Friday, September 02, 2011

Alfred "Fred" Salinas: 1936-2011

Here's to Fred Salinas, who died the other day at age 75. I hadn't seen him since back in the days of working at the Humboldt Bay Power Plant in the '80s. A friend e-mailed me yesterday to tell me he saw his name in the Times- Standard obituaries. A sad obituary it was, too, consisting of only a few sentences with no information about him. He deserved better than that.

Fred came to be a fellow guard at the power plant after being laid off at one of the mills out on Samoa that closed. I forget which one but he started there way back before the Samoa bridge was built.

He always had good stories to tell of those times, including taking the ferry across the bay to work. Back then it launched from the foot of West Del Norte Street. I particularly enjoyed the ones of the occasional fights that would break out over one thing or another on the ferry between a couple mill workers on the way to work. He'd seen it all.

He grew up in Texas and spent some time there both as a kid and an adult. I used to kid him about being of hispanic descent and the Border Patrol agents chasing after him. He didn't seem to mind, knowing me for the clown I could be.

We got to talking about the Border Patrol more seriously one day. He told me they were really good at picking out illegals. One time he was in a bar with some friends and the Border Patrol came in. They didn't give him and his group a second glance. They looked at the back of the bar, saw a group of Mexicans sitting, seemed to know they were illegals and arrested them. Somehow they could tell, Fred said.

I remember one time we were working the same shift together during a stormy day- one of those rare days when we get a bunch of thunderstorms here. He was patrolling the upper hill area of the plant- P1, we called it, for Patrol Area #1.

A bunch of squalls came through and I became a bit uncomfortable with some of the swirling cloud formations approaching the plant from the southwest. I'd seen similar things on TV before and they looked like how tornadoes formed. First time I'd seen something like that up here.

When we were done with our outside shift and came inside I commented on the weird cloud formations. Fred replied, "When we'd see something like that in Texas, we'd head for the cellar". Made me glad to know I was right to worry a bit.

A great guy, he was. Everybody like Fred. I believe he worked with us until most of us got laid off around '88. I never knew what happened to him after that but he never seemed concerned about the future prior to the layoffs. He used to say, "You'd be surprised how things seem to work out".

Since the obituary in the Times- Standard was so poor and was only up for one day, I'll let this post be my part in honoring a great guy.

Update: A nicer obituary for Fred in today's Time- Standard.


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