On Sunday morning September 28 Gig Harbor had a visit from Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic of Croatia. What makes him an important visitor? The first people who came to live in Gig Harbor besides the Native Americans were from Croatia. They were those who made Gig Harbor into a fishing village. The Prime Minister’s visit was not originally planned to include Gig Harbor. His visit included Seattle, San Francisco, and New York City.
The city council of Gig Harbor when learning that the Prime Minister was coming to Seattle they wanted him to visit Gig Harbor since there is so much history including people of Croatian descent. The Prime Minister when speaking at Skansie Park let those who came to see and hear from him that he never heard of Gig Harbor, however, looked forward to come when asked to visit. He was very happy to hear that so many people living in Gig Harbor were of Croatian descent. He was not surprised they were fishermen. He expected anyone from Croatia would settle in or near the water, and would not be farmers. He was very impressed in Gig Harbor. It was really great that anyone who wanted to be able to speak with him directly, and tell him the stories of how their parents or grandparents came to Gig Harbor.
When growing up in Gig Harbor I had a lot of fellow classmates and friends whose grandparents came to Gig Harbor from Croatia. Their parents were born in Gig Harbor. At that time the fishing fleet was around 30 boats. Their fathers and uncles were out fishing for several months every year. When they got older they went out, and spent summers on the boats as well. They usually went to Alaska or the Washington coast. The fishing fleet isn’t as big now as back then, however, some of those same classmates along with their children are fishing.
Another thing when growing up in Gig Harbor was our addresses were route numbers until I got into high schools. Actually our address changed several times though we never moved. During high school the addresses were changed to names, and numbers. I lived on Goodman drive which was named after the first teach in Gig Harbor. Ms. Goodman lived into her 90s and taught school for about seventy years. I was too young to remember her but both my mother and sister remember her very much. Also, the junior high I went to was named after her as well. Almost all the street names in Gig Harbor are named after the families that first came to Gig Harbor, and most of them are Croatian names.
There is now a history museum at the head of the harbor where people can visit, and learn about the history of Gig Harbor. Though I am not of Croatian descent it is very good to look back at the history of Gig Harbor, and when walking along the streets of Gig Harbor see the different name signs, and knowing most of the family names.