Charlotte is the Daughter, Niece, and Sister of fishermen. Charlotte’s family emigrated from Norway. Her father was a fisherman and boat owner, eventually establishing Eastern Fisheries. Charlotte was briefly married to a fisherman though as a young woman she swore she would not marry a fisherman. Charlotte writes poetry about her experiences as part of the fishing community.
“Oh, and they used to always say something on the weather reports on TV: ‘Okay, the storm, don’t worry too much about the storm because it’s headed out to sea’. We would go nuts. Anybody in a fishing family would go nuts. Yeah, okay, that’s real good. It’s gonna go take my dad, my brother, my uncle, my husband, whatever. And I think they’ve calmed down with that, because they used to be really gleeful about it. ‘It’s going out to sea, you can go to the beach’, but shut up, you know?”
“You’re alone. You’re just alone all the time, It’s lonely. It’s very, very lonely, because you can’t…you’re not single. But you’re alone. You can’t go out with your single friends, you can’t do the things you used to do… it’s lonely. And you go through crises by yourself. And that’s tough. There’s no shoulder, there’s no hand, you know. So the family is important. It’s critical. It’s a critical piece. The family, the church, see that? All those pieces go together.”
My Uncle Sverre Henriksen, he was lost at sea. This was the day before Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve. It was a squall. I wrote a poem about this, too: He goes out to sea…the weather was nice, it was clear…the water looked like it was just shimmering beautifully. My grandparents had their own shortwave radio. So he, all of a sudden they hear him on the shortwave cause he’s saying that it’s gonna take a little while for him to get home because he lost his rudder and they’re listening and a while later he’s back on the shortwave and now he’s lost his compass. They’re listening to this drama, what this man is going through and it’s his brother, his mother, his sister. So it’s kinda like “Okay, now my compass is gone but I can still do this. I can still do this”. And then the engine, and there’s a breaker coming and he says “Ha da” in Norwegian. “Ha da” it used to be “Ha det bra” He comes over the shortwave and he says “Ha da”, “So all of you, there’s a breaker coming my way. So, all of you bye and be well” God Bless.
“I was two and a half the first time I remember her sitting on the floor, listening to the shortwave radio. And that was Hurricane Carol. So for my mother to sit on the floor, she just didn’t do that. I mean, she was always in her Father Knows Best dress. But that’s the first time, I was two the first time I remember her at the (radio). If there was a crisis in Norway, the whole family would gather around that radio. I didn’t like it when I saw everybody in it because Oh, it did that.”
“It was different then because they had the same crews. My father kept the same crew trip after trip. So the families got to know one another. The kids would play together when you’re waiting for the boat to come in and we played together when it was going out. And then when the boat was going out to sea: caravan, everybody gets in their car, and goes over the bridge to fort Phoenix to watch the boats go past Butler Flats.”