Victoria Briggs: Ugashik Party Line


Jun 2, 2009

Just a little look into life in a small village, but shared by many villages of all sizes here in Alaska.

To have a phone in Ugashik you must buy some special equipment that basically makes your phone line carried over a radio frequency to a place where it can hook into the regular phone system that serves the rest of the world. (We are too small to warrant the investment by a phone company to invest in equipment for our village)

Our connection point is Pilot Point so each resident that wants a phone has a special radio receiver unit at their home and the partner unit in Pilot Point hooked to the standard phone system. (these systems are thousands of dollars so it is a major investment for most)

All homes have a VHF radio as we use it for much of our communication with everything from airlines to kids out playing. Most villagers in an area tend to all monitor at least one common channel for a variety of reasons; emergency alerts, airline arrivals, community and school announcements, etc.

The cottage that Ann’s family are residing in for the summer does not have a phone system set up any longer as we only use it in the summer. They are staying on the property that has our processing plant and some of the fishing activities that go on. Our home is about 1/2 mile away from where Ann and family are staying.

Since there is no phone line Ann and I end up talking on the VHF. We usually start on the common channel and move over to another quickly, but all of this is conveyed on the open channel, so anyone who chooses can follow you there :-)

Anyone who follows us much on the channels is going to find that we are pretty routine and boring as we work, feed our families, try and make this summer successful for ourselves and our local fishermen/villagers!


9 Responses to “Victoria Briggs: Ugashik Party Line”

  1. Martha Unalaska Yard Sign Says:

    I used the radio all the time when I lived on a boat, and it is indeed a “party line”. I have to admit that it was fun to stay tuned in and listen to the myriad of activity – chatting, rescues, fish counts, weather, sweetie talks, grocery lists, and on and on. I liked it because it reminded me of how many people were out on the water and I never felt alone. It’s like white noise in the background.

  2. anonymousbloggers Says:

    Great post Vic!

    I hope you’ll keep sharing little slices of your life with us. It does bring up more questions though.

    Does Ugashik have a power plant or do you have generators? How about TV? In photos of Nunam we see satellite dishes – does Ugashik have one?

    Is Ann enjoying running water?

    Hope things are off to a good start!!


  3. TiredMom Says:

    HI VIc and Ann

    Glad things are working out for you all!

  4. annstrongheart Says:

    Jane~ Everyone here has their own generators. As far as the satellites you’ll have to wait for Vic to answer that one. I know the village has free internet, though!

    It is absolutely wonderful being able to turn the faucet and have hot water!!! And not having to smell a honey bucket. And not waiting for water to heat to wash with. At home in Nunam I would have to always think ahead when I was going to bathe my daughter b/c I’d have to plan ahead and heat the water. Now I just grab the tote we are using as a tub and turn the faucet on and there ya go!

    Not only that but the water here is wonderful. Not like Nunam. Nunam’s water has what I can only describe as a “swampy” smell/taste to it. Here’s it pure and wonderful. Very cold right out of the tap.

  5. annstrongheart Says:

    Yes, we do satelites for TV, although I think there are still a few only using the rabbit ears for the one ‘rat- net’ channel that is available.

    Ann is right, power is all supplied via our individual generators, windmill, or solar panel.

    The VHF can be interesting as you are conected to others, and do hear announcements from the school, health clinic and such. Not great on privacy and we always laugh when people go through all the hoops to try and go to ‘secret channels’. Those are the people that get ‘outted’ quickly via the gossip network. SOMEONE makes it their aim to find that ‘secret channel’ and let everyone else know:-))

    Fun times!!

  6. annstrongheart Says:

    Whoops looks like the computer is still logged in as Ann-
    It was me on that last one:-))

  7. the problem child Says:
    The folks at this blog have done a breakdown of fish numbers for the Yukon in recent years. Thought you might be interested, although I”m sure it’s not news to you fisherfolk!

  8. alaskapi Says:

    So different than regular ole town living phone service most of us have now.
    Years ago a fishing uncle used to have the marine operator call me when he needed to pass on info about coming to port and so on. (My aunt would get so upset fearing the worst she couldn’t manage the time-lag between radio and phone the calls have )
    Since everyone with a radio could hear those calls too he would never say WHERE he was IF the fishing was good!

  9. Martha Unalaska Yard Sign Says:

    Waiting for fishing news!

Comments are closed.