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New book "Flight of the Bumble Bee" chronicles history of Bumble Bee canneries
By Tom Paulu / The Daily News | Posted: Saturday, December 31, 2011 9:00 pm

Irene Martin likes to spring this word association game on people: She'll say "tuna" and ask them to utter the first words that come to mind. "Seventy percent of the time it's ‘Bumble Bee,'" Martin said.

The percentage would likely be higher in Astoria, which for 81 years was the headquarters of the Bumble Bee brand and its predecessor, The Columbia River Packers Association. The company that started out as a salmon packing outfit and later expanded to tuna was the city's major employer, and its departure in 1980 sent economic shudders through Astoria.

"Bumble Bee really was the heart of the place for so many years," Martin said. "At least part of the heart went out when Bumble Bee left."

A century (and two years) after the firm's beginnings, Martin and the late Roger Tetlow have provided a thorough history of the company. "Flight of the Bumble Bee: The Columbia River Packers Association & a Century in the Pursuit of Fish" has more facts and figures than the armchair historian needs, but people who worked in the fishing industry will appreciate all the details.

The glossy paper book has dozens of....

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