Title: Interview with Frank J. Fazio
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00006851/00001
 Material Information
Title: Interview with Frank J. Fazio
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Subject: Fisherfolk
University of North Florida
Funding: This text has been transcribed from an audio or video oral history. Digitization was funded by a gift from Caleb J. and Michele B. Grimes.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00006851
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, Department of History, University of Florida
Holding Location: This interview is part of the 'UNF Fisherfolk' collection of interviews held by the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program of the Department of History at the University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: UNFFC 1

Table of Contents
        Abstract 1
        Abstract 2
        Abstract 3
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Full Text

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and Samuel Proctor Oral History Program on
behalf of the Board of Trustees of the University of

Copyright, 2005, University of Florida.
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The Fabulous History of Fishing, Shrimping, Boat building, and So Forth in the
Lovely Community of St. Augustine

St. Augustine's involvement in the business of mariculture began in the
1920's, when Sollecito "Mike" Salvador moved his shrimping company from
Fernandina up the coast to St. Augustine. During this time, his brothers-in law,
Salvatore Versaggi and Antonio Poli, were also operating shrimping businesses in
Florida, out of Fernandina Beach. Salvatore Versaggi intended to relocate to St.
Augustine, but his untimely death at the age of 39 cut short his plans. After his
death, his business, now run by his wife Vincenzina, also known as "Mama V", and
his eldest son John, followed his plan to move, and they went to St. Augustine as
well. A few years later, Antonio Poli followed suit. By the end of the '20's, all three
brothers-in-law were operating out of St. Augustine.
By the early 1930's, the St. Augustine area was also home to the Diesel Engine
Sales Company, DESCO Marine. DESCO was founded and run by L.C. Ringhaver,
and built wooden shrimp trawlers powered by diesel engines. All three of the
original shrimp companies bought boats almost exclusively from DESCO for years.
Soon after the Salvadors, Versaggis, and Polis began shrimping in the waters
around St. Augustine, they were joined by a host of other families, mostly Italian.
These families included the Tringali family and the Fazio brothers. The fishing
business began to pick up also, although in St. Augustine, there had always been
fishermen, since the first Minorcans took up residence there in the 1500's. In the
1940's, another boat builder, Harry Xynides, a Greek from Tarpon Springs, was
brought to St. Augustine by one of the Salvadors to fill the growing demand for new
The shrimp business was a profitable one, especially beginning in the 1950's,
when shrimp became much more popular in the American diet. Ex-shrimper
Frank Fazio cites television coverage as the reason for the sudden shrimp bonanza.
Prior to the 1950's, shrimp was mostly served as an accompaniment to beer, but
during the early-50's, shrimp was advertised on television, in shows in which
different shrimp recipes were presented to people all over the country, including
those in the Midwest states, who Fazio believes probably had never heard of shrimp,
* not even with their beer.
Although the shrimp business was dominant in St. Augustine, other

businesses, such as clamming, oystering, and fishing also thrived. Retired
oysterman Joe Schonder remembers that in the days of his youth, the rivers were
full of fish, and he and his family would survive mainly on the abundance of the
Life was good for those who worked the water. However, in recent years, the
tide has been turning against them. New, strict regulations mandating the use of
turtle and fish excluders have hurt area shrimpers, while a ban on gill netting has
all but destroyed the area's fishing industry. Other factors have damaged the
livelihood of those who harvest oysters and clams. Schonder and other oystermen
are being driven out of business by Gulf Coast competitors. He says the local
waterways have been ruined for oysters by runoff caused by development. He, as
well as the other area seafood merchants, can no longer rely on local product, but
must ship in their seafood from other waters.
Another factor in the downfall of the mariculture industries is lack of interest
among the younger generations of families who have traditionally worked the
water. It is rare that the younger members of these families desire to enter
businesses in which the future is at best, uncertain, even if taking a different career
path means an end to a long-standing family tradition.

Consent Form

University of North Florida
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Project: Oral History/Folklife Course, Honors Program, 1995
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University of North Florida
4567 St. Johns Bluff Road, So.
Jacksonville, FL 32116-6699
(904) 646-2649

Project: Oral History/Folklife Course, Honors Program, 1995
Instructors: Dr. Paula Horvath-Neimeyer, Mr. Stetson Kennedy

Thank you for participating in the University of North Florida's Honors Program oral
history project. By signing the form below you give your permission to deposit any tapes
and/or photographers made during the oral history project in a public archive where they
will be available to researchers and the public for scholarly and educational purposes,
including publication and exhibition. You also give your permission to use any
information collected or photographs made during the oral history project submitted for
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Kim- This is Chris Spencer and Kim Gier, and this is tape number one. We're

in St. Augustine, doing an interview with Frank Fazio, a long-time area shrimper.
Chris- Let's just talk about where it all began.
Fazio- (sitting, mending a net) Well, it all began back in 1939, I began fishing,

you know, running a vessel, as the captain. I fished prior to that, I ran a vessel
when I became twelve years old. I left school to go fishing, and in the years that
followed, I fished for my father....My father had boats, two or three boats. I fished for

him all through the, well, not through the war, because I went into the service in
1944, and came out in 1946. So that would be that I fished from 1939 to '44, went two

years in the service, came out in '46, went back to work for my father in 1946. I took
over one of his vessels, worked for him all through the '40's....until 1950, when I got
married. When I got married, in 1950, I went to work for myself. I still worked for

him, but it was a different situation. I was really working for my family then. So
anyway, I still ran a boat for him. I say ran it, I mean you know being the captain,
and operating it. In 1962, I bought my own vessel, it was called'the Breadwinner. I

fished it for, let's see, from '62 to 1970. In those years, between 1962 to 1970, I bought
another vessel...Miss Carmen was the name of it... I wasn't very successful with it, I
had problems keeping men aboard, keeping crew aboard, so I sold it in 1970. I sold

both boats, in order to accumulate enough money, I had to sell both boats to build a
new vessel.... Anyway, the new vessel was called Breadwinner again, but it was a
much larger vessel.... So I had that one from 1970 to 1978, and I decided to build a
new vessel again. So in order to build a new vessel, you sell the old one and replace
it with a new one: The new vessel cost much more, because it was a fiberglass
vessel. It was also called Breadwinner. I always liked the name, so I kept the name.
When I sold them, I asked the new owners, if you buy the boat, would you mind
letting me keep the name. So they let me keep the name, which I could have done

anyhow. Anyway, from [here there was some confusion about dates] 1970 to 1994, I
fished this Breadwinner. Then I finally sold it and retired, because I had reached
that age.

Chris- Who did you sell it to?
Fazio- I sold it to the Bahamian islands. They use it as a lobster boat. I've seen it
once since then. They've taken care of it, it's a nice looking boat. So I fished from
1939 to 1994. But I went before that, I used to go with my father when the school was
out, I used to go with him. The first time I went fishing, I was only six years old, and
got seasick. And I remember the vessel was little. The biggest vessel was only
thirty-five feet, and now they make them over a hundred feet.
Chris-So what about this boat you have here, over at the seafood place?
Fazio- Well, the seafood place belongs to my brother. My father bought it, and he
finally decided that he would retire and not do anything anymore. He wasn't doing
too much anyway, he had seven sons. In his time and day, he had boats too. He
would do the same thing, he would sell and build. He didn't have as many [boats],

because he retired sooner, he retired before he was sixty years old. He had so many
sons that they all fished for him. Some of us were successful and some of us
weren't. Of course, some of us stuck by it and some of us didn't. Anyway, he had
the place, he bought the fish house. Two, no three, of my brothers were working in
it, and I was fishing, the other two were operating it. And the boys finally got old
enough and wise enough to want to go out on their own, so they demanded the old
man sell or they would go elsewhere. Anyway, my father sold it to my brothers, and
they are the ones who own it today. I took the boat. I was already the one with the
boat. Because at the same time they had that place, I had built the first Breadwinner.
I was separate from them. I had my own boat, and they were in the fish business,
you know, packing and shipping and stuff like that. Anyway, they kept that until

S my father died...when he died,... he was already out of it. He died in 1984, I think.


And, what else? Then we went on from there. I retired after I sold the boat. I quit
fishing. I'm just doing net work to pass the time.
Chris- (points to a boat docked at Fazio's Seafood) So who owns this boat here?
Fazio- The boat, my boat was sold.
Chris- What about that boat?
Fazio- Oh, this boat here belongs to him. (motions toward a younger man, Wayne
Fralix, who is also mending nets.) He's my son-in-law.
Fralix- (waves) How y'all doing?
Fazio- He's from up around the Carolinas, around Hilton Head and those places
around there. He migrated down here because of my daughter. (chuckles) But I
think his heart is in Carolina. He likes Carolina because they catch a lot of shrimp
there, and his home is up there. He does a lot better up there. He just comes down
here to...
Fralix- To satisfy your daughter.
Fazio- (laughs) To satisfy my daughter. Anyway, that's it in a nutshell, that's my life,

the way it's been here. Up and down this river, all my life. Some days, we produce
good shrimp, some days it's bad. Some days, it's bad weather, we don't go out and
don't catch. Most of the time, it's seasonal, down here. During the months of...well,
they got two months that they close, that's March and April. They close March and
April, and the rest of the time, you really don't catch a lot until the fall of the year.
And things have been falling off every year, like production of shrimp.
In the summer months, you used to catch what they call the brownie shrimp.
In the last ten years, production has fallen off, and they don't produce much, in this
area. Up north, they produce pretty good, but in this area, they don't produce many
brown shrimp. So we sort of wait till the fall of the year, around September. And
we get a few white shrimp, they call them.
. Chris- How much is "a few"?

Fazio- Well,...it depends a lot on weather, you see, because your shrimp are up in
Sthe w hat do do you call it, estuaries, and places up inside, and the w weather causes
them to...you get bad weather, high tides, strong winds, it changes the season. They
get too much rain, there's a whole lot of things that come into the picture to start the
season. But usually, as a rule, it starts September, that you catch pretty good. We
catch as high as, well, I'd say roughly, as an average, four or five boxes a day.
Fralix- A box is a hundred pounds.
Fazio- A box is a hundred pounds, yes. I'm saying that, but a lot of times you don't
catch that much because things are so changed. The fleet, for one thing. You used to
get on a few shrimp, and there'd be a few shrimp and they'd last a while. Now,
when the fleet gets on them with the rigging and the power that they have, they
scoop them right up. It don't last long like it used to, because the boats, you know,
they rake them up. Anyway, (motions toward Fralix) they didn't do too good this
year. They caught some towards the start of the season, and the fleet moved in, like
they were talking yesterday, and everything just dwindled off. That's the reason
why he didn't go out today. But there's still a few shrimp around. A few more will
show up, between now and Christmas. What we call scrapping. Some days they'll
get two or three boxes, some days they won't get hardly any. But they'll manage.
The only reason why they can manage is the price of shrimp is good. If the price of
shrimp was like when I started, the price of shrimp was only...back in the early
thirties, for fifty cents, you could buy a bushel of shrimp. A bushel was considered
sixty pounds in those days. Nowadays, a bushel would probably cost fifty times that.
So it's a difference in the economy, the way things has been increasing in price.
(He holds up the net.) This stuff is...we started out using cotton for netting,
and they were small and the design was different. Now they've changed the design,
they've changed the material. This is the newest one out, it's called Spectra. Which
* I never got to use, it came out after I retired.


If you're talking about rigging, we used to pull one net and a big net would be

fifty feet. Just one. We only had sixty horsepower, seventy horsepower. Now they
got 350, 400 horsepower. So the nets increase. We got to where we were throwing
an 85-, 90-foot net. Double rigged, with a net on each side. This came, I think in the
sixties, they started putting two nets, one on each side. Then they were
around...well, some people threw more, some threw less, but I'd say around a forty
foot net. On each side. So gradually the production got better, we started building
more vessels, everything started growing. This was, I guess, in the forties and fifties,
there was a boom of vessels. They were building them so fast that people couldn't
get the money out of their pockets quick enough to buy them. They were making, at
one place, they were getting one a week. And there were so many other yards, in St.
Augustine alone, that they were producing, I would take a guess, that they were
producing six boats a month, just out of this one area, St. Johns County.
Fralix- You might want to tell them the reason for that was that the shrimp just
became a popular part of the American diet at that time. People were just realizing
how good shrimp were and it got nationwide because of the refrigeration, and all
that. So it became a more and more popular food in America, and that's why the
explosion took place.
Fazio- Are y'all old enough to remember Arthur Godfrey?
Chris- No.
Fralix- I barely remember him.
Fazio- He was one of the first ones on television. He advertised shrimp. You know,
the shrimpers, they weren't moving shrimp too good. They weren't that popular.
And this is back when television started. I would think they'd have read about him,
Arthur Godfrey? Nobody knows about Arthur Godfrey?
Kim- Sorry.
* Fazio- (to Fralix) Well, you should know him.


Fralix- Well, I know of him, but they're ....(can't hear the rest of statement)
Fazio- Arthur Godfrey became in the fifties, when television started, he introduced
shrimp. At the time, in the fifties, we had already gone to Ft. Myers, that was the
early fifties, I would say between '50 and say, '55, Arthur Godfrey was on television.
And we, they people of Ft. Myers, would help do this. They got the shrimp on
television. They presented a dish...And Arthur Godfrey was the one that...
Fralix: He was more or less the spokesperson at that time.
Fazio: He was the spokesperson for it. He was famous then. You should look that
up, what years Arthur Godfrey was. He introduced shrimp to television. And it got
real popular then. Then the price started booming because it was on television. For
the people that didn't have television, than it started coming on radio. It was a
known product, nationwide. The people in the Midwest, you know, they didn't
know too much about shrimp. But anyway, shrimp became popular, and every

year, the price of shrimp has increased. At that time, when Arthur Godfrey
introduced shrimp to television, it was approximately 85 [cents] to a dollar a pound.
Now we get as high as six. So that's in the span of what, forty years.
Anyway, we didn't always stay here. But I fished here in, like I said, the fifties.
And when things started dropping off here, we left here to go to Key West, in the
mid fifties. We went to Key West, and from Key West, we migrated into Ft. Myers,
and from Ft. Myers to Tampa. Over there, they shrimp big time. And they fish at
night, over there. I guess it's because the water's clear, and the environment's
different. They have people who shrimp in the daytime, but 99% of it is at night.
We'd start out in September, and fish through Christmas. And that was the general
trend, until the fleets increased so much that each port had enough boats to take care
of it's own area. But that doesn't always hold up, because you've got guys from
North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and they come down here. They come
down here, and we always used to go up there, too. Everything starts up in the

g p

Carolinas, 75-80% of the time. Everything starts up there and then migrates south.
Not only the shrimp, but the fish and what have you, everything migrates south.
That was the general trend then. But now, I don't know. Times have changed now,
but usually they'll catch shrimp up North before they do here.
Fralix: When the water temperature starts dropping off, that's when the shrimp start
working south. That's the way it usually works, anyhow. That's why it would be
better up there earlier in the year, and down here later.
Fazio- He says that, but not every year's the same. In fact you hardly ever find two
years identical. Maybe never. There's always some disturbance, a hurricane, or
something that changes things. But as a trend, it usually, like he says, migrates
south. Consequently, fellows will leave home, because they do better. And now,
the vessels are rigged now where they can go far and wide. The freezing process is
coming into effect now, where we used to have to use ice. But it's coming to where
your freezer will...make your trip worthwhile. Saves a lot of travel, and you get

your product fresh. Time you go out and catch it, ice it, stay 5, 6, 8, 10 days, what
have you, you bring it in, it's not as fresh as if you process it on,the vessel and froze
it and kept it fresh. In them days, though, when we were catching a lot of shrimp, I
have seen it years ago, when I was a kid, they could go out and make two trips [a
day]. Go out, load up, come in, and go out again. That didn't happen much, but the
boats were small, and when you say load up, talking about a load, you aren't talking
about a hell of a lot, because then the vessels were only 40 feet. And that was a big
vessel. That didn't happen too often. Usually, you went out early in the morning,
you came in. You didn't go back out that day, you stayed in. Other than that, the
story of my life has always been those three boats. I bought the first one from my
father. It averaged out about ten years, each one. I'd work it for about ten years,
accumulate enough money to replace it. To better myself. Whenever the
opportunity came, I'd buy a new vessel, and sell the one I had. I never tried to keep


more than one. I did have more than one at one time. And other people could
have done it, but to me, it was always a problem, because you had to take care of two
vessels. My biggest problem was crew members. You had to get a decent crew to
take care of it, and take care of your equipment. Then, equipment started getting
expensive. Like repairs and netting and stuff. Then, they started coming out with
new things, and they didn't give them to you, they were expensive.
Fralix- (holding up a net) This is thirty dollars a pound, for the webbing.
Fazio- With the other things. Then too, your engine became an expensive item,
with repairs and operating. Because then, when I started out, fuel was something
like 9 cents a gallon. It got to be as high as $1.00 a gallon, in the seventies and
eighties. That's a heck of an increase in fuel. Of course, the shrimp went up.
Everything goes up in proportion, we realize that. That's why you had to keep
trying to better yourself, to improve your status. Anyway, I got rid of the second
boat. I sold it the first chance I got. And I just stuck with one. The last 20 years, I
only had one vessel. Till I finally stopped fishing. I could have went on, fished a
little longer, maybe money would have done it, because I did get a fair price for my
vessel. But I think other things came into the picture, like restrictions, and
regulations, stuff like that that was forced on you. Like they got in these nets now,
you got to put a turtle excluder in there, and now they're going to make you put a
fish excluder in there. They already enforce the limits we can fish, and we have to
get outside of one mile. This time of the year, when you get the winds, you catch a
fair amount of shrimp along the beaches, and the laws prevent you from going in
there. And these things are all environmental. They've stepped into the picture
now, and I'll tell you, they've hurt the fishing industry. I'm not against the
environment, but I'm against the way they're going about it. Of course, I'm
prejudiced because I was a fisherman. Can't say well, they shouldn't do this or they
shouldn't do that, because we're just a minority. So I finally gave it up, and I sold


[my boat]. Some of them [the regulations] are good, about keeping your vessel clean,
and keeping your product fresh, and producing a good grade of shrimp. But when

they get to where they tell you what you can do or can't do, that's enough. It's still a
thriving business, it's just now you got all these rules and regulations, and they
handicap you a little bit. Other than that, I think the industry is still a good industry.
I think you can still be successful at it. And anyway, it's over for me anyway. My
next birthday, I'll be 70 years old. Most of my life, well, over half of it's been fishing,
so it's time for me to be done with it. I miss it, I'll tell you that.
Chris- What do you do now?
Fazio- I do nothing, really.
Chris- You make nets?
Fazio- I putter around with nets. It's not no big deal there, I just do it when I can.

When I feel like it. It's not a business or anything. It's just a pastime for me, and I
enjoy doing it. Today, it's a challenge to me, the nets. Everything they got now is
different from what I used. Everything is a challenge now. They don't fish nothing
like I used to. The net is shaped different, it's a different style, different webbing,
different everything now. If I was to go back to fishing, I'd almost have to learn it all
over again. The electronic age has sort of taken over too. The radar, LORAN, all
that we never had. It's popular in the fishing industry now. They have plotters,
video depth recorders, all kinds of radio, they have sonar, even on some of them
now. It's unreal what these modem boats got, fishing today. It's all full of
instruments. Everything's automatic.
Fralix- It's kind of a no win situation. All these things help us catch more shrimp,
but then, they're expensive, so you have to catch that much more shrimp to have
these goodies. You still got to use your brain, but in a different way, through your
electronics, instead of just knowing where the shrimp are. That is a great tool, but if
S you don't use the tool properly, you're going to fall behind because of the expense of

all this. You know, it's like everything else. There's been more technology in the
S last fifty years than since the beginning of man.
Fazio- The past twenty years, they've come out with the LORAN, which we never
had on the boats. We never had the radar, or the plotters, we didn't even have the
automatic pilot. The automatic pilot, well, we used to call him the third man, the
automatic pilot. It would steer the boat while you could be doing something else.
You still have to watch it, though. It's like cruise control in your car, if you don't
watch it, you might run over somebody. Anyway, today, I think that's what hurt the
shrimping business, or made it decrease, was the electronics. A lot of people rely a
lot on them. I never did rely on them, but that was because they didn't have them
in my day. The electronics is a wonderful thing in the shrimp business, it's helped
some fellows a lot. I think it's still got a great change coming in. I always believed
that someday shrimp will be trapped, instead of catching him in a net. You'll use a

net, to some extent, but someday they'll trap him. Now they go out and catch him,
drag the bottoms to catch him, but someday they'll trap him, just like they do the
crabs. But I think that's in the next turn of the century.

(Then, there is a break in the tape. When it resumes, we are on Mr. Fralix' boat.)

Fazio- What you're seeing now is the design of the pilot house. This is all in one
room. Mine was a little different, and it had several rooms, because it was a bigger
boat. It had a separate room for the galley, which is the kitchen, then they had the
radio room. But that was a large vessel. This is a smaller vessel, so everything is
more compact. And there's all his radio equipment. He's got radar, and LORAN,
he's got a plotter, and he's got several radios, CB, VHF, and what have you. He's got
depth recorders, and he's got something new, that just came out on vessels, a

telephone. It's a land phone. He has that. And this is powered by a 200 HP


Cummings diesel. That's (he points down a hatch) the sleeping quarters for the
crew. There's a bunk on each side. Usually, you carry three people, two crew
members and a captain. Two deckhands, and one up here in the control room, to
steer and watch over the equipment, and operate the radio and what have you.
Here, you have the captain's chair, and all his instruments are laid out in front of
him. And they eat and sleep where you see. The captain has made his own bunk
there. And all this equipment is powered by batteries. The modern type boat has a
generator and runs everything on 110, like you do electricity. This doesn't have
that. It's too small for that. Usually they even got television nowadays. I don't
know where his is. It's a portable, but he's got a television someplace. Everything
has to be tied down, because the boat is never still. If you don't see it tied down, it's
bolted down somewhere. When you're at sea, well, you're standing still now, but
90% of the time, you're tossing and rolling. Other than that, they keep the groceries
here (he points to a cabinet), just like you do in a home. Back here is the engine
room. That's where his engine is, and tanks for fuel. He carries 1200 gallons. He

don't carry too much, of course it's a smaller vessel. There's the winch (he points to
a rusted iron winch) that's where he hauls the nets in, and lets them out. The little
one controls the center net, the tri-net, we call it, and there's a net on each side.
There's these three cables attached to it. (He points to wooden doors in the side of
the boat.) These are what we call troll doors. There are two of them, one on each
side. When he lets them down into the water, they spread and hold your net open,
as you tow it along the bottom at approximately two miles an hour. These are the
nets. Most of the time, they're made out of nylon. He has one on each side. Some
larger vessels carry two on each side, which equals four. They vary in sizes, too,
from 40 feet, on to 80, 90,100 feet. So it depends on your power. (He moves to a
fiberglass hatch in the center of the deck, and opens it.) This is your ice-hole. He

keeps all his stuff down there after he's processed it. They process it on the deck.


They sort out all the fish, decide what they want of it, and what's usable. They keep
it on ice, after they process it. The ice it on, and usually it's kept five or six days,
would be about average keeping stuff on the boat.
Fralix- I'll let them look down there if they want. See, here are the different bins.
The front bin there, is kept full of ice. The side bins, they put ice in the bottom and
keep the stuff iced down.
Fazio- You put a layer of ice, then a layer of shrimp. It makes sure, you know, that it
stays fresh.
Kim- You're usually out on a boat for about a week?
Fazio- Well, it averages from five to seven days. He's going daily, here lately,
because the shrimp are near the inlet, this inlet, but usually if you're going down
south or up north, you'll stay, the average is five to seven days. (He points to a
bucket full of bright green liquid.) That's that dye he has on these nets. It's supposed

to preserve it, it's supposed to do a lot of things for it. The main reason why they
use it though, is netting has a lot of knots in it. In fact, it consists more of knots than
anything else. It helps hold the knots, seal it. That's the main reason for it. It holds
a knot where it won't come loose. (He points to a chain tied around the edge of the
net) These are the chains to keep it on the bottom....then, see those floats, they keep
that part to the top. They keep it open.
Chris- How does the net work?
Fazio- The net works just like I was saying. You got a set of these they call troll
doors. They square the net and hold it open. They drag it on the bottom at
approximately two miles an hour. The net is shaped like a funnel, almost identical
to if you take a funnel and flatten it, that's the shape of the net. The sides of it are
wings, and then it's got the center, shaped like a horseshoe. Everything funnels
down to the bag, which is this. (He holds up a part of the net which is tied closed at
one end. ) This is a protective coating. The bag is actually this. This is where your


product ends up. He's already got this one tied. When this, well they drag it usually
* from two hours to two and a half hours, and that little net over there gives you a

general idea of what you're catching. Now it's not a hundred percent accurate, but it
gives you a general idea of what you're catching in terms of shrimp, fish, and other
what have you. That's the idea of having the little net.
Fralitz- Yeah, you pull it every twenty or thirty minutes. Just to see what you're

catching, to get a pretty good idea of what you're going to catch in the big net.
Kim- What other sorts of things do you usually come up with?
Fazio- We come up with crabs, with small fish, with shrimp, with jelly balls, stuff
that migrates at the bottom of the ocean. Now these nets, they won't catch anything

that's high up in the water. I would say that the highest they go would be five feet,
and that's because of those floats on the top. Goose, we call them. Usually it's four
or five feet above the bottom, and anything above that, this net goes under. It's

designed to fish on the bottom.
Chris- You were talking last time about something called a 'tickler' ?

Fazio- The tickler is that what's in the bucket right there.
Chris- The chain?
Fralix- There's a series of chains that angle those troll doors, like if you've ever held
your hand out the car window, the air forces it down at an angle. The doors work
on the same principle. They spread, and hold your net open. That tickler chain, it
goes in front of the nets. That hits any shrimp in front of the net and makes them
jump up and the net comes behind and catches them. The top of the net is longer
than the bottom, so when the shrimp jump up, they hit the top of the net, and work
their way down into the net. That's where the tickler comes into play. It kicks those
shrimp up, from in front of the bottom of the net.
Fazio- (points to a wire device in the net.) That's the turtle excluder there.
Fralix- Yeah, this is where the turtle would come out. This is towards the front of

the net. This rack, this grate here. He comes out of this hole, here. Which,
* obviously, a shrimp this big can get out of that same hole. They got that designed
pretty well. The water pressure holds it [closed], unless there's something pushing
against it.
(At this point, the tape begins to fade in and out, and it is hard to tell what is being

Fazio- (indicating a wire grate in the net.) Nothing no larger than the width of this
bar can get into the bag.
Chris- Do things block it?
Fralix- Well, once in a while, you could catch a tree limb, or something that would

stop it up. Because of the size of the grate, here, you lose a lot of the nice flounder,
or other fish you could sell. We used to make money on that, but now it's virtually
nonexistent. This eliminates all of that. That hurts us in that respect.

Fazio- That's one of the new regulations. That hurts us, not as far as shrimp,but we
used to catch a lot of flounder, and other fish, and they have a good price today. But

that there, excludes us from that. 0
Fralix- We used to catch four or five thousand dollars worth of flounder a year.
Obviously, any money we make helps. It's all gone now, because of that. And
naturally, that was our profit. We still have the same fuel costs, the same crew cost,

whatever. We have accepted that.
Fazio- We'll accept that because it keeps us from catching unwanted stuff. There is
that possibility. Of course, a lot of us could afford to take the unwanted, and discard
it our self. Because a lot of unwanted stuff we could use, rather than throw out. In

other words, I think it goes the other way. I'll even go so far as to say it's 40% to help
and 60% to harm. Because there are some shrimp, they claim 18% [that get out
because of TED's and other regulatory devices.]
Chris- Do you have any of the fish excluders, like you were talking about before?


Fralix- Well, the fish excluders, I just took them out of here, because we're not

catching any anyway. It's going to be a law next year. But what it is, is a device, it's
not nearly as big as this (he points to the turtle excluder). I got one in here. [He goes
on to talk about the design of the fish excluder, which is basically a hole in the bag
that the larger fish can swim out of.] We got to reduce the bycatch, that's any fish we

can't sell, by 50%....The net gets anything that can't outswim it. Most of the sports
fish are faster swimmers, they swim a lot faster than two miles an hour, so we don't
catch them. The tarpon, the mackerel, the king mackerel, all the fish the sportsmen
catch, they just outrun us. That's not a problem.
Fazio- These nets don't miss too much. They're designed to fish light, so they don't

mud up, so we don't catch mud and junk like that. (he points to two metal arms
coming off the top of the rigging) These arms keep the nets spread out. They're
almost horizontal when he's out there fishing. They're long enough to take the

spread of each net. [He talks for a moment about the problem of the rigging getting
tangled up.]

Kim- One of the things we're looking for is superstitions. We listened to a guy who
wouldn't put his boat out on a Friday, stuff like that. Do y'all have any customs or
anything like that?

Fazio- Some do, but that's in the individual.
Fralix- One of the superstitions would be, don't turn a hatch cover upside down.
Fazio- Or a black suitcase.
Fralix- This is a story from Carolina. One of them had a real hard time with peanuts
in his boat. He had real hard luck that day, so he wouldn't allow peanuts, or peanut
butter, or anything like that on his boat. It's more so with the old timers. I've been
on boats where, if you turn the hatch cover upside down, they get on you real quick.
Another one is don't tie the bags before you go out. Mine's obviously tied. You
don't hear too much of that anymore.


Fazio- That's all superstition. We talk about it, but deep down, I don't believe in
none of that.
Fralix- Maybe at one time, back in the years, people really believed some of that, but
we know it's a fallacy. We still use it in a joking way. Like you said, a lot of them
don't like to start a trip on Friday, that's a superstition they still go by, even today.
Fazio- That's because it's payday the next day. They don't want to go out, they want
to get paid the next day so they can spend their money. That's the way that goes,
that's why it's about Friday. Too, you know, there's the old proverb about Friday the
13th. But, I can only say for myself, I don't believe in none of that. Hatch covers,
I've turned plenty of hatch covers over, and I've had good luck. When you're
repairing them, you turn them over to repair them. It's always on one of these
boats, it's always repair time. We used to take two or three months out of the year,
just to repair it. Paint it, and make sure everything was ship-shape to go out again.
Chris- How about any stories about strange things you've caught?
Fazio- Bizarre? Well, the only thing I can tell you is manta rays, we've caught
manta rays. They would cover this deck, and he'd have to find way to get him out
of his net. They do catch him, and they catch a turtle. What do they call him, a
Fralix- A leatherback.
Fazio- He's huge. Once he gets in the net, he can't go out of that hole, because he's
too big. Most of the time, he'll tear the net, if you're not careful with him. You
have to get him back out of the mouth of the net, which brings a problem. You
have to stop, pull the net aboard, and flush him out of the mouth. Anything big is a
problem. You can see how big the funnel of the net is.
Fralix- This is kind of morbid, but we caught a dead man one time. An airplane
crashed, and they knew it had crashed in the area. The wildlife people encouraged
* us to drag back there to find the bodies. In some cases, they'd let you trawl in an


illegal area to help them find the bodies. Because I guess the environment is less

problem than wanting to find the bodies. That happened about the third year I was
fishing. An airplane had crashed, a small cub, and one body they never did find,
and the other one we caught. That was a little bit morbid or whatever.
Fazio- Right after the war, when the war ended, jet planes crashed off the beach
here. That was when the jets first came out. There weren't too many jets back then.
That was in the early sixties. One crashed and its parts scattered from here to
yonder. We'd go out every day, and we'd always find airplane parts mixed in the
net. We would bring it in and save it. Right across the river here, we had a big pile
of aluminum, from these airplane parts. We couldn't' t catch the motor, though.
Every time we wound on the motor, we'd tear up the net. I don't know whether the
motor's still there or not. It's probably sunken in the mud by now.
Fralix- There was an old black fisherman, Slick, told us he was dragging off the cape.
If you talk to them, you can get real good stories out of some of them. But he swears
up and down that he dumped the drag out one time, and see, when you dump, you
only dump what's in the bag, you don't pull the whole net aboard. But he says he
had a big pile of trash and stuff and a little black man about two feet high jumped
out. It ran up into the wheel house and got the shotgun. Have you ever heard Slick
tell the story, Captain Frank?
Fazio (laughing)- No, I never did. That's real bizarre, though.
Fralix- But he said it run into the wheelhouse, and got the shotgun, and just sat in
the captain's chair. You know, I was rolling in the floor so much, it was so funny,
that I didn't get all of it. I think he said it finally put the gun down and jumped back
overboard. He act like he really believed it when he told it. Naturally, it couldn't
have happened, but the way he told it, it was like, man, this really happened, you
know? Yeah, I heard him telling Henry Chisholm up there that story.
Fazio- That's bizarre all right.

Fralix- You hear a few wild things like that, that if you could get and put in a book,

you just wouldn't believe some of the stuff.
Fazio- You could go on and on. I just can't think of any of them off hand. It's
always that way, when you think of them, it's too late.

Fralix- One of my crews said they caught a big whale one time. They talked about it
had a big black eye, and when he's working at night, he says he can still see that eye
come up, looking at him. Big black eye. He says sometimes at night, when he's
working on the deck, he'll see that big eye come up and look at him.

Chris: And you were saying something about the waterspouts?
Fralix: Well, we run into a few of them. You see maybe ten, fifteen a year, especially
in the summer, when the fronts come in. We get some pretty good stories about
waterspouts, which is like a mini-tornado, or possibly even as strong as a regular
tornado, but what it does is, like a funnel cloud, it picks up the water. And one or

two of the boats have been under one when it happened. What happens, is when
you go under it, you cut off the water source, and all that water comes back down on
your boats. You know, it's like a torrent of water, all at once. And that's pretty scary,

especially the first time and all. I never heard of anybody being hurt by one or
anything, but it washes all your baskets overboard and everything. You're talking
literally tons of water. You know, depending on how strong it was, or whatever.
[He goes on to describe the mechanics of waterspouts. He and Fazio then discuss a
tidal wave they heard about in South Florida.]
Fazio- I've been close to a waterspout, like he was talking about. I was anchored off
of Texas. It was a day like today, hot sun, smooth water. And then one of them
waterspouts come by me, just come across the stem of the boat. The temperature
out there was about 85 or 90 degrees. There was no wind at all. When that thing got

close, the temperature changed real quick. It got cool, well, cold. In the 40's, I would
S say. We didn't have a barometer there handy, or thermometer. It just came all of a


sudden, you were in the heat and then you got cold. But it didn't stay long, it just
hovered there a few minutes. And they will scare you, because it has an eerie
sound. It must be some kind of circular wind.
Chris- You say you're out for a week at a time. Did you ever get caught in a big
storm, or anything?
Fazio- Oh yeah. But we always seek the nearest port to put in. We sometimes get
caught in between, and you fight this weather. You just go up against it. When you
can't go any further, we have an anchor with a hundred fathoms of 1-inch nylon

line. If we can't go nowhere without being damaged, we just head the boat up into
the sea and anchor. We just ride it out. Until the wind calms, and then we proceed.
Now, if we were going in, it depends on how far out you are away from home.

Sometimes, the wind won't let up for days, I've seen it blow like that. You don't see

that too often anymore. I don't know whether the atmosphere has changed, or what

it is. Usually, it'll blow two or three days, and the next two or three days, it's all
right. That's one of the changes from way back. But usually, you seek the closest
inlet, in bad weather. If the trip is not complete, most of the time, they'll anchor,

and wait till it gets better, and then continue. But if your trip is near over, you'll
seek a harbor. The unloading facilities anywhere are convenient to anyone. the
price of shrimp is the same there as is here. We didn't care who got the product, as
long as we got the money.
[The rest of the tape is us trying to get references for other people to talk to.]

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