Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Tideland Tackle and Marine

My favorite place to shop in Hoonah is here at the Tideland Tackle and Marine store. If they would expand their inventory a little to include perhaps milk and bread and of course cheese and Pace chunky salsa, there might be little reason for me to shop anywhere else. No doubt I'd probably get in trouble if Jan sent me down for a loaf of bread and some lunch meat and I came back with a box of 8/0 stainless steel hooks and a pack of OG55R glow in the dark hoochies, but it would still be nice to have a little larger inventory. Unfortunately, I don't know where they would put anymore stuff. The store is painfully small as it is. As you can see, they carry a pretty good supply of guns and ammo, reels, trout lures, spoons, hooks, flashers and my favorite, hoochies. For anyone who doesn't know, hoochies are little vinyl octopus lures that come in a variety of colors that you tow behind a flasher to catch salmon. Those wicked employees at Tideland intentionally order all manner of delightful hoochies in order to entice innocent fishermen like myself into buying a few packs, knowing full well that we suffer from an anglers syndrome known as Hoochie Lust. I have two tackle boxes on my boat filled so full of hoochies that I can scarcely close the lids, and yet they have the audacity to stock new varieties every year, placing them right near the front of the store where you have no choice but to see them. Of course, once you've glanced in their direction, you're irrevocably drawn to the display and it's only a matter of time before you've added another pack to your swelling collection. Off to the right of the store the walls are painted a rather striking cerise color. I didn't take a picture of that. That corner houses the wooden puzzles, jewelry case, sweatshirts for grandkids and other more touristy items. I don't know what that has to do with a tackle shop, but since there are busloads of tourists offloading down at the harbor, it's probably a good thing to carry.
The store has come a long way since Tom Leblanc first built it over twenty some years ago. He started a small store in his house, devoting one room to all manner of commercial fishing gear- groundline, hooks, knives, gangions and whatnot. I guess when he saw the need for a larger space he built the building down in the harbor. It was Tom's Commercial Marine at the time. Then he left and sold it to Loren and Marylyn Lawson. They worked at the logging camp at Whitestone and owned a little place out there called the Tackle Shop. So Tom's became L&M Marine until Mt. Bether bought it some years ago. It's really an asset to the town. Dave Austin, the guy in the top picture, manages the store. He expanded into hydraulics, which was a good move in a fishing village, and as far as I know is the only local place to get any work done on your hydraulic system. They are the only place in Hoonah that carries hunting and fishing licenses and only one of two that carrry sport fishing bait, including Tom's Halibaits, premium halibut bait- I of course being the Tom from the Tom's Halibaits. Obviously Dave has impeccable taste when it comes to halibut fishing bait.
Like everyone else on the planet, Dave is an intersting character. Prior to moving to the farm some years back, he was a professional musician. He still is for that matter, and aside from running the store, he teaches music lessons at the school. However back in his younger years, he worked for the Hartford (Conneticut) symphony playing the cello. He said that on some pieces of music the trombone and tuba players sat in the back and had magazines on their music stands that they would read until their part came up. Apparently the guy who played the triangle only had one or two notes, so he would go behind the curtain and play pinoccle until his time came. Ahh, the secrets are being revealed.
I believe Dave said his father was a professor of philosophy at Wheaton college in Massachussettes. Dave attended a prep school where the dress code required the boys to wear a tie. Apparently several of the boys rebelled in their own small way, fulfilling the letter of the law, if not the spirit. He said one young man wore the same tie every day and had a habit of letting it dip into the soup at lunch time. I guess by the end of the school year it was pretty stiff and no doubt somewhat aromatic. Another boy started the week with a bow tie. On Tuesday he wore a wide tie, Wednsday a thinner tie, Thursday an even thinner tie and by Friday he was wearing a string bolo. He just kept adding a new tie every day. I guess by Friday his ties stuck way out off his chest. I would think that it would become hard to breathe, but I don't know. He mentioned that as long as the boys were wearing a tie, they didn't get much grief, so I guess some of the fellows knotted their ties way down by their stomaches. Boys will be boys.
I find it fascinating that a person who grew up in a well to do family with a backround in music would find his way to a Christian community in Southeast Alaska and end up managing a tackle shop. When it comes to characters, we have them in abundance right here in little ol' Hoonah Alaska. I'm so glad.


  1. Hey Tom - I just got caught up on reading your
    pages. Your pictures are so beautiful! Keep them coming. I need to get your Mom over here to see them again

  2. Tom, what fun. Now I've got to go read the entries from 2009 on!

  3. Tom, David's grandkids are suckers for the hoochies, too. They ask for them rather shamelessly! With the hooks cut off, hoochies make great toys. ;)

  4. Hey Tom, nice write-up about my dad! So now I've thanked you for writing nice things about my grandpa and my dad. I'm shameless.
    -Sarah (Austin) DiGloria

  5. HI Austin's- how nice to hear from you all! I always enjoy talking to your dad. He's got a great sense of humor. He's always so helpful too.With fishing season on the horizon I will be seeing a lot more of him soon. Thanks for commenting on the blog- I'm never sure who is reading it. Take care.