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Interview with Charles William Rogers, March 2, 1991

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Title:
Interview with Charles William Rogers, March 2, 1991
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Language:
English

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Subjects / Keywords:
Fishing -- Florida
Fishers -- Florida
Fishermen -- Fisherwomen -- Women fish
Florida Fisherfolk Oral History Collection

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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.

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Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, Department of History, University of Florida
Holding Location:
This interview is part of the 'Florida Fisherfolk' collection of interviews held by the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program of the Department of History at the University of Florida
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Made available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 4.0 International license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/.
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FF 10

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Full Text
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
Interviewer: Michael Jepson
Interviewee: Charles William Rogers
March 2, 1991


J: [I understand you are a minister.]
R: [I] got my degrees by correspondence course in the Methodist. They send you to
school now, and I could have went to school, but I did not. Well, I started and my
wife helped me a lot in the beginning of my preaching. She would mark down the
things that I used wrong and different things. [She] said, "You have to work on it."
Sometimes it was mighty raw. As I preached on and she kept talking to me, I kept
reading. You see, the reading helps you, especially in your wording and your
English. That helped me so far, but I still make mistakes. What really got me off
hand [was] when I finished high school I got with a group of fellows--I do not even
believe they [had ever] finished high school--and we just talked and lallygagged. I
never was bad about cursing or anything like that, but they did. They used that
better that the right English. But I did get in the habit of doing that, and it just
come natural.
J: Let me start this with an introduction first. This is Michael Jepson. I am doing an
interview with Charlie Rogers here in Cedar Key, Florida, who is a long-time
resident and commercial fisherman. This interview is being conducted in conjunction
with the University of Florida Oral History Program and, specifically, with the
Florida Fisherfolk Project.
Mr. Rogers, one of the first things I want to ask you is would you please state your
full name for the interview?
R: Charles William Rogers.
J: When were you born?
R: First, seventh, eleventh.
J: January 7, 1911?
R: Right.
J: And where were you born?
R: They have a museum down on the corner of [State Road] 24 and 2d Street, and I
was born in the furthest corner of that building.
J: Really?
R: Yes. It has been rebuilt twice.
J: It is not the same building?
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R: It is the same building--it is the same foundation--that I was born in, but they have
rebuilt it over the period of years. My father, at the time I was born there, was
having a nice home built just up in the other end of the block. That was 2d Street
going west. It is still there--a nice home.
J: Where is that?
R: That is on the 2d Street--I do not remember what block. It is before you go up to
the First Baptist Church. It is just below it [and is] a big white house.
J: Who owns that house now? Do you know?
R: My sister-in-law, Mrs. C. B. Rogers.
J: Can you tell me your wife's full name?
R: Marguerite Caroline Arline.
J: Arline was her maiden name?
R: [Yes, it was] her maiden name.
J: What were your parents' names?
R: My father's name was H. B. Rogers, Sr., and my mother's name was Mae Rogers.
J: And do you remember here maiden name?
R: DePew.
J: What does the H. B. stand for on your father's name?
R: Henry Bryant Rogers.
J: How many brothers and sisters did you have?
R: I had two brothers. One [was] H. B. Rogers, Jr. H. B. Rogers was older than me,
and my other brother, who was younger than me, was C. B. Rogers. His name,
originally, was Clifton Bertel Rogers.
J: What did your father do for a living?
R: My father, originally, came to Cedar Key. I was born in 1911, and my father was
here, and he organized [the fishermen]. The fishermen were having a bad problem
of working together, and [they had] strikes and different things. My father formed
a Union Fish Company, and there was quite a few of them in it together to work--
-2-


to help the fishermen--and they gave my father the same thing. At that time we had
a train come in, [and] they shipped their fish to New York: sheephead, redfish, and
mackerel--all fancy fish. The fishermen produced them at that time. Then he went
on, and after operating--being a fish dealer--he finally bought them out and owned
the whole Union Fish Company himself. Then he became a Standard Oil agent of
Cedar Key. My father, also at one time, was mayor of Cedar Key for eight or nine
years or ten. Then he was the clerk of courts for about ten or fifteen years.
J: Tell me more about [your father]. Was he a fisherman when he first came?
R: No. He was not a fisherman. Where I get my fishing [background] and the love of
it came from my mother's side--the DePews. My granddaddy there, her daddy, was
David DePew. He was a great turtleman, as well as I can remember [as] a little kid.
He had a two-mast schooner and traveled the whole coast here and caught turtles
by the hundreds. They had a big boat that they laid them in. They put a block
under their heads, and then they brought them in and sold them. They shipped them
to New York at that time. But I do not remember him being too much of a
fisherman because he died when he was fifty-some years old. But he left two sons
that were fishermen: Gene DePew and Walter DePew.
J: Now these would have been your wife's uncles?
P: This would have been my mother's brothers.
J: Your mother's brothers. I am sorry.
P: That is the DePew side. Have you got it now?
J: Right. Your mother's brothers.
P: Gene and Walter. Of course, that family also had the boys and five girls, and my
mother was one of them.
J: A large family.
R: But they were great fishermen. That would mean that they were my uncles, and I
used to go with them. I remember just one time during run season. They would go
up the west coast towards Suwannee River on a run there for mullet. I never will
forget it. I was a little bare-footed boy with one of my uncles in the back of the boat
that they fished the net off of. They would take it out, they would throw the fish in
the well room, and then they would count them up. So I sat there and counted
about 800 for them that strike.
J: That is a lot of counting [and] a lot of fish. Well, did you start fishing when you
were a little kid?
-3-


R: I started fishing whenever I got big enough. I had the desire to fish. I wanted to
be a fisherman. I started as quick as I could borrow somebody's boat and net and
go try it out.
J: Did your father approve of that?
R: Well, my uncles took care of me. The two uncles I am telling you about. They are
the fellows who had the little boats and nets, and they are the ones that helped me
when I could go. I had to be about fifteen or sixteen years old before I really
started fishing. But before then, before that age, I would go with them at times as
a little fellow.
J: Let me go back to your mother's father. You said he had a two-mast schooner that
he would turtle in?
R: That is right, a two-mast schooner.
J: How did they catch the turtles, then?
R: How did they catch the turtles? They had a little boat, which they called a dinghy,
that they towed. It had a net on it--a big mesh net which the Green Turtle could
not get through. When they were swimming they would get hung in trammels. It
was just a heavy trammel net of a big mesh. It had a cork line on it and had a lead
line on it. They knew where to find the place where the turtles traveled. On the
ebb tide they would go out, and on the coming-in tide they would come in. So that
was a place to trap them. They put an anchor on the end of the net there and made
a half-moon circle and an anchor here. When the tide was ebbing, the turtles--well,
you could see them coming, and, "sheeeew," they would come up and blow and go
down. When they would see one hit and go to splashing, they would jump in the
dinghy and go out and take him out, wait for another one, wait for another one,
[and] that is the way they caught the turtle.
J: How long would he be gone on the schooner?
R: On the trips?
J: On the trips.
R: Now my grandfather, he probably [would] be gone four or five days. And he would
go probably twenty miles down the coast--really, off of Port Inglis in there
somewhere. That was my granddaddy. Of course, after the other two uncles started
turtling--when Granddaddy was gone--then they would go, and maybe they would just
spend one afternoon and a tide and come in, or go the next morning early. It would
be according to the tides where they set the nets to catch the turtle. We had a lot
of turtle then.
-4-


J: How long did the turtle last? When did they stop fishing for turtle?
R: Florida passed a law that they could not. You are talking about in later years?
J: Right.
R: In the early years, well, there was not any law to keep from catching turtle. They
would catch them in later years and bring them in and butcher them and sell them
in pieces.
J: Oh, I see.
R: Of course, in later years when they took the railroad out and we did not have any
train, then we did not have a whole lot of way to ship them. They trucked some out,
but mostly they started just butchering them and selling the turtle meat--steak. That
went on, and then finally ten years ago or fifteen, Florida passed a law and we could
not catch any at all.
J: But up until that time you could still catch turtle. There was plenty of turtle?
R: Oh, yes. Well, after all of my family on my mother's side was dead and gone, the
younger people learned also to turtle. And they would catch turtle as long as we
could catch them and sell them. But when they passed the law not [permitting
harvest, it was then] that we could not catch them on the west coast of Florida.
J: Your two uncles that fished, did they start turtle fishing? Was that the type of
fishing that they started in?
R: Originally, they started in net fishing--fishing for mullet and redfish and trout and
bottom fish, which is sheephead. And then that turtle [harvest] was a sideline. See,
in the younger days the fishermen had seasons to work. We have a run season for
mullet. That is when they bunch, and you strike them with nets. They start in
October, November, December, and maybe a little in January. That is the end of
the mullet. Alright, then what do they do? It is cold, [so] they get the equipment
up and take care of it--get it all ready. Then whenever spring comes along in April--
the last of March and April--they then have boats they could go off king [mackerel]
fishing--deep-sea fishing and catch kingfish. Then later they would come in--now it
is hot summer--they would go turtling.
J: So turtling was during the summer?
R: That would be about May or June--about two months--maybe July. Oh, now July
then August [or] September they go back mullet fishing. That is the season. But
now younger fisherman, they fish, oyster, [and] crab all they can--if the law does not
stop them.
-5-


J: Your uncles, did they do any oystering or did they do any crabbing?
R: No oystering at all. The only oystering we had at that time--you asked me [about]
when I grew up and during that time--was we had darkies to go tong the oysters.
They would bring them in, and they had little oyster houses, and they opened [the
oysters] and sold them.
J: So the blacks were doing a lot of the oystering then--the blacks on the island?
R: Right. We had about a hundred darkies then on this island, and they were good
people. Somebody taught them good. They were really good. You were asking
about my father. There was a certain darkie was in here as long as my life, and he
died a while back. They had his funeral in the First Baptist Church--a darkie. I
believe that he loved my daddy enough that he would die for him.
J: Let us go back and talk about your father again. You said he formed the union.
How many fishermen joined the union?
R: [I remember] just vaguely because I do not have that whole story. I would roughly
say from fifteen to twenty of them first got in together and started. Then that
encouraged the others to come in and join, and they probably had a group of fifty
people before it was over, and it went on and on and on. But then they had their
good seasons; then they had their bad seasons like always [with] fishing. So during
the bad seasons a lot of them dropped out and finally left it with my daddy. And
I think he bought some of them out later--just one or two of them.
J: Why did they want to form the union in the first place?
R: Well, I mentioned to you that they were having trouble selling their fish. They just
did not have no leader to get them fish. They did not have any place to store them
and ice them and then put them in barrels and ship them. See, they shipped [them].
I remember marking [the barrels]. They used to have a shipper barrel, [and] they
had a darkie at the fish house. He would cut out barrel heads and nail them in
there and fix them. My daddy would mark them at night. I remember a lot of them
going to Georgia and some to west Florida and right on up to New York. So I
would presume that that was what drawed them. They probably could not sell their
fish. They would catch a few and then that was it. They did not have a market for
them.
J: But there were fish houses here to buy the fish?
R: Well, later. Later, we had a bunch of fish houses. We had Mr. W. R. Hodges who
was a great man on this island; he had a fish business. Mr. Andrew Johnson had a
fish business. And both of them owned four or five pound nets.
J: Now, what are pound nets?
-6-


R: What is a pound net? It is a fish trap that they put off about twenty-five miles
outside of Seahorse [Key] on the last reef. They put a bunch of pilings down:
cypress poles. They put one just like that.
J: Right in a row?
R: Right in a row. They call that a lead. Fish will start feeding off of them barnacles
off of them poles, and they will go right on and on. Then they will come to an
opening. Then they have got a round place, they got a net, they got chains, they let
it down, they got it weighted [so] it is on the bottom, but the wings come up. All
but this mouth; it is all the way open. These fish will follow that lead [and] go in
the trap. And then they will come every day, and they will get there and close that
mouth, and then they have it rigged where they can pull the thing up and dump the
fish right over in the boat.
J: That is a pretty good system.
R: Let's see. Mr. Hodges had about three nets. Mr. Johnson probably had three. Then
there were some other people--I believe Joe Watson, Sr., was his name. He had a
big one off of North Bank; these [others] were off Seahorse [Reef].
J: These were sort of permanent. They are there all the time?
R: Yes. Oh, yes. A storm would tear them up every now and then, but they would
replace them. That was a trap.
J: Yes, a fish trap.
R: Fish trap: big ones! They produced a lot of valuable fish, especially [those] shipped
to New York.
J: And would they catch all types?
R: Oh, yes. They would catch bluefish, mackerel, kingfish, cobia, [jack] crevalles,
pompano, and one time they caught [mullet]. A mullet has got sense enough to go
in and come out, but they just happened to be there in run season, and they raised
the mouth and they got about 4,000 pounds of red-roe mullet out of it.
J: Could you sell the roe then? Was the roe valuable back then?
R: Not like they are now. They could always sell the red roe; white roe they had to
throw away. Now, in the last, what, how many years? I do not know maybe fifteen.
But some country is buying all of the red roe at a big price from them.
J: The price has jumped quite a bit.
-7-


R: Yes.
J: So your father, then, bought out and formed the union?
R: [He] formed his own fish business. The Union Fish Company was his own business,
and he operated that fish business [until] up in the 1930s. See, I was born in 1911,
and it was up in the 1930s. As well as I can remember he had the fish business
and was a Standard Oil agent when I got where I could remember.
J: When you first started fishing did you sell your fish to him? Did you fish for him?
R: My father was not in business then.
J: He was not?
R: No. When I first started fishing, Mr. Henry Brown, who is the owner of this one
Mike [Davis] is working for, [was in business]. Mike's daddy [was] R. B. Davis. R.
B. Davis, Henry Brown, and Mr. Joe Watson were big fish dealers here. That is the
ones I fished for. And Mr. B. C. Wadley was also a fish dealer.
J: Who did you sell to?
R: As well as I can remember I sold most of them to R. B. Davis, Mike's daddy.
J: Why did you sell to him?
R: Well, they just paid the best price. I sold my fish to the ones that were giving the
best price. Of course, we varied a little. We also had a dealer out here by the name
of Pete Baylor, [who was located] right across from where you were working with
Mike. He had a big fish business there. But I do not ever remember fishing for
him. It just comes natural wherever you are fishing. I had my boats and nets, I
think, on the front side [of Cedar Key]. At that time that is where they bought their
fish--on the front side. Now it is all inside.
J: When you first started on your own, what kind of boat did you have?
R: Well, when I originally started at it to make a living, my father had bought some
boats. Then he had closed down his fish business, but he still owned four or five
boats. And Mr. Watson owned a boat, and he [my father] bought the boat. It was
a two-cabin, twenty-six-foot boat, and we used it--my older brother Harry and
myself--to fish with. And that is where we started fishing to make a living.
J: Were you married at that time?
R: I was married at that time.
-8-


J: How did you meet your wife?
R: How did I meet my wife? That is a long story. [laughter] I reckon I will tell you.
When I first met her she was here in Cedar Key. There was a friend of mine that
said he had a date with a girl [who had a buddy]. Marguerite was the girlfriend's
buddy, and [he asked me if I] would go with them. We went over to Seahorse [Key]
to spend the day, and right there we got to know each other, and we never could
forget each other. So we gradually went and went, and I finally courted her for a
year or two, and we got married.
J: When were you married?
R: May 6, 1935. We have been married fifty-five years this May--somewhere like that.
J: Before I forget it, then, I better ask you: Do you have any children?
R: We had four children. Charlene was the oldest girl; Charles William, Jr., was the
oldest boy; then we had Sissy, another girl; and then we had John David. Now
Charles William Rogers, Jr., we lost when he was forty-two years old. He was forty-
two, and he left five little girls. The other one, Charlene--that is the older girl--she
is fifty-four. Sissy is fifty, and John David is forty-eight.
J: Do they all live here?
R: No. Charlene is an appraiser in Ocala, Sissy is a schoolteacher in Dunnellon, and
John David is a big telephone operator in Gainesville.
J: Well, they are not too far away.
R: No.
J: Did Charles or John David, when they were growing up, ever fish with you?
R: They always wanted to go fishing with daddy, but I did not want [either of] them to
be a fisherman.
J: Why not?
R: Because it was not a very good livelihood; there was not too much money to make
in fishing. The biggest price that I ever heard of in fishing is in the last ten or
fifteen years since I got where I am not able to fish all night. One time I would
have been a millionaire at that price.
J: Really?
-9-


R: That is right! I knew how to fish, and I fished! And I could catch them! This
fellow that is dead, we fished together a lot. He had two or three old small boats.
We would take five small boats with us, go out there and make one fishing [trip],
and bring them all in full.
J: Load them up?
R: Yes.
J: Now that is something that I am kind of curious about. You said that you fished
with this [man]. This was Mike's uncle, right? Mike Davis's uncle?
R: That was his daddy that I fished for.
J: But this guy that you said [had died].
R: Oh, I fished with Walton Wadley. That is Mike's uncle. Mr. R. B. Davis married
Walt Wadley's sister. Get it?
J: Yes.
R: So Walt Wadley was Mike's uncle.
J: Was he your partner the entire time you were fishing?
J: Oh, no. Different people I fished with. As well as I can remember I originally
fished with my brother some. Then he got in at the tag department or something.
Then I fished with other men that grew up here. But my last fishing--after I started
preaching--I would come and go with Wadley because he always had the boats and
nets that I did not have, and we had something to go out and go back and to with.
But [when] I originally fished and when I had my boat, I had a full-net crew.
J: You did?
R: Yes, a full-net crew. At that time they had just a small eighteen-foot boat, and you
had about a 180-yard net on the stern of it to strike with, and you pulled the net out
with an oar.
J: With an oar?
R: Yes. Now they have got a boat like that now we put a four-horse motor on the side,
and we would run it out with the motor. Then they got a boat that they call a bird
dog. Why they call it a bird dog is because it is like a bird dog hunting. Hunting
for the birds, the bird dog can zip zam around [and the boat can do the same]
hunting for fish. And then all you have to do is throw that net off the stern and
zip that net right around them.
- 10-


J: Now the bird dog boat has the motor [installed in a well through the bottom of the
boat] in the front?
R: In the middle, yes. Right up in the front.
J: But [what about] the other boats?
R: Oh, the little boat, the eighteen-foot boat. Of course, some of the bird dogs are that
short, but the little boat that we pole and everything was eighteen foot and about six
foot wide, and it narrowed up to the bow like that. Well, I have got one of them
now that we have got a four-horse kicker on the side of it, and then I have got a bird
dog. I use two of them.
J: When you first started, what type of nets were you using?
R: We used flax. Hemp, too. That is a different material. I remember that originally,
when I first started, you got linen-flax nets. That is what you got. Then in later
years they found a net that they could sell cheaper, and it was hemp. But it would
give so bad. Fish would get in it, and it would stretch and let him out. But then
they got this monofilament net. That has been on quite a while, and that is the kind
that supposedly when it goes overboard you cannot see it in the water.
J: The fish cannot see it either.
R: They claim the fish cannot see it, but I have seen them getting up against it and
backing out. [laughter]
J: They can see it! What type of upkeep did you have to do with the flax nets?
R: Alright, originally with the flax net, that net if you fished it today or tonight and you
catch any fish and it gets slimy with fish slime, well, the next day you [would] lime
it. You put a little lime in water, mix it in the bottom of your small boat like I was
telling you about, and you put that net in that lime water. Then you pull it out on
a rail and let it dry. That net, if you did not [treat it with lime water], would rot
within a week.
J: Oh, really?
R: The flax [would rot]. So you have to lime it and pull it out. They had net spreads.
That is a long, round rail and post where you would stand and pull that net out.
Now, in later years--and I would say whenever they started making the monofilament
net--well nothing hurts that net but the sunshine. If you can keep it covered up from
the sun, it will last for years. But that does not patch the holes. It gets holes in it
and, [if] we will go back to [talking about] the flax, whenever the flax [was used]
- 11-


crabs would eat holes in the net, sharks would tear big holes in it, and then you
would have to patch that hole or mend that crab hole.
Your granddaddy and your daddy--not my daddy because he was clerical--but my
granddaddy showed me how to patch that net and mend that hole.
J: But you can mend a monofilament, too?
R: You can mend a monofilament, but it is not as easy as mending with the flax. The
twine that you have got is stiff. There is a little stiffness in it, and if you really do
not know what you are doing to make the knots, well, you would have trouble
mending it. But I do not believe that the crabs eat them quite as bad as they do the
linen.
J: So what kind of fish were you catching back then when you first started? You were
catching mackerel?
R: When I first started fishing myself, mostly it was a mullet. It was the black mullet.
J: Were there different times of the season that other fish would show up?
R: Yes, they would show up. Like I told you, we had certain seasons in my younger
days. These people [today] do not know what bunches of fish really are. But in my
younger days I remember this channel. [The] fish run from the east to the west.
That is the way they run. I do not know whether they do it in circles, or how they
do it, but I have counted eight or ten bunches big as the top my house going through
that channel. We would be cut off, could not sell the fish, and all we would do is
look at them.
J: You do not see fish like that anymore. Or do you?
R: No, you do not see fish that way anymore. Of course, we have caught a lot of them
and sold them, but there should be enough supply. And they grow pretty fast, mullet
do. The only answer that I can give to you why we do not have them is we got too
much traffic out there where they used to gather and bunch at peace. Maybe every
once and a while somebody would strike them with a net, but now every weekend
that the weather is pretty here at Cedar Key, we have from 150 to 500 trailers down
there--that is, boats--running all around out there and around the islands. And the
traffic and that propeller disturbs fish. This is not saying, "This is mine and you
cannot have it." God made it and gave it to everybody, but we can overtraffic. We
can put too much traffic and too many people in a place, and it gets congested, and
the fish go somewhere where they can have more peace. That is my belief.
J: Now there were not any fishing regulations at that time. You did not have the
Marine Patrol and [other] people regulating fishing then.
- 12-


R: Right. The law was not as strict as it is now. We had one state boat named the
Roma. It was a big boat! And Mr. T. R. Hodges--that is the brother of Mr. W. R.
Hodges--was fish commissioner out of Tallahassee. He was appointed. Just the
one man was appointed, and they made a round every now and then on the coast.
Now it was not so much the Coast Guard system of [checking] life preservers and
taking care of life, it was [enforcement of the laws against] the different things that
[the fishermen] should not do. Whatever the laws of the state [were], they enforced
them, but not real bad. They did not give anybody any bad trouble. We paid for
that little boat with that pole oar and you poling it. We paid $1 a year to fish it.
J: That was your license?
R: To the state of Florida [we paid] $1 a year. Now that was up until the 1940s that
you just paid $1. Then they went to $10. Now I think they [charge] $11. I think
that is the size of the price.
J: Were there plenty of fish then?
R: Yes, there were plenty of fish then! For instance, anytime you wanted to look out
here on this bayou--at any time--you would see mullet jumping. And even when it
was cold there would be some jumping. See, they do not jump as much in cold,
cold weather as they do in warm weather. And all back [in] these bayous, all around
this island, anywhere you would look you would see a mullet jump or see him break.
You do not see them now.
J: Did you ever have any slack times? I mean, were there times when you could not
catch fish?
R: Yes. We had a time that [during] a certain part of the season we did not have any
fish. Starting in June the mullet start getting fat. They start getting together. And
in July there is a time that they do get together, the male and the female, and they
start growing. And that roe starts even in July. And in August they get fatter.
September and October, that roe is that long. When it is full grown it is like that.
J: But that was just a yearly cycle. But you never really hit some really slack times like
you have now with not as many fish?
R: Never have I ever seen fish as scarce as they are now. Never! I have seen the time
when they would be off season, but first thing you knew you would turn around and
there they are: plenty of them! But they do not even get plenty of them now when
there ought to be plenty of them.
See, all the time that I was growing up and after I was married, I have always fished.
Even when I was preaching I fished on the side. I wanted just to go fishing. I liked
to fish for man, but I also like to fish for fish. Then I made a few dollars. In fact,
when they first sent me into ministry I started for $2,400 a year.
- 13 -


J: That is what you were getting from the ministry?
R: When I first started in the ministry I got $2,400 a year. But when I retired I was
getting $9,000 a year. How about that? And I had a many a time when I was in
north Florida--I was at Jennings [and] I stayed there eight years--and I could not
make ends meet. I came down and would go fishing. The lord would smile on me,
and maybe I would make $100 in one night. Then I would go back, take it back, and
keep myself going.
J: So you relied on fishing to help you get through some hard times?
R: Yes. I always depend of fishing. I do it now. I make a few dollars fishing right
now.
J: You still go out?
R: Yes.
J: And you are eighty years old?
R: Yes. You bet!
J: That is pretty good health.
R: I do not catch a lot of them. A lot times I cannot stand the weather, but the other
night I went out one afternoon and I caught, I think, 307 pounds. So that gave me
about $100. But I always owe them quite a bit on gas, and that stuff is high.
J: Yes, fuel prices have probably raised quite a bit.
R: You are not taping all of this?
J: Well, it is now. Why, do you not want it?
R: You can cut some of it out. [laughter]
J: When you first started fishing, was anyone fishing with sailboats?
R: Using sailboats?
J: Yes.
R: Well, go back to my Granddaddy DePew, the turtleman?
J: Yes.
- 14-


R: That is the way he traveled. That is the only way he traveled. He had the two-
mast schooner that had the two sails. Of course, they had the front sail that they
called the jib, or something. Then they had another one [called] a spanker in the
back. And that is the way he traveled--sailing. He did not have a motor in the boat.
J: Did he go up and down the Gulf coast?
R: Yes, that is where he went.
J: Did he ever go as far as Mexico?
R: Oh, no! We did not go across.
J: Oh, he did not.
R: No, he just was fishing mostly from Suwannee River to Port Inglis River
[Withlacoochee River], somewhere in that area.
J: But were any fishermen in Cedar Key using sailboats?
R: Then they used sailboats. This friend of mine, old Wadley, his uncle and his daddy
used to fish to the west of here, and they had a camp. They did all of their traveling
with sail. They had a little sail they put on that small boat to fish with. It had a sail,
and they traveled by sailing.
J: OK. That is what I was wondering. I just wondered if they were [using sails].
R: Yes. Quite a bit of it. Now back when I had mentioned to you that they had
organized this Union Fish Company, there was a lot of them sailing then.
J: OK. Let me go back. What was Cedar Key like in the early days when you started
fishing? What type of a town was it? Did they have a lot of business, a lot of
commerce, going on?
R: It was a good little business [community]. We had a drug store. We had, I think,
three grocery stores--good sized ones. We had a barber shop and a pool room. I
do not remember any bars. Well, really, they sold moonshine.
J: They sold moonshine?
R: Yes.
J: Were they making it here?
- 15 -


R: It was during Prohibition. But there were guys that would be maybe running a little
[service] station or something, and he was smuggling the moonshine. It was against
the law, but otherwise I thought we had a wonderful little town when I was a young
fellow. It seemed like people loved each other, which they do all the time. But we
had a dance hall [and] had maybe a dance at least once a month--a big dance for
the young people. [We] had a great town meeting at the post office. The train
would come in, and everybody would wait there to get their mail and have
fellowship. Then in later years I had a great time going to church. [laughter]
J: Well, I want to get to that here in a little bit, but what happened to Cedar Key when
they took out the railroad? What effect did that have?
R: Well, really, I do not think it hurt it too bad at that time because I do not think we
had too many fish. Now we had a broom factory here that made brooms and sold
a lot of raw fiber, which they gathered out of these palm trees--cabbage trees. It was
a big deal. There is only one palmetto plant in Cedar Key and one over on the east
coast, maybe at the town of Palmetto. That is the only two in Florida that had these
broom factories. They had a railroad tram that went down by that. They hauled a
lot [of things] in trains in [the] boxcars. I do not know what; I guess the stuff that
they had made. Then the fish dealers, also, sold their fish. But I think after that
time, [somehow or] someway the truck took the place of it. Trucks started to hauling
the fish, and they took it off pretty good. But they still did not carry the fish to New
York and get the New York market.
I think it [the train being shut down] hurt it some. I am sure it did [hurt] because
the train had men that stayed here. The hostler and the train and that certain
amount of business that they lost.
J: So where did you live once you were out on your own in Cedar Key? Have you
lived in this house all of the time?
R: Originally, my wife and myself was married, and we lived in a two-story building
across from the First Baptist Church of Cedar Key. [It was] there [that] our first
daughter was born, upstairs, in that two-story building, which in 1950 the hurricane
blew down.
J: Oh, it did?
R: Yes, but we lived then with my mother in her home that is just down the hill. Then
we moved up here. This was two houses. It was two three-room cottages here. I
lived in the one on the west side, and my brother lived in this one on the east side.
Well, my brother moved out and rebuilt a home down here where the two-story
building blew down. Then I took the two houses, put them together, put a room
back there, and this is it.
J: It looks good.
- 16-


R: It was built out of raw pine, and my daddy bought this tract of land, which is a 100
by 50. The whole lots in Cedar Key are 100 by 100, but I do not why he bought half
a lot. It is 50 feet back and 100 [feet across] the front. At that time we had these
quick sawmill people. They had their sawmill on wheels. They would go in and cut
out a tract of land, owe everybody, and leave. So my daddy took what they owed
him in gasoline in lumber. And that is what built these two cottages. Then he gave
them to me after my brother got out of one of them.
J: So how long did you fish, then? You started in 1930.
R: Well, I would think that I put fifteen full years in fishing--nothing but fishing.
J: That was when you were a full-time fisherman?
R: Yes, I was a full-time fisherman for about fifteen years of my life I would think.
J: And then you started preaching?
R: Yes. I got my local preacher's license in 1950. You want to know why I got it?
J: Well, that was going to be my next question. What made you do this?
R: Well, I tried drinking, and it did not work. It did not work; it fooled me. I did not
get to [do] what I thought it was a pleasure to do. I was shy and bashful, and a little
drink would boot me on and get me by. But then I finally got to drinking too much.
After I was married I kept drinking some. The reason I went in the ministry [was]
they were having a wet and dry election, and they were having a meeting at the
Baptist church. The lord had moved the whisky out of my life, and I told them that
I [once] drank. I did not do anything about it, but [because of] the prayers of my
wife and prayers of other people, God moved that whisky out of my life. And they
said, "Boy, you ought to get your local preacher's license and go tell everybody that."
I never have told anybody that; I told them what was in the Bible.
J: How did the election go?
R: We won! [laughter] The dry won.
J: So let us go back. You said in 1950 you got your preaching license?
R: I can go around there and get the exact date, but I think that is right.
J: You said you were taking some correspondence at first to get [that license]. Was
that right?
- 17 -


R: Yes. I had the Baptist preacher, the Methodist preacher, and another preacher
suggest for me to get my local preacher's license and go tell everybody what the good
things [were] that the lord had done for me. And then the way that I got in to it
[was] I decided I would. I tried to find out through the Methodist how. So the
preacher in charge here, he just said well you go before a board. You notify them
and go to the board and tell them you want to be a preacher. And you go before
that board, and they will assign you some work to do, and you will probably get your
local preacher's licence.
So I met with the board, and they assigned me, I think, about six books to read and
study. I read the books and studied them and passed them, and when I went before
them they gave me my local preacher's license. So then I started.
Then I wanted to go further. Rather than just be a local preacher I wanted to get
into it. I was really on fire then more than I am now. I really wanted to get into
it and do something. So they [said], "Alright, Mr. Rogers, take the first-year course
of study." That was thirteen books to read and to report on. So I took them, and
I passed them. The second year I took them, and I passed them. Then they said:
"Mr. Rogers, we can ordain you as a deacon. You are going to get [a] deacon's
license." After that I said: "Well, I want that they do when they go down before the
preachers at Lakeland--that [ceremony where] they lay their hands on my head and
pray for me. I want that." They said, "Alright. You take the second- and the third-
year course of study." So I took the second- [and] third-year [courses and] passed
them. And lord [sic] and behold, sometime during me getting that last report in and
passing them, in the higher-up [ranks] in the church, they passed a law that
[declared] by correspondence a man could not get elders [status] anymore.
J: Oh, no!
R: So I went before the board in Lakeland. I said: "What are you going to do about
it? This was one of my greatest desires. I know I am ordained by God, and that is
the greatest ordination any man will have, but I also want you men to ordain me
too." They said: "Mr. Rogers, we are going to give you something better. We are
going to make you a member of the Florida conference, and you can vote on
anything in it, have all the rights in it, but one thing and that is to vote on new,
young preachers." So I said, "Amen!" [laughter] That is it.
J: So did you have a church when you started?
R: Yes. In fact, I was pushed to be a minister from that church. They had me come
over to fill in for some preacher and make a talk because I was not preaching. I was
just talking, and a lot of bad talk. [laughter] And they said: "We want you for our
preacher. The other preacher is going to leave." So when I came back the D.S.
[district superintendent] of Gainesville district called me and said: "Rogers, we got
you a church. You are going to go. You can drive over every Sunday." So that was
the one: Providence [located on the] other side of Gainesville.
- 18 -


J: Providence?
R: Yes, that was my first church. Then they said, "While you have that we are going
to give you Campville." So I served them, I think, the first five years. Then they
changed it and gave me one down here at Ellzey. Let's see, they gave me one again
not in Providence [but in] Orange Creek. [They gave me] Orange Creek and Ellzey
for two more years. Then they put me into full-time work and sent me to north
Florida to Jennings and Hanson, and I made eight years there as a full-time
preacher.
J: Now were you driving up there from here?
R: No, I lived there; they put me in the parsonage. Now I would sneak back every now
and then and to go fishing. I just had to fish!
J: That is what I was going to ask you.
R: Yes, I told you that. But the way [I did that was] I said, "Now I am going home after
prayer meeting." I think it [would be a] Wednesday night. I would say, "I am going
home tomorrow, and I might go fishing tomorrow night." [People there would say,]
"Brother Rogers, you bring us a mess of fish." I said: "Alright. I will bring you a
mess of fish." And they said: "By the way, you can go fishing anytime you want to.
Just leave your phone number." [laughter]
J: They liked that fish.
R: We really had a good time I will tell you.
J: So you think fishing and preaching went together pretty well?
R: I do think, really, if a man cannot give off steam--a lot of people give off steam by
cursing and having a fit--but to give off steam like a man ought to [he can fish] .
Well, you will learn a lot of patience in fishing because you are out there on God's
water, [and] you are out there in God's weather. No man has control over that
weather. So you got to depend on God. But you also have a lot of ups and downs,
and fishing learns you patience. And, brother, if you have ever been a minister, you
are going to have to have patience, too.
J: In the ministry, too?
R: Yes.
J: Let me ask you: What is it that you like best about fishing?
- 19 -


R: It has always been a thrill for me to put that net around fish and to hear them at
night hitting the net or either see them in the daytime hitting it. It has just been a
thrill. Not that I want to destroy them or do away with them, but [catching] fish is
a livelihood. Fish is used for food, and if I cannot sell a fish, I can find somebody
and give it to them. I will clean it and dress it and give it to them.
J: There is always someone that can use it.
R: Yes. But it is something about fishing. Just to hear the fish on the nets and
everything. I do not know why. I guess that is like a man [that] goes [hunting].
Some people hunt; some people play golf or anything else. It is just something.
J: What do you attribute to your success as a fisherman? How do you become a
successful fisherman?
R: How would [someone] be successful? I think that he probably could be successful.
If he not only fished, but he did everything within its season. And [if he] prepared
for it and worked it right and used God as his leader in his business, I believe he can
make a success that way. You will remember that if you got a job and you do not
like it, and if it is an ordeal and bothers you to have to do it but maybe you got to
do it, that is not good for you.
J: No, not at all.
R: Now that job that you love to do and you get a joy out of, it is not the matter of
much money, financially, as it is [that] you make a success within yourself.
J: Yes, that is true.
R: In other words, I will put it this way: Whatever you desire to do, that is where you
might do the things you ought to do to have a good life and to be healthy.
J: Is fishing dangerous work?
R: I do not think so. No more danger than any other work that you do. Anything can
happen to you, but anything can happen to you in any kind of work. But I think in
fishing that you are going to have to use, what? Good judgement? Common sense?
Because if you do not, you [will] get yourself entangled in something and then it will
be dangerous. You see, if you fall overboard and you have not got any way to
protect yourself and [you have] got a long way to swim, you might not make it. But
there are so many things we can do to overcome that. Now there is always a way
[for difficulties to arise]. You are liable to fall [into the Gulf] and drown or
anything. You are liable to fall dead now. But ordinarily if you do the right thing
and make the right judgement, there is not no more danger than anything else.
- 20 -


J: Do you have to rely on your fellow fishermen? Is that something that you find is
important?
R: In what way?
J: To sort of help lessen the danger. I mean, if you did fall overboard, would it be nice
to have someone there? Did you do that as you were fishing? Did you know where
the other fishermen were? Or did you go out in groups?
R: Well, you know, I fish a lot of times by myself, which I was not really by myself but
there was not anybody in the boat but me. But I think, probably, that it is a good
idea to always, when you go out there on that water, carry someone with you. I
think that eliminates some type of danger, but I really never thought about it too
much.
J: Was fishing competitive? Did you compete against other fishermen?
R: Yes. And that is one [thing]. When I was in my younger days, well, we liked to be
hoggish towards each other. But in later years the fishermen have got away from
that some. They beg the man to come. "Here is plenty of fish. Let's catch them
together." That way is so much better than it was in the younger days. In the
younger days the fishermen were--and probably in every other field--a little hoggish.
"I want mine!" We taught that way with little young'uns. The young'un would be
sitting in the floor with the toys, two or three young'uns would come in, and that
little fellow would grab all of his stuff and hold it. You get what I am talking about?
It is a great thing in the fishing that we do not hog each other and run over each
other. I have seen them fight--almost come to blows and killing out there--right
around here in this water.
J: Trying to get a mess of fish?
R: For fishing. They are making a living fishing. This fellow thinks he beat the other
fellow there, and then they try to take it away from each other--a stop or something,
the place where they strike and get the fish. But all of that is over with now. It
does not seem to be nothing like that.
J: Why do you think that is?
R: I think that it is within the human nature. It is competition to a certain degree. You
have got it all outside there. They compete with each other. We can compete and
be fair, or we can compete and be crooked.
J: Why do you think that there is not as many fish today?
R: Why? Well, I think I told you.
- 21 -


J: Just too much traffic?
R: Yes. Or unless you want to go on with it. I think that is true. I think that, yes,
there is too much traffic. And there could have been [too many fishermen] at some
time, but I do not think there has ever been too many net fishermen to harm the
fish. We had a lot more net fishermen back when I was a kid when you could
almost walk on the mullet and see them everywhere.
J: There were a lot of fishermen here--net fishermen?
R: There were a lot of fishermen. I told you we had a hundred that lived up there. At
one time, when I was a kid, there must have been 50 fishermen. There is a shore
down there called East Shore. And so far down, the black people fished in that
area. No white people fished there; that is where the darkies fished. Now on back
around the islands and everywhere else, the white people fished. They just did it on
their own; that is their way.
J: Well, did you just net fish, or did you oyster and crab some?
R: My work on the water has always just been net fishing: no crabbing, no oysters,
nothing but net fishing.
J: Why did you not oyster or crab?
R: Well, I just did not care to do it. I figured if I could make anything anywhere, I
could make out of fishing as well as I could anything else. But remember I told you
that oystering and crabbing, there was not any money in it back in the early years.
Now they make a lot of money.
J: Well, I have been reading in one of the histories about Cedar Key that there was a
time when oystering was important. Back in the 1940s, or maybe before that a little
bit, and they were shipping a lot of oysters up to the east coast, and someone had
said that the Cedar Key Black Point oyster was one of the finest oysters you could
buy.
R: Well, I believe it was. For instances, this Black Point oyster is kind of blended in
some fresh water out of Suwannee River--not much but it taints it a little. Someway
or another the oysters grow faster in a brackish water.
J: They do?
R: Yes. The water has to get real fresh for them not to have that salty taste. You
know, I would think that our little mullet here and also our oysters [have] the best
flavor along the coast. We have just got it. I do not know; it is just natural.
J: You call them little mullet? Are the mullet smaller here?
- 22 -


R: Oh, yes. We do not have the great big mullet.
J: Where do you find the big mullet?
R: On the east coast and down below towards the Florida Keys on the west coast. Well,
the bigger mullet starts from Port Inglis on down. Then back from Port Inglis up
to Suwannee River we have a pound mullet or a pound and one-quarter.
J: But they taste better?
R: Oh, you bet they do!
J: Well, what kind of future do you see for Cedar Key?
R: Well, I will tell you what the future looks [like] to me. It is a place for retired
people to come and to enjoy life--go out on their little boats, pick up oysters around
the beach, crabs--[and it is a place] for tourists.
J: What role do you see commercial fishing playing?
R: I do not see any links to commercial fishing because [of] the laws. Remember when
I was telling you about my uncles fishing? They would faint if they could see the
laws that they would have to go by now. A lot of times they would go catch schools
of redfish; not big, old, big redfish, just regular-size, pretty redfish--eating redfish.
They would catch four or five thousand in one strike. Now commercial net
fishermen cannot get but one, and he has got to be seventeen inches [actually
eighteen, ed.] or over and not over twenty-seven inches [also no commercial sale,
ed.]. One [fish] a fishing [trip].
J: But are the redfish out there?
R: There are plenty of redfish out there.
J: There are?
R: I have been fishing just a fine mullet net, and they just about eat it up making holes
in it. They are just thick out there.
J: You cannot catch them in the mullet net?
R: Well, if you catch him you better let him go because you cannot keep them. I told
you the size and [you are allowed only] one. But one time you could keep all of
them. A while back I struck an island out there and I caught sixty. Just like that I
had to throw them all overboard. Boy they were pretty. They would have been the
best eating fish.
-23-


J: Do you like redfish?
R: Yes! We have got a redfish that we call a cob. He is about like that.
J: Twelve or fourteen inches long?
R: Yes. And you filet them just like you do a mullet and cut him and fry that brown.
That is delicious.
J: What is your favorite fish?
R: I would say mullet.
J: Really?
R: Yes, because he is all the way around. And remember, mullet is brain food. If you
have not been eating any, you only catch up with them. I raised my children on
mullet. That is all we had. I told you where they all work.
J: Do they still come back and ask you for some mullet? [laughter]
R: You bet they do! "Daddy, we will be home. Be sure you have some mullet." Yes,
oh, yes.
J: What is the best thing that you like about Cedar Key?
R: Well, I like it because it is not overcrowded, it is peaceful, I think the people are
very friendly, and I do not think we have many things going around that would harm
you or make you unhappy. I feel that way. I know there are some shady things
[that] happen everywhere where there are a few people gathered. But all and all
and around, they are good people; they are good citizens. I see every Sunday nearly
every church operation is nearly full-up. And I see where they have all the clubs and
organizations going in town. The city is carrying on and caring good. So it is a good
place to live.
J: What would you say is the worst part about living in Cedar Key?
R: Well, I could not tell you that because if I leave here, there is not but one place I
want to go and that is heaven. [laughter] I love Cedar Key so good. I was born and
raised here. Now I have been away. Like I told you, I was away eight years in north
Florida, but I did come back to keep this Cedar Key mud on my foot. But, really,
there are so many things now.
For instance, in Gainesville awhile back there were five students killed. That was
miserable for me to even think about my David up there and his wife, and he has
- 24 -


got four boys there. I worried about them. Not only just worried about my own, I
worried about other people in Gainesville because there was something loose there
that was not sensible. Yes, something dangerous. And it does make you think, and
you pray about it, and you wonder why. That is like when Hitler done so many
mean things to the Jews like robbing them of everything they had and then burning
them--cremating them. I cannot understand why. But I do not question God, and
he could have stopped it. There is a lesson there. I do not know why. That is a
mystery. That is the mystery of life. This is the mystery of life in Gainesville. Now
it could happen in Cedar Key--but not ordinarily. [We] do not have that many
people.
J: What do you think of the changes that you have seen: the growing tourism, the
decline or fisheries, and [other] stuff? Do you thing this is going to be good for
Cedar Key?
R: The fishing?
J: Well, the growing industry that you see.
R: Oh, the tourists that are coming in and the people who are sport fishing?
J: Right.
R: I think, yes. I think that it will be better. I hate to think that there will not be any
net fishing, but the laws are changing in favor of the sport fishermen instead of the
net fishermen. They just seem to change that way because we used to catch a lot
of trout. [Now] they have got this limit on catching trout. Of course, it takes a
young man to catch trout. He has got to have good eyes; he has to see them to
strike them.
J: They do not jump like the mullet?
R: No. You have to see them on the bottom. You have to see real good. I remember
as a young kid seeing trout on the bottom, but I do not remember seeing them now.
But we do have fellows that are in the bird dogs-young fishermen--that they go out
there and are standing high enough in that bird dog [that] they can see them trout.
The trout on the flats will get in a bunch of four or five hundred. They will see
them, and that is when they throw that net over them. They will take them out. The
Raines boy, about four years ago, struck and caught about 3,000 trout out there--
right out there off Sea Horse [Key].
J: Three thousand!
R: Three thousand pounds! They never heard of it. So you do not ever know. Now
they can catch 200, I think, a fishing [trip] or 250 or something. I do not know [how]
- 25 -


the law has got it. They have got a size on them, too. So I hate to think that there
will not be any net fishing, but I kind of figured on net fishing when I got to heaven.
J: You did? [laughter] And you are going to keep fishing until you get there.
R: You know, Peter was a fisherman.
J: I know he was. Well, that is why this connection between your preaching and your
fishing seems to be an old, established tradition.
R: Jesus had five fishermen in his group of disciples.
J: Well, there was one thing that I wanted to ask you about, and it goes back to the
union because I forgot to bring it up. Now, I heard that it was not a great success.
R: Well, it probably was not. That is the reason I told you that my daddy finally [ended
his association with the union]. I do not know. They might have found fault with
the way he was operating. I do not know that, but I did not hear that side of it at
all. I figured that they just got to where they could not get along to a certain extent.
And I remember a fellow, I believe his name was John Mitchell, that ran a pool
hall up town. He was the last man in with Daddy, and I think Daddy bought him
out. But I would not have heard a whole lot about it, but I do not think there was
nothing dishonest about my father.
J: No. [That is not] the point that I am trying to get at.
R: But it did not work out perfect.
J: Fishermen's cooperatives are something that start up an awful lot, but they do not
succeed very much.
R: No.
J: And I am wondering why they do not and if you have any insight as to why.
R: Well, I really think why they do not get along is because they cannot set down
together and, whatever the problem is, talk it out and iron it out to where they can
go ahead and overcome it. Instead of doing that, they begin to find fault, and they
do not want to really make peace in their own hearts. Now I think that would keep
people from being cooperative.
I remember they had a fishermen's union here when I was growing up, and I did not
really want to even belong to it because they did not use good judgement, in a way.
I was young and raring to go, and I did not figure it to work.
J: This was not your father's; it was a different one?
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R: This is a different one, yes. My daddy was out of [the] fish business then.
J: What was wrong with that union?
R: In my time?
J: In your time.
R: I just think that somehow or another they just did not work together like they should.
J: Well, I think that is the one that I was thinking of because someone said they had
some practices.
R: Well, you organize, you paid your fees to belong to the union, and they kind of
demand you to join it. But then their laws were unfair. It is kind of like they made
laws that did not fit a fellow that was free. [Say] that is your lot over there and your
yard. How you clean it and the way you go at it and things [is your business]. [It
is just like me telling you] that I do not want you to do [it] that [way]. I am going
to come over there and tell you how to do it.
So I think that is the way the union was doing. It was trying to tell you what and
how to do when you did not mind agreeing with what they said. You did not mind
agreeing if they wanted to strike. You did not mind striking with them to get the
price up, but then after [that] do not just keep going at it some odd way or
something. I do not think within my life and makeup that I have always been 100
percent for unions. I know they are good, but they have some points that are not
good.
Now you know that in your younger days the union leaders--I am talking about the
big unions--sometime you find out they are crooked. And it just does not work good.
Anything fair or anything well, we want to work. But the reason they did not make
a success is because I do not think they worked with the group fully. Like [if] me
and you had a difference, we would sit down and talk it out. Alright, the union
would have called me and my brother before it and made threats and said [that] if
we kept fishing or done something they were going to do something to us. Instead
of that, [it is better to] call us at the meeting and talk to us there. Things like that.
A lot of people that are free and feel like they are living in freedom [take offense
at threats]. I do not like to [have] people making threats to me.
J: And the union, at that time, was making them?
R: Yes. That is not with my belief, but I do not think everything I say is perfect. Like
I say, [when your are] eighty years old you get a lot of things mixed up.
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J: Well, we will just try to go through it and see what we can find. Would you advise
a young man to go into fishing today?
R: No!
J: Why not?
R: Because I do not believe that he can operate financially and make a success as a net
fisherman. I did not believe it in my younger days, and I do not believe it now.
J: You did not believe it then, but you stayed in it?
R: I wanted to because I loved to do it myself. I told you I did not want my boys to be
fishermen.
J: Were they ever attracted to it?
R: Oh, my, yes! I had a little boat right there on the basin, and if I had it to do over
again and they came begging me, I would say, "Jump in, boy!" I would take him,
especially that one that died when he was forty-two. There was many a time when
he came [and said], "Daddy, let me go with you." But he did not realize [the
condition when] you go out there. We did not have no mosquito dope or anything
then, and the mosquitos would eat him up. And this is a little fellow was twelve or
thirteen years old, and then he had to go to school the next day.
J: Well, what did you do for the mosquitos?
R: I just toughed it out. But then in later years we had the dope [repellent].
J: Was fishing a difficult or rough life do you think?
R: In that way: insects and weather.
J: And was the work hard?
R: I do not think work hurts you.
J: [laughter]
R: No, I did not mind the work.
J: Well, I do not think I have very many more questions. Is there anything else that
you would like to say?
R: I hope you get something out of this.
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J: I think I have. It has been some interesting discussion, I think. I was pleased to
hear it.
R: There is so many things. Like I told you, there is something back there that really
would be important to you if my buddy was here to ring a bell. [If he would] say it,
then I would know what to tell you because we had a lot of wonderful times. I miss
him; I miss him a whole lot. He was almost like a brother to me.
J: Did your wife ever fish with you?
R: When we first got married, before we had any children, she used to go in the little
boat with me. [She would] sit in the seat. Of course, I would not get tired, you
know, because I was sitting there [trying to act] cool. I took her fishing one night,
and, I do not know, we caught three or four hundred mullet. [She said]: "It is cold.
I have got to go home." So I brought her home, and I think I went back and
finished the night. [laughter]
J: That was the only time?
R: She went with me two or three times. But my wife, the last twenty years, has had
four strokes and two of them almost fatal. One of them [she had] when she was in
the hospital. She laid flat of her back over fourteen days. She could not say a word
and do anything but just move her eyes. But she can talk now. She waits on me and
cooks, but she has still got a problem. She has had bypasses cut in her legs:
insufficient blood supply. Sometimes her legs turn black. They will heal it up, and
it comes back. But she is still not real well.
J: How has your health been over the years?
R: Well, I think it has been pretty good. I do not remember being in the hospital
[except for] having my adenoids taken out and a fistula on my back. That was back
when I was about thirty years old. Then when I was sixty-five I had a heart attack
and stayed in intensive care about fourteen days.
[Tape ends]
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