared her tea and cake with him. Because of the way she loved him, Dad thought the local Indians were pretty much like other people, they loved kids and had no intention of scalping anyone.
      Another story that my father often told about his dad's smokehouse was this one. It seems that my Uncle Art had heard somewhere that one could shoot a candle from a 12-gauge shotgun through a 3/4" board with damaging the candle. My dad doubted this. Uncle Art was just as adamant that it could be done. They argued the point with neither one backing down. Finally Art said, 'I'll tell you what! I'll bet my shotgun that it can be done.' Dad said, "okay, but you'll need a 3/4" board." Since they happened to be standing by their smokehouse which was made of 3/4" boards, it seemed reasonable to Art that this was a good place to prove his point. He picked up his shotgun and took aim at the smokehouse. Dad yelled, 'Wait', but the warning came too late. KABOOM! A mighty hole was blown in the side of the smokehouse. One of them said to the other, 'I don't think Dad is going to be too happy about that hole.' But then they opened the door and the candle was lying on the floor unharmed. In spite of the hole, Art had proven his point. Somehow they managed to patch up that hole before their dad saw it; they did a good job as today there is no evidence of the incident."
Told by Henry Hoffman
3rd  generation Shaw Islander
For Saltwater People Historical Society/ 2010
      

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