The young men of Croatia–and other European countries–often first came to the United States as hands on merchant marine ships in the early 1900s, says 91-year-old Anna Konatich, whose father and stepfather did exactly that. When their ship arrived at an appealing harbor, the men would hop off with no belongings but what they carried in their pockets. The lucky ones were met by more established emigrants from their homeland, who helped them get a start and send money back to their families. Anna grew up in the Dalmatian Islands of Croatia while her father worked in Pennsylvania building bridges. Thanks to him, and others like him, their village on the isle of Iz had amenities like electricity and paved streets.
Anna came to the United States as a young woman, and moved to the San Francisco Bay Area after first living in Seattle. On the shores of Tomales Bay, she and her new husband helped his father to start Tony’s Seafood restaurant, bought in part from the proceeds of shark fishing. The restaurant still exists today, perched on pilings above the pristine waters of Tomales Bay, and still serves some seafood that is caught fresh by Anna’s sons.
Join us in the Story Shed to hear Anna talk with her son John about the family’s past, and making a living off the sea. Listen to the show by clicking the arrow below, or download the mp3 here.