Interview with David Callis, 2014 July 16

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Interview with David Callis, 2014 July 16
Callis, David ( Interviewee )
Taylor, Jessica ( Interviewer )
Samuel Proctor Oral History Program
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Oral history interview


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Tidewater Main Street Development Project
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United States of America -- Virginia -- Mathews


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UF Samuel Proctor Oral History Program
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UF Samuel Proctor Oral History Program
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TMP 040 David Callis 7-16-2014 ( SPOHP )


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The Foundation for The Gator Nation An Equal Opportunity Institution Samuel Proctor Oral History Program College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Program Director : Dr. Paul Ortiz Office Manager : Tamarra Jenkins 241 Pugh Hall Digital Humanities Coordinator : Deborah Hendrix PO Box 115215 Gainesville, FL 32611 352 392 7168 35 2 846 1983 Fax The Samuel Proctor Oral History Program (SPOHP) was founded by Dr. Samuel Proctor at the University of Florida in 1967. Its original projects were collections centered around Florida history with the purpose of preserving eyewitness acc ounts of economic, social, political, religious and intellectual life in Florida and the South. In the 45 years since its inception, SPOHP has collected over 5,000 interviews in its archives. Transcribed interviews are available through SPOHP for use by research scholars, students, journalists, and other interested groups. Material is frequently used for theses, dissertations, articles, books, documentaries, museum displays, and a variety of other public uses. As standard oral history practice dictates, S POHP recommends that researchers refer to both the transcript and audio of an interview when conducting their work. A selection of interviews are available online here through the UF Digital Collections and the UF Smathers Library system. Suggested corrections to transcripts will be reviewed and processed on a case by case basis. Oral history int erview t ranscripts available on the UF Digital Collections may be in draft or final format. SPOHP transcribers create interview transcripts by listen ing to the ori ginal oral history interview recording and typing a verbatim d ocument of it. The transcript i s written with careful attention to reflect original grammar and word choice of each interviewee; s ubjective or editorial changes are not made to their speech. The draft trans cript can also later undergo a final edit to ensure accuracy in spelling and form at I nterviewees can also provide their own spelli ng corrections SPOHP transcribers refer to the Merriam program specific transcribing style guide, accessible For more information abo ut SPOHP, visit or call the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program office at 352 392 7168. May 2015


TMP 040 Interviewee: David Callis Interviewer: Jessica Taylor Date: July 16, 2014 T: This is Jessica Taylor, in Hudgi ns, Virginia, interviewing Davey Callis on July 16, 2014 in his home. Mr. Callis, can you please state your full name? C: David Wa de Callis. T: Okay. And when were you born? C: August 24, 1962. T: And where were you born? C: Norfolk, Virginia. T: C: When I was born, my dad was probably lik e a second class yeomen in the Coast G u ard, and his name was Roland Wa Marlene Hodges Call Norfolk. T: So can you describe the series of events the differen t places that he was stationed over the course of your childhood? C: Yeah. He started out being stationed in the custom house in Nor folk when he first went in. H e was there was I was born a nd then he was assigned to the Coast G uard cutter Ingham from down in Hampton Roads. I think she was actually out of Port Norfolk. And we left there and went to Hawaii, where he was on a buoy tender for two ye ars. And then we came back here, stateside. Well, I guess Hawaii is in the United States, but we went to Connecticut where he taught


TMP 040; Callis; Page 2 yeomen school for two years. And then he went to Yorktown to officer candidate school. And while he was going thr ough that, we actually moved to s Island was stationed as an ensign on Coast G uard cutter C onifer out of Port Norfolk. And he always did so well that they always moved him to higher jobs before they decided to m ove him to a higher pay. [Laughter] But, we were supposed to be there for several years, but we were only there for nine months. And then we moved to Seattle where he was an executive officer on another buoy tender the Coast Guard cutter F ir And we were supposed to be there for three years, but he did so well they decided to send him as commanding officer of the l oran station on Yap Island, which, unfortunately, is isolated duty. So, I saw him get on the plane on Halloween d ay ee him get off the plane until Halloween d ay a year later. So, he was there for a year and we moved back here during that time. And then he was stationed at Yorktown, where he was executive officer of officer candidate school for four years. And then we mo ved to Connecticut for two years, where he was c aptain of his own buoy tender C oast Guard cutter R ed wood out of New London, Connecticut. And we lived there two years. And then his last two years we actually a built a house on Gwyn home and he was executive officer of LH N avigation working with an admiral in Washington D.C. I moved back here 1977, and he retired in 1978. T: ing. You spent five years in Ma thews as a child. C: Yes. T: your first memories of Mat hews?


TMP 040; Callis; Page 3 C: Well, when I was extremely small, we first came back from Hawaii. My but I do remember light n ing struck the house and burnt it down. And I was like just turned three years old, and I know it sounds kinda wild that I would have any memory of that time, but I do remember us walking to a mother and si ster, and I spent the night and looking back and seeing the flames of the house. So, I guess that would be my first actual memory of Ma thews. Not necessarily a good one but . T: No! Do you remember anything about it, what it looked like on the inside o r outside? C: T: Okay. What about the post office? Did it burn down with the boarding house? C: building a little small building with vinyl siding on it. My grandparents used to own that when I was very little and that was actually the post office at the time. And what is actually the post office now was a guy Store, which burned, but not at the same time the hotel burned down. T: The little old store that your grandparents owned, do you remember anything about it? Or the post office that your grandparents


TMP 040; Callis; Page 4 C: I just remember going in there when I was a little boy T here was a man named Tommy Loop that was postmaster. And I just remember goi ng in there to get the mail for my grandmother and that was about all I remember about that. T: Did they live in the boardin g house? C: Yes. They lived there and my aunt is eight years younger than my mother, so they al l lived there and that was their home. My parents were married obviously. We just came back from Hawaii because m y dad went out on this long long cruise. And w hen he got back, we were gonna immediately go to a differ ent duty station, so my mother and sister, and I came home. So, we were living there as well at the boarding house, but they rented rooms to some of the folks as a boarding house. T: Who were they re nting rooms to? C: The only family that I remember specifically was a man named Conway Callis and his wife Edith. And they had a daughter named Connie that was actually born while they were li ving there, because I remember P op took Edith to the hospital f at, whether he was at work or where he was at. And that was back sometime in the early [19] 50s I guess T: C: No. Actually, if you go there now, you will see a 2,200 squa re foot brick ranch style house, and I remember that b eing built. That was built in 1965. And the little


TMP 040; Callis; Page 5 bits and pieces finished on the house, and my sister and I had a washtub that we would bathe in [ Laughter] T: largely defined? C: Well, the big thing that would take me down there. Most of the ti night with P op and crabber and talk to him. And there was another man named Logan Gay. he boat with him and help him cu ll crabs. And, at the time, it was like thirty five boats in there putting out crabs. Trucks dow n there and men running around and getting the crabs outta the boats and loaded them on the trucks. And everybody hollering and laughing and telling stories and eve rything, just seagulls hollering all over the place and turtles everywhere. Old junky bait would get thrown overboard and the terr apins and the snapping turtles ty or fifty of them all around eating that up. That was, I guess, one of my biggest interests was that. And I used to love to go down to the beach because there was a beach at the end of the road, just sit there and watch the waves beat on the sand. And, I g that and my granddaddy always had a great big vegetable garden A nd I always helped him work in that, learn how to operate the rotor tiller and that sort of thing. T: You talked a little bit about your grandparents earlier, that you wer e close to both of your grandfathers. What were their names?


TMP 040; Callis; Page 6 C: My gr he was a ship pilot. He was Captain James David Hodges. He was one of fourteen children of his family. And they had the most maritime officers of any family in America at the time when he first got his his name was George Haywood Callis. He had been a pound fisherman and an engineer on a tugboat And G ld me s he thought he should be a carpenter, so he agreed and became a carpenter when I was a bo y. And he was very good at it. But h e never decided to have his own business. He always worked for someone else. T: Do you remember who he worked for? C: When I was a little boy, he worked for a man named Sonny Hudgins. He worked for him for a pretty good while: twelve, fourteen years. They only built a couple houses. They did mostly renovations of some of the more upscale houses, like up on North River and all. And he left work in there and he went to work at Sutton and Klein, which is now s Back then, they use d to install replacement windows and siding and roofing on houses and he went there mainly to do that. He worked there for a time. He left there and went to work for the craftsman shop. They actually started selling homes and building homes. And that there is my family and my cousin got killed in a car accident. T hey quit building houses. But, G randdaddy, by the time he got to partial retirement, he worked for them what he did til he stopped working. My other granddaddy just retired from ship piloting when he was sixty four.


TMP 040; Callis; Page 7 T: What were they like as people? C: Both of them were a lot of fun. Graddaddy Callis was very invested in his church. Peniel Friends Church which was fou nded by my great granddaddy Diggs in 1920. Graddaddy Callis, they didn church; he was an usher. He was the guy that always got up early, went up there and turned the heat up or cut the air condition down before services. The new sanctua ry that they built back in the [19] 70s, he helped build that. He was a . Funny how you get choked up thinking about people . dead a long time. T: Do you want me to switch? C: ust a happy person that most everybody liked. All the children loved him. He used to cut hair on Saturday night at the local store. He and stuff like that was cutting all the old men. And he always spent enough in gas to go to their house that he never made any money. B ut he was a nice person. U : The people that were aroun d him could feel th e wonderful feeling of this man, of how good he was on the inside. C : And then my other granddaddy, the ship pilot he went to sea when he was sixteen actually befor e he was legally supposed to go when he was actually fifteen. And he wa s a little tougher kind of a character, but he loved children and


TMP 040; Callis; Page 8 they all loved him and he always talked to children as if they were adults. He would look at them and carry on a conversation with a two year old. He had a unique ability t them like they were different. He treated them like people. My other granddaddy had that unique quality as well. Pop worked hard all his life and he always made very good money. He loved his ships, he loved telling stories about the crews that he met and all the different things that happened and everything. He tried commercial fishing some, bought a boat, and did some oystering and stuff like that. But h e just never made much of a go at that. He was always very g ifted with the ships and all and handling them and so forth. Anyway, he was kind of a character and he liked to kid around and have a good time, but he was a little more of a reserved and quiet kinda fella. Just kind of a unique person I guess. U: He l oved his children. C : Grandma. [Laughter] T: So, what kind of stories did they tell you? C: Oh, well, Granddaddy Callis if this is talking outta turn, but about ghost stories. And he was telling me . I know you have bound to have talke d to someone that talked about Old House W ood s around here. Well, G randdaddy Callis was from d own there. Not, like, right in Old House W ood s, but g hairs. H e lived a quarter of a mile from there as the crow flies. And he was talking about every . All o ver Mathews there were these little stores. Every couple of miles there was another store. And this one


TMP 040; Callis; Page 9 store i urnt down right there at the T there at Diggs There was another one down in there somewh ere; I it. But, G randdaddy was telling me there was an old man named Harry Forrest, which you may have heard of his name. He was the one t hat told all the stories about Old House W oods. I think i f you talked to h is family, they might wanna smack me. B remember G randdaddy saying that he like d to drink a lot. Anyway, when G randdaddy was a little boy, he said they would all be at the store go there and get a s oda pop or something like that and he loaded and An d he was apparently a big story teller. the greatest time yo a side and the skeleton sailors coming down, you know, with the shovels to go find he just embel lished it, added onto it, when Granddaddy was a boy. But, G randdaddy was born in 1914. So, 20s this He was like ten years old. But, I remember G randdad dy telling about that, just talking about just odd s and ends and different things, about hunting and all lik e that. Granddaddy Callis was always telling stories about other grown and offered to take him d I made up my live so hunting trips and try to get out


TMP 040; Callis; Page 10 stories. Them old guys would sit around . There was a man named Morris Flippin had a store down between Onemo and Beaverle t t there. And I remember going there with both my granddaddies. My G randdaddy Callis lived down there and there was always a bunch of guys in there talking. rops and who had the bigg est hog and stuff like that. Granddaddy had a br other named William. T hey called him Pug Callis. And him and Morris Flippin were next door neighbors and th ey would always get two pigs out the same litter. And they would always see who could gro w the biggest hog between them and they kill them the same day. always see who could get the biggest hog. And, so, G randdaddy would always want to have a little fun. He said, come on let e go see that sofa that weighed about seven hundred what gro w this great big huge hog and G randdaddy said, Pug t you feed that poor thing? He said I was just Morris house and he got a hog out the same aggravated or just like he wanted to act like he was aggravated : yeah, I know t randdaddy would wink at me but he would never back off from Uncle Pug about how, poor little thing, you know, starve to death Help Morris Morris the exact same thing he told Uncle Pug.


TMP 040; Callis; Page 11 And both of the hogs were huge. They were fat as they could be and big as they could be, but Morris was a diff as a veteran of World War II that was wounded. When we went in and liberated, I guess, parts of Germany, a German woman shot him in his wrist, I think. And he had a hand that was almost useless. Anyway, he came home and w ent in the store business, but he was a nice old fella. T: older generations. Is that the case? C: with anybody because they got pretty base. [Laughter] T: C: No. Like I said T: Okay. [Laughter] C: nd stuff like that. They used have some good natured pranks. I remember A.J. may have shared with you because he shared with me that Butch Haywood, who lived dow n the road from him, took an M 80 . If you have spoken with anybody that worked on the se m enhaden boats these big m enhaden steamers like Rosco e in law Robert out things that happened in Mathews. They used to use these fourth of a stick of dynamite and they would light them and throw them overboard to, like, try to turn these big schools of fish, so they could circle them with the purse net. So, they used to be that


TMP 040; Callis; Page 12 brother used to work on the m enhaden boats here in Mat hews years ago. And people had th ese things and they shouldn fourth of a stick of dynamite. I mean, y ou could blow your fingers and your hands o ff with them. But, supposedly, A.J. said that Butch Haywood when he was a kid, lit air conditioning on his hous e and said him and Thelma thought somebody was gonna blow the w hole end out the house. And A.J. being A.J. he shot Butch in the butt with a shotgun. Did he tell y ou about ghter] because Butch was cussing him so A.J. shot him again. Bird shot, you know, all in good fun. T: C: Okay. But my daddy told me, like, when they were kids, all the se old people had these weather boarded the houses n ow. I mean, I woke up one time at snow on my bed. It wa in his room when I was a little kid, because the wind would blow thr was a reed of grass or what it was that they used to take but they would find a weather board that had the biggest gap in it on the windward side of the house and put like a reed across that crack. And when the wind w ould blow it had an eerie sound, like almost lik e rope creaking on a ship. It was like the house was gonna come down. And they used to throw a line over a branch and pull or something


TMP 040; Callis; Page 13 Hallowe en. It was all pretty friendly stuff Not some of the stuff you hear nowa days where people injure people and stuff like that. T: No. Well tell me about holidays. C: Holidays. Well, when I was little, Thanksgiving i t was hectic. We always ha d to go to fami ly on both sides, both my grandparents. My G randdadd y Hodges, it But, nonetheless we always had a great big get h ouses. They were real big cooks, really good cooks. All this homemade bread and all this stuff. And clam pie, which is like a pot pie b clams, like thickened clam chowder made in this crust and all this stuff. I guess seventy five people there and all these homema cooking all day long, you know. So ya had a whole table full of all this good stuff and everything. Christmas Ho dges. My New Year s. And that was another eat you pop thing. One thing that was alwa ys a lot fun, the Hodges get t have the se big footb five of us out there playing thirty of us out there playing baseball. I guess that was the biggest of the holidays. And Easter, y holidays pretty much.


TMP 040; Callis; Page 14 T: You mentioned food. made in earlier g C: Well, clam pie is one of them. Like I say, my aunt she just died recently. She would make a homemade crust and put it like in a casserole and make like clam chowder. We w ould be able to have the minced up clams, and the broth, and so me bacon or something fried up and crumpled up and throw n in there, some minced carrots and onion. A would use flour or corn starch to thicken it. That would be the ba sic like a chowder, bu t she would make it extra thick and pour it on top of this crust. And the chowder was already cooked so that was basically done and she just basically browned th rolls that were real sweet and good. Somethin my G randmother Callis fr ied co rnbread every day for my G randdaddy Callis. He when I talk about cornbre it looks like cake. It was nothing at all but yellow corn meal with a pin ch of salt and mixed with water to the consistency of like pancake batter and po ured on a skillet. And then when it start to bubble, you know that it was about done on the one side and you flip it over. Both my grandmothers made that. We always ate it wi th fish. One of the sayings was that if you got a fishbone stuck in your throat, that you could eat the cornbread and that would help take it down and take it through your system, the


TMP 040; Callis; Page 15 corncakes. At the end of the meal, we wound up putting butter on that and putting a little homemade preserve like fig or damson preserves or something like that and have that for dessert. C eally think of any other dishes too much of them. T : I did want to ask you just in case it jog s your memory if there are stories that you heard your grandparents or parents C: black peop people ran the black people off Gwy me about it when she was like six years old. She just remembers that it happened, that she remembered seeing black folks at the store, and there was children running around, you know. Obviously, this is long after slavery. They lived there and worked there, just like folks live and work plac es now. But, something happened. B ut everybody got all upset about it. They basically told them realize that there were black folks with the las Suffolk, irst I had known of it And I knew one piece of land that had belonged to a black family. They used to come every year, just basically look at their place and they hey lived away a nd then they would leave. My friend wound up


TMP 040; Callis; Page 16 rem ember how many folks it was that left; I just know that it happened. Course, you know, you hear stories l ike about the August storm. My G randmother Callis had a brother named Morgan Diggs, who was out, like, trot lining crabs in that storm. Back then, they actually come on, and he was out there in Gordon Creek or somewhere and he, I underneath the bow of the deck. here he spent the [19] 33 storm, which was the worst storm anybody had heard of around here in a long time. T: I did want to ask you, speaking of storms, that there was one right after World C: Oh, no. T: But it was like 1947, or something, that destroyed a lot of boats? C: el was real bad, but I thought Daddy told me that was like 1954. I believe it were I thin k they did have a storm in the [19] different storms different times that boats have broken from their moorings I work with the guy from Tangier; his dad had a great big one of these sixty five foot boats that went way up in the land. And he actually hired a guy that actually build the railway and slid it overboard for like a mile. [Laughter] T: Wow.


TMP 040; Callis; Page 17 C: There was a lot of stories like that. If they landed up in the marshes where everything was soft and they fell up against some trees action, t But, then when the water left, [Laughter] Lord knows how far you had to take them to get them back to the water. T: Did you ever hear anything about atte mpts to unionize, particularly m enhaden workers i n the [19]60s or [19] 70s? C: N ope. I never heard tell of that. T: Okay. Okay. C: Never did. T: Interesting, okay. So, when you were a kid, what was the difference between Gw thews? C: It seemed like every little community in competition type thing, you know. You got folks up Cobb s people think their area is best People down Onemo were more chickens in the backyard. They seemed more of the opinion that the other folks thought too much of themselves. And people down in New Point, they had their thoughts on different things. There was arguments just in the way people set pound nets. When I started up my and men always tried to funnel the pound net off with four lines to pull the funnel out tight Two went over the top and two went through these grommets down in the sides to pull the funnel out. And down New Point they always put a piece of oak ac ross the top,


TMP 040; Callis; Page 18 across the bottom of the mouth a net like that: you just boy. You talk about the New Pointers who used to load sixty five foot boa ts every day with theirs T differences like that. They had diff erent words that they used. My G randdaddy Callis down Onemo, there was a saying that the old man had, called it was died sees it. And it goes back to old English, which was God sees it. Like Abraham sai tongue got stuck across their teeth and it became died sees it. And if you ever hear an old man say that, you know what part of Ma to start saying it be cause all those guys that died. A nd T: If you do think of sayin gs that ar e no longer around e rhymes and things like that, particularly about weather, things like that. ears. C: You know, the on e thing I remember my daddy told me, like when a re concerned about wind, so the saying was, rain before the wind pull your top sails in. And that was back in the day wh en the old big sailing schooners had top sails up the top of the mast. had bad weather, you had to go get them in immediately. So, the saying was, rain before the wind pull your top sails in. So, if you see the rain coming and it


TMP 040; Callis; Page 19 d before the rain, let your top sails remain. And, basically, what that said was, whatever wind you had gotten, if you ha wind r saying was, wind is from the W est, the fishing is best. Wind is from t he East, the fishing is least, h ere on thi true: i f you go hook and you will catch something possibly, probably, but nothing like you would if the wind was from the other direction. The same thing with crabs, too: they move off shore like a dormant holding pattern. Particularly if it blows in the amount. Pound nets, if the wind changes to the east, it drives th e fish off shore. And if they happen to be laying next to your hedging, hedge. So, right after an easterly event, a lot of times you have a good number of fish, but not the next day. You just have it be a one shot deal; they run off and go in your net. T: Along those kind of lines, what kind of music did your parents and grandparents listen to? Did they listen to anything unique to this area? C: No. I think my grandparents Hodges, we used to have get toget hers. A bun ch of get s inging the songs like from the [19] 40s that were just basically popular dance songs. They had like a Magnus organ. Somebody would play that and th a,


TMP 040; Callis; Page 20 G randdaddy Callis, it seemed like everything that they were interes ted in was all Christian music, hymns and stuff. Granddaddy Callis could double whistle. Something he could do with his lip, but he could make two whistling sounds at the same time. He liked the old Hank Willia ms type country music. He even had a radio in his truck so you could sing going down the road. My parents, they were just like everybody else their age. They grew up in the [19] 50s and they like w hatever all was popular in the [19]50s and [19] 60s, you know Nothing in particular. T: [Interruption in interview.] T: So, did your family ever talk about old Callis history or what it means to be a Callis? C: Not so much. I mean, I remember one very nice story that my daddy told me just a few years ago. It happened a couple years ago. My G randmother Callis is in the nursing home here at Mat hews She was out on the porch, D addy was out there talking to her, and there was this very old, probably hundred year old black man that looked at my D is granddaddy died in the late [19] 50s, so he had been dead for fifty years. And he called him my gre at name was Dorsey. And he told Daddy that it was like seein g the face of an that was my granddaddy. I never thought I looked like him. And why do you say the face that back then, down in the Diggs area of


TMP 040; Callis; Page 21 Mat ow why they chose to move away, but they lived down that way. And Granddaddy said when he was a boy that there was plenty of black families down there and they at live down there. And this man told my daddy that my Granddaddy Dorsey used to bring a wagon load of fish ashore a day and give them away to all the poor people. An what they would hav e done. He had pound nets. So, I mean, he sold a bunch, but he also gave loads away. And that was a relatively recent story, I guess. But, I guess, I do G but I roud of that that people in the family thought about other people. T: C: Well, the Hodges had all kinds of stories. My great granddaddy Hodges was named Jessie Thomas and he act ually went to sea on a schooner, which is about a hundred foot sailing ship that had two masts. And this one was actually bui lt here in Mat hews and launched in Cobb s Creek, actually Cobb s Creek, n ot just that part of the county, back in, I guess, the 1870s. But, anyway, he went on t here when he was ten years old, went to sea as a deckhand on that sailing ship. And the man that owned the boat was named Captain Travers. His place is right down this way, down near Redart And my great granddaddy went to sea with him and was captain on her when he was, I believe, twenty one. And Captain Travers got into a deal. They were true merchant


TMP 040; Callis; Page 22 charge freight and get paid freight; t hey actually bought the cargo and then resold it. And that ship used to go down to the Caribbean. They actually had pineapple plantations down in the Caribbean. She was real fast. They put plenty of sail up so she would fly, comparatively speaking. They would try to ge t two loads to B altimore a year to resell, which you can imagine in 1925 getting a pineapple. T take it for granted nowa days. We have air travel. They pick a pineapple up in Hawaii yesterday, and yo u can eat it tomorrow, you know? But, was back then. And Captain Travers made a fortune with these pineapples. And then the rest of the year they haul ed lumber and stuff like that. He later o n became a steamship captain when the sailing ship thing died out. One kinda wi ld story was, one time, he was captain on a steamship and his eldest son was the chief mate, his next son was the second mate, and his next son was the third mate. And they were in So conditioning. And a t lunchtime, the eldest son, the chief mate was very particular. He had this beautifully manicured mustache that he probably groomed and he always had his brass buttons shine d The third mate brother showed up in the ward room, which was where the officers ate, in a t shirt. Course, back then they had what we cal l wife beater t shirts T tail was tucked in and all but he had this t shirt on to go in there and eat lunch. And the oldest brother, Raymond t was that was the third mate, b ut,


TMP 040; Callis; Page 23 anyway to ok him aside after lunch. A the chief off icer on this ship and you will never set foot in that ward room without a fresh shave, your tie, your coat, and your hat. Is that understood? And he said, yes, sir. So, suppertime rolls around and he shows up. H e just had his shave, up, and their daddy walks in with a cigar in his mouth, his hair sticking straight up his suspenders hanging down, and his wife beater t shirt [Laughter] And the youngest brother told the oldest brother, he said, you tell him what yo [Laughter] T: C: One that was k inda interesting, P op told me when he was piloting ships. He was a federal pilot, so he only piloted American ships that were coas twise running from one American port to another. And he used to get a lot of work running from Cape Henry to Baltimore and to Norfolk. And he was on this ship going up the bay and it was foggy. And whenever they get to different buoys where they make turns and things like that, they always write down the number of the buoy Sit up in the wheelhouse and P op asked the second mate a nd he said, Mr. M ate, may I thank you Mr. Mate. So, they get to this buoy z ero visibility this man has got because all in zero visibility. He says, Mr. P ilot what was the number on that buoy? Pop said I He said


TMP 040; Callis; Page 24 black a nd that buoy thirty six. [Laughter] So, they understood each other after that. T: any family stories or stories you Rebellion? C: Well, I had loads of family that were in the Revolutionary War and the War Civil War. T: Oh, sorry. C: simply decided that oked rule. But, all of my great great granddaddies fought in that war. And then however many greats f anything particular. My great granddaddy, Elkanah Diggs, who was the last li ving C onfederate veteran in Mat hews, was with General Lee when he surrendered a t Appomattox. A cousin of mine I need to try to locate him he read a letter at a family reunion in 2012 that was written by my Great granddaddy Elkanah. I actually have his desk in th is other room here. And he wrote this letter recounting the end of the war. And he walked from Appomattox C ourthouse, which is abou t a three hour drive. I think it was in two days or three days; it was amazing that he could walk that far. And he was talking about different places where he actually had to ford rivers and stuff


TMP 040; Callis; Page 25 the James River or w hatever. And he ac tually spent the first night he got back Sible Stor and he actually slept on the porch. His mother, I d gotten back, but she actually came the next day with a horse and buggy or is is a different time, but my G randdaddy Hodges had two brothers that were lost in World War II. They were both on merchant ships which were torpedoed off of Cuba. During World War II, they were hauling a lot o f bauxite out of the Caribbean i slands to make aluminum for airplanes. Now, this is a wild story. You can actually locate it in some of the newspaper articles. My granddaddy had a brother named George Dewey Hodges. H e was named after Admiral Dewey, the situation with Spanish American War in 1898. He was captain of a Ford Motor Company Ship. Ford had a bunch of ships. First off, there was a man on Melon Respos whose Ford ship had been sank by a U Boat and he was taken into Havana, Cuba when he was rescued. A nd he wired Ford Motor Company d happened and they wired back that Dewey Hodges ship will be in tomorrow or something and you come home with him. As soon they got out the deep water off of Cuba, a U Boat sunk their ship and went down wit h all but two or three hands. And Uncle Dewey was seen on the wing of the bridge when she went underwater. Anyway, Uncle Dewey . One of the


TMP 040; Callis; Page 26 men was pic ked up by a Cuban fishing boat o ne of the survivors a nd while he was on there they caught this huge shark. They cut it open and he got hi s shark, but was at lea st partially eaten by the shark, at least his arm or his hand or his daug hter has t M useum, they hav e a newspaper article of that there. T: about how race relations have changed over time. C: I graduated from high school in 1980. The black people that I went to school with, same, but we all played together, an d laughed, and joked, carried around. W e were friends. Mathews County, you know, you have different groups of people that behave differently in different areas, I guess. The black people in Mathews were all hard working people. Most of the men were fisherme n and they worked very hard and they took a lot of pride in their homes and their families. They were real strict on the way their children behaved and how they wanted them to grow up and how they expected them to conduct themselves. Looking back at my gra duating class . Now, one thing that has changed, the percentage of the population in Mathews that is black now has dropped considerably. When I graduated, it was around eighteen percent. I forgot what it is recently, so mebody told me. But i way, way way down. I guess that different folks, as they got out


TMP 040; Callis; Page 27 of high school or whatever, moved away. But, looking at the guys that I graduated with and the girls too most of the guys I mean, quite a few of them ve done wonderful. And I think as here. But the main thing: their parent s raised them right, and their parents were raised righ t. Most of them liked going to c hurch and that sort of thing and they got a lot of strong moral I can point out people of both The people t hat I went to school with, the b lack people were very good respectable people. Everybody just got along W e got to fighting sometime. I heard it because you did this not because of the fact the way you look or whatever. T: Okay. Well, you brought up school. You went to school a lot of places, but you went five years in your childhood in Mathews. W here did you go? C: Well actually I went to Lee Jackson School wh ich is an e lementary school when I was in second grade, and I started out school in Seattle when I was six. And the problem, what happened in Seattle their method of teaching was very different and I was reading at like an eighth grade level when I came back to Mathews and I was very bored. So do very well that year because of that. So for third and fourth grade we went to G loucester Day School which was a private school which is now Ware A cademy. My parents poi nted ou t that they they noticed racial things coming out of my sister s and my


TMP 040; Callis; Page 28 mouth, cause it was kind of like a little bit of an elite thing. There was no black T hey said wel l you have to learn to live with everybody. So they actually brought us back to Mathews and I went to the intermediate school in fifth and sixth grade and then I moved to Connecticut for a couple of years and Alexandria for a year and then I came back fo r the last three years of high s chool, Mathews High School. T: What was Gloucester Day School like? C: It was nice. I t was a private school, and it wa s an elderly lady that was the h so sure, she might not have found ed the school. Her daddy was a C onfederate veteran or something like that so she told all kinds of old U: hearing T: eat. C: The one thing like I said, that my moth er pointed out: the schooling was great and the education, and they got more done in one hour less a day th an we did at the public school. A nd periodically on a beautiful day the teachers would say hey le o play softball all afternoon. B ut we learned more than we would have just taught all this history and sc ience and math and everything. B ut like I said there was a racial of cause , rich k ids were there or something like that. M


TMP 040; Callis; Page 29 here because of the education. W e just left there cause my parents thought my sister and I were becoming snobs. [Laughter] And they said, you know you g otta get along with everybody. S o we went back to the public school, and anyway. T: How was it different than it would have been in public school? C: ault to the lower denominator, m ea Glo ucester Day School, it was more of: a ounded lik e it was at the private school; it was just the method of teaching. I wish I c ould find information on it if I really looked for it but we had workbooks in Seattle and the w orkbook had two hundred pages, you only had to complete say fifty pages to have completed what you should have for the year. But you could go as far as you wanted, and the teachers were versed and instructed how to deal with children of all these the word was a lot of times my daddy had to get the dictionary out c ause he C S and almost a ced it. And he was a very intelligent person. Of course they caught me when I was six and I was hungry for knowledge, and they would give me all that I wanted You want to learn more? H maybe it was me at the time more than the method of teaching or maybe it was the combination of the two, but my sister did very well out there too. That was


TMP 040; Callis; Page 30 probably the only year that I act ually enjoyed school in my entire life. [Laughter] I never liked school very much. T: Talk a little about Mathews High School when you came back. C: Mathews High S chool, most of us guys were rednecks. We all liked muscle cars. If your daddy bought you a car have a brand new Trans Am we would not even look at it. Yo u had to work to buy your own car. You had the biggest pi ece of junk, oil blowing out the exhaust, and if you worked and you paid for it but we would never tease you too much. I guess it was just the way our parents raised us, but most all of u s boys had jobs in the summer. A nd after school I always worked on the docks, or on the boats. All the pret ty boys worked at the A & P course they were three. Th at was kind of our deal. In Mat hew s well, probably a lot of Virginia r a Redskins fan or a Cowboys fan. T here was no in between, and no other teams existed. It seemed like all of the boys that worked at the A & P with the neckties were all Dallas fans and all of us dirty rednecks with the greasy fingernails like me that worke d on the boats, we were always Redskins fans. they either won or they lost, you know ? T: Yeah. So can you talk a little bit about the friendships that you developed during high school working on the docks?


TMP 040; Callis; Page 31 C: Yeah, I worked for an old man named Lester Smith. He ran the dock down it was Cricket Hill I Sea Farms And we used to have an ice plant down there wh ere we made three hundred pound blocks of ice and we bought fish and packed fish. And tha And I fished with him in the summer time, helped him work on stakes and all in the winter time to drive these p ound stakes. And Le ster was a merchant seaman in World War II. He had lost his leg on his twenty first bi rthday. A torpedo came through the side of the ship, blew his leg of f. So he had a prosthetic leg. W e always called him cork leg, you know, b eing the soft and gentle people that we are. And one guy told him one time he could put the pr ice of fish down one more time i n a week that he was gonna stick his woo den leg in a bucket of termites. And down at the docks everybody just talked really rough, cussed each oth er and laughed at the same time; there was always a bottle of liquor hidden behind a fish box somew here. Course as a result since 1990 [Laughter] Anyway I worked hard and I did everything pretty hard when I was that age. U: drunk. C: four years ago. One story orful, that I will not change: w hen I was a senior in high school clock in the morning, and I answered the phone my mother was still in bed, D addy was at work. And, I answered the phone and he said David this is Le ster. I say yeah man H e says wanna talk to you. Put Marlene on the phone I wanna talk to


TMP 040; Callis; Page 32 Marlene. So I said, M ama Lester wants to talk to you. S he said Lester wants to talk to me? I sa y and she says hello ? H e said Marlene, shit an nobody to pack them C an you se nd him down here for me please? [Laughter] ar e you passing? A nd I said y putting my boots on S he said go on. Cause the only way they could keep me in school was to let me work some, cause I hated school and I loved to work for some stupid reason. T: No regrets though. C: This is a backwards regret: I wish I had quit sc never ever used it yet, my owing for oceans and ceans, which is celestial navigation went to the school over here in Gloucester to the Maritime School in Gloucester, and go t books and all this stuff. A nyway matter of shaking my fist at the teachers that I whole people at I had to go somewhere and be validated by someone else, you know to make a living. I just, the whole system kind of aggravates me a little bit. T: How is that system different from how your father and grandfathers taught you?


TMP 040; Callis; Page 33 C: Well now my daddy, he was actually a little more into academia than me. He only graduate d from Mathews H e never went to college, but he was ki nd of a bookworm. Like I say, to get into O C S nowadays you have to be a college graduate. W hen he went through it you had to pass a college equivalency test saying that you knew this volume of knowle dge that you would have le arned had you been to college. A nd he practically got a hundred on the thing. Mathews was a unique area in that the school was in a very low percen tile in the country, but there we re a lot of very accomplished people from here. On e of D classmates actually made nuclear weapons in Los Alamos. His name was Vincent Prit chett; he died a couple years ago. But actually, he was a scientist that guy that wo rked f or mission control and, you know, loor. But, G randdaddy Hodge s q uit school in the eighth grade; he was a ship pilot. Daddy was kind of proud of himself when he was probably a senior that he was studying tr igonometry in high school. A nd my granddaddy was teasing him: what in the world you gonna use that for? And so Daddy showed him. When P op realized he could use it for navigation P op went and bought the book and taught himself how to do trigonometry. So, one thing too, that I noticed last year the Mathews Maritime Foundation had a day honoring people from the Merchant M arine which was more focused on ships than tugs. And I looked at the faces of all these men in their uniforms like at their desk. A lot of the ship captains. A bunch o f Callises were ship captains. And it bums me out now to look at these serious, intelligent men who came from the sam e beginnings as everybody else; they were all


TMP 040; Callis; Page 34 fisherman. They al l quit school and went fishing. T their families But these guys went to sea and decided they wanted to be something more. Some of them went to Maritime Academy, some of them taught themselves, but these were seri ous men of science and all that could look at the stars and tell where they were on the planet with a sextant And how to manage crews of seventy five or eighty men on some ships. Seeing everybody got paid, the ship and all this managing al l this. A nd they were se rious intelligent men. And Mathews I believe had the highest number of ship captains of anywhere in America during World War II. And I just wonder where all these people went. Cause I see all these people running around with their s hirttail hanging out now and you these people were the product of those misconception that mankind has gotten better and smarter over the millenniums. hen I also understand, like the Dark A ges that the world actually dumbed down a lot, and ago. T: Interesting. Where do yo u situate yourself in that? C: shirttail hanging out. I prided myself: nobody give s you nothing, and pretty much l ike, I was alway s a clammer, so there were people that were better at it than others but the thing with clamming if


TMP 040; Callis; Page 35 you set the crab pots in the right place and they caught the crabs. You gotta catch every single clam, two or three at a time. So a man that was not only good at what he did but that worked really hard could have a better day than someone else. So I kind of prided myself in that. I ran the pilot boat for twenty fou r years, putting ship pilots on the ships running around Hamp ton Roads Harbor and down at Cape Henry also. And I kind of did that for my benefits and the pay but always supplemented my income pay quite as much as I wanted through clamming and pound netting and all that sort of thing. And the commercial fishing started g oing to pot, and I decided that t he pilots required us to get our captain license to run a pilot boat in 20 00. So when I went to go get mine, I went over to the school in Gloucester and tal ked to them about it, a nd I was qualified to get a hundred ton M asters license but I asked if I could qualify i f I could get a bigger tonnage m ates license and they said yes. So knowing the size of the tugboat s I was able to get a big enough mates license to run mate on these tugboat s. So I did that, which much harder, bunch of study that I had to go through and a lot more expensive but I thought it was w orth it. And shortly thereafter the Ward family over in D elta ville owns these little push boats that moved these grain barges around the bay. And they gave me a job working part time for them on my time off from the pilot boat. And so finally, I woke up one day and I said tugboa t .And I really wish that I had been given information, say when I was in the seventh or eighth grade, about some of these maritime academies. All I was told about was Kings Point. Well


TMP 040; Callis; Page 36 you had to get an appointment from a congressman to get in there. An d it was a lways focused strictly on ships; no one ever told me that you could go to one of these schools and after you come out it would translate perfectly to becoming a tugboat captain. come up through the horse pipe an d studied and got my sea time. But I work with a guy who s e company I wo rk with now I was on the boat with this guy; he was captain I was mate on the b oat with him down in the Gulf. A nd he actually graduated from Massachusetts Maritime, and he got a degree in engineering, modern business, he got a third mates license for a ship which is about a hundred twenty thousand a year job if you need that job. Or he could have been a third assistant engineer, same thing. And he also had the possibility of picking whi ch branch of the service he wanted to be a commissioned officer in. So I was like wow and the school is subsidized by the government because the government knows they ublic service message. I try to get it out to all the young guys that I k now thinking maybe. not trying to shove my ideas on everybody; a life that not T: Well this is going back to Florida, which has some water. C: the Atlantic. The boat just caught a weird roll, I went that way my foot stayed that way and I twisted my knee and tore the cartilage in it. T: When was that?


TMP 040; Callis; Page 37 C: That was May 9 T: Oh, this year. C: Yep. So I had surgery and was going along like gang busters running around here doing all kinds of stuff and getting it built up and then all of a sudden an infection unning around doing everything t hat was three weeks ago ack up to walking again. T: Oh, my gosh. Seems like a lot of guys get injured. C: Well lways moving all the time. V ertical T: Well, tell me about your friendships with men like A.J. Hurst. C: I worked with him when I was eighteen years old. I blew the engine up in my clam boat, and so Roscoe knew that A.J. needed somebody to go crabbing with him. And I had heard that A.J. was an ornery fellow to work for, but I needed a job. A nd I told Roscoe well tting except by myself in a skiff. T he way he goes at it never done it in my life and if ah on the first day, and it was blowing a gale, and A.J. had had the flu, and he was just kind of coming back. And he said well, I guess w rough. I said look s good a day for you to fire me as any; a man who wants to go to work. L


TMP 040; Callis; Page 38 greatest time. We got mixed up cause it was so rough and we wo und up fishing the same line of crab pots again, and it had just as many crabs. T he pot was full of crabs again. And then he got mad cause he had all of his pots rigged up the same way but he bought some used pots from somebody, and we came to this one pot that he knew had been in that line, that we had fished the sa me line twice, and he got mad. I said, what you getting mad for ? mean ul. They were right where the crabs were and they were going in there just like that. Anyway, so I worked with him for I guess about three or four months. And I never worked for a man that gave me a hundred dollar tip in one week. That was in 1981, so a hundred dollars was a lot of money for a tip for one week. And he told me that I worked really hard that week and he wanted me to have it. He was a tough guy that nobody ever gi ve him nothing, but he appreciated other people. And I think if he knew somebod y w he thought that they were in need to o He was never was hard on nobody but h is self. But he treated me like gold, and his white boat People like that are int eresting. He was a captain on a menh aden boat at one time and k nows you know A.J. Hurst? Yeah, everybody knows him. We used to go out there to the steame r sometimes and get crab bait. I re and get us some bait, and eah you all get you some beer! Y ou know something for nothing neither: e verybody would think this great big steamer


TMP 040; Callis; Page 39 loaded with bait; w hat do they care about three bushels? B ut he would pay them as much as it would cost if we went and bought it somewhere. H for free. He tried to give it to the cap hey give this to the crew ; let th em go get some beer or something when they get ashore, somet hing like that. Honorable men: t world anymore. T: Right. What did the hundred dollar tip mean coming from him? C: Well, it meant a lot because, and I told hi m hi s wife had fixed up all my I kept tra ck of how much we spent on bait, how much we spent on fuel I worked on a share, and she wrote it on another piece of paper and every week I had a little envelope and what the boa t, what we sold for, what we spent on, expenses, broke it down. And then what was left over was my share. And she always tipped me five or ten dollars wha tever it took to make it come to even money. So, I $88.32 on the end of my four hundr ed dollars or whatever it was. S every week. So that week it was really hot and the crabs they got kind of unpredictable so you had to keep moving the pots around to try to fig ure out where they were at. And it wa s just hot and muggy, sea nettles all over the place burn you up. And he gave me my envelope, and I get ready to get in my truck and he said hold on a minute. And he reached in his wallet and he took out a hundred doll ar bill and he said here, take that. G o have some fun this weekend. I said, I ca I said look I know right to the cent what you owe me every day, right to the penny. I know exactly what you owe me, and


TMP 040; Callis; Page 40 Miss Thelma gives me a dollar or two more than that every week, to round it up to even money. And I appreciate that she does that. And I got my own boat and I know what it cost to keep up a boat and how much these crab pots cost ord to b e giving money away. And he said, well [Laughter] arms were that big around back then. He could throw me from here to that wall T here was a guy, Roscoe probably told you about him, he lives right down the street from Roscoe, name is Shady Armstead and his daddy was Alton Armstead Alton was kind of one of the famo us crab potters around. H e caught all these boatloads of crabs back when there was loads of crabs. And everybody else would use a pot puller and Alton bought one; He bought one so he could fish more pots And huge. Really powerful guy. S ure everybody else getti four. but he made his daddy take the pot puller off the boats; they were slowing him down. And I pulled one of those crab pots out in that deep water with the tide flying, and I co I had to sit down, when I was twenty snatch them. And this one day, A.J. and I had been out to t he me nhaden boat to get bait and we got Alton some bait too. And so Alton and Shady come by, they and I dip the bait out of the freezer into the fish boxe s. A wooden fish box holds a hundred and seventy five pounds of fish. So they got a slide on the top of them,


TMP 040; Callis; Page 41 we used to pick them up, w Shady come down there, and I fill that box good and full it was over a hundred and seventy five pounds in each box he put one box on top of the other and he s with his fingers he just shoved his hands under the slats, and picked both boxes up, t hree hundred and fifty pounds. A nd the further your arms are away fr om your body, the more leverage that pulls you over; he stood with his arms out this far from his bo dy, and talked to me for fifteen minutes. And his arms, I kept looking at his arm s to see if they were shaking. T hey never shook. he said Shady C ome on boy starve me to death! A nd he said D addy ways in a big hurry! Ca to myself my gosh what a powerful man. [Laughter] T: pound nets. C: Well, I worked with Homer Smith in the pound nets when I was in high school. It was one of th e m sixteen, and i t was a bunch of old fellas and all; they were always teasing me. I t goes on in every mad and quit one day, and Homer took me aside and said do you? I said, what? He said and


TMP 040; Callis; Page 42 whole net up like a bull, mad. He said and t taking up the slack. D I felt like a dummy after that, but that was part of the deal, and that goes way back. Cause fishin g pound nets is very physical; y ou grab this net and you bend your feet and you bend your knees and you lean into it and you actually pull with every muscle. ing with your toes too. E very m uscle in your body is employed: see excellent exercise ctually no real impact to you. Y ou just spread all of the weight out along your body. But anyway I did that with him in the summer time, and I used to always help him take up net in the fall like Saturdays when I wasn in school. And in the winter them and drive them for the coming spring. In 1998 Wilson Roe was a famous old pound netter on H e was dying he had cancer, and I got t he opportunity to buy his rig. A nd I got his old boat built in 1936 and his old skiff built in like 1950, and set the net where he had set it there in Cherry Point down hing that was kind of peculiar: I had never set my own net before. I had always just worked for somebody else. And a guy named Ralph Mitchem helped me that he remembered all the little peculiar ities: how to draft the net, how it had to sit, He taught me and I still remember and everything. When I went to set the net it was Friday the thir


TMP 040; Callis; Page 43 they had a stroke. T hey were trying to think of any reason to stop me from setting all superstitious. One thing, n will never p from Mathews it. But I told them guys, I said, eve in luck, I believe in Go d, and if he wants me to no fish. D t and s et it on Friday the thirteenth. N out of there, I mean all summer, just boatload after boatload of these mostly great big red croakers And bailed most of them with a hand net in the skiff. Later on I wound up buying a pet, which is this boat her e. She was bigger; Mason old boat. Every man in Mathews practically had her at one time, I had her. I had it where I could bail the fish in the boat, and I became partners with John Ra ymond Basset actually got into it pretty big, set four nets, and we went from loading this boat every day to just, all of a sudden en I actually went and developing more of my skills towards the tugboat. And I look back at it now, th w ish. The st ate has gotten behind the rockf status, but ever ybody likes to go catch a rockfish. They jump. E verybody likes to brag, I caught this thirty pound rockf ish


TMP 040; Callis; Page 44 ey eat everything, crab s little fish. You cut them open the bellies got forty, fi fty little baby crabs in there and all kinds of fish. And they eat until they thro w up and keep right on eating. T th e real eating machine, not the great white s hark. So they protected them. I y protected the red d rum, too, which T Virginia big thing, is tourism and so forth. They outlawed gill nets in Florida years ago, wh ich they still allow in the b ay. But nonetheless, I just figured that the good Lord was kind enough to let me learn, t watermen most a lcoholics and H e let me beat my head on the wall until I got tired of banging my head on the wal give up, and they wind up losing everything they got stand around and starve enough neither. I just got kind of a gentle let down, and then I transitioned into something else. And my income has doubled what it had been, immediately as soon as I went into this line of work, and the benefits are really good. Course I got injured on the boat, they been first class to me in every respect, whatever it cost to get my fixed back up and all. U: And he was smart then, and he is smart now. T: [Laughter] I like that. There are a lot of captains that I have interviewed, but w hat does it mean to be a captain? Especially considering that your family is full of them.


TMP 040; Callis; Page 45 C: Well it out there clamming by yourself; t this o ld guy, I actually wound up buying his boat. He was a character, a big old fat guy. And one day my friend he had his boat on t he railway up on blocks, thirty six foot boat which like I said I wound up buying it later on. A friend of mine heard this old gu y cussing, cussing himself, cussing get your fat butt over ther e and get painting on that boat; re you talking to? He said talking to the crew. Bu everybody. [Laughter ] But if you have a captain on a fishing boat you got a crew. mebody wants to get drunk and not show up, and that lets everything k on the boat at the dock if the Coast G y whatever And you gotta go through this long list of things that will last pro bably a year and a half to get any of it business. Y


TMP 040; Callis; Page 46 The tugboats we haul mostly coal, we haul coal and phosphate rock, and fertilizer and stuff like that, soybe ans. And the more loads we move, ob viously, the more money that the boss makes. The barge hauling here la tely hauls nine thousand tons. The biggest bar putting it in dangerously bad weather. A nd of course the main thing is not hurti ng any crew. One thing tha t I saw recently is on Facebook: my uncle that was eaten by the shark, or partially eaten by the shark. He had an insurance policy that had this double indemnity if you were killed at work. And my cousin, she lives Connecticut, sh e found out about this case, where his wife was trying to get the double indemnity, and the insurance company was trying to get out of it because they said that Uncle Dewey was killed by an act of war, which let them off. And one of the men that survived, his testimony was on this thing that my cousin had on Facebook, and it really choked me up, what he was talking about Uncle Dewey trying to get his men safe. And I thought about that I mean think about your men. It immediately just choked me right up think about, trying to get your me n to safety. And he went down. H e died, he higher number of captains that would do that than you would expect. There some real jerks out there that you would like to choke in them that they really want to see their men safe.


TMP 040; Callis; Page 47 T: captains that have lost men i n storms in Mathews What is the community response to that? Do they blame the captain? C: ortunately it th e shore to go fishing with Homer Smith on a Saturday, spring of the year the croakers were running. And the Haywood boys down at N ew P oint caught a load of fish and they put them on deck on this little boat they had, and the boat rolled. And there was a b lack man that worked for them named Robert Smith that got drowned. You know, I heard a little discussion just mainly from the other men about whether they should have did what they did. Some of them thought it was bad, do, try to make a liv ing. I never heard a lot, in that respect. And then his son, the man that got drowned, far as I know he still f ishes nets and all by himself. B ig, great big strong guy, nice guy. I never really he ard any faul t from him one way or another. He thinks t hey were fishing and that sometimes happens, you know. T: t was just that that happened? C: Yeah. And there was another man, I dated, actually both of his daughters one t ime or the other, but he got drowned out here dredging crabs 1969. H e was a S mith from And he was very capable, had had his own boat but he decided to go truck driving, sold his boat, just went into something else. And he went and helped hi s brot her his truck was getting fixed; he hit a deer or something and bent a fender on his truck and he just went H is brother and law


TMP 040; Callis; Page 48 needed a guy one day, and he got drowned. And never heard they were always still friends with the brother and law ; never heard any thought of it being his fault. to me, and people believe in Go d or they the same age as my daddy. And it was like when Elvis d ied: nobody could believe it, cause this guy was he was about my size but we got playing in the snow one day and he picked me up and threw me from here to that wall, just playing, and I uper man and I hit the snow and keep on sliding. Just powerful. Grew up on boats all his life, his daddy was a waterman. And just a very good waterman, very capable, just everything. And th ey go out there and find his boat out not there. And ice had got on the boat that day, and slipped overboard. W hatever and something days later, floating down the bay. A friend of mine got the tongs hung up in the dredge and I pulled the tongs on my clam boat and brought him to s hore. But right after, I went on the pilot boat h boat was out there, and they got his bo at. And all I could think about was it was making ice, it was cold, it was terrible. I t was the second day of December. And it was pitch blac k dark. And all I could think was othermia. H definitely no question dead. But his sons had to keep looking. They knew he was


TMP 040; Callis; Page 49 friend up. I was working with hi m on his boat and he was in Poquoson or somewhere. A nd I said Bobby I want to take the boat and look for Bobby. I said, them by themselves. So he said yeah, please go d o that. Me and one of the boys jumped on the boat and we rode around until like ten clock at night. And it just really ate at me a lot, so th e next time I got off the pilot boat r something. I was gonna take the boat and go clamming and it was blowing a gale, and it was calling for snow. And I woke up that morning to go clamming and I heard it blowing a gale, and I was getting ready to go back to sleep. And all of a sudden it was just as real as like a v oice said , parents ever a gain. I started to go kiss them on the cheek before I left the house, went out there, and it was blowing and it was bad, and I had to throw all this rope out and all this chain to slow the boat down so I could try to catch some clams, and it was amazing kept getting worse and worse and it was snowing and everything. And it got to where cause I was moving too fast. And finally I said a l l tand here all day for nothing. W ch no clams o what you gotta do


TMP 040; Callis; Page 50 stuff up, and I came back to the dock. And I kind of felt like a little like maybe d the boat up. And I went to lower the boom down to put some grease on the shiv on the block, and we have a triple shiv block and a double shiv block you pull it up by hand but f rom swinging, kind of yank on it a little bit to pull the boom down. And I was doing that and all of a sudden the boom snapped half in two, and the block just missed my head, and the whole thing went right on top the wheel house and I loud voice say I am in control. Cause I had been pulling the tongs, which is probably fifteen hundred pounds snatch every time, and I went like this with the rope and the boom snapped and just mis sed my head. So I took that to be the Lord telling me that T: You thought that the devil was, that you were talking to the devil earlier? C: That was kind of t at the time I was a drunk, and my life was all in turmoil as an alcoholic and that seemed like to me was a pivotal thing. N ot everybody had the Lord speak to them. I got sober about six m onths later, for good. T: equipment, the boats. What was that like as a captain?


TMP 040; Callis; Page 51 C: always get along pretty well, pockets to fix things. T: [Laughter] Okay. C: But as far as working on the tugboat the owners, because my mindset is the boats gotta run cause it fe ed s everything, and see that all the proper paperwork and do cumentation is kept up for the Coast G fixed w e just let them know so they get right on it, and wonderf could pick up the phone and call the owne guy that would normall y have something to do with a guy like me. T call him and ask him about his golf score ss. But he is interested if I have needs to discuss things with him, and then the people between he and I, the vice presidents are very friendly very personable people. T: that you had something to say about the develop ome heres. C: Yeah, what I was gonna say is I noticed as a child when I see an older couple passed away and their house would be sold, t hey might not be local people.


TMP 040; Callis; Page 52 F rom then on we call t hem come heres, kind of a simple stupid sounding name. 1600s ver take into consideration when th ey separate themselves. I t would be a younger couple that would tend to buy these houses and have children and families, and we used to have two school fourth of a all the houses are being bought for weekend summer homes. I was a deacon a t I changed churches a few years back and belonged to a differ ent Baptist church in Mathews but we were having a discussion about how to have outreach to the people, to get more people to to get more people to know the message of the Lord. An d a man who himself has a house elsewhere that does attend church pointed this out to me, he said you know to be a part of the community. T hey and catch go their two thought of it that way. I used to have a chip on my shoulder about the come heres and the from heres and all this, and I finally realized how terrible that was. Of course all t he from heres are almost all dead now. Now about forty four, forty five original people that were from the island that still live


TMP 040; Callis; Page 5 3 considered landowners there now. So me of my best friends that I have actually are come it seems t o be that way because of the water people want to come here and do their weekend thing. And sometimes they continue to own their houses until they retire, and then they actually become part of the community. Guess that was about all I wanted to say about t hat really. T: Are there any other stories or thought s U: Everybody in his family loves to fish. T: [Laughter] I appreciate that. C: Mathews and I was telling somebody recently that, everything that I had lo ved about Mathews in the service, I went to ten different schools growing up, lived coas t to coast all over the country, Mathews And I look back now and it seems like everything I wanted to get back to Mathews for is all gone. All of the old people that I used to love so much, course they just d ied because it was their time. T hey were ninety years old and they died. When I was a little kid down Onemo ladies their mail. Course now the post master would go to jail for giving somebody hey l take Ms. So and so her mail. O k ay and beau tiful pie or cake still hot; c ome on in here and have a slice!


TMP 040; Callis; Page 54 and every night after supper, soon as the nation al news went off, the old guys that would watch the national news after supper all go to the store and fish or crabs or whatever. And I used to like to go in there and listen to all that, and that stores all over the place, and I used to like Wharf was my favorite place to go to as a little boy. My cousins keep their boats there now. T hey open every day from a certain time to a certain time and there was crabs coming in. A nd there was a store down there too, and there was always a bunch of old guys sitting around telling stori es about going to sea or fishing pound nets and stuff like that. All of that to me was exciting, to hear all these stories. And part of the reason why I am who I am is that I wanted to go make my own stories like amboy ant as some of the ones I heard. B ut I thought, I think all this is neat and I want to go out and make my own stories. So I have. [End of interview] Transcribed by: Madison Hyman and Austyn Szempruch September 9, 2014 Audit edited by: Jessica Taylor Final edited by: Jessica Taylor September 11, 2014