Interviews

Soulos E

Interviewee: Mr Emanuel Soulos
Date of Birth: 6 August 1926
Interviewer : Ray Repacholi
Date of Interview: 6 December 1996
Date of Death: 14 October 2015
Verbatim Transcript: Meryl Gardiner
Synopsis: John Brewer
BOHG No: 1996.018
Total Length: 28 minutes 48 seconds

Emanuel spoke of:
His schooling, Rathmines and Bunbury town
Working early with his father, a second-generation fisherman
His mother’s family was Savolos, maternal grandfather John Savalos
Greek fishermen who came before were Staffi, Heracleo, Mikailis, Athens
Hard times were spent with his grandmother bartering fish for dairy
He remembers playing at Scott’s Landing opposite their place
The mangroves were a known breeding ground for fish, full of cobbler
He remembers watching 20-30 people fishing from the landing, all catching whiting and other fish.
Playing in Frank Green’s swimming area with a flying fox, tennis courts and a diving tower.
Crystal-clear water unless there was a flood.
Cyclones used to back the water up.
There were no restrictions on fishing when Emanuel’s father was at the helm.
Present-day lobby groups want further restrictions on professionals.
There has been little change in the estuary but less trees.
Sam Wheeler, being called ‘you know you know’, building the boat the ‘Mary Pickford’.
Wild horses on the North Shore gathered by the Tenth Light Horse
Cattle runs from Belvedere and Dardanup
Emanuels’ father acquired the ‘Mary Pickford’ to catch dhufish with Tommy Kendall leasing and skippering.
The ‘Mary Pickford’ being layed-off at the back of an island.
Emanuel’s father patriotically renaming boats when war broke out.
Bunbury being then known for wheat, timber, fishing and dairying. No minerals then.
Boat builders include a Scandinavian and the Sofalis family.
The cyclone of 1935 or ’37 sinking many boats, but not the Pandora. A lot of fishermen drowned.
A few mangrove trees in the slaughter yards, which came right down to the water, owned by Wass, originally D’Raine and Howson.
The typical workday: Get orders from hawkers, get to the fishing grounds by 3 or 4 am, get the fish to fill the orders and be back by 3 or 4 o’clock.
The hawkers, including Charlie Mikailis, Athens, would sell to Harvey, Brunswick, Manjimup by horse and cart or old motor vehicle, and bring fruit back.
Fishing restrictions were in force when Emanuel was at the helm.
Forrests and the Rendalls owning land and involved.
Some racial intolerance but Emanuel mostly remembers having friends.
In the past there was more honesty than now
Now there is a rally to keep professional fishers out of the estuary, the few professionals who have been there longer and who have sustained the industry against the thousands of amateurs.
The Inner Harbour damaged the estuary for fishing. Silting is a problem. Sand is entering the estuary via the cut.
Boat-builders such as Freshwater Charlie and Jackaloo, who was an uncle to Vic Healy, Jack Dory used to come from Busselton, Old Tex, Frenchie, who learned to sew sails on wind-jammers.
Memories of Old Jack Wallace, Tommy Kendall from the North Shore.
Jacko used to work on boats.
The Wallaces operated Turkey Point and owned the Valdemar and the smaller boat, Nautilus. Jack Wallace used to drive the boat Valdemar, married Pat Lyons’ sister.
Old “bream’ Taylor and Old Sam from Collie Bridge.
A burned-out house-boat on Eaton Island belonged to Mr Leeson, a fisheries inspector.
The fishermen were man-powered during the war and caught ‘bony herring’ for the army who were canning them in Belmont.
When the Americans came in there was a demand for shark which we headed, gutted and sent to Perth.
For transport to Perth, fish were put into banana boxes with ice and a bag on top. There were problems with that in summer.
When fly-proof rooms and refrigeration came in there was a difference, fish go into cartons, insulated ice-boxes and sealed containers.
Progress of a sort seen through aluminium boats and outboard motors. On the old boats, in the old days, your gear would be safe. Now the aluminium boats are kept in own backyards ‘where at least we can keep an eye on them’.
Emanuel had the last word: ‘Well I’m seventy now. For years I’ve been thinking: ‘that’s it’.

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