Interview with Sam Floyd, 1995-10-15

Material Information

Interview with Sam Floyd, 1995-10-15
Floyd, Sam ( Interviewee )
Publication Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
University of North Florida Fisherfolk Oral History Collection ( local )


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

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:
Made available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 4.0 International license:
Resource Identifier:
UNF Fisherfolk 012 Sam Floyd 10-15-1995 ( SPOHP IDENTIFIER )


This item has the following downloads:

Full Text

This Oral History is copyrighted by the Interviewee
and Samuel Proctor Oral History Program on
behalf of the Board of Trustees of the University of

Copyright, 2005, University of Florida.
All rights, reserved.

This oral history may be used for research,
instruction, and private study under the provisions
of Fair Use. Fair Use is a provision of United States
Copyright Law (United States Code, Title 17, section
107) which allows limited use of copyrighted
materials under certain conditions.
Fair use limits the amount of materials that may be

For all other permissions and requests, contacat the
the University of Florida.

Sam Floyed #3
Sunday Oct 15, 1995

Its got a lot of old things that he knows, you know? One of my uncles and some of
the old fisherman its hard to tie them down. To get them to say ok next Saturday.
(Talking about getting in touch with his Family)

"Talked about getting a ticket for leaving keys in the car"

That's a commercial boat here.

How can you tell? -Pete

See the way the bow, the first half is out of the water?

So when you put stuff in there it will compensate? -Pete

I believe it is, but my eyes aren't what they used to be but the way its running in
the water, I don't have my binoculars I usually don't get into a boat with out my

Why's That?- Pete

So I can see something miles away where it drives me nuts with curiosity if I can't
see what it is. Of course I can see a school of fish for instance there could be a
hundred fish in an area at a time behind him and I might could barely see
something but I might overlook it, but with my binoculars I could tell it was a
school of fish and I could go..

Behind that boat? That far away -Pete

Well the jump and make a splash and its easier to see. Now I couldn't see the
school on top of the water from here to the but I could see them jump from here to
there. But most of the time I can see it with the naked eye against the green grass,
but if you got a windy, choppy day, you couldn't tell if for sure if it was fish or
wake from a boat. i 'm not sure if that a fisherman or not. By the way that their

Its the weekend right so he shouldn't be out there right?- Pete

Well everything is illegal now so what's the difference? You can't even spit in the
water with out getting fines for polluting, but yet they can pump a hundred
something million gallons of treated sewage a day. everything is out of
perspective in my opinion you can go to jail for three years of assault and battery.
But you can kill somebody and walk out of court scott free.

"Talking about the system and how it needs to be reformed" "DUI
offenders and OJ Simpson"

Rowing makes you feel ackward until you get used to doing it. Then after you've
done it you don't even think about it.

You were talking before about, you said that one time when you buried the
fish, and it would be no big deal?- Pete

So we didn't carry that much ice, I was just a little kid and I was really the last
generation, I was in on the tail end of it. I can remember as a child me and my
brother, we would have to take 1X6 boards and we had like eight of them. To get
on the beach we would have to lay um down and then the old model T trucks with
the old skinny tires you seen on keystone cops. They were so narrow that they
would fall down
in the sand dunes, because when you got on the beach you had to cross the sand
dunes. And it was me and my brother's job to keep changing the boards in front of
the model T until we could get down on the hard packed beach. And we would
start seining, well one day we might sein from the south jetties towards St
Augistine And one day we might go over to American Beach and sein back to the
North Jetties. What we do is make an all day out of it, rather then putting the fish
in the truck so that the sun would beat on it we would dig a hole. Above the high
water mark. We would bury the fish about a foot and a half. Then the fish would
stay moist and cool. The sand would hold the moisture on the fish and the first run
that we would make would maybe be 6:30 in the morning. When you were finally
digging it up it would be almost dark. We would stick a stick or a palmetto palm,
or what ever we had so that we could mark the spot so when we would come back.

Did a lot of people do that? -Pete

Everybody did it back then, when I say everybody the population was so small,
fifty years ago, everybody knew everybody, and you didn't worry about somebody
stealing something, there were never even lock on my parents' houses' door. Until

this modem stuff started. My parents were out one night and we even had a drunk
sailor come in the house. Me and my brother was sleeping downstairs on a sofa
that open up into a bed. He was just drunk and he thought he was home, he went
right to the ice box and was drinking milk out the ice box just like he belonged
there. And my brother said "What are you doing" and he turned around and
looked and you could just see his face was like Oh my God, I not where I'm
supposed to be. And he ran and fell over a chair and out the front door he left.
There wasn't no big deal.

Are there any other tricks you all do?- Pete

Oh we used to... (wind blowing) rock salt. We would take a galvanized garbage
can take all of our meat and put in a layer of ice and a layer of rock salt and a layer
of meat and a layer of ice and a layer of rock salt and a lot of people don't know it
but the rock salt and ice combination freeze the meat just as hard as steal just like
your freezer. We used to make thirty day trips and you had no refrigeration. That
was one thing we used to do. One of the things we used to do to toughen your
hands and to keep the shrimp acid and shrimp slime off the fish from eating all the
skin off your hands we would use alum, and mix alum and water and put it in a
bucket outside your galley door so that when you come off the back deck from
separating the seafood. Back then it was cotton because they didn't have nylon
that acid would eat up your cotton gloves off in a couple of days. Well then the
acid is all on your hands so then naturally it would make your hand look like that,
like its pealing, then alum would toughen it was just like that wood right there.

What is Alum?- Pete

Alum is a product that, I don't really honest to goodness know exactly what's its
real purpose was. Ladies used to use it years ago and I don't mean to sound
crude, but it was in a douche bag. I don't really know other than that what it really
benefit or what it was I just know the old timers would not go on a trip with out it,
and they would have it in that bucket of water to wash there hands in to toughen
their skin and cut the slime off of your hands. Now days they got chemicals the
put on seafood that I don't agree with. You can take a rock shrimp for instance;
and I've fished for everything that I know of that's ever been fished for in the last
fifty years off of Salvies Across the United States, whether it be rock shrimp or
(worwood)- 132 shrimp, or white shrimp or brown shrimp, shapper fish to (blown
lond) to I drug for scallops, just about any of the fish and the deep water stuff.
They've got chemicals now where you can take a rock shrimp that smell like he's
rotten when he cames on the boat and he's still alive kicken, and when you ice him
down, you sprinkle this stuff on them so that it preserves them so they last a lot

longer. But I've always been very suspicious about what kind of side effects it
might have on the consumer. In some places I think it is even outlawed.

What's the name of the stuff, do you know? -Pete

I used to know, but you could buy it in 5 gallon cans, it was a white crystal. I
know that there were several people killed because they got fish holes on the
trollies that pick up patches a lot quicker than this, down below on the bottom of
the vessel and there is what they call ice bens and fish bens and its an inclosed area
with out any ventilation. There were several fishermen, not here locally but across
the United States that the first year it was out they died because they asphyxiated
from the fumes. Well, that ought to tell you something. You put that on something
someone is eating and it makes you wonder if it will kill you from breathing it,
how in the heck wants it on their food. we very seldom used it, the only thing we
ever used it on was rock shrimp because those damn things smelt rotten when they
come on the boat. We used to get 35 cent a pound and we would catch 12,000
pounds every three days. Two handed, two people. I t would just about kill you.
By the end of the third day it was all you could do, I'll never forget it, I guess I was
25, I had just graduated from JU and decided to go back into the fishing and
shrimping business. I thought I wanted my to get into a coat and tie situation,
basically because I wanted to make a lot of money. You come up and your not dirt
poor, but you know you get one Christmas present as a kid, and you don't realize
that its no big deal. So you grow up thinking we I grow up I'm going to get an
education and I'm going to make a lot of money and I'm going to d what I want to
do, I'm going to have a fast car or'what ever it is that turns you on. When you get
grown up you say geese, that coat and tie and someone going to be pulling at my
neck everyday damn day at work and I'm going to have quotas to meet, trying to
have enough production but not be able to have advances in my position, you
know the same old rat race stuff. I decided to hell with it, I'm going back into the
fishing business. Which in hind sight was a real mistake monetary wise. As an
example I don't have a jab if I am laid up, I don't get workman's comp and

Why's that?- Pete

I paid unemployment for years when I had the big troller, and I when I lost the
troller, when it burnt and sank with me I thought, well I've got insurance on it so
I'm not really going to lose my shirt, I really hated losing it because I almost had it
paid for. You can never recruit what you got in something even with insurance. So
I said at least I got the insurance and can get back in the business and while I don't
have and weeks to draw employment I'll apply for unemployment so I can buy


groceries every week until I get back into the business and the told me I was
qualified to draw it because I was self employed and owned my own company, and
i said then why in the hell I have I been paying it the last eight years? Well I don't
know about that but you can't draw it. So I said fine I'll quit paying it. Then they
said no you got to pay it. So i said I'm not paying for something that I'm not even
qualified to get. You can send the Marshall, I don't care if you send Marshall
Dilion, I 'm not paying a damn thing. If you're not going to be giving it to me
when I need it, anyway you don't have stuff like that, you don't have retirement,
and some of the guys have done real descent, they've had some real fortunate
years, where they made an abundance and they put it aside. but most of us, I don't
have a real big bank account, i might have twenty to thirty thousand dollars in my
bank, I own a few pieces of property that have some little junky houses that I rent
out, I have two rental properties, You haven't see my house but its just a two story
barn, it's nothing fancy and as a matter of fact its not even completely through in
the inside. I 've got four kids here and one over seas that I didn't even know I had
for a long time. As a matter of fact she's supposed to be down, she graduated from
Edenburg University in Scotland, She's a sharp kid, she's twenty five, she's coming
over for a visit and that will be her and I first meeting. I've never seen her, she's
never seen me. Her mother didn't tell her who her father was and I didn't know her
mother was pregnant. It's really strange.

"Talking about not knowing of other child"

So you were in the service? -Pete

Yea, I was drafted in Vietnam.

"Talking about draft notice and falling in love with an older woman. How
whether his father wanted him to be, and making a living if you work for it"
Talking again about the making the jetties"

And if I'm not mistaken My father said they paid him $19 a week or $19 a month, I
don't remember which. And if you slacked up they would run your ass off because
their were ten people on the hill that was wanting your job.

Talking about the WWW set up by Roosevelt during the depression"

Most of the fisherman worked on the shell bridge during the depression. My
father in a row boat, not much bigger than this, with two set of twelve foot ores on
it worked for the Core of Engineers for a while. him and some of the older


fisherman took soundings from here all the way to Cape (Kennedy) for the Core of
Engineers with a stick. And they rowed from here to there.

How far is it do you think? -Pete

Well I know this much it takes me about four and a half hours to dive there at 65
miles and hour. You go down Banana River, Mosquito Lagoon and all the way
back up. they knew every inch of it because they took soundings every six feet.
they had a long stick that would hit the bottom then they would go up with it, spin
it over and go right back down with it and there would be a guy writing it down.
And they made about thirty dollars a month, but see back then you could go to the
store and bread was a nickel a loaf. For a penny you got like ten pieces of bubble

"Talking about Credit cards and money today. The his sister-in-law and
how much money she makes and how they spend it on useless items"

I've got a contract with the government through the National Marine Fishers'
Service to do this turtle exclude research and I wanted to do it myself but I didn't
have a large troller at the time so my brother had the troller at the time. So I got
him the contract, it was a hundred and fifty grand a year and he was supposed to
hire me as the rig man and the cook for twenty five thousand because that way
after two years I could afford to get my own vessel. And I got shot right out of the
-----, because they didn't think I was going to get the contract, they said sure if you
get the contract, no big deal. But then I heard from that I had been awarded the
contract and I called them up and everything changed, the old dollar bill. To make
a long story short, he met this girl, she was one of the people who the University of
Florida sent to ride on the vessel to take all the data, each catch each separate. And
they wound up getting married.

"Talking about the amount of money his brother and sister make."

I dive for golf balls as side thing. I pick up a thousand dollars a week diving for
golf balls.

Are you serious?- Pete

Yea, me and my brother, that's what he does. We sometimes make 1600 one
week, 800 one week, 500 one week, 1000 one week, it averages to about $3000 a

"Talking about his brother's living conditions and purchases"

Here I am feeding my four kids and paying my bill on 25- 28 thousand dollars a
year. Some years I've made as high as 60-70 thousand dollars. most of my years
run 25-35 thousand dollars a year and I've had them as low as 12 to 18 thousand
dollars. Every year we make it, the kids don't go hungry, they don't have designer
clothes on them but they are clean clothes without holes in them. We've got cable
TV, Telephones, electric lights and stuff.

"Talking about how his brother still spends money"

"changing rowers to Lindsay"


Where any of the boats back then like sail boats that were like fishing boats

002-076 too hard to hear Sam talking because of distance and water sounds
because of rowing

I'm not going any where- Lindsay

The Marine Patrol wasn't that big of a deal?- Pete

"talking about the Game Warden"

086-171 Unclear can't understand


172 During the fishing season I spend 100 hours a week

By yourself?- Pete
Some years I do but its gotten to the point where I can fish by myself, I make more
money, and I don't do that much more work. I the really low days I like to have.,---
--- thirty mile per hour winds. I like the solitude. The other person is sometimes
like a back-seat driver. It's nice to not have to worry about second guessing

190- end of tape