Jeff shank


Shank at Thorne's Showcase Lounge in Seward, where he tends the bar.

Shank at Thorne's Showcase Lounge in Seward, where he tends the bar.


working at the canneries

I was an egg puller. Is what I was. ... So the fish comes into this machine--well, we called it the chink. ... So the fish comes in and we gut it, head it, and then, it would come down the deal, and they’d squash it and push the egg sack out of it. And if it didn’t actually come out, you’d stand there and grab it. And that was for... a long time every day. For the summertime. And then I got moved into a place [in the cannery] called "brightstack," which was beautiful, because you could wear shorts, tennis shoes, no rain gear, and it was, you know: brightstack. The cans come down, they form into a pallet form, magnet picks them up, puts them on the pallet, and you take a piece of cardboard, put them in there, and wait for the next one. So we can kind of vary our own time too. Because our friend-- the machine-- is called Waylin. And Waylin has a dial on the side so you could slow it down. If you wanted to. Which was perfect. If you wanted sixteen hours--and that’s what it’s all about, are the hours--you could slow Waylin down and get your sixteen hours a day. ... I don’t think there was anybody actually from Alaska. Not at all. They were all from Outside. One from Thailand: Hong. And Tom was from, I wanna say, East Coast somewhere? Tim: I don’t know. David: he’s from Marin County. It was a good gig. Lot of fun.

When i first came to Alaska...

My first true love was from high school and we came up here together. ...I moved to Arizona and met a young lady named Barbie, and she was from Big Lake. So, she was coming back here to teach, and she said, "Why don't you come up and visit one day?" And I said, "Great!"And I thought: "Valentine's Day." 1990. So, came up... And that's how I got here. I spent some time with Barbie, the reason I came. And then: "You’re not the guy I wanna build my life around," and I’m like, "Alright cool. Later." So, I went back to Arizona, and then I was like, "This place blows. Arizona does." And I had lived in Florida, so I went back to Florida and got my shit together, and then, moved up [to Alaska]. Drove up in my van, and: beautiful. Fantastic. I’ve done [that drive], yeah, I’ve done it quite a few times.

a newcomer in the snow  

I remember walking down the Coastal Trail in Anchorage and I’m like, "What are these-- what is this little..." There’s two tracks in the snow, with, you know, a ridge in the middle, and I was walking on the ridge, on the thing, and it was for-- and I didn’t know-- but it was for classic skiing! And I was mashing it down so that the tracks weren’t there anymore. And I got yelled at! I do remember that.

choosing to stay

It’s open. It’s easy. It’s not, "Ahhhh, go, stop, go stop." It just goes along. And that’s what I like about Seward, because you can have that [energy] in Anchorage. And that’s why I left Anchorage-- 'cause it’s "go, stop, go, ahh, ahh." And that’s what’s nice about this place is that it just... cruises along. You know? It’s fantastic here, man. ... [And Seward people,] they’re characters, but they’re unique, you know? And living in a small town you know them. So you see it, you know? When you live in a giant [city], with tons of people, you don’t see 'em all the time. You don’t kind of get their thing. So you’re just like, “Ohh, that motherf---er’s crazy!” Which, there are a few in this town. Where you’re like, "That one... Whoo!" But, they’re also unique. At the same time. ... And when the weather's nice, I mean there’s nothing better. Nothing better. 

"I think it fosters [a good attitude], Seward. The smaller places, I think, fosters a more, warm kind of feeling inside you. Instead of it being so fast fast; go go go; stop! Go! Like that. You know? You can just kind of cruise along at 15 miles per hour. 40, stop. 40, stop. You know what I mean? It’s more round than angular. If that makes any sense at all."