Making The Old -- and The Good -- New Again

By James Parrish Coleman -- a/k/a Jimbo Coleman

A later edition. Early Editions had a white

spine, and ads for long extinct local business.


Gulf Coast Gourmet was compiled by my late mother, Jane S. Coleman, in the early 1960s. The book was a fund raiser for the Foley Woman's Club.

The illustrations are the original work of a very talented artist named Marion Dyer. The book has been in print for many, many years; but has the simple fault of assuming you know about Gulf seafood and really know how to cook. I'll cook through the book (and my childhood), explain how Jane Coleman cooked, and tell a lot of family stories in the process. I like to cook. I will share what I have, and hope you like it. That's the spirit of this blog. Bon Appetit.


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

God Hates Shrimp?? How We Misunderstand The Will of The Almighty

Note: Shrimp information today, recipe at noon Friday!


God Hates Shrimp?!?

This is poof positive of man’s inability to divine the true will of God.

  "Whatever in the water does not have fins and scales is abhorrent to you."
Leviticus 11:9-12 (New American Standard Bible)

Long before the loaves and fishes,
folks like this High Priest were
spreading the word that shrimp, oysters,
crabs and catfish were not fit to eat. That's
my idea of a doctrinal error.
God does not hate shrimp. I have it on the highest authority. God is actually a huge seafood fan. He hung out with commercial fishermen, and personally invented the fish po-boy. (Remember, the loaves and fishes?)

In any event, I love shrimp, and so do most of us. American shrimp consumption has increased hugely since shrimp caught on the Gulf Coast were a major part of the market. The farm-raised and wild-caught product from overseas now dominates the market.

Wild-caught shrimp are harvested with a shrimp trawl, which is basically a bag which is dragged across the bottom of the bay or gulf.  Farm-raised shrimp are a variety of shrimp that can be raised in a pond, packed and shipped overseas.

Not only does God not hate shrimp, she (or he) wants you to eat wild-caught shrimp. They are available fresh, they taste is more subtle and they are the shrimp of Gulf Coast Gourmet. There were no "Black Tigers" (an Asian pond-raised shrimp) in my mother's day.

Black Tigers, pond raised shrimp
imported from Asia. This may have been 

what the Almighty was referring to when
 he said "they shall abhorrent to you."
When we were children, a popular informal and low-cost (!) meal was boiled shrimp. Gulf Coast Gourmet does have a recipe for this dish, but I like my way better (Sorry Mamma). Taste for to see if the shrimp are done. Just like you do pasta. Here is the basic technique.

Get a big stockpot fill with water, leaving space for the shrimp. Season with commercial crab boil or simply salt and lemon. You can also add beer, wine, rocket fuel or any of the hundreds of variations folks come up with. The technique is the thing here.

Boil the water. When it is at a rolling boil, put in the shrimp. Test them after you put them in. (Yes, take one out with your Asian dipper cool it under running water and taste it) By the time the water returns to a boil, take the shrimp out -- now! If the shrimp are really small, even this method may overcook them. I always watch the shrimp, dip one out, cool it in ice-water, then peel and eat it to test for doneness. Whatever you do, don’t overcook!

When I was a child we ate boiled shrimp as informal "company" fare. You can, of course, pile in corn, potatoes, and all that stuff if you want. Ours was a lower key event. We were not trying to imitate a crawfish boil. (I never ate a crawfish until I went to college in Louisiana in 1974).



Boiled shrimp. Properly done, the best
and simplest way to enjoy shrimp. 
Each person got a plate full of boiled shrimp, a bowl (for the shells) and a custard cup. It was in those that you made your dipping sauce for the shrimp. Everyone took a little catsup and mayonaise with horseradish, lemon juice (from a lemon), Tabasco sauce and made a sauce. As a kindergartener, I thought mixing the sauce was the best part. I didn’t know these clear glass cups were used for any thing other than making sauce. I had never heard of custard in custard cups until I was an adult.




Years later, when I made a rouille  for seasoning food, the rust colored sauce I mixed furiously as a little child came back to me.

We would eat boiled shrimp until we were tired of them. They were never seasoned aggressively to be “hot” or anything of the kind. (I was introduced to crawfish seasoned to burn your lips purple as a college student while taking advantage of “free” crawfish and 50-cent draft beer, that’s another story.

Rouille

Rouille is a great sauce for lots of things. I make it for boiled beef or boubassise. When cooking a long-simmered dish where vegatables are there for flavor, you can use the spent onions or carrots to thicken the sauce.

When I was a child we were making something
very similar, and enjoying it without benefit
of the Food Network. Who knew we simple heathens
were getting the benefit of a sauce which had
its origins in a classic French seafood condiment.
This is good on fish, shrimp, bread, your fingers -- or right out of the bowl.

½ cup +/- olive oil
Splash white wine
1 T. water
Saffron strand (You can’t afford much of the stuff)
Stale bread, two or three slices
4 cloves of garlic
2 egg yolks
Salt
& pepper
Paprika (use the expensive Hungarian stuff if you can find it. Elbow your way through the new-agers and hipsters at Whole Foods, you’ll find it there.


Steep the saffron strands in hot water until the water is as yellow as (well, you know)… Grind the bread,  garlic cloves in the blender, add the cooked carrots now if you are using them, add the egg yolks & wine -- all while your food processor or blender is buzzing away. Add olive oil in a slow stream until you get a consistency of mayonaise.

You can store this in the ice box covered. If you use carrots and other things, the color may be a little off the red from the paprika. I used a big handful of carrots once and came out with a kind of brownish-yellow sauce, prompting James’ girlfriend to note that it looked like something out of a diaper. (an awkward silence ensued)  Color can be important!


Shrimp, the beginners guide to the universe 


Shrimp are a good and misunderstood seafood. Because they are so easy to store, so efficient to ship and pack, shrimp are everywhere. Some good, some not.


A great friend of mine used to laugh about the guys selling shrimp on the side of the road. The product that some of them sell, poorly handled, mushy and just not what they should be would never pass muster with a Jane Coleman or other experienced seafood buyer. “How do they sell that stuff?” I asked.
He clenched his then ever present cigarette between his teeth. “Because those Yankees don’t know the difference.”

Well, now you know the difference. A shrimp should not smell like anything. It should be firm and not mushy. There should be no black smudges or spots under the edges of the shell. (more on that later). The shrimp should be covered in ice. (Remember the old proverb -- if you can see the product there is not sufficient ice.)

Here are the kinds of shrimp wild caught you’ll see on the Gulf Coast. There are tons of others shrimp that come fresh from the Gulf too  -- from the Gulf of Tonkin, the Gulf of Thailand or what’s left of the mangrove swamps that were adjacent to those water but bulldozed to make shrimp ponds.

The U.S. shrimp fishery is regulated and pushed to reduce by-catch (see below) and not kill sea turtles. The domestic industry is a pale shadow of its former self at a time when shrimp are the most popular seafood in the world.
We produce as much as we ever did, but are now a tiny part
of the US market for shrimp. Imports control the price and
domestic shrimpers are less viable every year.

In 2009 the United States imported $3.75 billion worth of shrimp, 1.2 billion pounds. Our domestic catch is a fraction of this number.

The suprising news is that we catch more shrimp now than we did in 1960, with about the same effort. (Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, 2008. http://www.gulfcouncil.org/beta/GMFMCweb/downloads/BB%202009-10/D%20-%204%20Stock%20Assessment%20Report%20GOM%20Shrimp%20Fishery.pdf )

However, the realities of the market and the domestic loss of control of the price makes this figure meaningless. With the domestic catch accounting for only 10 percent of consumption price is not effected by the flucuations in the domestic catch.

In 1960 -- and beyond -- it was a far different story. When the catch was low, the price was high. When the price was low, the catch was plentiful. In both cases, the boat operator and packing house made money.

Enter the imports, and a dramatic change and decline in the industry. The domestic fishery lost control of the market long ago. The price paid to domestic shrimpers is about the same in real terms as the price in the 1970s. The expenses are much higher, and the fleet is worn out.



GULF of MEXICO SHRIMP

Gulf shrimp are a story in Brown and White. Shrimp are essentially an annual “crop” they don’t live very long in any event. This makes the fishery responsive to management techniques, and vunerable to natural changes in weather and other factors. The shrimp harvest can vary greatly from year to year.

Brown Shrimp
Brown shrimp (Penaeus aztecus) are --- brown. They are also my favorite.  These shrimp are spawned in estuaries in late winter, and move on to deeper water as they mature. If you want to know more, see this link.  http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/fishwatch/species/brown_shrimp.htm




White Shrimp, but not was white as you think!
White shrimp (Litopenaeus setiferus) are -- grey. I remember being disappointed as a little child when the I heard the operator of a packing plant talk about unloading white shrimp -- and finding they the shrimp coming off the boat were a pale grey color. As I remember, I kept my mouth shut about this development. These shrimp are caught in the fall of the year, often offshore in the gulf. In the old days, you always hoped for a good white shrimp season the marine supply business. Being the last to get paid, you knew the money from brown shrimp in the early summer went to the bank and insurance company, then the processor got his money back from fronting fuel and ice, then -- if there were white shrimp to be caught -- the past due bills at the marine supply would be brought current.

How To Buy

When buying shrimp, work hard to buy fresh, never frozen. You will have to use the ultra sensitive spoiled shrimp detector device to make sure the shrimp are not past their prime. These devices are handed out at birth and can be found on your face above your upper lip and below your eyes. Stick the device an inch or so from the shrimp and breath in. You should smell……. nothing. If the shrimp smells fishy or like ammonia, buy something else that day. I’ve heard a lot of stuff about how the shrimp should smell like the odor of the sea, and such poetic nonsense.  The shrimp should have no odor except for maybe saltwater.

I like to buy heads on, ungraded. You will not have this luxury unless you live very near where the shrimp are caught. I do this for three reasons:

Black Spot, nasty looking and probably harmless
1) I am notoriously cheap. Ungraded heads on shrimp are usually less expensive.

2) I am smarter than you think. Ungraded heads on shrimp are less likely to be frozen and thawed. They are also much more likely to be local, and can be effectively tested by the Spoiled Shrimp Detector, mentioned above.

3) I use the heads for stock.

Visually, look for black spots near the edges of the shell. This discoloration is essentially harmless, but kind of nasty looking. The most common way black spot is discouraged is dipping the shrimp in a soloution of Sodium Bisulfite right on the boat. Some people are allergic to this stuff. If you have ever had a reaction to shrimp, it may be the sodium bisulfite, not the shrimp.

Sodium Bisulfite, known
to us as Sodium Bi-suffocate.
We used to pour it from bags
into small plastic pails. It was
a nasty job, the stuff would take
your breath away. It would also
turn any steel it contacted black.
The boats dissolved it in water
and dipped the shrimp in the
solution. Now it comes pre-packed
in pails (including some that I sold)



Try to avoid shrimp that has been peeled before freezing. Remember, cold takes moisture away. Freezing the peeled shrimp will dessicate (dry out) the shrimp.


Shrimp are sized by how many per pound. This is the language you should use to ask for shrimp. Aside from drawing jokes from those ignorant about seafood (Paula Poundstone comes to mind) -- “Hey Tony, he wants......Jumbo...Shrimp, (cue laugh track) Ha, Ha Ha." You want to sound like a pro.







If you want some shrimp for Shrimp Camellia say in a casual but authoritative voice: “Hey Nick, you got any nice 36 40s?” See how professional that sounds! Nick may even stop trying to push you to buy that mashed up, under-iced crap up on the counter, and sell you to good stuff.

You should make nice with a doctor, lawyer, barber, priest, butcher and fish-man. The hot looking little woman at the fish market wearing the leopard patterned rubber boots qualifies as a fish-man too. She holds the future of your seafood dinner in her tiny gloved hand. If you know what you are talking about and know what you are seeking, she will avoid trying to sell you the stuff that is slowly turning to kitty-food before her eyes, and sell you the good stuff.

A good place to buy seafood is hard to find. The grocery stores insist on selling nothing but fillets. This keeps you from being able to see what the fish actually looked like while it was whole. What kind of fish was it? What did its' eyes, gills and skin look and smell like? You'll never know, pal. You'll never know.

They also insist on arranging the fillets on top of the ice, so they look pretty. The fish is exposed to the cold, dry air and becomes dried out. It is also not as cold as it should be.

When you find your fish-market-home you won't have these worries.

Ask the little rubber-booted babe for shrimp of a size appropriate to what you are cooking. The 36/40s are a little large for Shrimp Camellia, but they looked good, and will not over cook as easily.

Shrimp are graded by size and type.

Here are the sizes you’ll find commonly available:
Name                                      Number Per Pound     Average Per Pound
Extra Jumbo 16/20 18
Jumbo 21/25 23
Extra Large 26/30 28
Large 31/35 33
Medium Large 36/40 38
Medium 41/50                                  45
Small 51/60 55
Extra Small 61/70 65


If you buy frozen shrimp, handle them properly. Never defrost shrimp in the microwave oven. Don’t even defrost them at room temperature. Remember, with all seafood, thawing quickly damages the structure of the product. Thaw slowly and gently. If you want to brine the shrimp as you thaw them, prepare a salt water solution and place the frozen shrimp in the brine. Put the whole works in the ice box. Thaw them slowly.  I don’t brine shrimp if I am going to cook them in liquid. Brining will add some salt to the shrimp, and make the shrimp a little firmer.

Jack & Jill, a boat owned by Sahlman Seafoods. This Florida
company was one of the first to start importing shrimp.
They set up their own operation in South America. My
father investigated producing shrimp overseas on a
trip to Columbia in 1958. I still have the cufflinks he
brought to me from that trip. Sahlman also pioneered
freezer boats -- which actually freeze the product in a
vat of super-cold very salty water right on the deck of the
boat. It is not the answer that it seemed to be. When
 the catch was not large, the boat had more capacity
 than product. When the catch was plentiful, you could
not get the shrimp off the deck and frozen fast
enough  to prevent some loss of quality. "Ice boats"
with a simple big insulated hold did not have this
problem.  Frozen product also has to be
 "re-hydrated"  when it is thawed. Freezing
 makes the shrimp  lose water -- and weight.
 This is all important when selling by the pound!
I think texture always suffers when food is frozen and thawed. The vast, vast majority of the shrimp consumed is frozen, a lot of it frozen right on the boat. Just remember, thawing makes the product lose weight -- and that weight is moisture.  You can freeze seafood at home, just remember that your “freezer” is not a “freezer”. It is a storage box for frozen food. It does not have the capacity to turn unfrozen food into frozen food quickly enough to produce only tiny, tiny ice crystals in the flesh of the seafood. Big ice crystals means big damage when thawed out.

Seafood is about texture. Freezing (like overcooking) will effect the texture. Handle frozen seafood properly and thaw it carefully.

Finally, if your fish guy is one of those folks who buys frozen, and then thaws it out and sells it to you as fresh you should hide by his back door some night after closing time and rough him up a little. You may need to take some friends, because seafood guys are usually pretty tough. Still, it will be worth it.
The basket that changed
my life. After failing to
make a success of my father's
business after his death, I started
wholesaling the shrimp baskets
we had always sold in the stores.
Above is the mighty XFSHBKT
made by Ropak Can-Am 

at the time. My commission deal
 with  Roapk, later led to
 employment with them and my 
10 years and 42 days as a bucket
 salesman. How I left  Ropak and 
became a lawyer is another tale, 
for another day. 





Better yet, just ask him to sell you the product frozen, and you’ll thaw it yourself. Understand, fresh -- really fresh -- will always be best. If you are very far away from the coast,  your shrimp will probably be frozen.  If you find someone who can sell you fresh shrimp that is really good, pay his price and be happy to have him. Most dealers are just to lazy to go to the trouble to provide superior product. Selling seafood is a lot of trouble and hard work. Most places won’t do it. You will rarely find good seafood in a supermarket, with the possible exception of shucked oysters or crabmeat.

After thawing -- if you must -- an important and dramatic moment.

"To devein, or not devein?"

Was that the question? Well, it depends. The “vein” is really the (harump) alimentary canal of the shrimp. If you like shrimp innards -- and there is no sand in the vein, it is no big deal. When you get into shrimp 31/35 or bigger, you will want to take the “vein” out. If you buy already peeled and deveined shrimp (which are put through a machine charmingly named a “P&D” machine) you don’t have to worry about this.
The Plastic Pick Stick. My intro
into injection molded product and my
ticket out of the marine supply business.
This item, envisioned by my father, was
built from a mold he had created in 1978.
This recent picture shows the stick in
use in Louisiana in 2010. I'm glad to see
the plastic pick stick is still out there.
I am also glad to know that I'm not out
there with it.

If you are buying fresh shrimp, peel and devein yourself. If you grew up eating shrimp, you’ll be fast at this -- and amaze your friends. Put the peelings in a container and make stock with them. After peeling, devein the shrimp. You can use a handy little plastic gadget made for the purpose. Or, just use the tine of a fork. Either is fine.

Finally, buy the shrimp the day you are going to cook them.














Shrimp Boats 

I have a friend who knows everything about everything, just ask. Because this person knew about my past with the shrimping industry he told me about the shrimp boat that was on display in Foley, Ala. during the shrimp festival. Because I had seen several boats I used to know pushed up on the beach to advertise one thing or another I took a look.

The boat was a small enough to put on a trailer, and big enough for grandpa to play with on the weekends. Folks, that's not a shrimp boat.

Cute, but not a real shrimp boat. And yes, I know the
 structure on the stern can pull and even haul a net. 
Still, it is not a shrimp boat. Those are, however, real 
trawl doors in the foreground, with the "bag end" of a trawl
draped over them
Shrimp boats were and are, generally, :Bay Boats" or "Gulf Boats". As the name suggests, the bay boats worked inshore and the Gulf boats when off shore. The first shrimpers were simply converted from the luggers and schooners that were spread around the coast in the early 20th century. Those boats, with part of the hold taken up by an engine, were often rebuilt with a "house" on the stern, where the wheel naturally was located. The mast had a pair of booms running from close to the deck at right angles to the keel of the boat. These were later "outriggers" with towing blocks on their ends. The shrimp trawl, which is really just a large net bag, was pulled by a line (later always a length of wire rope) which ran through these blocks to a hoist or winch bolted securely to the deck. The most common in the early days was a model 515 built by Stroudsburg Engine Works in Stroudsburg, Pa. The hoist was driven by a power takeoff from the boat's engine. The post World War II the engine of choice was a General Motors 671 (6 cylinders, each with 71 cubic-inch displacement).
Typical Bay Boats on Coastal Mississippi,
dressed up for a fleet blessing. This was an
annual event where the Catholic Bishop
blessed the fleet, praying for safety of the
crews and, of course, a good catch.
Bay boats were common along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Hurricane Camile wiped out a lot of them, and a lot of "Processor's Row" -- a line of shrimp processors from just west of Point Cadet along the sound. Hurricane Katrina finished off almost all traces of the industry on the Mississippi Sound side of Biloxi. The Pitallo Marine Hardware, operated by Mr. Tony Pitallo -- and a fixture in the community for years -- is only a slab under some oak trees.

As capital from banks and engine manufacturers flowed into the industry in the 1960s, the family run bay boats gave way to larger shrimpers that would go farther, and catch more. The basic design of these boats was created by an English naval architect in the 1950s.


A real shrimp boat. Gulf Shrimper Apache Chief, built
by Landry Boat Works in Bayou La Batre, Ala. This company
was my father's best customer in Bayou La Batre. It was
and is operated by some of the best people anywhere. They built
many of these boats from the mid 1960s on. The yard now does
repair work only. 
As the boats got bigger, they were purpose built. The house moved forward, and the hoist was placed behind it. This was, and still is, the most common layout for a shrimp trawler. The deck area behind the hoist is where the catch is dumped and sorted. There is a hatch in the middle of the deck, where the shrimp are iced and stored. These boats are built from wood, fiberglass or steel. Many of the first steel boats were build by Bender Shipbuilding in Mobile, Ala. for use overseas. These boats were easy to identify because they had round ports in the front of the "houses". (Not very salty terminology, by there is a lot of that in the commercial fishing industry).





The Shrimp "Trawl" 


The trawl is the net towed behind the boat to gather up the shrimp. There are now special "holes" and gates built into the trawl to reduce the catch of fish incidental to the harvest of shrimp. There is also a special device made into the net to allow any sea turtles who are caught to be released unharmed. To say these government mandated devices created a lot of controversy is an understatement. The net is held open by trawl "doors" which act as kites to pull the net open. They are constructed of wood and metal to have a neutral bouancy so the net will stay near the bottom. A chain, running across the trawl, drags through the mud or sand on the bottom and encourages the shrimp to pop up into the net. It is poetically known as the "tickler chain". We sold many, many half-drums of this 5/16 inch chain to the fleet.

A Blume triple drum hoist on a smaller shrimp boat.
These hoist were obsolete by the late 1970. The single
bronze winch-head was their distinctive feature.
It was fun and exciting to work around the fishing industry. I was never a fisherman, just a hanger on.  There were a lot of great people in the industry, none more interesting than the boatmen themselves. It would be a terrible, terrible mistake to miss the fact that a person who can run one of those boats and catch shrimp has to be smart, hardworking and skilled to make a living at it.


There are still some captains around now who know how to shrimp. In the late 1970s a young man who would work and could get on as a deckhand could make $30,000 per year. That's a lot of money for a guy right out of high-school. Most neglected to pay the IRS. The crews were paid on "shares" with the captain taking the most money and the deckhand taking the least. Usually three or four men were on a boat.


The remains of Oil City Brass Works in
Beaumont, Tex. They supplied try-net blocks,
all bronze hand winches and other castings.
The try-net blocks had "Coleman Marine"
cast into them. When one of them failed
after being overloaded and killed a fisherman,
I had my  first day in court ( as a 10-year-old).
 I was not impressed.  The judge ruled that
the block was defective because our
witnesses testified that the best boatmen
modified  the blocks by safety-wiring
the nuts which held the block together.
Good law, bad result. Daddy went to his
 grave believing the judge was paid off. 
I sure wish  I could find one of those 
old blocks,  just to remind me to 
prep witnesses carefully.
Stroudsburg Engine Works, Inc. built hoists that pulled the trawls from the water. The silicon-bronze ring shank nails that fastened the juniper planks to the frames of Landry Boats were manufactured by Clendennin Bros. in Baltimore Md., Chicago Hardware & Mfg. forged the shackles, turnbuckles and  other fittings for the rigging. We sold blocks (you call these pulleys if you are a "farmer") made by Oil City Brass works. Some of them had "Coleman Marine & Hdw., Ltd." cast into them. The rope came from Wall, and Columbian Cordage. The snatch blocks were manufactured by Brewer-Tichner. The cotton to caulk the seams was grown in the United States, some of it supplied by Opp and Micolus Mills in Opp, Alabama. The wire rope was an early import. A lot of it came from "West" Germany and Spain. The early Ritchie compasses were housed on a wooden box, the later ones had steel balls attached so they could be compensated for use on a steel boat. In the early days, Daddy sold pots, pans and even dishware for the boats. (I have a surviving green trimmed white mug. It is now a shaving accessory)

 Much of this stuff was housed in a special warehouse, the "Landry Room" in the store in Bayou La Batre. We kept on hand enough hardware to build two boats. Joe Landry's crew would pick product up several times a day. The purchase was posted on a ticket with the hull number being built. Coleman Marine handled the supply end, the boat builders constructed the boat. Bayou La Batre's boat building industry grew rapidly. At one time there were more hulls under 100-feet being built in Bayou La Batre than anywhere in the world.
A young and skinny me standing
on the dock in Bon Secour, Ala. in
1979 . I was very proud to be part
of the shrimping industry, and proud
of the men and women I  worked with.
Boat buyers came from all over the world. My father had an especially close relationship with a man named Stephen O.A. Authority. Mr. Authority, an extremely dark Nigerian, was beautifully educated. He taught me the parts of speech when he first visited in the mid 1960s. He stayed in our home, because no hotel in segregated south Alabama would admit him. He was a fascinating guy, who came to Alabama to learn about fishing boats in order to take the knowledge home to his town of Ayetoro, Nigeria.

Mr. Authority returned in 1979 on a boat purchasing trip. My wife Frances and I took him on a shopping trip to the Piggly Wiggly supermarket so he could load up one of the boats they bought with personal items like shampoo, cologne and such as gifts for his three wives.

The high point of the day was seeing Mr. Authority hold up a bottle of after shave and say to me -- in his beautiful English accent -- "Ahhh Jimbo, if you wear this you will drive the ladies crazy!"  The little red-neck checkout girl who heard that come from the very black Mr. Authority nearly fainted. It was as if she saw a creature from Mars. I am sure it was a cross cultural experience she never forgot.


      
An old photo of Stroudsburg Engine Works, now a museum.
My father's business sold hundreds of these hoist to boat
builders. We stocked and sold parts and hoists from the store
in Bayou La Batre, Ala. The hoists were designed to haul construction
materials to the tops of the first skyscrapers (in a time before cranes) 

and were later used on commercial fishing boats. Other 
manufacturers of hoists were McElroy, (which later bought Stroudsburng)
Blume, and Construction Machinery Company. (CMC).The hoists
 were simple, rugged and dangerous.  More than one shrimper lost
 an arm or  leg -- or his life -- to a hoist. 

Coleman Marine & Hdw. is now a memory. Stroudsburg Engine works is a Museum. The commercial fishing industry I knew as a child is gone. The forces of  a world market have made the industry which grew up after WWII inviable. There will always be some activity. I only hope that we can be smart enough to keep the industry we have going, to produce a product that your just can't replace with imported product. The industry has done a great job in keeping the natural resource intact. Compare this to the debacle that destroyed the commercial fishing industry in the the Canadian North Atlantic because there simply are no more fish.




We still have the shrimp. Will we be smart enough to cherish and keep the natural resource and the industry necessary to share that resource? If not, your grandkids will never know the shrimp of Gulf Coast Gourmet.



Next posting, Shrimp Camellia

2 comments:

  1. This was so interesting. Really enjoyed it. Thanks. My honey is a recreational shrimper with an interestingly designed rig on his 17' boat. We LOVE shrimp.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I loved this story, I was a florida shrimp boat captain at the age of 14 in 1970, I have gone in and out of the business ever sence. I am curently in the proses of parking my semi truck and along with a brother of mine perchasing a 50' Landry built boat that has gone through a compleat overhaul at the Landry yard, taking it to Florida and resuming that lifetime love of being a shrimp boat captain once again. Thanchs again for the artical.. captain Stephen P. Smalldridge

    ReplyDelete