With it’s rich fishing legacy, Gig Harbor is surrounded by history that a new program at the Harbor History Museum plans to uncover.
Buried History is a series of four special programs that will run through October. The first event up is “Superstitions at Sea,” which tells stories of the fishermen of Gig Harbor and their superstitions and folklore.
Nancy Jerkovich and sister-in-law Nancy H. Jerkovich will share their family recollections. The program runs from 5 to 7 p.m. May 19 at the Skansie Netshed and includes a Happy Hour.
The Jerkovichs have been a Gig Harbor-based commercial fishing family for four generations. Nancy Jerkovich fished the Alaska and Puget Sound alongside her father, Nick Jerkovich, aboard the Pacific Knight. She fished at a time when not many women were aboard commercial boats.
Along the way, she learned a few superstitions held by fishermen.
“My dad was really superstitious,” she said. He panicked when umbrellas were left on the boat after a send-off party.
Umbrellas bring bad luck, Nancy Jerkovich said. In addition, fishermen never leave on a Friday and they never whistle on a boat that brings the wind on.
Nancy Jerkovich will present with her sister-in-law. She married Nick Jerkovich, also a fisherman like his father, in 1973. She traveled to Alaska once to fish, but retired to run the fishing business officer from dry land. Her sons, Nickolas and Marc, are now fishermen.
The legacy of fishing is important to Gig Harbor, and Nancy H. Jerkovich is glad to see the museum’s work bringing it to light.
“I think the important thing is it is history. If we don’t help preserve it, who is going to?” Nancy H. Jerkovich said.
Elizabeth Langford, education coordinator for the museum, has been developing the Buried History program.
“I got to be a detective and find people (for the program),” she said.
Langford researched the area and talked to locals — especially museum volunteers — about the colorful history of the Gig Harbor and Key peninsulas.
After the Jerkovich presentation, there will be three more Buried History nights in June, August and October.
Up next is the “Spirit of the Harbor,” a trip to the Gig Harbor Cemetery to visit the history of early settlers. Langford said researching that program has deepened her knowledge of Gig Harbor as a whole; the names of the settlers she’s researching are everywhere on street signs and buildings.
In August, the museum will share a firsthand account of Japanese oyster farmers in the “Harvesting Memories” night.
Halloween season will be a spooky finale to the series with the creepy tale of “Starvation Heights” in Olalla. Author Gregg Olsen and the Washington State Paranormal Investigations and Research group will present.
Tickets for the May 19 program are $10 for members and $15 for nonmembers. Tickets are available online at harborhistorymuseum.org.