Citation
Work and health of the Chesapeake Bay commercial fishermen of Somerset County, Maryland

Material Information

Title:
Work and health of the Chesapeake Bay commercial fishermen of Somerset County, Maryland "It's a hard life, honey!"
Creator:
Habermacher, Andrew Lee, 1943- ( Dissertant )
duToit, Brian M. ( Thesis advisor )
von Mering, Otto ( Reviewer )
Lawless, Robert ( Reviewer )
Niddrie, David L. ( Reviewer )
Cato, James C. ( Reviewer )
Place of Publication:
Gainesville, Fla.
Publisher:
University of Florida
Publication Date:
Copyright Date:
1986
Language:
English
Physical Description:
xiii, 264 leaves : ill., maps ; 28 cm.

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Boats ( jstor )
Counties ( jstor )
Crabs ( jstor )
Fisheries ( jstor )
Fishers ( jstor )
Fishing ( jstor )
Island life ( jstor )
Labor ( jstor )
Oysters ( jstor )
Watermen ( jstor )
Fisheries -- Maryland -- Somerset County ( lcsh )
Fishers -- Maryland -- Somerset County ( lcsh )
Social conditions -- Somerset County (Md.) ( lcsh )
Genre:
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage:
United States -- Maryland -- Somerset County

Notes

Abstract:
This dissertation focuses on work, work-related ill health, health care and social organization of small scale, self-employed commercial fishermen of somerset county, Maryland. The research was undertaken to (1) see if commercial fishing work caused an identifiable pattern of ill health, (2) document the history of exploitation of bay fisheries, (3) discover the changes in fishing technology and strategy, (4) examine the pattern of socialization and recruitment of fishermen, (5) classify the fishermen's work histories and strategies, and (6) ascertain the nature of the social system within which fishermen operate to see how it relates to the organization and performance of work. a broad cultural ecological model is employed as a conceptual framework. A combination of archival--libraries, court records, censuses--and field research--participant observation, life history recording, content analysis, survey interviews, simple observation, key informant interviewing, typology construction--methods was employed. Twenty-five commercial fishermen and eleven health care personnel from Somerset were formally interviewed. the conclusions are (1) natural environmental changes triggered modifications in social organization, demography and technology; (2) technological changes placed new pressures on the natural environment; (3) technological changes brought alterations in population and social organization; (4) certain health problems of fishermen flow directly from their work; others are related to heredity and lifestyle; (5) dramatic shifts occurred in the degree of exploitation of different fisheries related to species' availability and changing economic important; (6) fishermen maintain networks of friends, neighbors and kinsmen in which their occupation is well established and from communities where there are few other work alternatives; (7) six work strategy patterns were discovered among the fishermen; and (8) family division of labor, local church and fire fighting organizations, networks of kinsmen, friend s and neighbors, and occupational associations support the fishermen and their occupation.
Thesis:
Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Florida, 1986.
Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 249-262).
General Note:
Typescript.
General Note:
Vita.
Statement of Responsibility:
by Andrew Lee Habermacher.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
Copyright [name of dissertation author]. Permission granted to the University of Florida to digitize, archive and distribute this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.
Resource Identifier:
029609541 ( AlephBibNum )
AEH8257 ( NOTIS )
14971383 ( OCLC )

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Full Text












WORK AND HEALTH OF THE CHESAPEAKE BAY
COMMERCIAL FISHERMEN OF SOMERSET COUNTY, MARYLAND:
"IT'S A HARD LIFE, HONEY!"







By

ANDREW LEE HABERMACHER


A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN
PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS
FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY


UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA


1986
























































Copyright 1986

by

Andrew Lee Habermacher


j
























To Kyle, my wife, and Gretchen and Geoffrey, my children















ACKNOWLEDGMENTS


The research for this dissertation was funded by myself and

performed during summers, weekends, and holidays during the period 1979

to 1985 while I continued to teach full-time at Prince George's

Community College, Maryland.


I received cooperation from a number of individuals and

organizations during the course of the research and I wish to

acknowledge my gratitude to them. The staff of the Health Planning

Council of the Eastern Shore at Cambridge, Maryland, provided helpful

documents on the health care system and contacts with health care

personnel in Somerset County. The Licensing and Consumer Services

Department of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Annapolis,

provided invaluable computer printouts concerning commercial fishing

licensing and related information for Somerset County. The Maryland

Department of State Planning made available computer printouts of the

1980 census for the subdivisions within Somerset County which proved to

be much more useful than the printed aggregated county data. The

Somerset County watermen and their family members with whom I spoke and

among whom I circulated during the field work deserve many thanks and

my gratitude. I am most especially indebted to three families whose

members served as key informants and also to those watermen who

participated in the formal interviews.


iv










I am indebted to the anthropology faculty of the University of

Florida for the high quality of their graduate program, and for the

training and guidance I received during my two years of course work

among them. I also wish to indicate the helpfulness of the Title VI,

N.D.F.L. Grant I received through the auspices of the Center for

African Studies of the University of Florida which helped financially

sustain me during those two years and to indicate my gratitude to its

then director, Dr. Haig der Houssikian, for his support.


To the members of my dissertation committee--Dr. B. M. duToit,

Dr. 0. von Mering, Dr. D. Niddrie, Dr. R. Lawless, and Dr. J. C.

Cato--, I owe many thanks for their careful scrutiny of the draft and

revisions of the dissertation which is measurably better for their

input. Dr. Brian M. duToit, my graduate advisor and dissertation

committee chairman, deserves special acknowledgment for his perennial

encouragement and constructive advice during my doctoral course work,

field research, and, particularly, during the writing and revising of

the dissertation itself. Without his continued support, I might not

have completed this project and to him I owe a great deal.


I also wish to thank my colleagues at Prince George's Communuty

College-Dr. Righton Robertson, Dr. Ernest Green and Dr. Harold

Guy--for their friendship and unflagging support, especially during the

period of my field research and write-up. Their cooperation and

encouragement eased the difficulties of carrying out research while

continuing to hold a full-time teaching position.


To my dear friend and teacher, the late Dr. Michael Kenny,under

whom I studied for an M.A. in anthropology at Catholic University in


1








Washington, D.C., I owe more than I can easily express. Were it not

for him I would not have ventured down the personal and professional

paths I walk today.


Without the love and patience of Kyle, my wife, Geoffrey and

Gretchen, my children, and Grace and Andy, my parents, this

dissertation would never have been completed.














TABLE OF CONTENTS


Page


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS. . .


. . . . .


LIST OF TABLES . . . . . .

LIST OF FIGURES . . . . . .

ABSTRACT . . . . . . .

CHAPTERS

I INTRODUCTION . . . . .

II LITERATURE. . . . . .

Social Science Research on Work and Occupations .


The Occupation of Fishing and Related
Health Issues . . . .

III RESEARCH METHODOLOGY . . . .

The Development of the Research Project .
Early Field Research Experiences . .
Ethnographic Field Techniques . . .
Lessons . . . . .
Notes . . . . . .

IV HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE . . .


iv

ix

xi

xii


The Colonial Period .. ....
The Revolutionary War and the Late
Eighteenth Century . .
The Early Nineteenth Century .
The Rise of the Seafood Industry..
Somerset in the Twentieth Century .
Notes . . . .


V SOCIODEMOGRAPHIC CHARACTERISTICS .

Population Size, Age and Sex Composition.
Ethnic Composition . . .
Density, Rurality and Settlement .
Income, Unemployment and Poverty .
Housing . . . . .


. .








Marriage. . ..... 86
Social Distance and Insularity.. ....... 90
Conclusion. . . ... . . 93

VI SOMERSET COUNTY COMMERCIAL FISHERMEN. . ... 95

Becoming a Waterman . . . .. 96
Watermen's Income and Poverty Levels . ... 102
Work Opportunities. . . . ... 105
Work Strategies . . . . .. 110
Social Organization . . . .. 143
Watermen's Views and Opinions . . . 153
Notes . . . . . . 161

VII HEALTH AND HEALTH CARE. . . . ... 162

Health.Care . . .. . 162
Health Problems . . . .... 173
Notes . . . . . . 204

VIII CONCLUSION. . . . . ... ... .205

Environment, Population, Social Organization
and Technology: Changes and Interactions . .. .205
Somerset Watermen: Summary Conclusions. . .. .217
Recommendations . . . . 233
Notes . . . . . 235

APPENDICES

A MOST FREQUENTLY OCCURRING FAMILY NAMES AMONG
SOMERSET COUNTY WATERMEN . . . 236

B WORK HISTORIES OF FIFTEEN SOMERSET WATERMEN .... .239

BIBLIOGRAPHY . . . . ... ...... 249

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. . . . . ... 263


viii














LIST OF TABLES


TABLES Page

5-1 1979 Family Incomes for Smith Island,
Somerset County and Maryland State. . ... 84

5-2 Percent of Families and Individuals with Incomes
Below Poverty Level in 1979 for Smith Island,
Somerset County and Maryland State. . . 85

5-3 In-Marriage and Out-Marriage Figures for
Selected Somerset County, Maryland Areas. . 87

5-4 In-Marriage and Out-Marriage Percentages for
Selected Areas in Somerset County, Maryland . 88

6-1 Mean Number Years of Education by Age
Cohorts of a Sample of Somerset County
Commercial Fishermen. . . . ... 100

6-2 Employed Persons 16 Years and Over
by Industry in 1980 for Smith Island. . ... 104

6-3 Smith Island Family Income for 1979 . ... 106

6-4 Maryland Fisheries Licenses Issued
for Somerset County in 1980 . . .. 111

6-5 Legal Harvest Seasons for Various Aquatic Species
in the Maryland Portion of Chesapeake Bay and the
Atlantic Coastal Waters of Worcester County . 116

6-6 Oyster Licenses Issued in Maryland, 1977-1980 . 120

6-7 Oyster Shaft Tongers on Smith Island 1982 . .. .121

6-8 License Combinations for Smith Island
Watermen 1980 . . . .... .130

6-9 Business Activities of Fishermen's
Wives in Crisfield and Smith Island . 141

6-10 Opinions of Somerset County Watermen Concerning
Work in the Commercial Fisheries. . .. 156








7-1 Home Remedies and Self-Medications
Employed in Somerset County . . .... 165

7-2 Diseases of the Circulatory System 1974 ..... 175

7-3 Estimated Number of Hypertensives 1975. . 177

7-4 Infant Mortality Rates. . . . 178

7-5 1971-1975 Infant Mortality Composite Rates. .... .180

7-6 Admissions to Maryland State Inpatient
Facilities for Fiscal Year 1976 . . .. 181

7-7 Somerset County Medical Personnel Views
on Health Problems of the General County
Population (Including Watermen) . . 184

7-8 Somerset County Medical Personnel Views
on Health Problems of Watermen. . . ... 186

7-9 Health Problems of Watermen During the
Year Immediately Prior to Their Interviews. .... .188

7-10 Health Problems Watermen Reported
Have Caused Them to Miss Work . . .... 189

7-11 Health Problems Causing Work Loss Which
Watermen Believe to be the Result of
Commercial Fishing Work . . .. 190

7-12 Watermen's Views on Health Problems
Related to Commercial Fishing . . .... 191

7-13 Occupationally Related Illness/Injury of Watermen:
A Comparison of the Views of Watermen and Health
Care Personnel (H.C.P.) . . ... 194

8-1 Changes in Four Variables and Their
Effects in Somerset County. . . . 206

A-1 Thirty-Eight Most Common Family Names
of Somerset County Watermen . . . 237

A-2 Most Common Family Names of Licensed
Somerset County Watermen by County Area ..... 238















LIST OF FIGURES




FIGURES Page

1-1 Map of Chesapeake Bay Showing the
Location of Somerset County, Maryland . .. 2

2-1 Map of the Maryland Counties of the
Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay . ... 19

3-1 Map of the Somerset County Research Areas . .. 30

3-2 Map of Somerset County Rivers, Creeks and Sounds. 33

3-3 Map of Smith Island . . . . 35

4-1 Drawing of Skipjack Anna McGarvey, a Sailing
Oyster Dredge, Riding at Anchor Near Annapolis. 68

4-2 Drawing of April Star, a Wooden Round-stern
Work Boat, at Webster's Cove near Mount Vernon. 72

4-3 Drawing of Mark Jim, a Wooden Box-stern
Work Boat Rigged with a Patent Tong, at
Tylerton on Smith Island. . . . 74

6-1 Drawing of a Boy Taking His Father to
Shore in an Outboard Motor-Powered
Wooden Skiff After "Fishing Up" at
their Smith Island Crab Shanty . . 99

6-2 Drawing of Oyster Patent Tong Boats
at Tylerton Boat Harbor on Smith Island ....... 118

6-3 Drawing of Kristy Lynn and Miss Beth,
Crab Scrape Bateaux, at Tylerton, Smith Island. 127

6-4 Drawing of a Crab Scrape Bateau and
Three Fishing Shanties at Ewell, Smith Island . 128






xi















Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy


WORK AND HEALTH OF THE CHESAPEAKE BAY
COMMERCIAL FISHERMEN OF SOMERSET COUNTY, MARYLAND:
"IT'S A HARD LIFE, HONEY!"

By

ANDREW LEE HABERMACHER

MAY 1986



Chairman: Dr. Brian M. Dutoit
Major Department: Anthropology


The dissertation focuses on work, work-related ill health, health

care and social organization of small scale, self-employed commercial

fishermen of Somerset County, Maryland. The research was undertaken to

(1) see if commercial fishing work caused an identifiable pattern of

ill health, (2) document the history of exploitation of bay fisheries,

(3) discover the changes in fishing technology and strategy, (4)

examine the pattern of socialization and recruitment of fishermen, (5)

classify the fishermen's work histories and strategies, and (6)

ascertain the nature of the social system within which fishermen

operate to see how it relates to the organization and performance of

work. A broad cultural ecological model is employed as a conceptual

framework. A combination of archival--libraries, court records,

censuses--and field research--participant observation, life history

recording, content anaylsis, survey interviews, simple observation, key
xii









informant interviewing, typology construction--methods was employed.

Twenty-five commercial fishermen and eleven health care personnel from

Somerset were formally interviewed. The conclusions are (1) natural

environmental changes triggered modifications in social organization,

demography and technology; (2) technological changes placed new

pressures on the natural environment; (3) technological changes brought

alterations in population and social organization; (4) certain health

problems of fishermen flow directly from their work; others are related

to heredity and lifestyle; (5) dramatic shifts occurred in the degree

of exploitation of different fisheries related to species' availability

and changing economic importance; (6) fishermen maintain networks of

friends, neighbors and kinsmen in which their occupation is well

established and from communities where there are few other work

alternatives; (7) six work strategy patterns were discovered among the

fishermen; and (8) family division of labor, local church and fire

fighting organizations, networks of kinsmen, friends and neighbors, and

occupational associations support the fishermen and their occupation.


xiii














CHAPTER I
INTRODUCTION


This dissertation describes the work, the occupationally related

illnesses and injuries, the health care, and selected aspects of the

social life of the small scale, self-employed commercial fishermen

residing in Somerset County, Maryland, on the Eastern Shore of the

Chesapeake Bay (see Figure 1-1). The major reasons for undertaking the

research were (1) to see if the work of these fishermen results in some

particular pattern of illness and injury, (2) to document the

historical sequence of exploitation of the several bay fisheries, (3)

to establish the historical changes in the gears and strategies

employed by the fishermen, (4) to examine how men are recruited and

socialized into this kind of work, (5) to classify the work histories

and current strategies employed by the fishermen and their wives, and

(6) to ascertain the nature of the social system within which these

fishermen operate and to see how it relates to the organization and

performance of their work.


The general model being employed is a cultural ecological one.

The model assumes the interconnectedness of four major variables. They

are technology, social organization (including ideology and values as

well), environment and demography. I will argue that as changes, both

natural and man-made, occurred in the environment they triggered

pressures on the existing social organization, demographic pattern, and

technology. Also as new technology was locally developed or introduced

































































Figure 1-1


Map of Chesapeake Bay Showing the
Location of Somerset County, Maryland









from outside, new pressures were placed on the natural environmental

resources exploited for subsistence and commercial purposes. In

addition, technological changes (1) in the area of health resulted in

alterations in the demographic pattern (e.g., lower death rates, lower

birth rate, smaller families), and (2) in the area of boat propulsion

and fishing gears resulted in changes in social organization (e.g.,

demise of some occupations, development of new occupations, changes in

the work strategies and income patterns of fishermen) of these fishing

communities.


The project began in 1978 with library research. Preliminary

field work started in March 1979. Field research was undertaken between

1979 and 1984 and consisted of numerous visits, varying from a few days

to three weeks in length, to the site.


Chapter II contains a review of the pertinent anthropological and

sociological literature on work, occupations, occupational health, and

health care. I focus on the commercial fishing occupation and review

anthropological work on fishing and fishermen in general. The

literature on occupational health is briefly summarized and material

concerning the occupationally related health risks of commercial

fishing is described. In the last portion of chapter II the literature

on Chesapeake Bay commercial fishing and the literature on the social

life of the people many of whom are commercial fishermen who live on

the Bay's Eastern Shore are discussed.


Chapter III outlines the development of the research project and

describes events in the early and later stages of field work. There is

also a discussion of the ethnographic field techniques which were









employed. Data collection consisted of the use of the following

techniques: (1) archival research at government agencies, university

and public libraries, and the county courthouse; (2) participation in

fishing work and numerous other activities in the research area; (3)

simple observation; (4) content analysis of open ended questions and

conversations; (5) life and work history recording; (6) survey

interviews; (7) open-ended as well as closed ended, forced choice

interviewing; (8) key informant interviewing; and (9) typology

construction. This chapter also contains a discussion of some of the

difficulties I encountered and lessons to be learned in the process of

carrying out this type of research.


Chapter IV provides the historical perspective and Chapter V

delineates the present social situation without which the nature of the

occupational culture, occupational health risks, health care of these

commercial fishermen and their families cannot properly be understood.


Chapter VI examines various aspects of the commercial fishermen

and their occupation in Somerset County, Maryland. These include

recruitment, income levels, work opportunities, work strategies, social

organization, and their attitudes concerning their work.


Health and health care of the the county and of the fishermen in

particular are described in Chapter VII. In addition to census and

other documentary information, the data for this and the foregoing

chapter are primarily derived from interviews with watermen and health

care personnel in Somerset County.


Chapter VIII provides a summary and discussion of the research

findings, conclusions, and recommendations.












CHAPTER II
LITERATURE


Scholarly interest in work and occupations ranges from nineteenth

century social scientists who were concerned to link them to the new

industrial technologies, forms of social organizations and modes of

production then rising in the west to more recent sociological and

anthropological contributions. These later efforts stressed the

relationship of work and occupation to family life, community

involvement, industrial relations, worker alienation, union and

association formation, and detailed ethnographies of specific

professions and work groups. With specific regard to the occupation of

fishing the efforts of anthropologists have been wide-ranging.

Anthropological writings have included the description of fishing

techniques, the importance of seafood in a group's subsistence

strategy, the sexual division in fishing efforts and the annual round,

the formation of fishing cooperatives, the effects of changes in

fishing technology, the beliefs and values of fishermen, and the social

and economic marginality inherent in the lives of some kinds of

fishermen. Most of the literature on Chesapeake Bay fishermen and

Eastern Shore social life is in the form of novels, memoires,

histories, anecdotal works and general studies. Few anthropological

studies of the region exist.


In the more specialized field of occupational illness, research

first began to appear in the late eighteenth century but it was not

until the very early twentieth century that a good systematic overview







6

of occupational health appeared and research in this area has continued

to expand. The health problems associated with the various fishing and

related marine occupations have been identified as resulting from

microorganisms causing infections, overexposure to heat or cold,

prolonged exposure to the sun, toxic substances, and accidents.


Social Research on Work and Occupations


The Sociology of Work and Occupations


Prior to the real development of a disciplinary effort to study

work and occupations by sociologists, Engels (1968--originally 1844)

drew attention to the work conditions in the factories, factory

occupational dangers, workers' housing conditions, and the effects of

child and female labor at an early stage of the process of the English

industrialization process. Eventually sociologists examined work and

occupation in the context of the industrializing, urbanizing, socially

stratified and politically complex societies of Europe and North

America. As early as the first decade of the twentieth century John

Fitch (1910) published a study of the living standards, worker morale,

community involvement and effects of the work environment on family

life among steel workers in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


During the 1920's the fashion, especially evident at the

University of Chicago, was the study of various deviant or low status

occupations such as prostitution and hoboeing. In addition there were

also studies of various more socially acceptable occupations as retail

sales, school teaching and waitressing. These early beginnings

eventually expanded to a focus on various professional occupations such









as ministers, doctors and college professors (Taylor 1968 and Tilgher

1929).


In the 1930's one sees the beginnings of generalizations and

concept formation in occupational sociology. The work of Salz is

notable. Writing on occupations in the Encyclopedia of Social Science,

Salz (1933:1513) provides the literature with an often quoted

definition of occupation, viz., "that specific activity with a market

value which an individual continually pursues for the purpose of

obtaining a steady flow of income; this activity also determines the

social position of the individual." In the same decade Carr-Saunders

and Wilson (1933) provide an insightful analysis and historical review

of professions in England.


The now famous social relations studies undertaken at the Hawthorn

Works of the Western Electric Company by Mayo and various others

(Roethlisberger and Dickson 1939) in the 1930's represent the best

early empirical efforts in another area of the sociology of work, i.e.,

industrial relations. Mayo and his colleagues from Harvard

investigated the factors affecting production. In the process they

discovered the existence and importance of informal groupings of

workers, especially as these groups affected factory production. These

early and well designed studies lead to a revolution in the theory of

industrial firm management as well as in how to conceptualize the

social relations within them (Benoit-Guilbot 1968). Clearly the "ideal

type" descriptions of formal bureaucracies as propounded by Weber

(1947) were somewhat one-sided. After the Hawthorn work it was clear

there existed an informal aspect of social relations in addition to the









planned formal structure of business and industry that was capable of

affecting their function and production. The reality of what came to

be called "worker control" was established and has remained an

important thematic strand in the sociological research on industry.


Since the 1950's there has been clear growth in the amount and

variety of research on work and related topics by sociologists. A

brief, partial sampling of this effort would include

professionalization (Hughes 1958; Becker, Geer, Hughes and Strauss

1961; Vollmer and Mills 1966; Friedson 1970; Friedson and Lorber 1972);

worker alienation (Drucker 1950; Blauner 1964; Chinoy 1965); social

class and occupation (Shostak and Gomberg 1964: LeMasters 1975; Levison

1975; Rubin 1976); industry-community relations (Schneider 1969);

occupational identification and community (Becker and Carper 1956;

Gerstl 1961) and worker knowledge, satisfaction and control of the work

process (Kusterer 1978; Houbolt 1981). The study of unions and unionism

surprisingly has not attracted the interested of sociologists to the

extent one might have expected.


There have been a few notable attempts to collect and organize the

various researches into the sociology of work into a subdiscipline. By

the early 1950's sufficient research in the sociology of work existed

that Caplow devoted an entire book to the subject. Caplow (1954:4)

defined the sociology of work as, "the study of those social roles

which arise from the classification of men by the work they do."

Furthermore, he suggested a number of questions which a sociology of

work should stress. Some of these are (1) the rise and decline of

occupations, (2) occupational ranking and prestige, (3) variations in









sociopolitical values and life expectations among different

occupations, (4) occupational recruitment and mobility, (5)

occupational characteristics and their effects on formation of

occupational associations, (6) the creation and maintenance of the

social roles within each occupation, (7) interoccupational variations

in working conditions, (8) occupational boundary maintenance, (9) the

relation of formal educational systems to occupations, and (10) the

effects of various occupational life styles on the family institution

(1954: 7). This and other books by Caplow served as the basic text in

the sociology of work during the 1950's and 1960's.


Following the book by Caplow (1954) one finds Taylor's (1968)

Occupational Sociology to be an excellent assessment. In twenty-four

well-written and impressively researched chapters, Taylor covers the

sociological literature on occupational mobility, occupational

environments (e.g., level of aspiration, preparation for and entry,

career pattern, social control within occupations, recruitment), and

the meaning of occupations for individuals (e.g., colleagueship,

ideology, occupation and family life, the major occupational domains of

agribusiness, etc.). Also worth mentioning are the articles entitled

"Workers,""The Sociology of Work" and "Occupations and Careers" in the

International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences edited by Sills

(1968).


More recently the review article by Roth, Ruzek and Daniels (1973)

on the state of the sociology of occupations has appeared. Continued

evidence of the viability of the subdiscipline is suggested by the

inauguration in 1974 of a journal entitled Sociology of Work and









Occupation. Most recently there is Simpson and Simpson's (1981) edited

collection Research in the Sociology of Work.


In concluding this review of the literature on work and

occupations I would like to point out that the vast majority of the

research in the subdiscipline can be fitted into one of the three

dominant theoretical orientations employed in sociology, i.e.,

structuralism, conflict theory, and symbolic interactionism.

Structuralists (Durkheim would be an example) concern themselves with

the inequities of the division of labor while seeing occupations in

society as the natural outcome of the needs of the society.

Structuralists will stress the social functions to the maintenance of

the societal structure of the existing division of labor within

society.


For conflict theorists (such as Marx), by contrast, the inequities

reflected in the division of labor in a society are due to the

essential tension existing between classes of people with divergent and

clashing interests. This approach would lead, for example, to an

examination of the worker's ability, or lack thereof, to independently

make decisions about work related tasks, i.e., matters of autonomy and

control in various occupational groups and settings.


Social analysts of the symbolic interactionist school are also

interested in work and job behavior details. However, they are less

interested in framing aspects of work from a macrotheoretical view

point than the conflict theorists and structuralists. Symbolic

interactionist analysis focuses more on the description of what it is

like to hold and perform a particular job than on the institutional









setting or historical development of the job. They will examine and

describe the actual work performed in a particular occupation as well

as the norms, values, symbols and socialization processes

characteristic of particular occupations and networks of related

occupations (e.g., Becker et al. 1961; Hughes 1958).


The Anthropology of Work and Occupations


Anthropological descriptions of various and far flung societies

continued through the first half of the twentieth century. By mid

century anthropologists had contributed (1) some good descriptions of

work and economic life in "primitive" societies, (2) comparative

generalizations about the operations of simple economies, and (3)

structural-functional interpretations relating to work, religion,

politics and family to one another in these nonindustrial societies

(Firth 1939 and 1946; Forde 1963--originally 1934--; Malinowski 1935

and 1984--originally 1922--; Herskovits 1965). Due to the relative lack

of job specialization and the tendency for work to be allocated

primarily on the basis of sex, age and kinship in simpler societies,

ethnographic reporting of occupation was usually imbedded in

descriptions of the socially appropriate work of men and women at

different ages or as an incidental aspect of life histories (e.g.,

Sapir 1922; Radin 1926; Underhill 1939; Landes 1938; Simmons 1942).


Prior to the 1970's there were only a few noteworthy accounts (see

Bunzel 1929 on Navajo potters and Tschopic 1941 on Pueblo potters)

clearly focusing on occupations. Ethnographic studies more often

centered on the technology employed by a group to exploit its

environment for subsistence purposes rather than on the work as









structured into occupations. By the 1940's and 1950's only a few

anthropologists had turned their attentions to studying occupations in

complex societies (e.g., Goldschmidt 1946; Chapple 1953; Harding 1955;

Keesing, Siegel and Hammond 1957).


With growth of interest in urban and complex societies and the

closing of many traditional societies to anthropological work due to

the move from colonial to independent nation status of many countries,

especially in Africa during the 1960's and early 1970's, ethnographers

turned to studying their own societies. One begins to find them

studying occupational groups in the industrial and urbanized

societies.


Several of these anthropological studies of occupational groups

are noteworthy. The longshoremen of Portland, Oregon were the subject

of research which became the basis of an ethnography (Pilcher 1972). A

description of the life and work of the tuna fishermen of San Diego,

California based on participant observation was contributed by Orbach

(1977). An ethnographic study of occupations in the railroad industry

(Gamst 1980) focuses primarily around the work of the locomotive

engineer (or "Hoghead"). Probably the most recent contribution of note

to the literature of the ethnography of occupations is a study of the

culture of construction workers (Applebaum 1981). It provides, aside

from the work of sociologist LeMasters (1975), the only serious social

analysis of the construction worker occupation and life cycle presently

available.


These and other studies have lead to a number of discussions about

methods, conceptual categories and theoretical approaches among






13

ethnographers in the developing subdiscipline of the anthropology of

work and occupations. For example, Smith (1977) warns against a priori

etic characterizations which obscure significant emic differences among

practitioners in the same broad occupational category. She

demonstrates that in the case of seamen there are significant

differences between the work of deepwater sailors and Great Lakes men

resulting in different attitudes and values about their social identity

and their work place.


Contributions toward clarifying the conceptual framework upon

which the subdiscipline of the anthropology of work and occupations is

based have been made by several writers (Gamst 1980; Smith 1977; Wallman

1979; and Applebaum 1981). Some stress the use of the traditional

ethnographic approaches in the study of occupational groups, especially

the more well-bounded ones such as the military, logging, farming,

stevedoring, railroading, trucking, mining, law enforcement, fishing,

and some types of manufacturing (Gamst 1980; Applebaum 1981). Others

have emphasized the need to place the occupational category within its

macrocultural and historical setting (Smith 1977 and Wallman 1979).

Wallman's approach, for example, employs a focus which is rather wider

than occupations alone. She considers that the study of work is about

social transactions as much as material production and that its

importance frequently lies in the quality of the relationships

surrounding allocation, production or distribution of resources as much

as in simple material survival. In suggesting that work dictates the

identity as well as the economic life of the worker, Wallman returns to

ideas introduced in both the conflict theory and symbolic

interactionism approaches in sociology.








The growth of interest by anthropologists in the study of

occupation and work in complex societies is further signaled by the

organization of a new professional society in the late 1970's. The

Society for the Anthropology of Work began to publish a newsletter in

1980 which has provided a forum of discussion where brief articles,

bibliographies, book reviews and research progress reports are shared.


We turn now to a consideration of the literature on the occupation

of fishing and its related health problems.


The Occupation of Fishing and Related Health Issues


The Ethnology of Fishing and Fishermen


General review. Marine food resources have been exploited in

varying degrees by societies throughout the world since at least as

early as the European upper paleolithic and probably even earlier.

Ethnographers routinely describe the fishing techniques and the

importance of seafood resources in the subsistence activities of the

nonindustrial societies and rural less developed areas of industrial

societies. Barnett (1960) writes about lagoon and open sea fishing

among the Palauans pointing out that both fishing and the sea are

considered to be male domains. Among the Kaoka speakers of Guadalcanal

(Hogbin 1964) fishing is seasonal and ancillary to horticulture. The

North Alaskan Eskimo (Chance 1966) traditionally had a regular seasonal

round which involved- spring time whaling and walrus hunting, summer

seal and wild fowl hunting and fishing, winter land mammal trapping,

sealing at icepack breathing holes, and fishing. Fishing was performed

the year round and was significant in providing a stable and reliable









diet when other sources of food would fail. The great significance of

fishing for the Nootka, Kwakuitl and other peoples of British Columbia

is well described (Forde 1963) and widely known in the anthropological

literature. By contrast Samoan villagers (Holmes 1964) are subsistence

agriculturalists who devote only a small fraction of their time to

exploit the sea. Firth's (1946) work on the peasant fishermen of

Malaya is an extensive and detailed ethnography focused on the economy

of a preindustrial fishing system. Others (Messenger 1969; Diamond

1969; Fox 1978) have also looked at peasant or rural segments of

industrial societies where, by tradition, fishing was an important

activity.


There is an impressive literature concerning the types of

fisheries and the technology by which they have been exploited. Reef

fishing on the Pacific (Malinowski 1935; Holmes 1964), ice fishing

among the Eskimo (Chance 1966) and the Ainu (Ohnuki-Tierney 1974),

swamp and lunar tide fishing in Brazil (Cordell 1974 and 1978), small

boat drift net and long line hook fishing in Ireland (Messenger 1969),

large boat commercial fishing in Ireland (Young 1975), Massachusetts

(Bartlett 1979) and California (Orbach 1977), Atlantic distant water

factory trawling (Warner 1983), and East Anglian (English) outshore and

inshore trawling and drifting (Lummis 1985) are but a few of the more

useful efforts.


Literature also exists regarding fishing in larger geographical

regions such as the Caribbean (Price 1966), the maritime cultures of

the North Atlantic (Andersen 1979), and the maritime adaptation of the

Pacific (Costell and Quimby 1975).










Recent research has focused on a variety of aspects of commercial

fishing including the formation of fishing cooperatives (Poggie 1979

and 1980, Orbach 1980, Comitas 1962), beliefs and values of fishermen

(Zulaika 1981, Orbach 1977, Poggie 1980, Poggie and Gersuny 1975),

effects of changes in fishing technology (Warner 1983, Orbach 1977,

Andersen 1979, Cordell 1973, Spoehr 1980, Kottak 1983), social

relations on boats (Aubert and Arner 1958-59), economic rationality and

the social system of a fishing village (Zarur 1975), the marginality of

distant water fishermen to their families and home communities (Orbach

1977, Warner 1983, Danowski 1980), and the economic marginality of some

artisanal forms of fishing (Wadel 1969, Cordell 1973). Even more recent

have been studies on the social impact of a new U.S. naval base on a

Georgia fishing community (Overbey 1982), the family and childrearing

as forces for economic change in Scots fishing villages (Thompson

1984), the role of fishermen's wives on Harkers Island, North Carolina

(Dixon et al. 1984) and in East Anglia (Lummis 1985), variations in

family and community structure in two Chesapeake Bay fishing villages

(Ellis 1984), and the continuation of illegal commercial fishing in the

Raritan Bay, New Jersey, region (McCay 1984).


The fishermen of the Chesapeake. The commercial fishing industry

of the Chesapeake Bay began to develop as early as the 1830's but did

not become well established until after the Civil War. The earliest

comprehensive data on the Chesapeake fisheries is found in Goode's

(1887:424-427) massive survey of the U.S. fisheries and fishermen for

the year 1880. In that year the finfishery produced just over twenty









million pounds worth nearly one-half million dollars, and the

shellfishery yielded more than seventy-five million pounds worth nearly

five million dollars. The bid money was in the oyster harvest which,

considered by itself, was worth $4,730,476 compared with $479,388 for

the combined harvest of crabs, clams and all finfish in 1880. The rapid

growth and decline of the oyster fishery in the latter 19th century,

the development of the soft and then the hard crab markets in the early

twentieth century, the general decline of the Chesapeake's finfisheries

since the late nineteenth century, and the growth and decline in the

soft shell clam industry since the late 1940's are well documented

(Conservation Commission of Maryland 1909, Chuchill 1920, Fairbanks and

Hamill 1932, Maryland Board of Natural Resources Report 1953, Lang

1961, Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences 1965, Stauble and Wood

1975, Bundy and Williams 1978, Maryland Department of Natural Resources

1981).


There also exist descriptions of the fishing gears employed in

various Chesapeake fisheries over the years: for gears used in all

fisheries see Goode (1887), Fairbanks and Hamill (1932), Lang (1961),

Warner (1976), Bundy and Williams (1978); for gears of the crab fishery

see Cronin (1949), Cargo (1950) and Cargo and Cronin (1950); and for

gears of the oyster fishery see Sieling (1950) and Warner (1976).


There are data on the magnitude of the population involved in

commercial fishing but they are confusing since the State of Maryland

licenses both boats as well as the exploitation of each fishery. Goode

(1887) reported a total of 26,008 persons (15,873 fishermen, 1,256

shoremen, and 8,879 factory hands) employed in the Chesapeake Bay










commercial fisheries in 1880. In 1980 the Maryland Department of

Natural Resources (D.N.R.) issued a total of 31,395 commercial fishing

licenses of various kinds. Since one person may simultaneously hold a

number of these various kinds of licenses, it is difficult to know how

many full-time commercial fishermen are working the bay in Maryland.

The number of oyster licenses may be taken as indicating a probable

minimum number of full-time watermen since most of the oyster work

boats are capable of also working the summer crab fishery. Boats

suited only for late spring and summer fishing because of small size

and low sides are not able to be used in the rougher winter waters.

Bundy and Williams claim,

the Bay fisheries provide full-time employment (i.e.,
all personal income derived from fishing activities) for
over 9,000 watermen. (Bundy and Williams 1978:39-40)


However, it is unclear whether they refer to only the Maryland portion

or both the Maryland and Virginia portions.


In Somerset County on Maryland's Eastern Shore where the research

for this study was carried out, the Maryland Department of Natural

Resources (D.N.R.) issued 805 oyster catcher and oyster dealer licenses

during 1980 suggesting a reliable minimum of that many full-time

watermen for the county.


The populations living on the lower Eastern Shore (in Somerset,

Dorchester, Wicomico, Talbot and Worchester counties) retain an

especially strong sense of identification with the farms, marshes,

rivers, small towns and dispersed settlements that characterize their

portion of the Chesapeake Bay littoral (see figure 2-1). Many families

trace their presence back to the colonial period (Wilson 1973 and 1977)



































































Figure 2-1

Map of the Maryland Counties of the
Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay









and the extension of kinship ties forms a strong matrix for their

lives. Variable degrees of insularity and suspicion of outsiders are

found in the attitudes of many native "Eastern Shoreners." A popular

automobile bumper sticker proclaims NO LIFE WEST OF THE BAY and sums up

the general opinion among many of the local inhabitants.


An intriguing assessment of the attitudes and character of

watermen is presented in the last chapter of Follow the Water (Lang

1961). Warner's Beautiful Swimmers (1976) is the most up to date and

best written general introduction to the Bay fishermen and their work

now available. Supplemented with deGast's The Oystermen of the

Chesapeake Bay (1970), a mainly photographic effort with a good brief

narrative, Warner's book provides the newcomer to the Chesapeake

fisheries an excellent orientation.


The only scholarly and comprehensive effort to compile folklore of

the area is Carey's A Faraway Time and Place: Lore of the Eastern Shore

(1971). Carey worked in the lower shore are during the late 1960's

collecting tales, jokes, legends and traditional cures. Many of the

jokes and stories recorded by Carey were still current during my field

work in Somerset County in the early 1980's.


Among several depictions of life in Eastern Shore fishing

communities, I found four worth mentioning (Byron 1977--originally

1957--, Tawes 1967, Peffer 1979, North Bethesda Junior High School

1977). Byron's The Lord's Oysters (1957), written in the 1940's and

1950's, is based on the author's childhood experiences growing up as

the son of a rivermann" on the Chester River on the upper Eastern

Shore. A charming and entertaining fictional account, it provides a










good feeling of the pace of Shore life and social values in the 1908-20

time period. Mistrust and dislike of outsiders, blatant racial

prejudice, protestant religious fundamentalism, the importance of

economic self-sufficiency, the annual cycle, and the lure of a life "on

the water" are among the more clearly developed themes. The importance

and significance of luck is elaborated in the local belief of the

existence of the "jonah," a person who brings bad luck.


God, Man, Salt Water and the Eastern Shore is also based on the

author Tawes' (1967) childhood. Concentrating on his upbringing in a

small village on Jenkins Creek in Somerset County during the period

190(-12, Tawes reminisces about. n.s childhood, and the poverty and

comparative simplicity of life as it was then. Jenkins Creek in the

first decade of the 20th century was harbor to nearly one hundred small

bay sailing craft. The use of the internal combustion engine in small

boats was yet to arrive. The importance of Protestant Christianity,

the material starkness and simplicity of house, clothing and food, and

the strong emphasis placed on economic independence and

self-sufficiency are themes which Tawes emphasizes throughout the

book. Tawes bemoans the new welfare and social security system that

developed in recent times. He believes they have undermined important

personal and social values of hard work, the pride that arises from

being economically self-sufficient, even though poor, and the ability

provided by strong religious faith to persevere under adversity.


Peffer's (1979) Watermen, set in a Talbot County fishing

community, is the result of more than a year of participant observation

in 1977 during which time he lived in the community and worked at










various commercial fishing jobs. Peffer's narrative description of

work, leisure activities, local dialect, character and attitudes of the

Tilghman Island watermen and their families he lived and worked among

is excellent. Peffer touches a number of topics ranging from concepts

of luck (the "Jonah") to fishing laws and regulations. Even though it

is without any formal theoretical approach or conceptual analysis,

Peffer's book is the most illuminating current account of the inner

workings of the thinking and social life of contemporary commercial

fishermen in the Chesapeake Bay.


In 1977 a group of thirteen junior high school students from

Bethesda, Maryland, visited Smith Island and, under the guidance of

their English teacher, tape recorded interviews with a variety of the

island's residents including the Methodist minister, the island nurse,

several watermen, some wives of watermen and a couple of island

teenagers (North Bethesda Junior High School 1977). Though not without

glaring errors (e.g., a picture of a basket of clams misidentified as

oysters on page 42 and a photograph of the church at Ewell mislabeled

as the church at Tylerton), the little booklet provides a good sense of

the pace of life, the swing of the seasons, and the changes in

activities these bring. The governance of the island, the activities

and life goals of island teens, the nurse's duties, attitudes towards

tourists and other outsiders, and the importance of telephones are

among the many topics covered.


Ellis' (1984) recent article on variation in family type in two

Chesapeake Bay fishing villages appears to be based on communities in

the Somerset County area. Since she employs pseudonyms, though, it is









not entirely clear. She describes atomisticc" nuclear families in one

community and kindred-based extended families more frequently in the

other community. She argues that these differences in family life are

mainly owing to variations in the manner of interface with the larger

society. She describes the community organized around kindreds as

having broker-mediated links while the other community, organized in

independent conjugal units, has more direct relations to the wider

world.


Occupationally Related Health Risks of Fishermen


Occupational health research in general. Integral to the

realities of any type of work are characteristic recurrent physical

activities and work setting which will have impact on the health of the

worker. As early as 1775 Percival Pott (Page and O'Brien 1973:24-25)

described an occupational malady known as chimney sweep's disease in

which a painful, ragged looking sore with hard rising edges appears on

the scrotum. Pott was thus the first to describe an occupationally

related skin cancer caused by continued exposure to chimney soot.


The earliest available systematic overview of occupational health

in the present century was edited by Oliver (1902) who collected a wide

variety of information concerning the most recurrent health problems of

a large number of occupations. Leaving aside some of the problems

concerning Oliver's understanding of disease aetiology, his book

clearly pointed to the high association of certain pathologies with

particular occupations.










During the 1920's and 1930's Hamilton pursued research on

occupationally related illnesses in various trades and industries. Her

book Exploring the Dangerous Trades (1943) provides some good examples

of how new technologies which result in changes in the physical aspects

of work activity and work place can adversely affect the health of

workers. Her investigation of a condition known as "dead fingers"

among granite and limestone cutters found the problem to be traceable

to the introduction of the air hammer. The work of stone cutting was

accelerated considerably but so was the trauma delivered to the hands

and fingers of the workers. A second effect of the introduction of the

air hammer was to create greater quantities of fine dust which entered

workers' lungs eventually increasing, dramatically, the frequency of

various lung diseases in these workers after some years of exposure

(Hamilton 1943:200-207).


Two books published in the early 1970's (Stellman and Daum 1973,

Page and O'Brien 1973) provide excellent informative and highly

readable summaries of the adverse impact of the work place on the

health of workers. Page and O'Brien provide good reviews of the

development of workmen's compensation laws and the part played by

industry and business in response to workers' job related illnesses.

For more technical and detailed medical presentation of occupational

hazards there are the two edited volumes of Hunter (1978) The Diseases

of Occupations and Rom (1983) Environmental and Occupational Medicine.


Health hazards of the fishing occupation. Early in the century

Oliver indicated that in the marine service the principle diseases

among seamen were










(1) those due to the special character of their
employment such as aneurism, emphysema, hernia, and heart
disease and in steamships, heat apoplexy (Stokers); (2)
those due to their habits, viz., general disease and
alcoholism; (3) diseases of climate, liver disease,
malaria, yellow fever, dysentery, cholera, plague, etc.;
and (4) diseases influenced mainly by the environment and
insanitary conditions, such as rheumatism, phthisis,
bronchitis and various forms of lung disease, under which
also must be included scurvy and beriberi. (Oliver 1902:
181)


Examination of the more recent literature reveals a number of

health problems which are seen to be associated with the various

fishing occupations. Stellman and Daum (1973: 382) list the following

as fishermen's health hazards: coal tar and coal tar fractions, cold

and heat, infections, sunlight and ultraviolet light. They fail to

mention vibration and mercury, the latter from the ingestion of some

seafoods, especially oysters. They further indicate (1973:371) that

boatbuilders', a related occupation, health threats are asbestos, glass

fibers and plastics as well as coal tars and their fractions.


A common infection of the fingers and hands among fishing industry

workers, slaughter house workers and veterinarians is caused by a

microorganism, Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae, present in the slime layer

of fish and infected swine (Rom 1983:362-371). It is commonly called by

various names such as fish poisoning, fish handler's disease, fish

hand, sealer's finger, blubber finger or pork finger. E. rhusiopathiae

is generally responsible for three forms of human infection: (1) mild

local skin infection occurring on the finger and well known to doctors

working near fish and meat markets, slaughter houses, and hotel

districts; (2) a generalized cutaneous eruption with constitutional

symptoms; and (3) a septicaemic form (Rom 1983:725-728).










Weil's disease is also associated with fish, but not exclusively

(Rom 1983:25). Weil's disease has its highest incidence in coal miners,

bargemen, sewer laborers, canal workers, rice field workers, sugar cane

cutters, fish cleaners, fish filleters, fish freshers and curers, fish

porters, fish mongers, and tripe scrapers. It is caused by water or

slime contaminated by rats infested with Leptospira

icterohaemorraghiae, a microorganism. The symptoms include fever,

jaundice, liver enlargement, the occurrence of hemorrhages and

occasional relapses of fever. Improved sanitation through cleaning the

working areas and changes in the fish processing technology have

reduced the incidence. Earlier in the century there would be

occasional outbreaks as in 1924 when twenty-three cases were reported

in Aberdeen, Scotland, among fish workers. Since the 1930's the advent

of mechanical processing and freezing of fish has largely eliminated

the older, less sanitary processing techniques thus reducing the

chances of contracting Weil's disease.


Vibrio vulnificus, a dangerous salt-requiring bacterium known to

cause blood poisoning, and other vibrio bacteria (such as Vibrio

cholera) occur naturally along United States coastal waters, including

the Chesapeake Bay. Symptoms can include chills, fever, low blood

pressure, and diarrhea and seizures may occur. Skin infections are

usually red, swollen and very painful sores. Most infections occur May

to October, the period of highest water salinity and temperature.


Since 1974, when vibrio poisoning was recognized, less than one

hundred people are known to have died from it in the United States.

Schmidt and Hoyt (1985:1-2) documented fifteen cases of vibrio










infection, two of whom died, in tidewater areas of Virginia between

1974 and 1984. Though incidence of Vibrio vulnificus infections are

rare, Schmidt and Hoyt note the existence of high-risk categories,

.chronic conditions that may make a person more
susceptible to vibrio infection include liver disease,
kidney disease, cancer, diabetes, and blood disorders like
leukemia. People with high iron levels in their blood,
from liver disease, for example, are more vulnerable to
bacterial infection. In addition, use of immunosuppressive
drugs, steroid therapy or chemotherapy, and alcohol may
increase risk. If the immune system is suppressed, it is
difficult for the body to fight the bacteria. (Schmidt and
Hoyt 1985:1)


Infection can be caused by eating raw shellfish, especially oysters,

and by exposure of punctures, cuts or ulcers to salt water. Fishermen

can contact vibrio while working in salt water and harvesting or

cleaning shellfish.


The incidence of accidental injury and death in the fishing

industry is a significant issue. Poggie and Gersuny (1975:355) cite a

comparison of fatalities in coal mining, reputed to be the most

dangerous land work, and commercial fishing in the United States. In

1965 there were 21.4 deaths per million man-days in the commercial

fisheries compared with 1.04 deaths per million man-days in coal mines

while textile mills reported only 0.8 deaths per million man-days.


Exposure to extreme cold has been a fact of the commercial

fisherman's work though modern technology today provides more efficient

heating aboard ships than in the past. Certain types of fishing still

involve working under bitterly cold conditions. The possible loss of

feeling or even the loss of digits due to frostbite are ever present in

winter fishing. In parts of New England fishermen report a phenomenon










known as "soft hands" caused by repeated exposure to cold while

working. Hands that have "gone soft" are lax and lack normal muscle

tone. They are not capable of firm grip. The condition is quite

common among the older men of the Boston trawler fleet.


A recent review of the literature on acclimatization and

habituation to cold stress suggests that,

when sufficiently exposed to cold all humans adapt to
cold through increased metabolic rates and with an
attendant increase in peripheral temperature. (Frisancho
1979:82)


Frisancho, however, also cites research (LaBlanc 1975) on the Gaspe

peninsula fishermen of Canada which suggests that when the cold stress

is only moderate, the adaptation is through habituation rather than

through metabolic compensation. That is, the adaptation is acquired by

continuous exposure to moderate cold and the individual develops the

habit to function with a degree of hypothermia almost as if his

thermostat were set slightly lower.


Finally, fishermen typically have continued, long-term exposure to

wind, sunlight, heat and glare. One expects to find, therefore, higher

incidences of skin cancers among fishermen and this has been born out

by the research among the Somerset watermen. Moreover, preliminary

research on the effects of sunlight on eye disease has been initiated

comparing coal miners (low exposure to sunlight) and fishermen (high

exposure to sunlight) (Maguire et al. 1982:129). This pilot study

suggests a significant difference between these two populations in the

incidence of several eye pathologies, e.g., pterygium, corneal droplet

keratopathy, and cataracts. These preliminary results, however, need

to be checked by drawing larger, more representative samples.














CHAPTER III
RESEARCH METHODOLOGY


The Development of the Project


The research project developed from my interest in the culture of

well-bounded occupations, occupationally related illness and health

care in rural, medically under-served populations, on the one hand, and

my curiosity about the culture of the people inhabiting the Eastern

Shore of the Chesapeake Bay (Maryland) on the other. I wanted a

project that I could carry out for comparatively little expense and

that would involve the use of participant observation, formal

interviewing, and key informants in addition to library and archival

research.


The commercial fishermen and Somerset County on Maryland's lower

Eastern Shore were chosen as the research population and research

location for several reasons. I wanted a gemeinschaft-like social

setting in a comparatively economically underdeveloped locale which

would surrogate, as nearly as possible for the social conditions of

research in a developing country. Also I required a clearly

identifiable occupational group whose members lived in communities in

which the target occupation was well known, firmly established and a

traditional type of employment among many local families. I was also

interested in doing the research in a population which was insular and

comparatively distrustful of outsiders since it would provide another




























































Figure 3-1

Map of the Somerset County Research Areas










challenge and the possibility of learning more about how to gain entry

to such communities and develop rapport with the people in them.


Once having made a tentative decision on the research population

and location, I began to do archival research. I used the library

resources of the following educational institutions in the process of

the archival research for the dissertation: the Catholic University of

America (Washington, D.C.), the University of Maryland (College Park),

and Prince George's Community College (Maryland). I also consulted the

collections of the Library of Congress, the Maryland Department of

Natural Resources (Annapolis), the National Medical Library (Bethesda),

and the Somerset County Public Library (Princess Anne).


At the outset I consulted the Atlas of Maryland (Thompson et al.

1977) and discovered that, indeed, Somerset County as well as its

neighboring county to the north, Dorchester, was low in population,

sparsely settled and relatively poor as compared with other Maryland

counties. I read deGast's (1970) and Warner's (1976) books on the

commercial fishermen of the Chesapeake Bay which, in retrospect, are

two of the better books describing the life and work of the watermen.

At this time I also consulted the Health Systems Plan (Health Planning

Council of the Eastern Shore 1978) for the nine counties of Maryland's

Eastern Shore, including Somerset, which listed heart disease, infant

mortality and hypertension as the most significant problems of the

region (see figure 2-1). In reading through the plan I found no way to

disaggregate the commercial fishermen as a group form the whole shore

population. Telephone conversations with staff members of the Health

Planning Council of the Eastern Shore (H.P.C.E.S.) located at Cambridge










(see figure 1-1), confirmed my suspicion that the H.P.C.E.S. did not

have or know where to find this kind of occupationally related health

data. The director of the H.P.C.E.S. indicated that Somerset County

was classified as medically underserved and also gave me the names of

the members of the Somerset County Health Planning Council and the

county health officer.


During my first visit to Somerset County I spent several days

simply driving about its villages and back roads. I visited the many

small mainland fishing and farming communities as well as the inland

county seat of Princess Anne and the town of Crisfield located on the

Little Annemessex River (see figures 3-1 and 3-2). I also took the

public transport boat from Crisfield to Smith Island in Tangier Sound

where three small settlements of commercial fishermen and their

families are located. I purposefully refrained from contacting anyone

during this trip since my goal was to see the area and become familiar

with its geography and settlement pattern. I took several rolls of

thirty-five millimeter slides and also spent a day going through the

collection in the small Maryland Room of the County Library in Princess

Anne.


On the basis of this trip, I decided definitely to pursue research

among the commercial fishermen of Somerset County. I set up two file

boxes for field notes, one for a consecutive file and the other using

the Human Area Relations Files categories (Murdock et al. 1971). I

decided to gather general ethnographic data as well as to focus on

specific topics. I most avidly pursued the following topics: (1) the

history of the area; (2) the work of the commercial fishermen; (3) the





























































Figure 3-2


Map of Somerset County Rivers, Creeks and Sounds










nature of their community life; (4) the work related health problems of

the fishermen; and (5) the health care system in the area. As the

research progressed, I began to do formal interviews with fishermen,

health care personnel, and various other persons such as ministers and

pharmacists who served the fishing communities in Somerset.


Early Field Research Experiences


My usual base of operation while in Somerset County was the

Washington Hotel in Princess Anne. From there I was able to have the

most efficient access to the various communities in which the majority

of commercial fishermen lived. When working on Smith Island I would

rent a room for a couple of days at a time from a family that took in

boarders (figure 3-3).


My early contacts with watermen were chance meetings in

restaurants, bars, church events, and on the Captain Jason, the boat

that serves to connect the Smith Island population with the mainland at

Crisfield. On one of my earliest trips to Somerset County I met two

watermen and a marine biologist who worked for the Chesapeake Bay

Foundation (C.B.F.) Center located on Smith Island. The first of the

watermen was a garrulous, retired man of about seventy years of age I

will call Caleb Guy. We struck up a conversation in the Mount Vernon

Inn in Princess Anne during lunch one hot June day in 1979. Mr. Guy had

a seventh grade education and had spent his whole life "on the water"

as a self-employed waterman tonging oysters in the winter and

harvesting crabs in the summer. We talked about forty-five minutes and

he told me about the difficulties of his work. He told me he no longer


































































Figure 3-3


Map of Smith Island










had much feeling in any of his fingers which he attributed to having

repeatedly suffered frostbite while oystering.


The second waterman, Jack March, was much younger than Mr. Guy,

only twenty-nine years old. I met him on the noon boat ride from

Crisfield to Smith Island. He lived on the island with his wife and

baby daughter. On any other day I wouldn't have encountered him since

he would have been out on his crab boat working. However, his boat

motor had malfunctioned and Jack had gone into Crisfield on the early

ferry to purchase the necessary parts. He was holding a six pack of

Budweiser beer which contained only three cans dangling by the plastic

mesh from one had and an open beer in the other hand. We got to

talking and pretty soon he offered me a beer which I accepted. Jack

and I hit it off and he told me about his crab scrape boat, his crab

shanty and finally invited me to go out with him on his boat on my next

visit. About a month later I did just that, As time passed Jack and

his wife, Suzy, became key informants. He is also included as one of

the twenty-five watermen whom I formally interviewed concerning their

work and health.


My contact with the marine biologist, whom I'll call Bill

Silverton, also occurred on the Captain Jason on the very same day I

met Jack Marsh. Bill, a young man of twenty-three years, gave me his

card and invited me to drop by the Smith Island house which the C.B.F.

had recently purchased to use in their estuarine studies education

program. Known to the islanders and in Tangier Sound generally as the

"Save the Bays" because of the white and blue bumper-sticker

proclaiming this aim, the C.B.F. is an Annapolis-based conservation






37

group whose aim is to maintain the quality of the Chesapeake Bay

biota. Part of their effort involves educating the public and for that

reason the C.B.F. has established several education centers throughout

the Bay to which centers groups of students of varying ages come for a

few days to a week at a time to learn about the estuarine environment

and life forms.


My initial dealings with Bill Silverton and others at the Smith

Island C.B.F. were friendly and cordial. Early in the research I spent

a few nights at the C.B.F. house and participated in various of their

programs as a guest. Through them I met a half dozen commercial

fishermen. However, within a short time I realized that the C.B.F.

people were themselves not entirely well received by the Smith Island

population and that the C.B.F. local staff was taking somewhat of a "my

people" or proprietary attitude toward the watermen. On realizing this

I withdrew from so close an involvement with the C.B.F. as had already

developed. I made sure the islanders understood that I was not part of

the C.B.F. by no longer staying overnight at the C.B.F. house and by

ceasing to be involved in their programs. This disengagement took a

few months to effect since some of my first contacts with the islanders

had been through introductions made by C.B.F. staff members.


In the long run this situation presented no insurmountable

problems to my data collecting on the island. I learned an important

lesson from it. I learned that though it may appear to save time and

effort to ally oneself with a group in the community which you are

studying, it will not necessarily be true and, additionally, you are

likely to be used in some way by the group for their own ends. Though






38

I keenly felt the need to "belong" in some way, I learned to be quite

circumspect about the degree to which I would allow this to occur. I

found my research needs were better served by taking other approaches.

I began developing my own individual contacts both accidentally and by

going through people with whom I developed a level of trust and rapport

in order to acquire introductions and references for interviews.

Through the use of the "snowballing" approach I was able to gather

plenty of information and obtain interviews.


From the outset of the field work I wrote letters and followed

them up with phone calls in order to get interviews with individuals

who could tell me about health and health care in Somerset County. I

found this approach to be appropriate when dealing with health care

professionals, politicians and county government workers. Early in the

research I easily obtained interviews with the director of the Health

Planning Council of the Eastern Shore at Cambridge, the chief

administrator of McCready Memorial Hospital in Crisfield and Health

Officer of Somerset County. I also attempted this letter writing

approach for contacting some of the commercial fishermen. I abandoned

it quickly, however, as it seemed to generate a level of suspicion and

distrust that I had not expected. I was unable to get a single

satisfactory interview by directly contacting watermen in this manner.

It turned out that being approached through a formal looking typed

letter by a person they did not know anything about was outside their

usual repertoire of social interaction. They were uncomfortable with

being so contacted and possibly a little threatened. I had to discover






39

the appropriate way to approach the fishermen if I was to be able to

make any formal interviews.


I solved the problem by adopting the strategy of tapping into the

social networks of various local persons whom I got to know and who had

developed some level of confidence in me. In this manner, I was able

to move carefully from person to person in an informal manner. The

necessity of acquiring interviews in this manner affected the nature of

the sampling procedure for the formal interviews about which I have

more to say in a later section of the chapter.


Ethnographic Field Techniques


Simple observation and informal interviewing


During the research period leading up to the beginning of the

formal interviews, there were many opportunities for simple observation

and informal interviewing. I was able to acquire quite a lot of data

of a general ethnographic nature through the use of these techniques.


One of the most useful guidelines for successful social

interaction in the Somerset County area was acquired by simple

observation during a trip aboard the public transport boat to Smith

Island. There were six island women, two watermen, the two-man boat

crew, two tourists from New York City, and myself aboard the Captain

Jason. What I saw was that the repeated attempts of one of the tourists

to engage people around her in conversation was not at all welcomed.

They were polite to her her but tried to break off the conversation as

soon as possible. The woman then pursued one of the crew members

around the boat. He was clearly put out and tried to get away from









her, though he was never rude. Surprisingly, I found that the actions

of the tourist annoyed the waterman sitting next to me to such an

extent that he struck up a conversation with me, though we had only

previously nodded to one another. It became clear this tourist's

behavior was seen as inappropriate--pushy, prying, rude and annoying.

I was fortunate to have been in the situation since I am sure that,

while the New Yorker's behavior was exceptionally inappropriate to the

situation, it was a kind of lampoon of my own potential. For a while

following this experience I became extraordinarily reticent to strike

up conversations, possible too cautious in fact, for fear of alienating

the very people I wished to approach. Even so I believe there were

times when I may have done so without fully understanding it.

Generally, though, I became more patient and when possible I tried to

wait people out, giving them plenty of time to size up and get used to

me. Thus, early in the field research I was acutely aware of the issue

of "impression management" (Pelto 1970:218-220). The necessity of

establishing rapport while also being open about my role as a gatherer

of information was, from the beginning, a real and daily experience

throughout the period of field investigation.


I adopted a strategy of waiting and "hanging out" in some public

places which was helpful early in the research. It usually lead to the

gathering of useful overheard information and sometimes to

conversations and informal interviews. For example, sitting in eating

and drinking establishments frequented by commercial fishermen was

usually fruitful. One rainy day in Crisfield many watermen who had had

their workday shortened by the inclement weather began to congregate at

the Captain's Galley, a bar and restaurant just a few paces from the










dock. I had returned from a visit to Smith Island and stopped in to

have lunch. As the bar gradually filled to over flowing and many beers

were consumed, tongues loosened and catch sizes, boat prices, crab

prices and many other topics formed the basis of the discussions and

arguments that ensued. I learned more about the catching and marketing

of crabs in two hours than I would have guessed possible.


On another occasion in the *same bar, I had a conversation with a

twenty-five year old waterman while killing time waiting to interview a

Crisfield medical doctor with whom I had an appointment. The young

waterman and I recognized having seen one another about town over the

previous few months and after sitting quietly at the bar nursing a beer

for about forty minutes, he started a conversation with me. By then I

had learned to wait out these men rather than rushing into

conversations. It paid off because in the next twenty minutes while we

talked, he gave me his job history and talked about the health problems

and injuries he'd had in the past year or so.


In the period

conversations between

1st Waterman:


2nd Waterman:

1st Waterman:

[Brief Pause]

2nd Waterman:

1st Waterman:


[Brief Pause]


before our exchange I overheard portions of

the other watermen present, e.g.,

"Haven't read a whole book in my life-
except the Biblel"

"You never read the Bible!"

"Sure have."



"Sold (hard crabs) for 700 dollars today."

"I had a 250 dollars fine yesterday. God damned
Marine Police!"









1st Waterman: "Willy, don't you never wear no hat on
the water?"

2nd Waterman: "Naw, its only the wind burn bothers me."


These snippets of overhead conversations as well as the

information from the conversation with the young waterman went into my

field notes. Later these isolated pieces began to take their places in

revealing the local cultural pattern that I was working to establish.

For example, there turned but to be a marked degree of

anti-intellectualism repeatedly expressed in the speech of these men.

The aforementioned comment concerning attitudes toward books is but one

clue to its existence.


Key Informants and Participant Observation


The development of key informants during my research was more

fortuitous than purposeful. I happened onto them in the process of

field work and interviewing. Persons who became key informants were

willing to share information, took a positive attitude toward my

research efforts and were spontaneously cooperative. I developed

useful key informants in Crisfield and Smith Island.


In Crisfield a sixty-two year old widow was instrumental in my

acquiring some of my initial interviews with watermen and nurses. She

was always willing to answer questions and seemed to welcome my visits

to her home. I attempted to reciprocate by doing a few odd chores

around her house from time to time, such as weeding flower beds and

cutting the lawn. I came to know her through a colleague of mine at

the community college in Prince George's County where I was teaching.

The colleague had a friend who had been born and reared in Crisfield.










The friend of my colleague was a dean at another Maryland college

nearby. I made a luncheon appointment with him and the result was that

he phoned his mother in Crisfield and told her to expect me to contact

her. She was very knowledgeable about the area, having lived there all

her life, and quite helpful.


The other key informants were Jack Marsh and his wife on Smith

Island. This relationship began purely by chance in an encounter aboard

the public transport boat from Crisfield to Smith Island as described

above. Jack seems to have decided I was going to be a kind of older

brother. I met his wife Suzy when she brought her baby girl for a

"well baby check up" with the island nurse. I was spending the

afternoon with the nurse observing her work. Subsequently both Jack

and Suzy were friendly and welcoming to me whenever I would drop by.


In addition to the key informant relationships, there were

occasions in which I participated in organized group activities in

these communities and learned of the structure of local society and the

importance of these activities in the community. Some of the occasions

I was invited to attend and others were public events to which anyone

might come. Among the other occasions I attended were a church

"social" dinner in Tylerton, men's softball games in Ewell, Crisfield

and Deal Island, a funeral at Pocomoke, a Polynesian dance performance

sponsored by the Ewell Ladies Auxiliary of the Volunteer Fire Fighters

Association, a two day long cardiopulmonary resuscitation workshop at

Tylerton, the annual Hard Crab Derby at Crisfield and the Annual

Waterman's Festival at Mount Vernon. In addition I was invited to

dinner with people in their homes, to go oystering and crabbing with










various watermen and to observe how the Smith Island nurse performed

her duties during one afternoon.


Bruce's Store, the general store (and only store), in Tylerton

served as a gathering spot for the members of that community. One of

the activities I especially enjoyed was sitting in Bruce's Store and

playing dominoes with some of the watermen after dinner in the

evening. It was a situation which proved to be an abundant source of

information and contacts for interviews. Although I proved to be

mediocre player, fortunately there were others who were worse than I.

Some of the men with seventh or ninth grade educations seemed to

especially enjoy being able to win against me once they found out I had

a lot of formal education and was a college professor. I believe it

corroborated their suspicion that "book learning" was overrated.

Anyway it was all done in an atmosphere of cordiality and friendliness.


Sampling and Formal Interviewing

2 3
I carried out two small purposive, homogeneous sample surveys.

Moreover, both were strategic informant samples; i.e., the occupants of

key roles are overrepresented (Smith 1975:129). One was an "expert

choice" survey of seventeen health care personnel aimed at discovering

(a) the health problems of the commercial fishermen as distinct from

the general local population, and (b) the health care delivery system

in place in the county. The other survey was a "snowball" sample of

twenty-five commercial fishermen from the Crisfield, Mount Vernon,

Rumbley-Frenchtown, Deal Island, and Smith Island areas of Somerset

County (see figure 3-1). The interviews of the fishermen sought










information concerning their work histories, the nature of their work,

their health and whether it was affected by their work.


The survey of health care personnel involved four nurses, three

doctors, one county health officer (also an M.D.), one hospital

administrator, two officers of the Health Planning Council of the

Eastern Shore, one pharmacist, two members of the Somerset County

Health Planning Council, one Methodist minister, and two members of the

Smith Island Medical Board. From these interviews there emerged a

picture of the present health care system and a description of the

views of health care personnel regarding the health of the commercial

fishermen in Somerset County. This is described below in Chapter VII.


The survey of commercial fishermen consisted of a sample of

twenty-five individuals from the county. I originally intended to

simply draw a random sample from the computer printout of all (i.e.,

1,752) commercial fishing licenses issued in Somerset County (acquired

from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources). However, due to the

nature of the population and the methodological difficulties involved

in getting these men to cooperate with formal interviews when contacted

by a stranger, I was forced to employ a deliberate, purposive sampling

approach instead. This approach involved going through the networks of

individuals with whom I became friendly and cordial. I found that the

watermen would cooperate with a formal interview if they were carefully

approached through persons who they knew and trusted. Their wariness

of strangers and suspicion of outsiders made it nearly impossible to

proceed any other way and get cooperation. Someone they were familiar

with needed to vouch for me.










Though the major part of the field research work was carried out

in Crisfield and, especially, on Smith Island, the twenty-five watermen

whom I interviewed were from five areas in Somerset County where a

great many watermen live. These are natural groupings of communities

adjacent to one another due to being located on small "necks"

(peninsulas) or on an island facing Tangier Sound (see figures 3-1 and

3-2). They are (1) Smith Island (including Ewell, Tylerton, and Rhodes

Point), (2) Crisfield (including Crisfield, Lawsonia, and Birdtown),

(3) Rumbley (including Rumbley, Frenchtown, and Fairmount), (4) Deal

Island (including Deal Island, Chance, Wenona and Dames Quarter), and

(5) Mount Vernon (including Mount Vernon and Monie Neck). Five watermen

from each area were interviewed.


I decided to interview a few fishermen from each of these areas

for a total of twenty-five interviews to have a more representative

sample. Thus I located the men by "snowballing" from people who were

already known to me. This means inquiring of these persons whether

they knew any commercial fishermen from the five areas who would

consent to being interviewed by me. In some cases I would approach the

person to be interviewed myself saying that a mutual acquaintance had

recommended me to them. In other cases, my contact would make a phone

call or introduce me in person. I also interviewed some retired and

semi-retired watermen, especially about the topics of fishing boat

construction, the advent of new kinds of fishing gears, and the impact

of the shift from sailing to power boats.











Lessons


The problem of how to present myself and my work was often

perplexing. Very early in my research I would say I was a social

scientist interested in talking with commercial fishermen about their

work, or that I was a college teacher who was working on a degree which

required that I do research and that I had chosen to study the health

and work of commercial fishermen. I soon discovered that for the

majority of people I encountered almost anything I told them translated

in their minds to "He's a teacher and he's writing' a book about us."

That seemed to be the information that travelled ahead of me whatever

else I said or how I phrased it. If the person I was trying to

interview was well disposed toward me because I had approached through

a friend or acquaintance they trusted, I was usually given a chance.

Toward the end of the research I had learned how to get the interviews

and image management problem did not concern me overmuch.


The sophistication with which the people in these Somerset

communities manipulate strangers was surprising to me. On many

occasions I felt I was the one being interviewed. The Smith Islanders

especially, for example, maintain a strong sense of group solidarity

and maintain a semi-closed community. For the outsider simply finding

a place to stay on the island is difficult, though in the larger

village of Ewell there are two families who can accommodate overnight

boarders. They're used to seeing tourists and other visitors only

during the period between one o'clock and about three thirty in the

afternoon when the boat brings them and takes them back to the

mainland. I believe an informal norm exists among Smith Islanders










discouraging the taking-in of strangers, say by renting them a room for

an extended period.


It is rare that a house on Smith Island is sold to other than

another islander. They are wary of researchers and writers. One

islander said to me, when he heard that I was writing a book," that he

didn't want to talk to me because the next thing he knew his words

would turn up in print and he would probably be misrepresented. Though

this attitude is widespread, it did not prove insurmountable.


Watermen routinely suspect strangers and new acquaintances of

being game warders or undercover agents for the Maryland Department of

Natural Resources Marine Police whom they feel are trying to catch them

doing something illegal such as wild fowl hunting out of season or

harvesting undersized oysters and crabs. On several occasions

different watermen I encountered related to me the story of a Smith

Island waterman who befriended a stranger. The stranger came and

stayed at the waterman's home but later "tricked" his host into some

illegal duck hunting. The stranger, who was a game warden, then

arrested the waterman who had to pay a fine.


What is occurring, I believe, concerns the maintenance of social

boundaries that are important in the lives of the islanders. There are

several social spheres for these people, i.e., (1) an internal world,

(2) an external world, and (3) an interactional world, each demanding

different roles. In the interactional world the external and internal

worlds are in danger of meeting and must be kept separate. It is to

the interactional sphere of social relations that the warning, testing,

story telling about game wardens, and accusatory behavior (e.g.,










"That's fine but you look like the "fish fuzz" [game warden] or maybe a

"narc" [undercover narcotics officer] to me!") pertains. This kind of

behavior appears to be effective in putting outsiders on notice and

putting them off, either by frightening them or insulting them. It

took me a little while to understand that it was a categorical kind of

treatment I was receiving; that it was aimed at me because I was seen

as a member of the outsider/stranger category. I was identified as

someone belonging to the potentially dangerous external world, a world

they wanted kept separate from the social field internal to the island

itself.


Notes



1. I have employed the books by Pelto (1970) and Smith (1975) as the
primary sources of information for research concepts and methodology.

2. ". .a purposive sample has a known chance equal to 0 or 100
percent of being selected or, as is more likely, where the chance of
being selected is different from 0 or 100, the selection chance is
unknown" (Smith 1975:115).

3. "Homogeneous samples sample from a relatively narrow range of some
theoretical variable" (Smith 1975:115).

4. In "snowball" samples key role occupants supply names of other key
role occupants; "expert choice" samples request "experts" to choose
typical or representative units (Smith 1975:128).














CHAPTER IV
HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE


The commercial fishermen of Somerset County live in small

communities near the water where their boats and shanties are kept.

They are remnants of an earlier population of fisher-farmers. Their

forebears survived by a combination of agriculture, fishing, boat

building, and merchant sailing from the middle seventeenth century to

the late nineteenth century. Some of these Eastern Shore men sailed

with English privateers against Spanish and French ships while others

were simply lawless, freebooting pirates. Since the late nineteenth

century, they have primarily supported themselves through commercial

fishing.


The Somerset fishermen and their families inherit a tradition of

independence and self-reliance from an earlier era when economic

self-sufficiency and individual resourcefulness even to the point of

piracy were the requisite qualities for survival. It was time when

welfare, social security, and various governmental supports, such as

aide to dependent families, were nonexistent. They are a hard-working

people among whom the older values still resonate. They are a

tradition-oriented group many of whom place great value in kinship and

are proud to trace their family lines back many generations to colonial

times.


In many ways Somerset fishing villages approach the ideal

characteristics of a folk or gemeinschaft community. At the same time










they have not failed to adapt to technological and social developments

in the world beyond. In this chapter I trace the history of such

changes among the Somerset County watermen within the broader context

of the history of Somerset County and the Chesapeake Bay region in

general.


Somerset County, the home area of the people who are the subjects

of this dissertation, is geographically located on the lower Eastern

Shore of the Maryland portion of the Chesapeake Bay. The Eastern Shore

is part of the Delmarva peninsula which is bordered on the north by the

Delaware Bay, on the east by the Atlantic Ocean, and by the Chesapeake

Bay on the south.


The Colonial Period


The southern extension of the Delmarva peninsula was one of the

areas of the earliest European contact and settlement in the

mid-Atlantic coastal zone. As early as the year 1524 it was cursorily

explored from the Atlantic side by Giovanni da Verrazano who, sailing

for the French, landed a party which travelled inland as far as the

Pocomoke Swamp in present-day Worcester County, Maryland. It was not

until the early seventeenth century, however, that the waters adjacent

to Somerset County and nearby areas of the Delmarva were first charted

by Europeans. The earliest cartographic description was made by John

Smith who sailed in 1608 from the Jamestown, Virginia, colony making

two short voyages to map the Chesapeake Bay. Included on Smith's 1608

map is the first known cartographic representation of Somerset County

lands. Smith named a group of low, marshy islands the Russell Island

and a nearby river the Wighco. A projection of land north of the Wighco










was labeled Watkins Point. By all accounts the Russells are the islands

which are today known as South Marsh, Bloodsworth, Smith, and Tangier;

the river is the Pocomoke; and Watkins Point is near the Little

Annemessex River where the city of Crisfield is now located (see

figures 3-1 and 3-2) (Papenfuse and Coale 1982).


European settlement on the Eastern Shore began early in the

seventeenth century at the southern end of the Delmarva peninsula with

settlers from the Virginia Colony who called the area Accomack. In 1649

a group of English en route from London to Jamestown, Virginia,

immigrants under the leadership of the Cavalier Henry Norwood were

stranded on the Atlantic side of the peninsula. Their ship, Virginia

Merchant, was wrecked by a storm in Assoteague Bay. Travelling by foot

and with aid from Native Americans, probably Algonkian speaking

Assoteagues, Norwood's group eventually made contact in 1650 with

Jenkin Price who was a trader with the Eastern Shore Indians. From the

Northampton settlement on the lower end of the Eastern Shore, an area

settled by Englishmen from the Virginia colony, Norwood and his party

with the aid of Price succeeded in reaching their original destination

in Virginia (Torrence 1935:429 and 454).


The earliest settlements in what is now the Maryland portion of

the Chesapeake were planted about 1635. In that year a group of

Virginians led by John Claibourne established a foothold on Kent Island

(see figure 1-1) in the middle reaches of the bay opposite the site of

the present city of Annapolis. Claibourne claimed the island and the

surrounding areas for the Virginia Colony. However, a scant three years

earlier, in 1632, Lord Baltimore had secured an exclusive land grant










from the English king to settle the areas north of the Virginia

Colony.1 In 1634 the representatives of Lord Baltimore established

Maryland's first seat of government at St. Mary's City in what is now

St. Mary's County on the Western Shore of the Chesapeake. The following

year a naval engagement, the first recorded on the Chesapeake, was

fought between Marylanders and Claibourne's Kent Islanders at the mouth

of the Pocomoke River near Somerset County. Claibourne's force was

defeated and his attempt to claim portions of the upper bay for the

Virginia Colony was blocked.


In these early years settlement in Maryland was impeded by the

raids of the powerful Susquehannock Indians headquartered in the

northern end of the Chesapeake. The depredations of the Susquehannocks

effectively dampened the immigrants' enthusiasm for settlement in the

middle and upper bay regions prior to 1652. In that year, however, Lord

Baltimore's agents secured a treaty with the Susquehannocks and during

the ensuing decades settlement in several separate areas of Maryland,

including Somerset County, rapidly developed.2 The Annemessex River and

Monokin River areas of Somerset County, the former now Crisfield and

surrounding communities, were primarily settled by people from the

Accomack, Virginia, part of the Eastern Shore after about 1660 (see

figures 3-1 and 3-2). The early settler influx seems to have been

largely due to the lack of religious freedom in the Virginia Colony and

the greater availability of land in the Maryland Colony. Beginning in

the early 1660's, land holdings of varying sizes began to be surveyed

and recorded with St. Mary's City. By 1666 estates of several hundred

acres, i.e., Makepeace and Emmesox, were recorded.3 In 1672-73 George

Fox, the Quaker churchman, travelled in the Big Annemessex River area









and left a description which indicates a burgeoning population

(Wilstach 1931:172). About this time near the Little Annemessex River

the village of Somers Cove, later renamed Crisfield, was founded.

Smith Island, by traditional accounts, is said to have first been

settled in 1657 by dissenters from other Maryland colonies. In any

case, by 1679 a deed for 1,000 acres, called Pitchcroft, of Smith

Island land was patented to one Henry Smith (Wilson 1973:231).


The local population continued to expand during the late

seventeenth century. By 1704 Somerset County's settler population had

grown to 4,473 souls (Wilson 1973:5).


On the river bends, creeks and small harbors of the Big and Little

Annemessex Rivers clustered the homes and sailing boats of those who

supported themselves by subsistence fishing and farming. In addition,

there were other communities farther upstream which served as loading

and receiving points for agricultural produce and manufactured goods

coming to and flowing from the large estates, their tenants, and later,

from plantations worked by slaves. Upriver towns such as Salisbury and

Whitehaven on the Wicomico, and Princess Anne on the Manokin, were in

existence by the 1730's. Salisbury and Princess Anne were made post

towns in 1732 and 1733, respectively, and Princess Anne has been the

Somerset County seat of government since the latter year.


In the first third of the eighteenth century other areas of

Maryland surpassed Somerset County in population growth and extent of

settlement (Papenfuse and Coale 1982:37). Though the reasons for this

are not entirely clear, there are several possible factors: (1) the

presence of more desirable land in other Maryland areas of the bay, (2)










the greater accessibility of the rivers in other areas from the main

bay channel (to get to the rivers of Somerset County a line of marshy

islands and the shallow Tangier Sound must be navigated), and (3) the

extent of marsh land in the Tangier Sound/Somerset area produced a

great swarm of mosquitoes, marsh flies and other noxious insects which

not only made life uncomfortable in the warmer months but carried

disease as well.


Though Somerset enjoyed a population increase of nearly 100%

between 1704 (4,437) and 1755 (8,682), other Maryland localities were

growing even more rapidly. The result was that by 1755 the Baltimore

and the Annapolis/Anne Arundel County settlements had become larger in

population than the settlement in the Somerset area. Thus by 1755 the

total Maryland Colony population was 153,565 of which the Baltimore

area was 12%, the Annapolis/Anne Arundel area was 8.6%, and the

Somerset area was only 5.7% (Papenfuse and Coale 1982:3). From the

second half of the eighteenth century the Somerset population

experienced slow population expansion compared to other Maryland

locales.


The Revolutionary War and the Late Eighteenth Century


During the Revolutionary War period the large plantations and

farms of the Eastern Shore, especially in the northern counties of

Kent, Cecil, Queen Ann and Talbot, made vital agricultural

contributions to the rebel war effort (see figure 2-1). Without these

food stuffs the great difficulties faced by the revolutionary army

might well have been sufficient to tip the balance in the favor of the

British. Throughout the lower Chesapeake Bay, however, British Naval









forces were in control during most of the conflict. In the Maryland

counties of Worcester and Somerset as well as in Accomack County in

Virginia, the British, at the outset of the war, enjoyed the loyalty of

most of the colonists, especially among the lower echelon of colonial

society. According to Shomette (1985:255-288) and Wilson (1973:8),

these counties were "hotbeds" of Tory sympathy. Many Tangier and

Pocomoke Sound inhabitants supported the British rather than the

slave-owning, rebel estate owners and large farmers whom they strongly

disliked (Wennersten 1981:8). Thus, during the early years of the

conflict, these local militias were not called out to serve in the

colonial army because of the strength of British support among the

people there.


Faced with a need for troop supplies, the British as well as Royal

Navy deserters and Tory privateers began to take provisions from the

small farmers and villagers as well as from the owners of the large

estates of the Eastern Shore. This practice converted many Eastern

Shoreners with Tory sympathies to the rebel viewpoint.


Then, in 1782, word filtered into the lower Eastern Shore that the

British fleet intended to establish a land base at Somers Cove in

Somerset County from which to march on Philadelphia. A small force

known as the "Maryland Navy" had for some years attempted,

unsuccessfully, to eliminate the marauding picaroons who plundered with

impunity the Tangier Sound region's farms, towns and shipping. Led by

Commodore Zedekiah Walley, the commander newly appointed by the

Maryland Governor's Council, the Maryland Navy embarked in four ships









to seek out picaroons and Tory privateers operating in the lower

Chesapeake, but especially those in Tangier and Pocomoke Sounds.


Walley and his force captured a picaroon barge and her eighteen

crewmen in the lower bay in October 1782. After then sailing south down

the bay and chasing other enemy shipping before them, Walley's flotilla

returned northward to continue his patrol of Tangier and Pocomoke

Sounds. In late November, Walley set out from the protected Onancock

Creek in Pocomoke Sound to investigate reports that a privateer with

several captured ships stood off nearby Watt's Island. Tracking the

enemy force northward up from the southernmost islands of Tangier

Sound, Walley caught them in the waters of Kedge's Straits, just north

of Smith Island. A bloody day-long battle ensued which involved six

vessels on each side. Commodore Walley was killed and his force nearly

annihilated (Shomette 1985:289-304).


The picaroon fleet, manned by Tories and escaped slaves, was

captained by John Kidd, a Virginian loyal to the British. Though Kidd

was himself wounded and his force also suffered heavy losses, the

battle did not serve to rid the area of privateers. Kidd soon

recovered and continued, along with others, to attack shipping in the

bay for some years (Shomette 1985:289-304). The Battle of Kedge's

Straits, however, may have served to alter the thinking of the British

Navy concerning the use of Somers Cove as a landing from which to

launch an overland attack on Philadelphia as it was never subsequently

attempted. Possibly the battle indicated to the British Navy that

there would be much stronger local resistance than they had assumed.

The Somerset population no longer appeared to be predominantly British

in sympathy.











Many of the Tory privateers were simply outlaws, and others nearly

so, and had been so even under British Colonial rule (Shomette 1985).

There was no love lost between the bay small farmers and watermen on

one hand, and the colonial landed gentry on the other. The planter

class was haughty and arrogant in their relations with the watermen and

other unlanded poor citizens. They often treated them worse than they

did their slaves (Wennersten 1981:8). Known widely under the label

"picaroons" in Dorchester and Somerset counties, these elements of the

colonial lower class were largely self-reliant, self-supporting,

ungoverned and ungovernable. A few picaroons continued their outlaw

activities of piracy and raiding even after the close of the

revolutionary war.


Perhaps the most notorious of the picaroon watermen was Joseph

Wheland, better known as "Tory Jo," who led a gang of which varied in

size and composition but which at one point numbered eight whites and

twenty-seven blacks. With this heavily armed crew Tory Jo captained a

galley and, operating out of Tangier and Pocomoke Sounds, he regularly

plundered settlements and pirated bay shipping (Wennersten 1981:8-9).

In the years both before and following the war picaroons like Tory Jo

were active, but their numbers dwindled until by the War of 1812 what

remained were the stories of their daring activities (Shomette

1985:256-313). They also left behind them a general folk tradition of

lawlessness, self-reliance and independence.


Some of the Somerset County Village and place names from this

period are suggestive of this lawless ethos of the time. Rhodes Point

on Smith Island is by local tradition reputed to have been called





59

Rogues Point. Maps of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth

centuries (Atlas of Wicomico, Somerset and Worcester Counties 1884;

Papenfuse and Coale 1982:64-65) indicate Deal Island as Devils Island

and Dames Quarter as either Damn Quarter or Damned Quarter.4


The Early Nineteenth Century


Organized religion came to the waterfronting communities of

Somerset County through the missionary zeal of itinerant Methodist

preachers. Although Anglicanism (Episcopalianism) and Presbyterianism

as well as Quakerism had an earlier presence in Somerset, none of these

religions seems to have enjoyed much popularity among the picaroons and

watermen. The success of Methodism was the result of proselytizing

among the bay coast and island peoples which began in the 1790's. By

far the best known Methodist evangelist from the early nineteenth

century was th legendary preacher Joshua Thomas.


Joshua Thomas, Tangier Islander, converted to the "New Method" in

1807 and immediately commenced spreading the "good news" among the

island and people of Tangier Sound. In his log sailing canoe,

Methodist, Thomas was an indefatigable preacher of Methodism (Wallace

1978). Due to the efforts of Thomas and others less well known today,

by the 1820's Methodism was well entrenched in most of the villages

bordering Pocomoke and Tangier Sounds. Even today Deal Island, where

Thomas is buried, and Smith Island have only Methodist churches.


Methodist "Camp Meetings" were a combination of religious revival

and secular festival held annually and they drew hundreds of people

from many small communities. People came to the camp meeting in their










boats, on horseback and by foot. They usually stayed for several days

or a week. Only two years after Thomas' conversion he preached at the

first Methodist Camp Meeting ever held on Tangier Island (Wallace

1978:71-82). Today only the Smith Islanders regularly sponsor and hold

an "old time" camp meeting. The Methodist congregation on Smith Island

has organized and held a camp meeting annually since 1889 and are the

inheritors and last guardians of the local tradition of an annual

week-long church camp meeting in the Tangier Sound region (Crisfield

Times: July 24, 1980).


In the years following the Revolutionary War the Somerset Cornty

population grew to a total of 17,388 by 1800. Of this number 7,432 were

slaves and 9,956 were free. At this time Somerset County had primarily

a farming economy. According to Joseph Scott (1909) who wrote a

description of the county in 1807, the county's major cash agriculture

effort was the cultivation of corn, some wheat and "much tobacco."

While rockfish, shad and herring were said to have been in good supply,

Scott makes no mention of the place of crabs or oysters in the local

commercial economy. It appears that at this time shellfish were local

consumption items and did not yet form the basis of a cash producing

enterprise.


During this period the towns of Somerset were quite small but some

commerce existed. Princess Anne, which boasted an Episcopal church and

forty dwellings, was regularly visited by deep draught vessels which

sailed up the Manokin River to within seven miles of the town. These

ships took on grain and timber for Baltimore and other bay ports. In

the northern portion of Somerset the town of Salisbury was on the









Wicomico River which was navigable by large vessels to fifteen miles

upstream from its mouth on Tangier Sound. Salisbury had only five

dwellings and an Episcopal church, and large ships were prevented at

this time from ascending closer than five miles to the town because of

the many dams which had been constructed on the river.


The clear picture drawn by Scott of Somerset County in 1807 is

that of a regular export trade in timber, tobacco, corn and some wheat

from up river farms worked by slaves and tenants. The subsistence

economy activity of the small farmers and fishermen on the islands near

the marshy river mouths is not mentioned.


During the period between the War of 1812 and the Civil War,

Somerset had a quiet and slowly growing population and economy. Corn,

wheat, tobacco and also cotton became the major crops (Wilson 1973:7).

Waterbourne commercial enterprise grew throughout the entire Bay area

and Somerset was no exception. The county was the home of

shipbuilders, ship captains, seamen and sailing schooners all engaged

in maritime commerce.


John and Sally Morris and their seven children, as described in

the Crisfield Times (August 21, 1980), seem representative of the

county's population around 1848. They lived on a small piece of land a

few miles northeast of Crisfield. Morris tonged for oysters in winter

and farmed and caught crabs in the spring and summer months. The

Morrises were active in their local rural community. Morris and his

sons and sons-in-law helped organize and build a Methodist church in

the latter years of the century. Like the Morrises, most county

residents followed a mixed subsistence strategy that varied with the

seasons.










The Rise of the Seafood Industry


The Civil War caught Somerset County citizens between the Union

and the Confederacy. Though Maryland remained in the Union, many in

Somerset preferred the Confederate cause and left to join the rebel

armies. Many watermen took advantage of the opportunity of earning

money by running the Union naval blockades to trade with the

Southerners (Wennersten 1978:88).


Prior to the Civil War the Chesapeake Bay oyster industry had

begun to develop but was interrupted by the outbreak of fighting.

However, following conclusion of hostilities, the industry grew

exponentially leading to boom times throughout the Chesapeake Bay

region in the 1870's and 1880's. Several factors contributed to the

growth of the oyster industry at this time.


Beginning in the 1830's New England entrepreneurs established the

oyster packing-shipping businesses in the Chesapeake Bay following the

exhaustion of the oyster fishery in New England area (such as Long

Island Sound). In 1836 Caleb S. Maltby came to Baltimore from

Connecticut and opened the first successful raw oyster packing-shipping

operation in the state (Wennersten 1981:13). In 1850 there were six

packing houses in the city and by 1862 there were fifty-eight (Board of

Shellfish Commissioners 1923:282). In 1848 a certain A. Field, also

from Connecticut, developed an operation based on canning cooked or

steamed oysters in Baltimore. This innovation dramatically expanded the

market area and volume of sales of Chesapeake Bay oysters.











Construction of the Baltimore and Ohio Rail Road (B. & O.) had

begun in 1828 from Baltimore. As it moved westward from Baltimore, the

railway opened new markets and Baltimore consequently prospered. The

B. & 0. line when completed in 1853 linked the city with the Ohio

River. Baltimore became a major port of entry and a shipping point for

manufactures needed by the population along the rail line. The New

England and Mid Western markets both increased the demand for oysters

which Somerset County watermen and others in the Bay were swift to

perceive.


The harvest increased from 1,350,000 bushels in 1850 to 3,000,000

bushels in 1860. Following a lull caused by the Civil War, the peak

years of the oyster boom were in the 1870's and 1880's. The Maryland

oyster harvest reached 14,000,000 bushels in 1874 and its all time high

of 15,000,000 in 1884. But by the 1890's the catch was steadily and

rapidly ebbing until by 1904 it was only 4,500,000 bushels (Board of

Shellfish Commissioners 1923:282). In only a rare and exceptional year

since then has the harvest yielded more than 3,000,000 bushels; and for

the last four decades it has hovered in the 1,500,000 to 2,500,000

bushels range.


The oyster boom drew thousands of people into the industry and on

to the Chesapeake. The latter half of the nineteenth century was a

rough and lawless time on the Bay during which it was common for oyster

boat captains to shanghai men for their crews. Both legal and

shanghaied crews worked under the harshest of winter conditions, often

remaining for weeks or months on the oyster "rocks." Their captains

would sell the harvests to "buy" boats while still on the oyster










grounds. Buy boats were usually vessels capable of carrying more

oysters than the oyster boats themselves. Buy boats would put into

small settlements to buy locally harvested oysters or take on the

oysters from the harvest boats while they were still working the beds.

Buy boats transported the oysters they purchased to market in Baltimore

or elsewhere thereby saving the oyster harvesters the loss of time in

travelling to market themselves.


In the Somerset County waters of Tangier Sound and its tributary

rivers, oysters were plentiful during the last century. As the market

developed the local watermen began to intensify their oystering

efforts. The earliest stirring of this new commercial enterprise

occurred in Somerset County on the eve of the Civil War (Wilson

1973:8). The first locally known buy boat began to call regularly at

the village of Somers Cove. The boat's captain is credited with

teaching a rapid oyster shucking technique and with stimulating a new

market for Tangier Sound oysters by buying them from the local tongers

and then delivering them to Baltimore for sale to one of the packing

houses. Somerset's watermen were fast to recognize a good opportunity

and, following the Civil War, a local oyster harvesting and shipping

industry quickly developed.


Eventually the Somers Cove area attracted the interest of business

men who thought the local abundance of oysters and the existence of a

cheap labor force made it a promising site for a better capitalized

seafood industry. Some packing-shipping houses were established and

soon after negotiations to bring the railway to Somers Cove were

initiated. The New York, Philadelphia and Norfolk Rail Road completed









a spur from its main line on the Eastern Shore to the outskirts of

Somers Cove in 1866, and in 1874 it was extended to the water's edge.

At this time Somers Cove was renamed Crisfield in honor of a Princess

Anne attorney, John W. Crisfield (Wilson 1973:9-31), who was

instrumental in bringing in the railway. In addition, in 1870 the

Eastern Shore Steamboat Company was organized and began to serve

Crisfield and a number of other Tangier Sound communities (Wilson

1973:51). Steamboat travel became, for a time in the latter years of

the century, the most desirable and comfortable form of transport

available. With these improvements in transport and commerce a measure

of social change and prosperity developed that these communities on the

Lower Eastern Shore had never before experienced.


Crisfield changed quickly and by 1872 it was port to over six

hundred sailing ships and claimed more trade in oysters than any other

city in the state (Wennersten 1978:82). By 1882 the town had a

population of twelve hundred, but combined with surrounding

neighborhoods numbered closer to 5,000 (Wilson 1973:31). From the late

1860's well into the 1880's Crisfield was a wild, booming town (Wilson

1973:9-12 and Wennersten 1978:82). Part of this boom town was literally

built on top of millions of oyster shells discarded by the packing

houses and used to fill the immediately surrounding marshy areas.

During these years fights, murders, brothels, saloons, a theatre with

burlesque performances, new residences, and businesses, churches, and

numerous seafood concerns uneasily coexisted, creating an exciting

atmosphere and the possibility of a fast fortune.











A review of the special schedules for agriculture of the federal

censuses taken on Smith Island in the period from 1860 through 1900

(Fehr 1979) documents a shift in subsistence and settlement patterns

for the island population which was occurring during those years. The

people were changing their settlement pattern from a dispersed to a

nucleated one due to the rising waters of the bay encroaching on the

arable land and turning it gradually to marsh. Eventually only three

areas of higher land remained and at these points the three villages of

Ewell, Tylerton and Rhodes Point coalesced. At the same time a shift

away from a subsistence economy, partly dependent upon agriculture, to

a specialized cash-market economy centering particularly on oysters was

in progress.


By 1890 Somerset County's population had grown to 28,653 but

thereafter began to decline. The county had seen its heyday and with

the decline of the oyster boom the economy and population subsided. By

1920 the population was down to 24,535 and the trend continued.

Although one may occasionally still hear the Crisfield politicians

speak of their city Crisfield developing a population of 50,000 with a

deep water port, today this is only a dream whose origins were in the

oyster boom of the last century. Even though the 1970-80 decade saw a

1.4% population growth, 1980 county population had declined to 19,188

and has hovered close to that figure for several decades.


While in 1980 the Licensing and Consumer Services of the Maryland

Department of Natural Resources recorded 805 licensed oyster catchers

in Somerset County, the number of Somerset County watermen in the late

nineteenth century was over 1,500 (Wennersten 1978:84). This figure









cited by Wennersten is probably low but even then was declining from

higher numbers of watermen who worked the waters of Tangier and

Pocomoke Sounds in the 1870-1885 period before the oyster beds were

depleted.


Watermen were divided into two distinct groups in the last century

on the basis of how they worked the oyster beds. Tongers used a

scissor-like wooden shafted apparatus called a shaft tong. Working

alone or in groups of two or three using small boats in the shallow

waters of the rivers, creeks, coves and guts, tongers gathered oysters

by standing on the sides of their boats and letting the wooden tongs

slide through their hands to the bottom. By opening and closing the

upper ends of the shafts, they caught oysters between the opposing,

rake-like iron ends of their tongs. This method was a slower and

comparatively less efficient harvesting technique than dredging, but

required less cash investment in boats and equipment and could be done

single-handedly, if necessary.


The other oystermen were called dredgers or "drudgers" after the

cage-like iron dredges they dragged across the oyster beds suspended by

ropes from their sailboats (see figure 4-1). Dredgers worked anywhere

in the bay and its tributaries that oysters could be located. Tongers

thought the dredgers should operate only in deeper waters where tongers

could not safely go. Consequently, there was rivalry and often

violence between them. In 1820 the Maryland legislature had enacted a

law prohibiting use of the oyster dredge in Maryland waters. However,

the tongers were unable to supply the rapidly increasing demands of the












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developing oyster market, and by 1854 the legislature allowed the use

of small dredges in some of the waters of Somerset County.


Because of its profitability, oystering was becoming a lawless

business. In response the legislature created the Oyster Police in

1868 authorizing it to enforce the laws of the state (Board of

Shellfish Commissioners 1923:285). The oyster dredges and the "oyster

navy" armed themselves and engaged in regular shootouts.5 For many

years the Oyster Police were too understaffed and underequipped to

control the depredations of the dredgers effectively.


In the last decade of the nineteenth century due to the decline in

the number of oysters in the bay fishery, the competition between the

tongers and the dredgers intensified as both fought for the dwindling

oyster resources. In spite of this conflict and the general economic

depression of the early 1890's, it was still possible to make a good

living gathering oysters. But as time wore on it paid less and less

well and some watermen began to seek additional sources of income.


Somerset in the Twentieth Century


By the turn of the century the yields of the oyster fishery had

severely declined from over exploitation. Nonetheless the fishery

continued to be harvested. About this time the softshell crab market

became profitable and, somewhat later, the hard shell crab industry

picked up as well. In both oyster and crab fisheries new technologies

were introduced and diversification occurred in the market where

previously oysters had been dominant.









By the eve of World War I the oyster industry was greatly

depressed and became even more so with the collapse of the overseas

European market during the war. Following the armistice the industry

revived to a small degree but regained only a fraction of its

nineteenth century prosperity. However, with the development of

various innovations such as the power driven workboat, the

winch-operated patent tong rig, the crab pot, the clam hydraulic rig,

and the expansion of the crab, and later, the soft shell clam industry,

commercial fishing has continued to be a viable occupation for Somerset

watermen.


The small, sail-powered log canoes of the tongers and larger,

sloop-rigged skipjacks of the dredgers which dominated the waters in

the late nineteenth century and first years of the present century gave

way before the onslaught of boats powered by internal combustion

engines. The earliest internal combustion engine appeared about 1904

in small sailing canoes (Brewington 1956:67). These motorized canoes

were heavy and slow.


By 1909 there were gas motor driven boats in the Crisfield and

Smith Island area as indicated by this note from the Crisfield Times,

SMITH ISLAND--Mr. Clifton Evans met with a very
painful accident one day this week. While on board the
gasoline launch belonging to Tolson and Evans his clothes
became entangled in the shaft of the engine hurting him
very badly. (Crisfield Times. February 20, 1909:2)


The rate of adoption of motorized boats for oystering an crabbing seems

to have been somewhat slowed by the war years. Even so the Somerset

watermen were quick to see the potential of such an innovation and its

widespread adoption was not long in coming.











There are still watermen living in Somerset County who recall when

sail power dominated commercial fishing and the impact which the change

over to motor-driven boats had on the industry. One waterman, a

retired Smith Islander born in 1899, remembers the first power boat he

ever saw. In 1981 he recounted:

there was a man came [to Smith Island] on the fourth
of July around 1913 in a .sailing canoe, pointed at both
ends, that had a motor in it. He came to the landing at
Tyler's grocery store [in Ewell] to get some fuel. At that
time there were sailing workboat races on the bay side of
the island and I asked him if he'd carry me with him to see
them. I can remember how strange it was to be able to head
right into the wind. You couldn't do that with a sail
powered boat.


Within a few short years watermen shifted from sail to powercraft. The

same Smith Islander recalled:

we started to use them pretty quick. There were three
one summer, then ten the next and by 1920 or thereabouts it
was in full swing.


These small power craft increased the versatility of the crabbing

efforts and, combined with a better market for hard crabs, expanded the

crabbing from one centered primarily on soft crabs to include more

extensive catching and shipping of hard crabs as well.


The early motorized log canoes were slow, heavy and not very

serviceable in winter weather except for shaft tonging in the creeks,

guts and small rivers. After some experimentation with other

constructions, a V-bottom hulled boat with a round stern became popular

(Brewington 1956:67). Its major drawback was a tendency for its stern

to settle very low in the water when under way (see figure 4-2). The

Hooper's Island boat, also known as a "draketail," was the next



































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work-boat innovation. With a hull design copied from that of the U.S.

Navy's torpedo boat destroyers, the draketail provided the watermen

with a fast and relatively inexpensive wooden workboat.6


When the square or "box" stern cabin cruiser appeared and became

widely available it successfully replaced the draketail. Many watermen

built box stern boats for themselves, their relatives, or others who

paid them (see figure 4-3). I interviewed a sixty-nine year old

waterman from Smith Island in 1983. He had built many types of boats at

his home in Ewell. In 1969 he built a forty foot box stern with an

eleven foot beam and in 1974 he built his last boat, measuring forty

feet in length with twelve foot beam, for his son. Both are box stern

V-hulls and are being used daily as work boats. As is so often the

case, the boats are named after the wife and daughter of the builder,

it being a very common practice to name work boats after female members

of the family. During the period of my research in the early 1980's,

workboats were not being built by these watermen and those men with the

necessary knowledge and experience are over sixty years old.


In recent years many watermen have shifted to fiber glass

workboats which are lighter and easier to maintain. However, many

Crisfield and Smith Island watermen prefer the older style and heavier

wooden workboat because of its better handling, especially in rough

weather. These men keep older and heavier wooden boats in repair and

continue to use them.


The development of the wire hard crab pot sometime in the decade

1930-40 extended the range of crab fishing. Crab pots tied to floats

could be employed in all areas--rivers, sounds, creeks, and deeper
























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water bordering on the channel--and left to fish passively until

checked, emptied and rebaited. Later, in the years immediately

following World War II, the invention of a hydraulic rig to harvest

soft shell clams set off a flurry of clamming activity throughout the

bay. It also resulted in conflict between clammers and oystermen.

These technological innovations and their impact will be further

discussed in chapter VI.


My interviews confirmed Warner's statement that Somerset watermen,

like other baymen, subscribe to the idea of "the right of free

plunder," i.e., the right to take oysters and other marine resources

when, where and as they can (Warner 1976:89). Inevitably the

conservation inspired efforts of the Maryland Legislature to regulate

the manner, season and volume of harvesting the various fishery

resources of the Chesapeake and its tributaries collided with the

deeply entrenched views of these independent men. As the state's

regulatory activities became an increasingly important factor affecting

commercial fishing, confrontations between watermen and the marine

police erupted from time to time.


Until recently the last recorded violent confrontation involving a

Somerset waterman occurred in 1949 (Crisfield Times July 8, 1949). In

that year a Virginia Fisheries deputy shot and mortally wounded a

Crisfield waterman while trying to arrest him for illegally fishing in

Virginia waters. Since then it appeared that the era of violent

confrontations had come to an end. In 1982, however, crabbers from the

two states exchanged gunfire near Smith Island. The southernmost

uninhabited portion of the island is bisected by the Maryland-Virginia









line and it has been a longtime frustration of the Smith Islanders that

they were not allowed to fish in the crab-rich Virginia waters. One

Smith Islander, annoyed at not being able to fish in what he considered

the home waters of his island as well as the more southerly Virginia

waters, succeeded in bringing a federal court case protesting the

restriction. The federal court ruled that since crabs, unlike oysters,

are migratory and as such they are covered by the laws of interstate

commerce. This meant Virginia had to change its laws to allow Maryland

watermen to set crab pots in summer and winter dredge for crabs (the

latter is illegal in Maryland) so long as they bought Virginia

licenses.


In 1984 the Maryland crab fleet, many of them from Somerset, came

to Virginia waters in force for the first time. They started placing

their crab pots in April and in some areas there were more Maryland

crabbers than Virginia ones. The Virginians claim the Marylanders are

setting 500 to 1,000 crab pots while they don't ever set more than

about 350. The Virginians further claim that most of the crab buyers

are from Maryland and that they pay Virginia watermen a lower bushel

price than they pay the Maryland crabbers (Washington Post April 30,

1984:45). There are hard feelings on the part of the Virginians and

while it is quite possible that these allegations are true, it is just

as likely that they are somewhat exaggerated.


Smith Islanders have deserved reputations as aggressive,

hardworking and opportunistically minded fishermen. Since the bay

warms earlier in the southern reaches of the lower Virginia portion,

the crabs come out of hibernation there before they do in the more









northerly Maryland portion. The Smith Islanders were quick to cash in

on being able to start the crab season nearly a month earlier than they

were able to do when restricted from crabbing in Virginia waters.


Once most watermen became convinced, earlier in this century, that

the marine police of both Maryland and Virginia could and would enforce

the fisheries laws, the logical next step was for the laws to be

challenged. The federal court decision represented a new approach for

the Somerset County watermen. By successfully employing legal action

as a strategy in gaining greater access to the crab fishery, the

Somerset watermen added another strategy to their adaptive repertoire.


Even so, Somerset commercial fishermen are still a stubbornly

independent and tough minded people, many of whom are strongly set in

their ways. Some are not above circumventing the fisheries regulations

and game laws if they believe they can escape discovery, though most

have accepted the inevitability if not the necessity, of the game

warden, marine police patrol, the fisheries licensing, and the

conservation statutes.










Notes






1. The exact location of the boundary between Maryland and Virginia
continued to be a matter of dispute until the Black and Jenkins Act of
1877.

2. The other important settlement areas were St. Mary's City, Kent
Island, and the Severn River/Annapolis local. The Annapolis community
began to outstrip St. Mary's City and the seat of government was
transferred from St. Mary's City to Annapolis in the mid 1690's.

3. The brick house known as Makepeace, probably built in the early
1700's, today stands on the outskirts of Crisfield City and is occupied
as a residence by its present owner.

4. The heritage of this tradition may well account for much of the
closed community aspect of the Smith Island villages referred to in the
previous chapter.

5. For a detailed exposition of the development of the Oyster Police
from this period on into the twentieth century and their role in
enforcing the various fisheries laws, especially as pertains to oysters
and crabs, see Wennersten (1978 and 1981).

6. The only draketail workboat in Tangier Sound is owned by a Smith
Island waterman and regularly used as a workboat. An example of a log
canoe is on display at the Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, Maryland.












CHAPTER V
SOCIODEMOGRAPHIC CHARACTERISTICS



Population Size, Age and Sex Composition


Since the days of the oyster boom in the nineteenth century,

Somerset County's population has gradually declined. From 28,653 in

1890, it had dropped to 18,922 in 1970. The 1980 figure (19,188),

however, indicates a modest (1.4%) increase over the 1970 census

figure. The small population growth in the 1970-80 decade was

localized in the area the county seat of Princess Anne northward toward

the growing city of Salisbury in neighboring Wicomico County. This

increase did not affect the areas where most watermen and their

families reside (i.e, Rumbley-Frenchtown, Crisfield, Mount Vernon, Deal

Island and Smith Island) which have either remained stable or declined

in population since 1970 (Bureau of the Census 1983:256).


In 1980 the median age of the county population was 32.7 years and

the mean household size was 2.8 persons. Twenty-six percent were aged

under eighteen and 15.6% were sixty-five or older. This age

distribution has implications for health care delivery and will be

examined in Chapter VII (Bureau of the Census 1983:257).


In 1980 52% of the county population were female and 48% were male

(Maryland Department of State Planning N.D.).











Ethnic Composition


Somerset County's ethnic composition, which in 1980 was 65.02%

white, 34.6% black and .38% a variety of American Indian, Chinese,

Filipino, Asian Indian and unclassified others, has remained nearly

unchanged for many decades (Maryland Department of State Planning

N.D.). The black population is a comparatively stable group with some

emigration and little immigration. It is probable that most county

blacks can trace their heritage back to ancestors who were slaves owned

by local whites.


The low level of involvement of county blacks in commercial

fishing is puzzling, especially since other areas of the bay have

villages of black watermen. There are, for example, some predominately

black fishing villages on Hoopers Island, Dorchester County immediately

north of Tangier Sound. But in Somerset black commercial fishermen are

rare. As for the presence of blacks in the fishing villages of

Somerset, there are none living in the three communities on Smith

Island and none in the Rumbley-Frenchtown area. On Deal Island proper

(excluding Dames Quarter and Tangier where blacks and whites are about

equal in number) blacks number only 12% of the population. Blacks

comprise about 30% of the population of Crisfield (Bureau of the Census

1983:256).


During my research I saw black sports fishermen chartering boats

out of Crisfield and a black man employed as a hand on a skipjack

crew. According to older informants in the Crisfield area, blacks were

the majority of people who worked the seasonal job of oyster shucker in


1










various oyster packing and shipping enterprises. It may be that blacks

were prevented, legally or extralegally, from working on the water

following the Civil War. The conspicuous absence of blacks, who number

more than a third of the county population, from the ranks of the

commercial fishermen in Somerset invites further investigation, but is

beyond the scope of this study.


Density, Rurality and Settlement


Somerset is one of the least densely populated and most rural of

all Maryland counties (Bureau of the Census 1983:256). Its population

density (1980 Census) is only 56.7 persons per square mile as compared

with the Maryland statewide average of 428.7. Within the county only

15.2% (2,917) of the population resides in areas designated as urban.

Although, as earlier noted, the general county population increased

slightly in the 1970-80 decade, its urban population declined by 5%

while its rural population increased by 2.6% (Maryland Department of

State Planning N.D.:22-9). This phenomenon results from growth and

expansion of the city of Salisbury.


People employed in Salisbury are increasingly buying land and

constructing or renting homes in the low density and less expensive

areas of nearby northern Somerset County. From these locations, they

can commute less than twenty-five miles to work in Salisbury. Thus,

urbanization and suburbanization related to Salisbury have begun to

affect Somerset's pattern of population settlement. As yet, however,

this trend has not greatly affected the predominantly fishing

communities, except insofar as there are more nonfishing work

opportunities gradually becoming available, especially for those








willing to commute. The Deal Islanders and the Mount Vernonites are

geographically the most well-situated to take advantage of these jobs

and the fishing communities most likely to be affected by the

suburbanization of the Salisbury population.


Commercial fishermen tend to live in the small city of Crisfield,

in hamlets and villages very near the water, and on island communities

in Tangier Sound or the Chesapeake Bay proper, such as Hollands Island,

Deal Island, Janes Island (also known as Old Island), Watts Island,

Smith Island and Tangier Island. Today Smith Island, Deal Island and

Tangier Island, the latter in Virginia waters, remain the only

inhabited islands in the area. The others were abandoned owing to

severe erosion or because the gradually rising waters of the Chesapeake

Bay turned them to tidal marshes. Holland's Island, for example, which

as late as 1912 was three miles long, a mile wide, and occupied by more

than three hundred people living in sixty houses, became uninhabitable

and was entirely abandoned by 1922 (Wilson 1973:218-220). The same fate

appears to await Smith Island which in the late 19th century had

sufficient nonmarsh land to allow dispersed settlement and farming.

Today Smith Island cannot support agriculture at all and has only three

small areas with land high enough for the islanders' homes, i.e., Ewell

(also called North End), Rhodes Point and Tylerton.


Income, Unemployment and Poverty


Somerset County citizens are comparatively poor by Maryland

standards. The county family median income (1979), $14,602, is the

lowest of all twenty-three Maryland counties and is $8,510 less than

the statewide median family income of $23,112. Seventy-five percent of









county families (see table 5-1) as compared with only 49% of all

Maryland families reported earning less than $20,000 annually. More

dramatically illustrative of the county population's comparative

poverty within the state is that 41% of its families earn less than

$10,000 annually, nearly twice the statewide figure of 22%.


Eleven percent of county families and 15.7% of individuals in the

labor force report incomes below the poverty level for 1979, while for

the state as a whole family and individual incomes below poverty level

were only 7.5% and 9.8%, respectively (see table 5-2). Somerset has the

second highest percentage of families and individuals living below the

poverty level in the whole state. Only Garrett County, in the

mountainous western end of Maryland, ranks higher in percentage of

population with incomes below poverty level (Bureau of the Census

1983:264).


Reported levels of unemployment in Somerset are also high. In

1982 the Bureau of Labor Statistics (Bureau of the Census 1983:262)

indicated a civilian labor force unemployment rate of 19.7%.


Housing


Among residential structures in the county there is a

significantly high proportion of older houses than is generally found

throughout the state or in any of the more urban counties. This is

consistent with the high poverty level, rurality and low income level

of the area. Almost forty-four percent (43.7%) of Somerset County

houses as compared with only 22.4% of all houses in the state were

constructed prior to 1940. More recently, there has been an upturn in








Table 5-1

1979 Family Incomes for Smith Island,
Somerset County and Maryland State


Annual Family Smith Island Somerset County Maryland
Income % % %


Less than $10,000 54.0 41.0 22.0
$10,000 to $19,999 37.5 34.0 27.0
$20,000 to $29,999 4.0 15.0 23.0
$30,000 to $39,999 0.0 6.0 14.0
$40,000 to $49,999 4.5 2.5 7.0
$50,000 and over 0.0 1.5 7.0


Source: Bureau of the Census (1983: 264) and Maryland Department
of State Planning (N.D.: 255).








Table 5-2

Percent of Families and Individuals with Incomes Below Poverty Level
in 1979 for Smith Island, Somerset County and Maryland State.




Smith Island Somerset County Maryland State
% % %


Families 21.0 11.0 7.5

Individuals 28.0 15.7 9.8


Source: Bureau of the Census (1983: 264) and Maryland Department
of State Planning (N.D.: 255).










county housing construction such that the percentage of houses built in

the county and statewide were about equal in the 1970-80 decade, i.e.,

22.2% and 23.6% respectively.


Plumbing facilities are lacking in 9.6% of county homes and only

1.9% of homes throughout the state. Sixty percent of Somerset County

houses but only 36% of houses statewide are heated by fuel oil or

kerosene. Finally, the median value of homes is $27,500 in Somerset

and $59,200 statewide while median monthly rent is $161 in the county

and $266 in the state for 1980 (Bureau of the Census 1983: 261).


Marriage


Courthouse records from Princess Anne reveal that Somerset County

inhabitants tend to marry individuals from their own part of the

county. Marriage statistics for the areas of Somerset where most

watermen reside, i.e., Deal Island, Rumbley, Crisfield, Mount Vernon,

and Smith Island, were examined to discover the extent to which persons

from these areas marry individuals from within or from beyond their own

areas. Tables 5-3 and 5-4 show the numbers and percentages of

marriages within and beyond each of these areas since 1910. I computed

the means of the percentages of in-marriage for the eight years for

each of the areas which allowed me to rank the five areas by degree of

in-marriage. The most to least in-marrying areas are Smith Island

(mean percentage of 70), Crisfield (mean percentage of 64), Deal Island

(mean percentage of 50), Mount Vernon (mean percentage of 29) and

Rumbley-Frenchtown (mean percentage of 19).








Table 5-3

In-Marriage and Out-Marriage Figures for
Selected Somerset County, Maryland Areas


Marriages Year of Marriage
of
Residents 1910 1920 1930 1940 1950 1960 1970 1981
of: # # # # # # # #


Crisfield
to Same 47 54 40 81 111 35 33 36
to Others 17 25 25 46 48 22 30 21

Smith Island
to Same 4 5 4 12 12 5 10 5
to Others 5 3 0 7 5 2 3 2

Mount Vernon
to Same 7 11 4 0 0 2 0 0
to Others 1 7 3 6 0 6 0 2

Deal Island
to Same 20 23 10 15 12 9 3 3
to Others 3 2 10 23 18 9 14 8

Rumbley
to Same 11 2 0 0 0 1 0 1
to Others 8 1 0 3 0 8 0 5


Source: Courthouse Records, Princess Anne, Maryland.
Note: Deal Island includes Deal Island, Dames Quarter, Wenona
and Chance; Smith Island includes Ewell, Rhodes Point and
Tylerton; Rumbley includes Rumbley, Frenchtown, Fairmount and
Upper Fairmount.




Full Text

PAGE 1

WORK AND HEALTH OF THE CHESAPEAKE BAY COMMERCIAL FISHERMEN OF SOMERSET COUNTY, MARYLAND: "IT'S A HARD LIFE, HONEY!" By ANDREW LEE HABERMACHER A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 1986

PAGE 2

Copyright 1986 by Andrew Lee Habermacher

PAGE 3

To Kyle, m y wife, and Gretchen and Geoffre y my children

PAGE 4

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS The research for this dissertation was funded by myself and performed during summers, weekends, and holidays during the period 1979 t o 1985 while I continued to teach full-time at Prince George's Community College, Maryland. I received cooperation from a number of individuals and organizations during the course of the research and I wish to acknowledge my gratitude to them. The staff of the Health Planning Council of the Eastern Shore at Cambridge, Maryland, provided helpful documents on the health care system and contacts with health care personnel in Somerset County. The Licensing and Consumer Services Department of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Annapolis, provided invaluable computer printouts concerning commercial fishing licensing and related information for Somerset County. The Maryland Department of State Planning made available computer printouts of the 1980 census for the subdivisions within Somerset County which proved to be much more useful than the printed aggregated county data. The Somerset County watermen and their family members with whom I spoke and among whom I circulated during the field work deserve many thanks and my gratitude. I am most especially indebted to three families whose members served as key informants and also to those watermen who participated in the formal interviews. iv

PAGE 5

I am indebted to the anthropology faculty of the University of Florida for the high quality of their graduate program, and for the training and guidance I received during my two years of course work among them. I also wish to indicate the helpfulness of the Title VI, N.D.F.L. Grant I received through the auspices of the Center for African Studies of the University of Florida which helped financially sustain me during those two years and to indicate my gratitude to its then director; Dr. Haig der Houssikian, for his support. To the members of my dissertation committee--Dr. B. M. duToit, Dr. O. von Mering, Dr. D. Niddrie, Dr. R. Lawless, and Dr. J. C. Cato--, I owe many thanks for their careful scrutiny of the draft and revisions of the dissertation which is measurably better for their input. Dr. Brian M. duToit, my graduate advisor and dissertation committee chairman, deserves special acknowledgment for his perennial encouragement and constructive advice during my doctoral course work, field research, and, particularly, during the writing and revising of the dissertation itself. Without his continued support, I might not have completed this project and to him I owe a great deal. I also wish to thank my colleagues at Prince George's Communuty College--Dr. Righton Robertson, Dr. Ernest Green and Dr. Harold Guy--for their friendship and unflagging support, especially during the period of my field research and write-up. Their cooperation and encouragement eased the difficulties of carrying out research while continuing to hold a full-time teaching position. To my dear friend and teacher, the late Dr. Michael Kenny, under whom I studied for an M.A. in anthropology at Catholic University in V

PAGE 6

Washington, D. C. I owe more than I can easily express. Were it not for him I would not have ventured down the p e rsonal and prof e ssional paths I walk toda y Without the love and patience of Kyle, my wife, Geoffrey and Gretchen, my children, and Grace and And y my parents, this dissertati o n would never have been completed. vi

PAGE 7

TABLE OF CONTENTS ACKNOWLEDGMENTS. LIST OF TABLES LIST OF FIGURES. ABSTRACT CHAPTERS . I INTRODUCTION. II LITERATURE . . Social Science Research on Work and Occupations The Occupation of Fishing and Related Health Issues. III RESEARCH METHODOLOGY The Development of the Research Project Early Field Research Experiences Ethnographic Field Techniques Lessons Notes IV HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE .. The Colonial Period . The Revolutionary War and the Late Eighteenth Century The Early Nineteenth Century. The Rise of the Seafood Industry Somerset in the Twentieth Century Notes . . V SOCIODEMOGRAPHIC CHARACTERISTICS . Population Size, Age and Sex Composition. Ethnic Composition Density, Rurality and Settlement . Income, Unemployment and Poverty . Housing ........ vii iv ix xi xii 1 5 6 14 29 29 34 39 47 49 50 51 55 59 62 69 78 79 79 80 81 82 83

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VI VII VIII Marriage . . . Social Distance and Insularity. Conclusion, . . . . . SOMERSET COUNTY COMMERCIAL FISHERMEN. . Becoming a Waterman . . . . . Watermen's Income and Poverty Levels. . Work Opportunities. Work Strategies . . . . Social Organization . . . . Watermen's Views and Opinions Notes . . . . . HEALTH AND HEALTH CARE. Health Care . . . . Health Problems . . Notes . . . CONCLUSION. . . Environment, Population, Social Organization and Technology: Changes and Interactions Somerset Watermen: Summary Conclusions . Recommendations Notes . . . APPENDICES A MOST FREQUENTLY OCCURRING FAMILY NAMES AMONG SOMERSET COUNTY WATERMEN . B WORK HISTORIES OF FIFTEEN SOMERSET WATERMEN BIBLIOGRAPHY BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. . . . viii . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 86 90 93 95 96 10 2 105 llO 143 153 161 162 162 173 204 205 205 217 233 235 236 239 249 263

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TABLES 5-1 LIST OF TABLES 1979 Family Incomes for Smith Island, Somerset County and Maryland State 5-2 Percent of Families and Individuals with Incomes Below Poverty Level in 1979 for Smith Island, Page 84 Somerset County and Maryland State. 85 5-3 5-4 In-Marriage and Out-Marriage Figures for Selected Somerset County, Maryland Areas. In-Marriage and Out-Marriage Percentages for Selected Areas in Somerset County, Maryland 6-1 Mean Number Years of Education by Age Cohorts of a Sample of Somerset County Commercial Fishermen 6-2 Employed Persons 16 Years and Over by Industry in 1980 for Smith Island. 6-3 Smith Island Family Income for 1979 6-4 Maryland Fisheries Licenses Issued for Somerset County in 1980 . . 6-5 Legal Harvest Seasons for Various Aquatic Species in the Maryland Portion of Chesapeake Bay and the 87 88 100 104 106 111 Atlantic Coastal Waters of Worcester County 116 6-6 Oyster Licenses Issued in Maryland, 1977-1980 120 6-7 Oyster Shaft Tongers on Smith Island 1982 6-8 6-9 6-10 License Combinations for Smith Island Watermen 1980 Business Activities of Fishermen's Wives in Crisfield and Smith Island Opinions of Somerset County Watermen Concerning Work in the Commercial Fisheries ix 121 130 141 156

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71 Home Remedie s and Self-Medications Employed in Somerset County 7-2 Diseases of the Circulatory System 1974 7-3 Estimated Number of Hypert e n sives 1975. 7-4 Infant Mortality Rates. . . . . . . 7-5 1971-1975 Infant Mortality Composite Rates. 7-6 Admissions to Maryland State Inpatient Facilities for Fiscal Year 1976. 7-7 7-8 7-9 7-10 7-11 7-12 Somerset County Medical Personnel Views on Health Problems of the General County Population (Including Watermen) Somerset County Medical Personnel Views on Health Problems of Watermen Health Problems of Watermen During the Year Immediately Prior to Their Interviews. Health Problems Watermen Reported Have Caused Them to Miss Work Health Problems Causing Work Loss Which Watermen Be l ieve to be the Result of Commercial Fishing Work Watermen's Views on Health Problems Related to Commercial Fishing . . . 7-13 Occupationally Related Illness/Injury of Watermen: A Comparison of the Views of Watermen and Health 165 175 . 177 . 178 180 181 184 186 188 189 190 191 Care Personnel (H.C.P.) 194 8-1 A-1 A-2 Changes in Four Variables and Their Effects in Somerset County Thirty-Eight Most Common Family Names of Somerset County Watermen Most Common Family Names of Licensed Somerset County Watermen by County Area X 206 237 238

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FIGURES 1-1 2-1 LIST OF FIGURES Map of Chesapeake Bay Showing the Location of Somerset County, Maryland Map of the Maryland Counties of the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay . . . . 2 19 3-1 Map of the Somerset County Research Areas 30 3-2 Map of Somerset County Rivers, Creeks and Sounds. 33 3-3 Map of Smith Island 35 4-1 Drawing of Skipjack Anna McGarvey, a Sailing Oyster Dredge, Riding at Anchor Near Annapolis. 68 4-2 Drawin g of April Star, a Wooden Round-stern Work Boat, at Webster's Cove near Mount Vernon. 72 4-3 Drawing of Mark Jim, a Wooden Box-stern Work Boat Rigged with a Patent Tong, at Tylerton on Smith Island. 74 6-1 Drawing of a Boy Taking His Father to Shore in an Outboard Motor-Powered Wooden Skiff After "Fishing Up" at their Smith Island Crab Shanty. 99 6-2 Drawing of Oyster Patent Tong Boats at Tylerton Boat Harbor on Smith Island . . . 118 6-3 Drawing of Kristy Lynn and Miss Beth, Crab Scrape Bateaux, at Tylerton, Smith Island. . 127 6-4 Drawing of a Crab Scrape Bateau and Three Fishing Shanties at Ewell, Smith Island . . 128 xi

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Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy WORK AND HEALTH OF THE CHESAPEAKE BAY COMMERCIAL FISHERMEN OF SOMERSET COUNTY, MARYLAND: "IT'S A HARD LIFE, HONEY!" By ANDREW LEE HABERMACHER MAY 1986 Chairman: Dr. Brian M. Dutoit Major Department: Anthropology The dissertation focuses on work, work-related ill health, health care and social organiztion of small scale, self-employed commercial fishermen of Somerset County, Maryland. The research was undertaken to (1) see if commercial fishing work caused an identifiable pattern of ill health, (2) document the history of exploitation of bay fisheries, (3) discover the changes in fishing technology and strategy, (4) examine the pattern of socialization and recruitment of fishermen, (5) classify the fishermen's work histories and strategies, and (6) ascertain the nature of the social system within which fishermen operate to see how it relates to the organization and performance of work. A broad cultural ecological model is employed as a conceptual framework. A combination of archival--libraries, court records, censuses--and field research--participant observation, life history recording, content anaylsis, survey interviews, simple observation, key xii

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informant interviewing, typolog y construction--methods was employed. Twenty-five commercial fishermen and eleven healt h care personnel from Somerset were formally interviewed. The conclusions are ( 1 ) natural environmental changes triggered modifications in social organization, demography and technology; (2) technological changes placed new pressures on the natural environment; (3) tec h nological changes brought alterations in population and social organization; ( 4) certain heal th problems of fishermen flow directly from their work; others are related to heredity and lifestyle; (5) dramatic shifts occurred in the degree of exploitation of different fisheries related to species' availability and changing economic importance; (6) fishermen maintain networks of in which their occupation is well friends, neighbors and established and from kinsmen communities where there are few other work alternatives; (7) six work strategy patterns were discovered among the fishermen; and (8) family division of labor, local church and fire fighting organizations, networks of kinsmen, friends and neighbors, and occupational associations support the fishermen and their occupation. x iii

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CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION This dissertation describes the work, the occupationally related illnesses and injuries, the health care, and selected aspects of the social life of the small seal~, self-employed commercial fishermen residing in Somerset County, Maryland, on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay (see Figure 1-1). The major reasons for undertaking the research were (1) to see if the work of these fishermen results in so me particular pattern of illness and injury, (2) to document the historical sequence of exploitation of the several bay fisheries, (3) to establish the historical changes in the gears and strategies employed by the fishermen, (4) to examine how men are recruited and socialized into this kind of work, (5) to classify the work histories and current strategies employed by the fishermen and their wives, and (6) to ascertain the nature of the social system within which these fishermen operate and to see how it relates to the organization and performance of their work. The general model being employed is a cultural ecological one. The model assumes the interconnectedness of four major variables. They are technology, social organization (including ideology and values as well), environment and demography. I will argue that as changes, both natural and man-made, occurred in the environment they triggered pressures on the existing social organization, demographic pattern, and technology. Also as new technology was locally developed or introduced 1

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N I I I o 4 Figure 1-1 Map of Chesapeake Bay Showing the Location of Somerset County, Maryland I 11 J 2

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3 from outside, new pressures were placed on the natural environmental resources exploited for subsistence an d commercial purposes. In addition, technological changes (1) in the area of health resulted in alterations in the demographic pattern (e.g., lower death rates, lower birth rate, smaller families), and (2) in the area of boat propulsion and fishing gears resulted in changes in social organization (e.g., demise of some occupations, development of new occupations, changes in the work strategies and income patterns of fishermen) of these fishing communities. The project began in 1978 with library research. Preliminary field work started in March 1979. Field research was undertaken between 1979 and 1984 and consisted of numerous visits, varying from a few days to three weeks in length, to the site. Chapter II contains a review of the pertinent anthropological and sociological literature on work, occupations, occupational health, and health care. I focus on the commercial fishing occupation and review anthropological work on fishing and fishermen in general. The literature on occupational health is briefly summarized and material concerning the occupationally related health risks of commercial fishing is described. In the last portion of chapter II the literature on Chesapeake Bay commercial fishing and the literature on the social life of the people many of whom are commercial fishermen who live on the Bay's Eastern Shore are discussed. Chapter III outlines the development of the research project and describes events in the early and later stages of field work. There is also a discussion of the ethnographic field techniques which were

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4 employed. Data collection consisted of the use of the following techniques: ( 1) archival research at government agencies, university and public libraries, and the county courthouse; (2) participation in fishing work and numerous other activities in the research area; (3) simple observation; ( 4) content analysis of open ended questions and conversations; (5) life and work history recording; (6) survey interviews; (7) open-ended as well as closed ended, forced choice interviewing; (8) key informant interviewing; and (9) typology construction. This chapter also contains a discussion of some of the difficulties I encountered and lessons to be learned in the process of carrying out this type of research. Chapter IV provides the historical perspective and Chapter V delineates the present social situation without which the nature of the occupational culture, occupational health risks, health care of these commercial fishermen and their families cannot properly be understood. Chapter VI examines various aspects of the commercial fishermen and their occupation in Somerset County, Maryland. These include recruitment, income levels, work opportunities, work strategies, social organization, and their attitudes concerning their work. Health and health care of the the county and of the fishermen in particular are described in Chapter VII. In addition to census and other documentary information, the data for this and the foregoing chapter are primarily derived from interviews with watermen and health care personnel in Somerset County. Chapter VIII provides a summary and discussion of the research findings, conclusions, and recommendations.

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CHAPTER II LITERATURE Scholarly interest in work and occupations ranges from nineteenth century social scientists who were concerned to link them to the new industrial technologies, forms of social organizations and modes of production then rising in the west to more recent sociological and anthropological contributions. These later efforts stressed the relationship of work and occupation to family life, community involvement, industrial relations, worker alienation, union and association formation, and detailed ethnographies of specific professions and work groups. With specific regard to the occupation of fishing the efforts of anthropologists have been wide-ranging. Anthropological writings have included the description of fishing techniques, the importance of seafood in a group's subsistence strategy, the sexual division in fishing efforts and the annual round, the formation of fishing cooperatives, the effects of changes in fishing technology, the beliefs and values of fishermen, and the social and economic marginality inherent in the lives of some kinds of fishermen. Most of the literature on Chesapeake Bay fishermen and Eastern Shore social life is in the form of novels, memoires, histories, anecdotal works and general studies. studies of the region exist. Few anthropological In the more specialized field of occupational illness, research first began to appear in the late eighteenth century but it was not until the very early twentieth century that a good systematic overview 5

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6 of occupational health appeared and research in this area has continued to expand. The health problems associated with the various fishing and related marine occupations have been identified as resulting from microorganisms causing infections, overexposure to heat or cold, prolonged exposure to the sun, toxic substances, and accidents. Social Research on Work and Occupations The Sociology of Work and Occupations Prior to the real development of a disciplinary effort to study work and occupations by sociologists, Engels (1968--originally 1844) drew attention to the work conditions in the factories, factory occupational dangers, workers' housing conditions, and the effects of child and female labor at an early stage of the process of the English industrialization process. Eventually sociologists examined work and occupation in the context of the industrializing, urbanizing, socially stratified and politically complex societies of Europe and North America. As early as the first decade of the twentieth century John Fitch (1910) published a study of the living standards, worker morale, community involvement and effects of the work environment on family life among steel workers in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. During the 1920's the fashion, especially evident at the University of Chicago, was the study of various deviant or low status occupations such as ~rostitution and hoboeing. In addition there were also studies of various more socially acceptable occupations as retail sales, school teaching and waitressing. These early beginnings eventually expanded to a focus on various professional occupations such

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7 as ministers, doctors and college professors (T a y lor 1968 and Tilgher 1929). In the 1930's one sees the beginnings of generalizations and concept formation in occupational sociology. The work of Salz is notable. Writing on occupations in the Encyclopedia of Social Science, Salz (1933:1513) provides the literature with an often quoted definition of occupation, viz., "that specific activity with a market value which an individual continually pursues for the purpose of obtaining a steady flow of income; this activity also determines the social position of the individual." In the same decade Carr-Saunders and Wilson (1933) provide an insightful analysis and historical review of professions in England. The now famous social relations studies undertaken at the Hawthorn Works of the Western Electric Company by Mayo and various others (Roethlisberger and Dickson 1939) in the 1930's represent the best early empirical efforts in another area of the sociology of work, i.e., industrial relations. Mayo and his colleagues from Harvard investigated the factors affecting production. In the process they discovered the existence and importance of informal groupings of workers, especially as these groups affected factory production. These early and well designed studies lead to a revolution in the theory of industrial firm management as well as in how to conceptualize the social relations within them (Benoit-Guilbot 1968). Clearly the "ideal type" descriptions of formal bureaucracies as propounded by Weber (1947) were somewhat one-sided. After the Hawthorn work it was clear there existed an informal aspect of social relations in addition to the

PAGE 21

8 planned formal structure of busines s and industry that was capable of affecting their function and pr o duction. The realit y of what came to be called "worker control" wa s estab lish ed and has remained an important thematic strand in the sociological research on industr y Since the 1950' s there has been clear growth in the amount and variety of research on work and related topics by sociolog i sts. A brief, partial sampling of this effort would include professionalization (Hughes 1958; Beck e r, Geer, Hughes and Strauss 1961; Vollmer and Mills 1966; Friedson 1970; Friedson and Lorber 1972); worker alienation (Drucker 1950; Blauner 1964; Chinoy 1965); social class and occupation (Shostak and Gomberg 1964: LeMasters 1975; Levison 1975; Rubin 1976); industry-community relations (Schneider 1969); occupational identification and community (Becker and Carper 1956; Gerstl 1961) and worker knowledge, satisfaction and control of the work process (Kusterer 1978; Houbolt 1981). The study of unions and unionism surprisingly has not attracted the interested of sociologists to the extent one might have expected. There have been a few notable attempts to collect and organize the various researches into the sociolo gy of work into a subdiscipline. By the early 1950' s sufficient research in the sociology of work existed that Ca plow devoted an entire book to the subject. Ca plow (1954: 4) defined the sociology of work as, "the study of those social roles which arise from the classification of men by the work they do." Furthermore, he suggested a number of questions which a sociology of work should stress. Some of these are ( 1) the rise and decline of occupations, (2) occupational ranking and prestige, (3) variations in

PAGE 22

9 sociop o litical values and lif e expectations amon g different occupa t ions, ( 4) occupational recru i tment and mobility, (5) occupational characteristics and their e f fects on formation of occupational associations, ( 6 ) the creation a n d maintenance of th e social roles within each occupation, (7) interoccupational variation s in working conditions, (8) occupational boundary maintenance, (9) the relation of formal educational systems to occupations, and (1 0 ) the effects of various occupational life styles on the family institution (1954: 7). This and other books by Caplow served as the basic text in the sociology of work during the 1950 1 s and 1960's. Following the book by Ca plow (1954) one finds Taylor I s (1968) Occupational Sociology to be an excellent assessment. In twenty-four well-written and impressively researched chapters, Taylor covers the sociological literature on occupational mobility, occupational environments (e.g., level of aspiration, preparation for and entry, career pattern, social control within occupations, recruitment), and the meaning of occupations for individuals (e.g., colleagueship, ideology, occupation and family life, the major occupational domains of agribusiness, etc.). Also worth mentioning are the articles entitled "Workers, ""The Sociology of Work" and "Occupations and Careers" in the International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences edited by Sills (1968). More recently the review article by Roth, Ruzek and Daniels (1973) on the state of the sociology of occupations has appeared. Continued evidence of the viability of the subdiscipline is suggested by the inauguration in 1974 of a journal entitled Sociology of Work and

PAGE 23

10 Occupation. Most recently there is Simpson and Simpson's (1981) edited collection Rese a rch in the Sociology of Work. In concluding this review of the literature on work and occupations I would like to po i nt out that the vast majority of the research in the subdiscipline can be fitted into one of the three dominant theoretical orientations employed in sociolog y i.e., structuralism, conflict theory, and symbolic interactionis m Structuralists (Durkheim would be an example ) concern themselves with the inequities of the division of labor while seeing occupations in society as the natural outcome of the needs of the society. Structuralists will stress the social functions to the maintenance of the societal structure of the existing division of labor within society. For conflict theorists (such as Marx), by contrast, the inequities reflected in the division of labor in a society are due to the essential tension existing between classes of people with divergent and clashing interests. This approach would lead, for example, to an examination of the worker's ability, or lack thereof, to independently make decisions about work related tasks, i.e., matters of autonomy and control in various occupational groups and settings. Social analysts of the symbolic interactionist school are also interested in work and job behavior details. However, they are less interested in framing aspects of work from a macrotheoretical view point than the conflict theorists and structuralists. Symbolic interactionist analysis focuses more on the description of what it is like to hold and perform a particular job than on the institutional

PAGE 24

11 setting or historical development of the job. They w i ll examin e and describe the actual work performed in a particular occupation as well as the norms, values, symbols and socialization p r ocesses characteristic of particular occupations and networks of related occupations (e.g., Becker et al. 196 1 ; Hughes 1958). The Anthropology of Work and Occupations Anthropological descriptions of various and far flung societies continued through the first half of the twentieth century. By mid century anthropologists had contributed (1) some good descriptions of work and economic life in "primitive" societies, (2) comparative generalizations about the operations of simple economies, and (3) structural-functional interpretations relating to work, religion, politics and family to one another in these nonindustrial societies (Firth 1939 and 1946; Forde 1963--originally 1934--; Malinowski 1935 and 1984--originally 1922--; Herskovits 1965). Due to the relative lack of job specialization and the tendency for work to be allocated primarily on the basis of sex, age and kinship in simpler societies, ethnographic reporting of occupation was usually imbedded in descriptions of the socially appropriate work of men and women at different ages or as an incidental aspect of life histories (e.g., Sapir 1922; Radin 1926; Underhill 1939; Landes 1938; Simmons 1942). Prior to the 1970's there were only a few noteworthy accounts (see Bunzel 1929 on Navajo potters and Tschopic 1941 on Pueblo potters) clearly focusing on occupations. Ethnographic studies more often centered on the technology employed by a group to exploit its environment for subsistence purposes rather than on the work as

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12 structured into occupations. By the 1940 1 s and 195 0 1 s o nl y a few anthropologists had turned their attentions to studying occupations in complex societies (e.g., Goldschmidt 194 6 ; Chapple 1953; Harding 1955; Keesing, Siegel and Hammo n d 1957). With growth of interest in urban and complex societie s and the closing of many traditional societies to anthropological work due to the move from colonial to indepeodent nation status of many countries, especially in Africa during the 1960's and early 1970's, ethnographers turned to studying their own societies. One begins to find them studying occupational groups in the industrial and urbanized societies. Several of these anthropological studies of occupational groups are noteworthy. The longshoremen of Portland, Oregon were the subject of research which became the basis of an ethnography (Pilcher 1972). A description of the life and work of the tuna fishermen of San Diego, California based on participant observation was contributed by Orbach (1977). An ethnographic study of occupations in the railroad industry (Gamst 1980) focuses primarily around the work of the locomotive engineer (or "Hoghead"). Probably the most recent contribution of note to the literature of the ethnography of occupations is a study of the culture of construction workers (Applebaum 1981). It provides, aside from the work of sociologist LeMasters (1975), the only serious social analysis of the construction worker occupation and life cycle presently available. These and other studies have lead to a number of discussions about methods, conceptual categories and theoretical approaches among

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13 ethnographers in the developing subdiscipline of the anthropology of work and occupations. For example, Smith (1977) warns against a priori etic characterizations which obscure significant emic differences among practitioners in the same broad occupational category. She demonstrates that in the case of seamen there are significant differences between the work of deepwater sailors and Great Lakes men resulting in different attitudes and values about their social identity and their work place. Contributions toward clarifying the conceptual framework upon which the subdiscipline of the anthropology of work and occupations is based have been made by several witers (Gamst 1980; Smith 1977; Wallman 1979; and Applebaum 1981). Some stress the use of the traditional ethnograp h ic approaches in the study of occupational groups, especially the more well-bounded ones such as the military, logging, farming, stevedoring, railroading, trucking, mining, law enforcement, fishing, and some types of manufacturing (Gamst 1980; Applebaum 1981). Others have emphasized the need to place the occupational category within its macrocultural and historical setting (Smith 1977 and Wallman 1979). Wallman's approach, for example, employs a focus which is rather wider than occupations alone. She considers that the study of work is about social transactions as much as material production and that its importance frequently lies in the quality of the relationships surrounding allocation, production or distribution of resources as much as in simple material survival. In suggesting that work dictates the identity as well as the economic life of the worker, Wallman returns to ideas introduced in both the conflict theory and symbolic interactionism approaches in sociology.

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1 4 The growth of interest by anthropologists in the study of occupation and work in complex societies is further signaled by the organization of a new professional society in the late 1970's. The Society for the Anthropology of Work began to publish a newsletter in 1980 which has provided a forum of discussion where brief articles, bibliographies, book reviews and research progress reports are shared. We turn now to a consideration of the literature on the occupation of fishing and its related health problems. The Occupation of Fishing and Related Health Issues The Ethnology of Fishing and Fishermen General review. Marine food resources have been exploited in varying degrees by societies throughout the world since at least as early as the European upper paleolithic and probably even earlier. Ethnographers routinely describe the fishing techniques and the importance of seafood resources in the subsistence activities of the nonindustrial societies and rural less developed areas of industrial societies. Barnett (1960) writes about lagoon and open sea fishing among the Palauans pointing out that both fishing and the sea are considered to be male domains. Among the Kaoka speakers of Guadalcanal (Hogbin 1964) fishing is seasonal and ancillary to horticulture. The North Alaskan Eskimo (Chance 1966) traditionally had a regular seasonal round which involved spring time whaling and walrus hunting, summer seal and wild fowl hunting and fishing, winter land mammal trapping, sealing at icepack breathing holes, and fishing. Fishing was performed the year round and was significant in providing a stable and reliable

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15 diet when other sources of f ood would fail. The great significance o f fishing for the Nootka, Kwakui t l and other peopl e s of British Columbia is well described (Forde 1963) and widely known in the anthropologica l literature. B y contrast Samoan village r s (Holmes 1964) are subsistence agriculturalists who devote only a small fraction of their time to explo i t the sea. Firth's (1946) work on the peasant fishermen of Malaya is an extensive and detailed ethnography focused on the econom y of a preindustrial fishing system. Others (Messenger 1969; Diamond 1969; Fox 1978) have also looked at peasant or rural segments of industrial societies where, by tradition, fishing was an important activity. There is an impressive literature concerning the types of fisheries and the technology by which they have been exploited. Reef fishing on the Pacific (Malinowski 1935; Holmes 1964), ice fishing among the Eskimo (Chance 1966) and the Ainu (Ohnuki-Tierney 1974), swamp and lunar tide fishing in Brazil (Cordell 1974 and 1978), sm a ll boat drift net and long line hook fishing in Ireland (Messenger 1969), large boat commercial fishing in Ireland (Young 1975), Massachusetts (Bartlett 1979) and California (Orbach 1977), Atlantic distant water factory trawling (Warner 1983), and East Anglian (English) outshore and inshore trawling and drifting (Lummis 1985) are but a few of the more useful efforts. Literature also exists regarding fishing in larger geographical regions such as the Caribbean (Price 1966), the maritime cultures of the North Atlantic (Andersen 1979), and the maritime adaptat i on of the Pacific (Costell and Quimby 1975).

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16 Recent research has focused on a variety of aspect s of commercial fishing including the formation of fishing coop era ti ves (Poggie 1979 and 1980, Orbach 1980, Comitas 1962), beliefs and values of fishermen (Zulaika 1981, Orbach 1977, Poggie 198 0 Poggie and Gersuny 1975), effects of changes in fishing technology (Warner 1983, Orbach 1 9 77, Andersen 1979, Cordell 1973, Spoehr 1980, Kottak 1983), social relations on boats (Aubert and Arner 1958-59), economic rationality and the social system o f a fishing village (Zarur 1975), the marginality of distant water fishermen to their families and home communities (Orbach 1977, Warner 1983, Danowski 1980), and the economic marginality of some artisanal forms of fishing (Wadel 1969, Cordell 1973). Even more recent have been studies on the social impact of a new U.S. naval base on a Georgia fishing community (Overbey 1982), the family and childrearing as forces for economic change in Scots fishing villages (Thompson 1984), the role of fishermen's wives on Harkers Island, North Carolina (Dixon et al. 1984) and in East Anglia (Lummis 1985), variations in family and community structure in two Chesapeake Bay fishing villa g es (Ellis 1984), and the continuation of illegal commercial fishing in the Raritan Bay, New Jersey, region (McCay 1984). The fishermen of the Chesapeake. The commercial fishing industry of the Chesapeake Bay began to develop as early as the 1830's but did not become well established until after the Civil War. The earliest comprehensive data on the Chesapeake fisheries is found in Goode' s (1887:424-427) massive survey of the U.S. fisheries and fishermen for the year 1880. In that year the finfishery produced just over twenty

PAGE 30

17 million pounds worth nearly one-half million dollars, and the shellfishery yielded more than seventy-five million pounds worth nearly five million dollars. The bid money was in the oyster harvest which, considered by itself, was worth $4,730,476 compared with $479,388 for the combined harvest of crabs, clams and all finfish in 1880. The rapid growth and decline of the oyster fishery in the latter 19th century, the development of the soft and then the hard crab markets in the early twentieth century, the general decline of the Chesapeake's finfisheries since the late nineteenth century, and the growth and decline in the soft shell clam industry since the late 1940' s are well documented (Conservation Commission of Maryland 1909, Chuchill 1920, Fairbanks and Hamill 1932, Maryland Board of Natural Resources Report 1953, Lang 1961, Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences 1965, Stauble and Wood 1975, Bundy and Williams 1978, Maryland Department of Natural Resources 1981). There also exist descriptions of the fishing gears employed in various Chesapeake fisheries over the years: for gears used in all fisheries see Goode (1887), Fairbanks and Hamill (1932), Lang (1961), Warner (1976), Bundy and Williams (1978); for gears of the crab fishery see Cronin ( 1949), Cargo (1950) and Cargo and Cronin (1950); and for gears of the oyster fishery see Sieling (1950) and Warner (1976). There are data on the magnitude of the population involved in commercial fishing but they are confusing since the State of Maryland licenses both boats as well as the exploitation of each fishery. Goode (1887) reported a total of 26,008 persons (15,873 fishermen, 1,256 shoremen, and 8,879 factory hands) employed in the Chesapeake Bay

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1 8 commercial fisheries in 1880. In 1980 the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (D.N.R.) issued a total of 31,395 commercial fishing licenses of various kinds. Since one person may simultaneously hold a number of these various kinds of licenses, it is difficult to know how many full-time commercial fishermen are working the bay in Maryland. The number of oyster licenses may be taken as indicating a probable minimum number of full-time watermen since most of the oyster work boats are capable of also working the summer crab fishery. Boats suited only for late spring and summer fishing because of small size and low sides are not able to be used in the rougher winter waters. Bundy and Williams claim, the Bay f i sheries provide full-time employment (i.e., all personal income derived from fishing activities) for over 9,000 watermen. (Bundy and Williams 1978:39-40) However, it is unclear whether they refer to only the Maryland portion or both the Maryland and Virginia portions. In Somerset County on Maryland's Eastern Shore where the research for this study was carried out, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (D.N.R.) issued 805 oyster catcher and oyster dealer licenses during 1980 suggesting a reliable minimum of that many full-time watermen for the county. The populations living on the lower Eastern Shore ( in Somerset, Dorchester, Wicomico, Talbot and Worchester counties) retain an especially strong sense of identification with the farms, marshes, rivers, small towns and dispersed settlements that characterize their portion of the Chesapeake Bay littoral (see figure 2-1). Many families trace their presence back to the colonial period (Wilson 1973 and 1977)

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_!.~~~,tl .Y.!nJ.!. __ / Cecil l l I '1 a \ miles I Figure 2-1 Map of the ~aryland Counties of the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay 19

PAGE 33

20 and the extension of kinship ties forms a strong matrix for their lives. Variable degrees of insularity and suspicion of outsiders are found in the attitudes of many native "Eastern Shoreners." A popular automobile bumper sticker proclaims NO LIFE WEST OF THE BAY and sums up the general opinion among many of the local inhabitants. An intriguing assessment of the attitudes and character of watermen is presented in the la.st chapter of Follow the Water (Lang 1961). Warner's Beautiful Swimmers (1976) is the most up to date and best written general introduction to the Bay fishermen and their work now available. Supplemented with deGast's The Oystermen of the Chesapeake Bay (1970), a mainly photographic effort with a good brief narrative, Warner's book provides the newcomer to the Chesapeake fisheries an excellent orientation. The only scholarly and comprehensive effort to compile folklore of the area is Carey's A Faraway Time and Place: Lore of the Eastern Shore (1971). Carey worked in the lower shore are during the late 1960' s collecting tales, jokes, legends and traditional cures. Many of the jokes and stories recorded by Carey were still current during my field work in Somerset County in the early 1980 1 s. Among several depictions of life in Eastern Shore fishing communities, I found four worth mentioning (Byron 1977--originally 1957--, Tawes 196 7, Peffer 1979, North Bethesda Junior High School 1977). Byron's The Lord's Oysters (1957), written in the 1940's and 1950 1 s, is based on the author I s childhood experiences growing up as the son of a "riverman" on the Chester River on the upper Eastern Shore. A charming and entertaining fictional account, it provides a

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2 1 good feeling of the pace of Shore life and social values i n the 1908-20 time period. Mistrust and dislike of outsiders, blatant racial prejudice, protestant religious fundamentalism, the importance of economic self-sufficiency, the annual cycle, and the lure of a life "on the W'ater" are among the more clearly developed themes. The importance and significance of luck is elaborated in the local belief of the existence of the "jonah," a person W'ho brings bad luck. God, Man, Salt Water and the Eastern Shore is also based on the author TaW'es' ( 196 7) childhood. Concentrating on his upbringing in a small vill a ge on Jen k ins Creek in Somerset County during the period 1 9 0 C 1 2 T aw <2s r e m i ni s c e s a b ou t. n :i s c h i]d h o od, and the poverty and comparative simplicity of life as it was then. Jenkins Creek in the first decade of the 20th century was harbor to nearly one hundred small bay sailing craft. The use of the internal combustion engine in small boats W'as yet to arrive. The importance of Protestant Christianity, the material starkness and simplicity of house, clothing and food, and the strong emphasis placed on economic independence and self-sufficiency are themes which Tawes emphasizes throughout the book. Tawes bemoans the new welfare and social security system that developed in recent times. He believes they have undermined important personal and social values of hard work, the pride that arises from being economically self-sufficient, even though poor, and the ability provided by strong religious faith to persevere under adversity. Peffer's (1979) Watermen, set in a Talbot County fishing community, is the result of more than a year of participant observation in 1977 during which time he lived in the community and worked at

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22 various commercial fishi ng j o bs. Peffer's narrative description of work, leisure activities, local dialect, character and attitudes of the Tilghman Island watermen and their families he lived and worked among is excellent. Peffer touches a number of topics ranging from concepts of luck (the "Jonah") to fishing laws and regulations. Even though it is without any formal theoretical approach or conceptual analysis, Peffer' s book is the most illuminating current account of the inner workings of the th i nking and social life of contemporary commercial fishermen in the Chesapeake Bay. In 1977 a group of thirteen junior high school students from Bethesda, Maryland, visited Smith Island and, under the guidance of their English teacher, tape recorded interviews with a variety of the island's residents including the Methodist minister, the island nurse, several watermen, some wives of watermen and a couple of island teenagers (North Bethesda Junior High School 1977). Though not without glaring errors (e.g., a picture of a basket of clams misidentified as oysters on page 42 and a photograph of the churc h at Ewell mislabeled as the church at Tylerton), the little booklet provides a good sense of the pace of life, the swing of the seasons, and the changes in activities these bring. The governance of the island, the activities and life goals of island teens, the nurse's duties, attitudes towards tourists and other outsiders, and the importance of telephones are among the many topics covered. Ellis' (1984) recent article on variation in family type in two Chesapeake Bay fishing villages appears to be based on communities in the Somerset County area. Since she employs pseudonyms, though, it is

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23 not entirely clear. She describes "atomistic" nuclear families in one community and kindred-based extended families more frequently in the other community. She argues that these differences in family life are mainly owing to variations in the manner of interface with the larger society. She describes the community organized around kindreds as having broker-mediated links while the other community, organized in independent conjugal units, has more direct relations to the wider world. Occupationally Related Health Risks of Fishermen Occupational health research in general. Integral to the realities of any type of work are characteristic recurrent physical activities and work setting which will have impact on the health of the worker. As early as 1775 Percival Pott (Page and O'Brien 1973:24-25) described an occupational malady known as chimney sweep' s disease in which a painful, ragged looking sore with hard rising edges appears on the scrotum. Pott was thus the first to describe an occupationally related skin cancer caused by continued exposure to chimney soot. The earliest available systematic overview of occupational health in the present century was edited by Oliver (1902) who collected a wide variety of information concerning the most recurrent health problems of a large number of occupations. Leaving aside some of the problems concerning Oliver's understanding of disease aetiology, his book clearly pointed to the high association of certain pathologies with particular occupations.

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24 During the 1920 1 s and 1930 1 s Hamilton pursued research on occupationally related illnesses in various trades and industries. Her book Exploring the Dangerous Trades (1943) provides some good examples of how new technologies which result in changes in the physical aspects of work activity and work place can adversely affect the health of workers. Her investigation of a condition known as "dead fingers" among granite and limestone cutters found the problem to be traceable to the introduction of the air hammer. The work of stone cutting was accelerated considerably but so was the trauma delivered to the hands and fingers of the workers. A second effect of the introduction of the air hammer was to create greater quantities of fine dust which entered workers' lungs eventually increasing, dramatically, the frequency of various lung diseases in these workers after some years of exposure (Hamilton 1943:200-207). Two books published in the early 1970 1 s (Stellman and Daum 1973, Page and O'Brien 1973) provide excellent informative and highly readable summaries of the adverse impact of the work place on the health of workers. Page and O'Brien provide good reviews of the development of workmen's compensation laws and the part played by industry and business in response to workers' job related illnesses. For more technical and detailed medical presentation of occupational hazards there are the two edited volumes of Hunter (1978) The Diseases of Occupations and Rom (1983) Environmental and Occupational Medicine. Health hazards of the fishing occupation. Early in the century Oliver indicated that in the marine service the principle diseases among seamen were

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(1) those due to the special character of their employment such as aneurisrn, emphysema, hernia, and heart disease and in steamships, heat apoplexy (Stokers); (2) those due to their habits, viz., veneral disease and alcoholism; (3) diseases of climate, liver disease, malaria, yellow fever, dysentery, cholera, plague, etc.; and ( 4) diseases influenced mainly by the environment and insanitary conditions, such as rheumatism, phthisis, bronchitis and various forms of lung disease, under which also must be included scurvy and beriberi. (Oliver 1902: 181) 2 5 Examination of the more recent literature reveals a number of health problems which are seen to be associated with the various fishing occupations. Stellman and Daum (1973: 382) list the following as f i shermen's health hazards: coal tar and coal tar fractions, cold and heat, infections, sunlight and ul travi o l e t:. lig h t T h e / f ai l t o mention vibration and mercury, the latter from the ingestion of some seafoods, especially oysters. They further indicate (1973: 371) that boatbuilders', a related occupation, health threats are asbestos, glass fibers and plastics as well as coal tars and their fractions. A common infection of the fingers and hands among fishing industry workers, slaughter house workers and veterinarians is caused by a microorganism, Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae, present in the slime layer of fish and infected swine (Rom 1983:362-371). It is commonly called by various names such as fish poisoning, fish handler's disease, fish hand, sealer's finger, blubber finger or pork finger. E. rhusiopathiae is generally responsible for three forms of human infection: (1) mild local skin infection occurring on the finger and well known to doctors working near fish and meat markets, slaughter houses, and hotel districts; (2) a generalized cutaneous eruption with constitutional symptoms; and (3) a septicaemic form (Rom 1983:725-728).

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26 Weil' s disease is also associated with fish, but not exclusively (Rom 1983:25). Weil's disease has its highest incidence in coal miners, bargemen, sewer laborers, canal workers, rice field workers, sugar cane cutters, fish cleaners, fish filleters, fish freshers and curers, fish porters, fish mongers, and tripe scrapers. It is caused by water or slime contaminated by rats infested with Leptospira icterohaemorraghiae, a microorganism. The symptoms include fever, jaundice, liver enlargement, the occurrence of hemorrhages and occasional relapses of fever. Improved sanitation through cleaning the working areas and changes in the fish processing technology have reduced the incidence. Earlier in the century there would be occasional outbreaks as in 1924 when twenty-three cases were reported in Aberdeen, Scotland, among fish workers. Since the 1930's the advent of mechanical processing and freezing of fish has largely eliminated the older, less sanitary processing techniques thus reducing the chances of contracting Weil's disease. Vibrio vulnificus, a dangerous salt-requiring bacterium known to cause blood poisoning, and other vibrio bacteria (such as Vibrio cholera) occur naturally along United States coastal waters, including the Chesapeake Bay. Symptoms can include chills, fever, low blood pressure, and diarrhea and seizures may occur. Skin infections are usually red, swollen and very painful sores. Most infections occur May to October, the period of highest water salinity and temperature. Since 1974, when vibrio poisoning was recognized, less than one hundred people are known to have died from it in the United States. Schmidt and Hoyt (1985:1-2) documented fifteen cases of vibrio

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27 infection, two of whom died, in tidewater areas of Virgini a bet we en 1974 and 1984. Though incidence of Vibrio vulnificus infections are rare, Schmidt and Hoyt note the existence of high-risk categories, .chronic conditions that may make a person more susceptible to vibrio infection include liver disease, kidney disease, cancer, diabetes, and blood disorders like leukemia. People with high iron levels in their blood, from liver disease, for example, are more vulnerable to bacterial infection. In a d d ition, use of immunosuppressive drugs, steroid therapy or chemotherapy, and alcohol may increase risk. If the immune system is suppressed, it is difficult for the body to fight the bacteria. (Schmidt and Hoyt 1985:1) Infection can be caused by eating raw shellfish, especially oysters, and by exposure of punctures, cuts or ulcers to salt water. Fishermen can contact vibrio while working in salt water and harvesting or cleaning shellfish. The incidence of accidental injury and death in the fishing industry is a significant issue. Poggie and Gersuny (1975:355) cite a comparison of fatalities in coal mining, reputed to be the most dangerous land work, and commercial fishing in the United States. In 1965 there were 21.4 deaths per million man-days in the commercial fisheries compared with 1.04 deaths per million man-days in coal mines while textile mills reported only 0.8 deaths per million man-days. Exposure to extreme cold has been a fact of the commercial fisherman's work though modern technology today provides more efficient heating aboard ships than in the past. Certain types of fishing still involve working under bitterly cold conditions. The possible loss of feeling or even the loss of digits due to frostbite are ever present in winter fishing. In parts of New England fishermen report a phenomenon

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28 known as "soft hands" caused by repeated exposure to cold while working. Hands that have "gone soft" are lax and lack normal muscle tone. They are not capable of firm grip. The condition is quite common among the older men of the Boston trawler fleet. A recent review of the literature on acclimatization and habituation to cold stress suggests that, when sufficiently exposed to cold all humans adapt to cold through increased metabolic rates and with an attendant increase in peripheral temperature. (Frisancho 1979:82) Frisancho, however, also cite s research (LaBlanc 1975) on the Gaspe peninsula fishermen of Canada which suggests that when the cold stress is only moderate, the adaptation is through habituation rather than through metabolic compensation. That is, the adaptation is acquired by continuous exposure to moderate cold and the individual develops the habit to function with a degree of hypothermia almost as if his thermostat were set slightly lower. Finally, fishermen typically have continued, long-term exposure to wind, sunlight, heat and glare. One expects to find, therefore, higher incidences of skin cancers among fishermen and this has been born out by the research among the Somerset watermen. Moreover, preliminary research on the effects of sunlight on eye disease has been initiated comparing coal miners (low exposure to sunlight) and fishermen (high exposure to sunlight) (Maguire et al. 1982:129). This pilot study suggests a significant difference between these two populations in the incidence of several eye pathologies, e.g., pterygium, corneal droplet keratopathy, and cataracts. These preliminary results, however, need to be checked by drawing larger, more representative samples.

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i I I CHAPTER II I RESEARCH METHODOLOGY The Development of the Project The research project developed from my interest in the culture of well-bounded occupations, occupationally related illness and health care in rural, medically under-served populations, on the one hand, and my curiosity about the culture of the people inhabiting the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay (Maryland) on the other. I wanted a project that I could carry out for comparatively little expense and that would involve the use of participant observation, formal interviewing, and key informants in addition to library and archival 1 research. The commercial fishermen and Somerset County on Maryland's lower Eastern Shore were chosen as the research population and research location for several reasons. I wanted a gemeinschaft-like social setting in a comparatively economically underdeveloped locale which would surrogate, as nearly as possible for the social conditions of research in a developing country. Also I required a clearly identifiable occupational group whose members lived in communities in which the target occupation was well known, firmly established and a traditional type of employment among many local families. I was also interested in doing the research in a population which was insular and comparatively distrustful of outsiders since it would provide another 29

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Smith Island N 3.5 I r,,; les Figure 3-1 Map of the Somerset County Re s earch Areas 30

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31 challenge and the possibility of learning more about how to gain entry to such communities and develop rapport with the people in them. Once having made a tentative decision on the research population and location, I began to do archival research. I used the library resources of the fallowing educational institutions in the process of the archival research for the dissertation: the Catholic University of America (Washington, D.C.), the University of Maryland (College Park), and Prince George's Community College (Maryland). I also consulted the collections of the Library of Congress, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (Annapolis), the National Medical Library (Bethesda), and the Somerset County Public Library (Princess Anne). At the outset I consulted the Atlas of Maryland (Thompson et al. 1977) and discovered that, indeed, Somerset County as well as its neighboring county to the north, Dorchester, was low in population, sparsely settled and relatively poor as compared with other Maryland counties. I read deGast 's (1970) and Warner's (1976) books on the commercial fishermen of the Chesapeake Bay which, in retrospect, are two of the better books describing the life and work of the watermen. At this time I also consulted the Health Systems Plan (Health Planning Council of the Eastern Shore 1978) for the nine counties of Maryland's Eastern Shore, including Somerset, which listed heart disease, infant mortality and hypertension as the most significant problems of the region (see figure 2-1). In reading through the plan I found no way to disaggregate the commercial fishermen as a group form the whole shore population. Telephone conversations with staff members of the Health Planning Council of the Eastern Shore (H.P.C.E.S.) located at Cambridge

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32 (see figure 1-1), confirmed my suspicion that the H.P.C.E.S. did not have or know where to find this kind of occupationally related health data. The director of the H.P.C.E.S. indicated that Somerset County was classified as medically underserved and also gave me the names of the members of the Somerset County Heal th Planning Council and the county health officer. During my first visit to Somerset County I spent several days simply driving about its villages and back roads. I visited the many small mainland fishing and farming communities as well as the inland county seat of Princess Anne and the town of Crisfield located on the Little Annemessex River (see figures 3-1 and 3-2). I also took the public transport boat from Crisfield to Smith Island in Tangier Sound where three small settlements of commercial fishermen and their families are located. I purposefully refrained from contacting anyone during this trip since my goal was to see the area and become familiar with its geography and settlement pattern. I took several rolls of thirty-five millimeter slides and also spent a day going through the collection in the small Maryland Room of the County Library in Princess Anne. On the basis of this trip, I decided definitely to pursue research among the commercial fishermen of Somerset County. I set up two file boxes for field notes, one for a consecutive file and the other using the Human Area Relations Files categories (Murdock et al. 1971). I decided to gather general ethnographic data as well as to focus on specific topics. I most avidly pursued the following topics: ( 1) the history of the area; (2) the work of the commercial fishermen; (3) the

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H Big Anneiussex c.::, z < E-t --, ---J ----0 l Jl 1 5 ,,.s 7 I I Miles (. ae-a:~ rr ~, --x $~ -~u~a-xwww '~..-.-.Fi g ure 3-2 Map of Somerset Coun ty Rivers, Creeks and Sounds 33

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34 nature of their community life; (4) the work related health problems of the fishermen; and (5) the health care system in the area. As the research progressed, I began to do formal interviews with fishermen, health care personnel, and various other persons such as ministers and pharmacists who served the fishing communities in Somerset. Early Field Research Experiences My usuai base of operation while in Somerset County was the Washington Hotel in Princess Anne. From there I was able to have the most efficient access to the various communities in which the majority of commercial fishermen lived. When working on Smith Island I would rent a room for a couple of days at a time from a family that took in boarders (figure 3-3). My early contacts with watermen were chance meetings in restaurants, bars, church events, and on the Captain Jason, the boat that serves to connect the Smith Island population with the mainland at Crisfield. On one of my earliest trips to Somerset County I met two watermen and a marine biologist who worked for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (C.B.F.) Center located on Smith Island. The first of the watermen was a garrulous, retired man of about seventy years of age I will call Caleb Guy. We struck up a conversation in the Mount Vernon Inn in Princess Anne during lunch one hot June day in 1979. Mr. Guy had a seventh grade education and had spent his whole life "on the water" as a self-employed waterman tonging oysters in the winter and harvesting crabs in the summer. We talked about forty-five minutes and he told me about the difficulties of his work. He told me he no longer

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Figure 3-3 Map of Smith I 1 sand 0 l ................ 35 ..... ..... Virginia 1 I 1fl lies N 1 s

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36 had much feeling in any of his fingers which he attributed to having repeatedly suffered frostbite while oystering. The second waterman, Jack March, was much younger than Mr. Guy, only twenty-nine years old. I met him on the noon boat ride from Crisfield to Smith Island. He lived on the island with his wife and baby daughter. On any other day I wouldn't have encountered him since he would have been out on his crab boat working. However, his boat motor had malfunctioned and Jack had gone into Crisfield on the early ferry to purchase the necessary parts. He was holding a six pack of Budweiser beer which contained only three cans dangling by the plastic mesh from one had and an open beer in the other hand. We got to talking and pretty soon he offered me a beer whic h I accepted. Jack and I hit it off and he told me about his crab scrape boat, his crab shanty and finally invited me to go out with him on his boat on my next visit. About a month later I did just that, As time passed Jack and his wife, Suzy, became key informants. He is also included as one of the twenty-fiv e watermen whom I formally interviewed concerning their work and health. My contact with the marine biologist, whom I'll call Bill Silverton, also occurred on the Captain Jason on the very same day I met Jack Marsh, Bill, a young man of twenty-three years, gave me his card and invited me to drop by the Smith Island house which the C,B.F. had recently purchased to use in their estuarine studies education program. Known to the islanders and in Tangier Sound generally as the "Save the Bays" because of the white and blue bumper-sticker proclaiming this aim, the C.B.F. is an Annapolis-based conservation

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37 group whose aim is to maintain the quality of the Chesapeake Bay biota. Part of their effort involves educating the public and for that reason the C.B.F. has established several education centers throughout the Bay to which centers groups of students of varying ages come for a few days to a week at a time to learn about the estuarine environment and life forms. My initial dealings with Bill Silverton and others at the Smith Island C.B.F. were friendly and cordial. Early in the research I spent a few nights at the C.B.F. house and participated in various of their programs as a guest. Through them I met a half dozen commercial fishermen. However, within a short time I realized that the C.B.F. people were themselves not entirely well received by the Smith Island population and that the C.B.F. local staff was taking somewhat of a "my people" or proprietary attitude toward the watermen. On realizing this I withdrew from so close an involvement with the C.B.F. as had already developed. I made sure the islanders understood that I was not part of the C.B.F. by no longer staying overnight at the C.B.F. house and by ceasing to be involved in their programs. This disengagement took a few months to effect since some of my first contacts with the islanders had been through introductions made by C.B.F. staff members. In the long run this situation presented no insurmountable problems to my data collecting on the island. I learned an important lesson from it. I learned that though it may appear to save time and effort to ally oneself with a group in the community which you are studying, it will not necessarily be true and, additionally, you are likely to be used in some way by the group for their own ends. Though

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38 I keenly felt the need to "belong" in some way, I learned to be quite circumspect about the degree to which I would allow this to occur. I found my research needs were better served by taking other approaches. I began developing my own individual contacts both accidentally and by going through people with whom I developed a level of trust and rapport in order to acquire introductions and references for interviews. Through the use of the "snowballing" approach I was able to gather plenty of information and obtain interviews. From the outset of the field work I wrote letters and followed them up with phone calls in order to get interviews with individuals who could tell me about health and health care in Somerset County. I found this approach to be appropriate when dealing with health care professionals, politicians and county government workers. Early in the research I easily obtained interviews with the director of the Health Planning Council of the Eastern Shore at Cambridge, the chief administrator of McCready Memorial Hospital in Crisfield and Health Officer of Somerset County. I also attempted this letter writing approach for contacting some of the commercial fishermen. I abandoned it quickly, however, as it seemed to generate a level of suspicion and distrust that I had not expected. I was unable to get a single satisfactory interview by directly contacting watermen in this manner. It turned out that being approached through a formal looking typed letter by a person they did not know anything about was outside their usual repertoire of social interaction. They were uncomfortable with being so contacted and possibly a little threatened. I had to discover

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i I 39 the appropriate way to approach the fishermen if I was to be able to make any formal interviews. I solved the problem by adopting the strategy of tapping into the social networks of various local persons whom I got to know and who had developed some level of confidence in me. In this manner, I was able to move carefully from person to person in an informal manner. The necessity of acquiring interviews in this manner affected the nature of the sampling procedure for the formal interviews about which I have more to say in a later section of the chapter. Ethnographic Field Techniques Simple observation and informal interviewing During the research period leading up to the beginning of the formal interviews, there were many opportunities for simple observation and informal interviewing. I was able to acquire quite a lot of data of a general ethnographic nature through the use of these techniques. One of the most useful quidelines for successful social interaction in the Somerset County area was acquired by simple observation during a trip aboard the public transport boat to Smith Island. There were six island women, two watermen, the two-man boat crew, two tourists from New York City, and myself aboard the Captain Jason. What I saw was that the repeated attempts of one of the tourists to engage people around her in conversation was not at all welcomed. They were polite to her her but tried to break off the conversation as soon as possible. The woman then pursued one of the crew members around the boat. He was clearly put out and tried to get away from

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40 her, though he was never rude. Surprisingly, I found that the actions of the tourist annoyed the waterman sitting next to me to such an extent that he struck up a conversation with me, though we had only previously nodded to one another. It became clear this tourist's behavior was seen as inappropriate--pushy, prying, rude and annoying. I was fortunate to have been in the situation since I am sure that, while the New Yorker's behavior was exceptionally inappropriate to the situation, it was a kind of lampoon of my own potential. For a while following this experience I became extraordinarily reticent to strike up conversations, possible too cautious in fact, for fear of alienating the very people I wished to approach. Even so I believe there were times when I may have done so without fully understanding it. Generally, though, I became more patient and when possible I tried to wait people out, giving them plenty of time to size up and get used to me. Thus, early in the field research I was acutely aware of the issue of "impression management" (Pelto 1970:218-220). The necessity of establishing rapport while also being open about my role as a gatherer of information was, from the beginning, a real and daily experience throughout the period of field investigation. I adopted a strategy of waiting and "hanging out" in some public places which was helpful early in the research. It usually lead to the gathering of useful overheard information and sometimes to conversations and inrormal interviews. For example, sitting in eating and drinking establishments frequented by commercial fishermen was usually fruitful. One rainy day in Crisfield many watermen who had had their workday shortened by the inclement weather began to congregate at the Captain's Galley, a bar and restaurant just a few paces from the

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41 dock. I had returned from a visit to Smith Island and stopped in to have lunch. As the bar gradually filled to over flowing and many beers were consumed, tongues loosened and catch sizes, boat prices, crab prices and many other topics formed the basis of the discussions and arguments that ensued. I learned more about the catching and marketing of crabs in two hours than I would have guessed possible. On another occasion in the same bar, I had a conversation with a twenty-five year old waterman while killing time waiting to interview a Crisfield medical doctor with whom I had an appointment. The young waterman and I recognized having seen one another about town over the previous few months and after sitting quietly at the bar nursing a beer for about forty minutes, he started a conversation with me. By then I had learned to wait out these men rather than rushing into conversations. It paid off because in the next twenty minutes while we talked, he gave me his job history and talked about the health problems and injuries he'd had in the past year or so. In the period before our exchange I overheard portions of conversations between the other watermen present, e.g., 1st Waterman: "Haven't read a whole book in my life except the Bible!" 2nd Waterman: "You never read the Bible!" 1st Waterman: "Sure have." [Brief Pause] 2nd Waterman: "Sold (hard crabs) for 700 dollars today." 1st Waterman: "I had a 250 dollars fine yesterday. God damned Marine Police!" [Brief Pause]

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1st Waterman: "Willy, don't you never wear no hat on the water?" 42 2nd Waterman: "Naw, its only the wind burn bothers me." These snippets of overhead convers ati ons as well as the information from the conversation with the young waterman went into my field notes. Later these isolated pieces began to take their places in revealing the local cultural pattern that I was working to establish. For example, there turned out to be a marked degree of anti-intellectualism repeatedly expressed in the speech of these men. The af or ementioned comment concerning attitudes toward books is but one clue to its existence. Key Informants and Participant Observation The development of key informants during my research was more fortuitous than purposeful. I happened onto them in the process of field work and interviewing. Persons who became key informants were willing to share information, took a positive attitude toward my research efforts and were spontaneously cooperative. useful key informants in Crisfield and Smith Island. I developed In Cr i sfield a sixty-two year old widow was instrumental in my acquiring some of my initial interviews with watermen and nurses. She was always willing to answer questions and seemed to welcome my visits to her home. I attempted to reciprocate by doing a few odd chores around her house from time to time, such as weeding flower beds and cutting the lawn. I came to know her through a colleague of mine at the community college in Prince George I s County where I was teaching. The colleague had a friend who had been born and reared in Crisfield.

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43 The friend of my colleague was a dean at another Maryland college nearby. I made a luncheon appointment with him and the result was that he phoned his mother in Crisfield and told her to expect me to contact her. She was very knowledgeable about the area, having lived there all her life, and quite helpful. The other key informants were Jack Marsh and his wife on Smith Island. This relationship began purely by chance in an encounter aboard the public transport boat from Crisfield to Smith Island as described above. Jack seems to have decided I was going to be a kind of older brother. I met his wife Suzy when she brought her baby girl for a "well baby check up" with the island nurse. I was spending the afternoon with the nurse observing her work. Subsequently both Jack and Suzy were friendly and welcoming to me whenever I would drop by. In addition to the key informant relationships, there were occasions in which I participated in organized group activities in these communities and learned of the structure of local society and the importance of these activities in the community. Some of the occasions I was invited to attend and others were public events to which anyone might come. Among the other occasions I attended were a church "social" dinner in Tylerton, men's softball games in Ewell, Crisfield and Deal Island, a funeral at Pocomoke, a Polynesian dance performance sponsored by the Ewell Ladies Auxiliary of the Volunteer Fire Fighters Association, a two day long cardiopulmonary resucitation workshop at Tylerton, the annual Hard Crab Derby at Crisfield and the Annual Waterman's Festival at Mount Vernon. In addition I was invited to dinner with people in their homes, to go oystering and crabbing with

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44 various watermen and to observe how the Smith Island nurse performed her duties during one afternoon. Bruce's Store, the general store (and only store), in Tyler ton served as a gathering spot for the members of that community. One of the activities I especially enjoyed was sitting in Bruce I s Store and playing dominoes with some of the watermen after dinner in the evening. It was a situation which proved to be an abundant source of information and contacts for interviews. Although I proved to be mediocre player, fortunately there were others who were worse than I. Some of the men with seventh or ninth grade educations seemed to especially enjoy being able to win against me once they found out I had a lot of formal education and was a college professor. I believe it corroborated their suspicion that "book learning" was overrated. Anyway it was all done in an atmosphere of cordiality and friendliness. Sampling and Formal Interviewing I carried out two small purposive, homogeneous sample surveys. 2 3 Moreover, both were strategic informant samples; i.e., the occupants of key roles are overrepresented (Smith 1975:129). One was an "expert choice" survey of seventeen health care personnel aimed at discovering (a) the health problems of the commercial fishermen as distinct from the general local population, and (b) the health care delivery system in place in the county. The other survey was a "snowball" sample of twenty-five commercial fishermen from the Crisfield, Mount Vernon, Rumbley-Frenchtown, Deal Island, and Smith Island areas of Somerset County (see figure 3-1). 4 The interviews of the fishermen sought

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45 information concerning their work h i stories, the nature of their work, their health and whether it was affected by their work. The survey of heal th care personnel involved four nurses, three doctors, on e county health offi c er (also an M.D.), one hospital administrator, two off ic er s of th e Health Planning Council of the Eastern Shore, one pharmacist, two members of the Somerset County Health Planning Council, one Methodist minister, and two members of the Smith Island Medical Board. From these interviews there emerged a pictu r e of the present health care system and a description of the views of health care personnel regarding the health of the commercial fishermen in Somerset County. This is described below in Chapter VII. The survey of commercial fishermen consisted of a sample of twenty-five individuals from the county. I originally intended to simply draw a random sample from the computer printout of all (i.e., 1,752) commercial fishing licenses issued in Somerset County (acquired from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources). However, due to the nature of the population and the methodological difficulties involved in getting these men to cooperate with formal interviews when contacted by a stranger, I was force d t o emp l oy a deliberate, purposive sampling approach instead. This approach involved going through the networks of individuals with whom I became friendly and cordial. I found that the watermen would cooperate with a formal interview if they were carefully approached through persons who they knew and trusted. Their wariness of strangers and suspicion of outsiders made it nearly impossible to proceed any other way and get cooperation. Someone they were familiar with needed to vouch for me.

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46 Though the major part of the field research work was carried out in Crisfield and, especially, on Smith Island, the twenty-five watermen whom I interviewed were from five areas in Somerset County where a great many watermen live. These are natural groupings of communities adjacent to one another due to being located on small "necks" (peninsulas) or on an island facing Tangier Sound (see figures 3-1 and 3-2). They are (1) Smith Island (including Ewell, Tylerton, and Rhodes Point), (2) Crisfield (including Crisfield, Lawsonia, and Birdtown), (3) Rumbley (including Rumbley, Frenchtown, and Fairmount), ( 4) Deal Island (including Deal Island, Chance, Wenona and Dames Quarter), and (5) Mount Vernon (including Mount Vernon and Monie Neck). Five watermen from each area were interviewed. I decided to interview a few fishermen from each of these areas for a total of twenty-five interviews to have a more representative sample. Thus I located the men by "snowballing" from people who were already known to me. This means inquiring of these persons whether they knew any commercial fishermen from the five areas who would consent to being interviewed by me. In some cases I would approach the person to be interviewed myself saying that a mutual acquaintance had recommended me to them. In other cases, my contact would make a phone call or introduce me in person. I also interviewed some retired and semi-retired watermen, especially about the topics of fishing boat construction, the advent of new kinds of fishing gears, and the impact of the shift from sailing to power boats.

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47 Lessons The problem of how to present myself and my work was often perplexing. Very early in my research I would say I was a social scientist interested in talking with commercial fishermen about their work, or that I was a college teacher who was working on a degree which required that I do research and that I had chosen to study the health and work of commercial fishermen. I soon discovered that for the majority of people I encountered almost anything I told them translated in their minds to "He's a teacher and he's wri tin' a book about us." That seemed to be the information that travelled ahead of me whatever else I said or how I phrased it. If the person I was trying to interview was well disposed toward me because I had approached through a friend or acquaintance they trusted, I was usually given a chance. Toward the end of the research I had learned how to get the interviews and image management problem did not concern me overmuch. The sophistication with which the people in these Somerset communities manipulate strangers was surprising to me. On many occasions I felt I was the one being interviewed. The Smith Islanders especially, for example, maintain a strong sense of group solidarity and maintain a semi-closed community. For the outsider simply finding a place to stay on the island is difficult, though in the larger village of Ewell there are two families who can accommodate overnight boarders. They' re used to seeing tourists and other visitors only during the period between one o I clock and about three thirty in the afternoon when the boat brings them and takes them back to the mainland. I believe an informal norm exists among Smith Islanders

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48 discouraging the taking-in of strangers, say by renting them a room for an extended period. It is rare that a house on Smith Island is sold to other than another islander. They are wary of researchers and writers. One islander said to me, when he heard that I was "writin' a book," that he didn't want to talk to me because the next thing he knew his words would turn up in print and he would probably be misrepresented. Though this attitude is widespread, it did not prove insurmountable. Watermen routinely suspect strangers and new acquaintances of being game warders or undercover agents for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Marine Police whom they feel are trying to catch them doing something illegal such as wild fowl hunting out of season or harvesting undersized oysters and crabs. On several occasions different watermen I encountered related to me the story of a Smith Island waterman who befriended a stranger. The stranger came and stayed at the waterman's home but later "tricked" his host into some illegal duck hunting. The stranger, who was a game warden, then arrested the waterman who had to pay a fine. What is occurring, I believe, concerns the maintenance of social boundaries that are important in the lives of the islanders. There are several social spheres for these people, i.e., (1) an internal world, (2) an external world, and (3) an interactional world, each demanding different roles. In the interactional world the external and internal worlds are in danger of meeting and must be kept separate. It is to the interactional sphere of social relations that the warning, testing, story telling about game wardens, and accusatory behavior (e.g.,

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49 "That's fine but you look like the "fish fuzz" [game warden] or maybe a "narc" [undercover narcotics officer] to me!") pertains. This kind of behavior appears to be effective in putting outsiders on notice and putting them o ff eit her b y frightening them or insulting them. It took me a little while to understand that it was a categorical kind of treatment I was receiving; that it was aimed at me because I was seen as a member of the outsider/ str anger category. I was identified as someone belonging to the potentially dangerous external world, a world they wanted kept separate from the social field internal to the island itself. Notes 1. I have employed the books by Pelto (1970) and Smith (1975) as the primary sources of information for research concepts and methodology. 2. a purposive sample has a known chance equal to O or 100 percent of being selected or, as is more likely, where the chance of being selected is different from O or 100, the selection chance is unknown" (Smith 1975:115). 3. "Homogeneous samples sample from a relatively narrow range of some theoretical variable 11 (Smith 1975:115). 4. In "snowball" samples key role occupants supply names of other key role occupants; "expert choice" samples request "experts" to choose typical or representative units (Smith 1975:128).

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CHAPTER IV HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE The commercial fishermen of Somerset County live in small communities near the water where their boats and shanties are kept. They are remnants of an earlier population of fisher-farmers. Their forebears survived by a combination of agriculture, fishing, boat building, and merchant sailing from the middle seventeenth century to the late nineteenth century. Some of these Eastern Shore men sailed with English privateers against Spanish and French ships while others were simply lawless, free booting pirates. Since the late nineteenth century, they have primarily supported themselves through commercial fishing. The Somerset fishermen and their families inherit a tradition of independence and self-reliance from an earlier era when economic self-sufficiency and individual resourcefulness even to the point of piracy were the requisite qualities for survival. It was time when welfare, social security, and various governmental supports, such as aide to dependent families, were nonexistent. They are a hard-working people among whom the older values still resonate. They are a tradition-oriented group many of whom place great value in kinship and are proud to trace their family lines back many generations to colonial times. In many ways Somerset fishing villages approach the ideal characteristics of a folk or gemeinschaft community. At the same time 50

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51 they have not failed to adapt to technological and social developments in the world beyond. In this chapter I trace the history of such changes among the Somerset County watermen within the broader context of the history of Somerset County and the Chesapeake Bay region in general. Somerset County, the home area of the people who are the subjects of this dissertation, is geographically located on the lower Eastern Shore of the Maryland portion of the Chesapeake Bay. The Eastern Shore is part of the Delmarva peninsula which is bordered on the north by the Delaware Bay, on the east by the Atlantic Ocean, and by the Chesapeake Bay on the south. The Colonial Period The southern extension of the Delmarva peninsula was one of the areas of the earliest European contact and settlement in the mid-Atlantic coastal zone. As early as the year 1524 it was cursorily explored from the Atlantic side by Giovanni da Verrazano who, sailing for the French, landed a party which travelled inland as far as the Pocomoke Swamp in present-day Worcester County, Maryland. It was not until the early seventeenth century, however, that the waters adjacent to Somerset County and nearby areas of the Delmarva were first charted by Europeans. The earliest cartographic description was made by John Smith who sailed in 1608 from the Jamestown, Virginia, colony making two short voyages to map the Chesapeake Bay. Included on Smith's 1608 map is the first known cartographic representation of Somerset County lands. Smith named a group of low, marshy islands the Russell Island and a nearby river the Wighco. A projection of land north of the Wighco

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52 was labeled Watkins Point. By all accounts the Russells are the islands which are today known as South Marsh, Bloodsworth, Smith, and Tangier; the river is the Pocomoke; and Watkins Point is near the Little Annemessex River where the city of Crisfield is now located (see figures 3-1 and 3-2) (Papenfuse and Coale 1982). European settlement on the Eastern Shore began early in the seventeenth century at the southern end of the Delmarva peninsula with settlers from the Virginia Colony who called the area Accomack. In 1649 a group of English en route from London to Jamestown, Virginia, immigrants under the leadership of the Cavalier Henry Norwood were stranded on the Atlantic side of the peninsula. Their ship, Virginia Merchant, was wrecked by a storm in Assoteague Bay. Travelling by foot and with aid from Native Americans, probably Algonkian speaking Assoteagues, Norwood's group eventually made contact in 1650 with Jenkin Price who was a trader with the Eastern Shore Indians. From the Northampton settlement on the lower end of the Eastern Shore, an area settled by Englishmen from the Virginia colony, Norwood and his party with the aid of Price succeeded in reaching their original destination in Virginia (Torrence 1935:429 and 454). The earliest settlements in what is now the Maryland portion of the Chesapeake were planted about 1635. In that year a group of Virginians led by John Claibourne established a foothold on Kent Island (see figure 1-1) in the middle reaches of the bay opposite the site of the present city of Annapolis. Claibourne claimed the island and the surrounding areas for the Virginia Colony. However, a scant three years earlier, in 1632, Lord Baltimore had secured an exclusive land grant

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53 from the English king to settle the areas north of the Virginia 1 Colony. In 1634 the representatives of Lord Baltimore established Maryland's first seat of government at St. Mary's City in what is now St. Mary's County on the Western Shore of the Chesapeake. The following year a naval engagement, the first recorded on the Chesapeake, was fought between Marylanders and Claibourne's Kent Islanders at the mouth of the Pocomoke River near Somerset County. Claibourne' s force was defeated and his attempt to claim portions of the upper bay for the Virginia Colony was blocked. In these early years settlement in Maryland was impeded by the raids of the powerful Susquehannock Indians headquartered in the northern end of the Chesapeake. The depredations of the Susquehannocks effectively dampened the immigrants' enthusiasm for settlement in the middle and upper bay regions prior to 1652. In that year, however, Lord Baltimore's agents secured a treaty with the Susquehannocks and during the ensuing decades settlement in several separate areas of Maryland, 2 including Somerset County, rapidly developed. The Annemessex River and Monokin River areas of Somerset County, the former now Crisfield and surrounding communities, were primarily settled by people from the Accomack, Virginia, part of the Eastern Shore after about 1660 (see figures 3-1 and 3-2). The early settler influx seems to have been largely due to the lack of religious freedom in the Virginia Colony and the greater availability of land in the Maryland Colony. Beginning in the early 1660's, land holdings of varying sizes began to be surveyed and recorded with St. Mary's City. By 1666 estates of several hundred acres, i.e. 3 Makepeace and Emmesox, were recorded. In 16 72-73 George Fox, the Quaker churchman, travelled in the Big Annemessex River area

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r1 5 4 and left a description which indicates a burge o ning population (Wilstach 1931:172). About this time near the Little Annemessex River the village of Somers Cove, later renamed Crisfield, was founded. Smith Island, by traditional accounts, is said to have first been settled in 1657 by dissenters from other Maryland colonies. In any case, by 1679 a deed for 1,000 acres, called Pitchcroft, of Smith Island land was patented to one Henry Smith (Wilson 1973:231). The local population continued to expand during the late seventeenth century. By 1704 Somerset County's settler population had grown to 4,473 souls (Wilson 1973:5). On the river bends, creeks and small harbors of the Big and Little Annemessex Rivers clustered the homes and sailing boats of those who supported themselves by subsistence fishing and farming. In addition, there were other communities farther upstream which served as loading and recei v i r 1 g p oints for agricultural pr oduce and manufactured goods coming to and flowing from the large estates, their tenants, and later, from plantations worked by slaves. Upriver towns such as Salisbury and Whitehaven on the Wicomico, and Princess Anne on the Manokin, were in existence by the 1730' s. Salisbury and Princess Anne were made post towns in 1732 and 1733, respectively, and Princess Anne has been the Somerset County seat of government since the latter year. In the first third of the eighteenth century other areas of Maryland surpassed Somerset County in population growth and extent of settlement (Papenfuse and Coale 1982: 37). Though the reasons for this are not entirely clear, there are several possible factors: ( 1) the presence of more desirable land in other Maryland areas of the bay, (2)

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55 the greater accessability of the rivers in other areas from the main bay channel (to get to the rivers of Somerset County a line of marshy islands and the shallow Tangier Sound must be navigated), and (3) the extent of marsh land in the Tangier Sound/Somerset area produced a great swarm of mosquitoes, marsh flies and other noxious insects which not only made life uncomfortable in the warmer months but carried disease as well. Though Somerset enjoyed a population increase of nearly 100% between 1704 (4,437) and 1755 (8,682), other Maryland localities were growing even more rapidly. The result was that by 1755 the Baltimore and the Annapolis/Anne Arundel County settlements had become larger in population than the settlement in the Somerset area. Thus by 1755 the total Maryland Colony population was 153,565 of which the Baltimore area was 12%, the Annapolis/Anne Arundel area was 8.6%, and the Somerset area was only 5. 7% (Papenf use and Coale 1982: 3). From the second half of the eighteenth century the Somerset population experienced slow population expansion compared to other Maryland locales. The Revolutionary War and the Late Eighteenth Century During the Revolutionary War period the large plantations and farms of the Eastern Shore, especially in the northern counties of Kent, Cecil, Queen Ann and Talbot, made vital agricultural contributions to the rebel war effort (see figure 2-1). Without these food stuffs the great difficulties faced by the revolutionary army might well have been sufficient to tip the balance in the favor of the British. Throughout the lower Chesapeake Bay, however, British Naval

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56 forces were in control during most of the conflict. In the Maryland counties of Worcester and Somerset as well as in Accomack County in Virginia, the British, at the outset of the war, enjoyed the loyalty of most of the colonists, especially among the lower echelon of colonial society. According to Shomette (1985:255-288) and Wilson (1973:8), these counties were "hotbeds" of Tory sympathy. Many Tangier and Pocomoke Sound inhabitants supported the British rather than the slave-owning, rebel estate owners and large farmers whom they strongly disliked (Wennersten 1981:8). Thus, during the early years of the conflict, these local militias were not called out to serve in the colonial army because of the strength of British support among the people there. Faced with a need for troop supplies, the British as well as Royal Navy deserters and Tory privateers began to take provisions from the small farmers and villagers as well as from the owners of the large estates of the Eastern Shore. This practice converted many Eastern Shoreners with Tory sympathies to the rebel viewpoint. Then, in 1782, word filtered into the lower Eastern Shore that the British fleet intended to establish a land base at Somers Cove in Somerset County from which to march on Philadelphia. A small force known as the "Maryland Navy" had for some years attempted, unsuccessfully, to eliminate the marauding picaroons who plundered with impunity the Tangier Sound region's farms, towns and shipping. Commodore Zedekiah Walley, the commander newly appointed Led by by the Maryland Governor's Council, the Maryland Navy embarked in four ships

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57 to seek ou t picaroons and Tor y privateers operating in the lower Chesapeake, but especially those in Tangier and Pocomoke Sounds. Walley and his force captured a picaroon barge and her eighteen crewmen in the lower bay in October 1782. After then sailing south down the ba y and chasing other enemy shipping before them, Walley's flotilla returned northward to continue his patrol of Tangier and Pocomoke Sounds. In late November, Walley set out from the protected Onancock Creek in Pocomoke Sound to investigate reports that a privateer with several captured ships stood off nearby Watt's Island. Tracking the enemy force northward up from the southernmost islands of Tangier Sound, Walley caught them in the waters of Kedge's Straits, just north of Smith Island. A bloody day-long battle ensued which involved six vessels on each side. Commodore Walley was killed and his force nearly annihilated (Shomette 1985:289-304). The picaroon fleet, manned by Tories and escaped slaves, was captained by John Kidd, a Virginian loyal to the British. Though Kidd was himself wounded and his force also suffered heavy losses, the battle did not serve to rid the area of privateers. Kidd soon recovered and continued, along with others, to attack shipping in the bay for some years (Shomette 1985:289-304). The Battle of Kedge's Straits, however, may have served to alter the thinking of the British Navy concerning the use of Somers Cove as a landing from which to launch an overland attack on Philadelphia as it was never subsequently attempted. Possibly the battle indicated to the British Navy that there would be much stronger local resistance than they had assumed. The Somerset population no longer appeared to be predominantly British in sympath y

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58 Many of the Tory privateers were simply outlaws, and others nearly so, and had been so even under British Colonial rule (Shomette 1985). There was no love lost between the bay small farmers and watermen on one hand, and the colonial l anded gen try on the other. The planter class was haught y a n d arrogant in their relations with the watermen and other unlanded poor citizens. They often treated them worse than they did their slaves (Wennersten 1981: 8). Known widely under the label "picaroons" in Dorchester and Somerset counties, these elements of the colonial lower class were largely self-re l iant, self-supporting, un g ov e r ned and u ng o ver n a hh A few pi caroons co n tinued their outlaw activities of piracy and raiding even after the close of the revolutionary war. Perhaps the most notorious of the picaroon watermen was Josep h Wheland, better known as "Tory Jo," who led a gang of which varied in size and composition but which at one point numbered eight whites and twenty-seven blacks. With this heavily armed crew Tory Jo captained a galley and, operating out of Tangier and Pocomoke Sounds, he regularly plundered settlements and pirated bay shipping (Wennersten 1981 :8-9). In the years both before and following the war picaroons like Tory Jo were active, but their numbers dwindled until by the War of 1 8 12 what remained were the stories of their daring activities (Shomette 1985:256-313). They also left behind them a general folk tradition of lawlessness, self-reliance and independence. Some of the Somerset County Village and place names from this period are suggestive of this lawless ethos of the time. Rhodes Point on Smith Island is b y local tradition reputed to have been called

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59 Rogues Point. Maps of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries (Atlas of Wicomico, Somerset and Worcester Counties 1884; Papenfuse and Coale 1982:64-65) indicate Deal Island as Devils Island 4 and Dames Quarter as either Damn Quarter or Damned Quarter. The Early Nineteenth Century Organized religion came to the waterfronting communities of Somerset County through the missionary zeal of itinerant Methodist preachers. Although Anglicanism (Episcopalianism) and Presbyterianism as well as Quakerism had an earlier presence in Somerset, none of these religions seems to have enjoyed much popularity among the picaroons and watermen. The success of Methodism was the result of proselytizing among the bay coast and island peoples which began in the 1 790' s. By far the best known Methodist evangelist from the early nineteenth century was th legendary preacher Joshua Thomas. Joshua Thomas, Tangier Islander, converted to the "New Method" in 1807 and immediately commenced spreading the "good news" among the island and people of Tangier Sound. In his log sailing canoe, Methodist, Thomas was an indefatigable preacher of Methodism (Wallace 1978). Due to the efforts of Thomas and others less well known today, by the 1820 's Methodism was well entrenched in most of the villages bordering Pocomoke and Tangier Sounds. Even today Deal Island, where Thomas is buried, and Smith Island have only Methodist churches. Methodist "Camp Meetings" were a combination of religious revival and secular festival held annually and they drew hundreds of people from many small communities. People came to the camp meeting in their

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60 boats, on horseback and by foot. They usually stayed for several days or a week. Only two years after Thomas' conversion he preached at the first Methodist Camp Meeting ever held on Tangier Island (Wallace 1978:71-82). Today only the Smith Islanders regularly sponsor and hold an "old time" camp meeting. The Methodist congregation on Smith Island has organized and held a camp meeting annually since 1889 and are the inheritors and last guardians qf the local tradition of an annual week-long church camp meeting in the Tangier Sound region (Crisfield Times: July 24, 1980). I n the years following the Revolutionary War the Somer s et CoGnty population grew to a total of 17,388 by 1800. Of this number 7,432 were slaves and 9,956 were free. At this time Somerset County had primarily a farming economy. According to Joseph Scott (1909) who wrote a description of the county in 1807, the county's major cash agriculture effort was the cultivation of corn, some wheat and "much tobacco." While rockfish, shad and herring were said to have been in good supply, Scott makes no mention of the place of crabs or oysters in the local commercial economy. It appears that at this time shellfish were local consumption items and did not yet form the basis of a cash producing enterprise. During this period the towns of Somerset were quite small but some commerce existed. Princess Anne, which boasted an Episcopal church and forty dwellings, was regularly visited by deep draught vessels which sailed up the Manokin River to within seven miles of the town. These ships took on grain and timber for Baltimore and other bay ports. In the northern portion of Somerset the town of Salisbury was on the

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61 Wicomico River which was navigable by large vessels to fifteen miles upstream from its mouth on Tangier Sound. Salisbury had only five dwellings and an Episcopal church, and large ships were prevented at this time from ascending closer than five miles to the town because of the many dams which had been constructed on the river. The clear picture drawn by Scott of Somerset County in 1807 is that of a regular export trade in timber, tobacco, corn and some wheat from up river farms worked by slaves and tenants. The subsistence economy activity of the small farmers and fishermen on the islands near the marshy river mouths is not mentioned. During the period between the War of 1812 and the Civil War, Somerset had a quiet and slowly growing population and economy. Corn, wheat, tobacco and also cotton became the major crops (Wilson 1973:7). Waterbourne commercial enterprise grew throughout the entire Bay area and Somerset was no exception. The county was the home of shipbuilders, ship captains, seamen and sailing schooners all engaged in maritime commerce. John and Sally Morris and their seven children, as described in the Crisfield Times (August 21, 1980), seem representative of the county's population around 1848. They lived on a small piece of land a few miles northeast of Crisfield. Morris tonged for oysters in winter and farmed and caug?t crabs in the spring and summer months. The Morrises were active in their local rural community. Morris and his sons and sons-in-law helped organize and build a Methodist church in the latter years of the century. Like the Morrises, most county residents followed a mixed subsistence strategy that varied with the seasons.

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62 The Rise of the Seafood Industry The Civil War caught Somerset County citizens between the Union and the Confederacy. Though Maryland remained in the Union, many in Somerset preferred the Confederate cause and left to join the rebel armies. Many watermen took advantage of the opportunity of earning money by running the Union naval blockades to trade with the Southerners (Wennersten 1978:88). Prior to the Civil War the Chesapeake Bay oyster industry had begun to develop but was interrupted by the outbreak of fighting. However, following conclusion of hostilities, the industry grew exponentially leading to boom times throughout the Chesapeake Bay region in the 1870' s and 1880' s. Several factors contributed to the growth of the oyster industry at this time. Beginning in the 1830 1 s New England entrepreneurs established the oyster packing-shipping businesses in the Chesapeake Bay following the exhaustion of the oyster fishery in New England area ( such as Long Island Sound). In 1836 Caleb S. Maltby came to Baltimore from Connecticut and opened the first successful raw oyster packing-shipping operation in the state (Wennersten 1981: 13). In 1850 there were six packing houses in the city and by 1862 there were fifty-eight (Board of Shellfish Commissioners 1923:282). In 1848 a certain A. Field, also from Connecticut, developed an operation based on canning cooked or steamed oysters in Baltimore. This innovation dramatically expanded the market area and volume of sales of Chesapeake Bay oysters.

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6 3 Construction of the Baltimore and Ohio Rail Road (B. & O.) had begun in 1828 from Baltimore. As it moved westward from Baltimore, the railwa y opened new markets and Baltimore consequently prospered. The B. & 0. line when completed in 1853 linked the city with the Ohio River. Baltimore became a major port of entry and a shipping point for manufactures needed by the population along the rail line. The New England and Mid Western markets both increased the demand for oysters which Somerset County watermen and others in the Bay were swift to perceive. The harvest increased from 1,350,000 bushels in 1850 to 3,000,000 bushels in 1860. Following a lull caused by the Civil War, the peak years of the oyster boom were in the 1870's and 1880's. The Maryland oyster harvest reached 14,000,000 bushels in 1874 and its all time high of 15,000,000 in 1884. But by the 1890' s the catch was steadily and rapidly ebbing until by 1904 it was only 4,500,000 bushels (Board of Shellfish Commissioners 1923:282). In only a rare and exceptional year since then has the harvest yielded more than 3,000,000 bushels; and for the last four decades it has hovered in the 1,500,000 to 2,500,000 bushels range. The oyster boom drew thousands of people into the industry and on to the Chesapeake. The latter half of the nineteenth century was a rough and lawless time on the Bay during which it was common for oyster boat captains to shanghai men for their c rews. Both legal and shanghaied crews worked under the harshest of winter conditions, often remaining for weeks or months on the oyster "rocks." Their captains would sell the harvests to "buy" boats while still on the oyster

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64 grounds. Buy boats were usually vessels capable of carrying more oysters than the oyster boats themselves. Buy boats would put into small settlements to buy locally harves t ed oysters or take on the oysters fro m t h e harvest boats while they were still working the beds. Buy boats transported the oysters they purchased to market in Baltimore or elsewhere thereby saving the oyster harvesters the loss of time in travelling to market themselves. In the Somerset County waters of Tangier Sound and its tributary rivers, oysters were plentiful during the last century. As the market developed the local watermen began to intensify their oystering efforts. The earliest stirrings of this new commercial enterprise occurred in Somerset County on the eve of the Civil War (Wilson 1973:8). The first locally known buy boat began to call re g ularly at the v i l l age of Somers Cove. T h e b oa t 's c ap t ai n i s cred i ted with teaching a rapid oyster shucking technique and with stimulating a new market for Tangier Sound oysters by buying them from the local tongers and then delivering them to Baltimore for sale to one of the packing houses. Somerset's watermen were fast to recognize a good opportunity and, following the Civil War, a local oyster harvesting and shipping industry quickly developed. Eventually the Somers Cove area attracted the interest of business men who thought the local abundance of oysters and the existence of a cheap labor force made it a promising site for a better capitalized seafood industry. Some packing-shipping houses were established and soon after negotiations to bring the railway to Somers Cove were initiated. The New York, Philadelphia and Norfolk Rail Road completed

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65 a spur from its main line on the Eastern Shore to the outskirts of Somers Cove in 1866, and in 1874 it was extended to the water's edge. At this time Somers Cove was renamed Crisfield in honor of a Princess Anne attorney, John W. Cris ield (Wilson 1973: 9-31), who was instrumental in bringing in the railway. In addition, in 1870 the Eastern Shore Steamboat Company was organized and began to serve Crisfield and a number of other Tangier Sound communities (Wilson 1973:51). Steamboat travel became, for a time in the latter years of the century, the most desirable and comfortable form of transport available. With these improvements in transport and commerce a measure of social change and prosperity developed that these communities on the Lower Eastern Shore had never before experienced. Crisfield changed quickly and by 1872 it was port to over six hundred sailing ships and claimed more trade in oysters than any other city in the state (Wennersten 1978:82). By 1882 the town had a population of twelve hundred, but combined with surrounding neighborhoods numbered closer to 5,000 (Wilson 1973:31). From the late 1860's well into the 1880 1 s Crisfield was a wild, booming town (Wilson 1973:9-12 and Wennersten 1978:82). Part of this boom town was literally built on top of millions of oyster shells discarded by the packing houses and used to fill the immediately surrounding marshy areas. During these years fights, murders, brothels, saloons, a theatre with burlesque performanc~s, new residences, and businesses, churches, and numerous seafood concerns uneasily coexisted, creating an exciting atmosphere and the possibility of a fast fortune.

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66 A review of the special schedules for agriculture of the federal censuses taken on Smith Island in the period from 1860 through 1900 (Fehr 1979) documents a shift in subsistence and settlement patterns for the island population which was occurring during those years. The people were changing their settlement pattern from a dispersed to a nucleated one due to the rising waters of the bay encroaching on the arable land and turning it gradually to marsh. Eventually only three areas of higher land remained and at these points the three villages of Ewell, Tylerton and Rhodes Point coalesced. At the same time a shift away from a subsistence economy, partly dependent upon agriculture, to a specialized cash-market economy centering particularly on oysters was in progress. By 1890 Somerset County's population had grown to 28,653 but thereafter began to decline. The county had se e n its heyday and with the decline of the oyster boom the economy and population subsided. By 1920 the population was down to 24,535 and the trend continued. Although one may occasionally still hear the Crisfield politicians speak of their city Crisfield developing a population of 50,000 with a deep water port, today this is only a dream whose origins were in the oyster boom of the last century. Even though the 1970-80 decade saw a 1.4% population growth, 1980 county population had declined to 19,188 and has hovered close to that figure for several decades. While in 1980 the Licensing and Consumer Services of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources recorded 805 licensed oyster catchers in Somerset County, the number of Somerset County watermen in the late nineteenth century was over 1,500 (Wennersten 1978: 84). This figure

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67 cited by Wennersten is probably low but even then was declining from higher numbers of watermen who worked the waters of Tangier and Pocomoke Sounds in the 1870-1885 period before the oyster beds were depleted. Watermen were divided into two distinct groups in the last century on the basis of how they worked the oyster beds. Tongers used a scissor-like wooden shafted apparatus called a shaft tong. Working alone or in groups of two or three using small boats in the shallow waters of the rivers, creeks, coves and guts, tongers gathered oysters by standing on the sides of their boats and letting the wooden tongs slide through their hands to the bottom. By opening and closing the upper ends of the shafts, they caught oysters between the opposing, rake-like iron ends of their tongs. This method was a slower and comparatively less efficient harvesting technique than dredging, but required less cash investment in boats and equipment an d could be done single-handedly, if necessary. The other oystermen were called dredgers or "drudgers" after the cage-like iron dredges they dragged across the oyster beds suspended by ropes from their sailboats ( see figure 4-1). Dredgers worked anywhere in the bay and its tributaries that oysters could be located. Tong e rs thought the dredgers should operate only in deeper waters where tongers could not safely go. Consequently, there was rivalry and often violence between them. In 1820 the Maryland legislature had enacted a law prohibiting use of the oyster dredge in Maryland waters. However, the tongers were unable to supply the rapidly increasing demands of the

PAGE 81

'~ \\ .,,,. -~ .,.,,,,,. -;--~-......""'"' ~,.A_ _/ _;;0--.. --t_ A I _,.... _,------L-_.c ::JC.,,;;,.--d...C ~r//. -. ~ ,-' C ~ ,.,._. ,;Y c--" -~-~f:S" ~-= ,,=& _,___ --=--_ .... .-----.i., --r-___. ~k _.= ,-........ --4,. ---:..; Figure 4-1 Drawing of Skipjack Anna McGarvey, a Sailing Oyster Dredge, Riding at Anchor Near Annapolis --r -~ __,.. ---< ,,_,---./' -----r> 0-, 00

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69 developing oyster market, and by 1854 the legislature allowed the use of small dredges in some of the waters of Somerset County. Because of its profitability, oystering was becoming a lawless business. In response the legislature created the Oyster Police in 1868 authorizing it to enforce the laws of the state (Board of Shellfish Commissioners 1923: 285). The oyster dredges and the "oyster navy" armed themselves and engaged in regular 5 shootouts. For many years the Oyster Police were too understaffed and underequipped to control the depredations of the dredgers effectively. In the last decade of the nineteenth century due to the decline in the number of oysters in the bay fishery, the competition between the tongers and the dredgers intensified as both fought for the dwindling oyster resources. In spite of this conflict and the general economic depression of the early 189O's, it was still possible to make a good living gathering oysters. But as time wore on it paid less and less well and some watermen began to seek additional sources of income. Somerset in the Twentieth Century By the turn of the century the yields of the oyster fishery had severely declined from over exploitation. Nonetheless the fishery continued to be harvested. About this time the softshell crab market became profitable and, somewhat later, the hard shell crab industry picked up as well. In both oyster and crab fisheries new technologies were introduced and diversification occurred in the market where previously oysters had been dominant.

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70 By the eve of World War I the oyster industry was greatly depressed and became even more so with the collapse of the overseas European market during the war. Following the armistice the industry revived to a small degree but regained only a fraction of its nineteenth century prosperity. However, with the development of various innovations such as the power driven workboat, the winch-operated patent tong rig, the crab pot, the clam hydraulic rig, and the expansion of the crab, and later, the soft shell clam industry, commercial fishing has continued to be a viable occupation for Somerset watermen. The small, sail-powered log canoes of the tongers and larger, sloop-rigged skipjacks of the dredgers which dominated the waters in the late nineteenth century and first years of the present century gave way before the onslaught of boats powered by internal combustion engines. The earliest internal combustion engine appeared about 1904 in small sailing canoes (Brewington 1956:67). These motorized canoes were heavy and slow. By 1909 there were gas motor driven boats in the Crisfield and Smith Island area as indicated by this note from the Crisfield Times, SMITH ISLAND--Mr. Clifton Evans met with a very painful accident one day this week. While on board the gasoline launch belonging to Tolson and Evans his clothes became entangled in the shaft of the engine hurting him very badly. (Crisfield Times. February 20, 1909:2) The rate of adoption of motorized boats for oystering an crabbing seems to have been somewhat slowed by the war years. Even so the Somerset watermen were quick to see the potential of such an innovation and its widespread adoption was not lon g in coming.

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71 There are still watermen living in Somerset County who recall when sail power dominated commercial fishing and the impact which the change over to motor-driven boats had on the industry. One waterman, a retired Smith Islander born in 1899, remembers the first power boat he ever saw. In 1981 he recounted: there was a man came [to Smith Island] on the fourth of Jul y around 1913 in a sailing canoe, pointed at both ends, that had a motor in it. He came to the landing at Tyler's grocery store [in Ewell] to get some fuel. At that time there were sailing workboat races on the bay side of the island and I asked him if he'd carry me with him to see them. I can remember how strange it was to be able to head right into the wind. You couldn't do that with a sail powered boat. Within a few short years watermen shifted from sail to powercraft. The same Smith Islander recalled: we started to use them pretty quick. There were three one summer, then ten the next and by 1920 or thereabouts it was in full swing. These small power craft increased the versatility of the crabbing efforts and, combined with a better market for hard crabs, expanded the crabbing from one centered primarily on soft crabs to include more extensive catching and shipping of hard crabs as well. The early motorized log canoes were slow, heavy and not very serviceable in winter weather except for shaft tonging in the creeks, guts and small rivers. After some experimentation with other constructions, a V-bottom hulled boat with a round stern became popular (Brewington 1956:67). Its major drawback was a tendency for its stern to settle very low in the water when under way (see figure 4-2). The Hooper's Island boat, also known as a "draketail," was the next

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\ \ l ;, -< -~ ii?.. Hie"""< ,.ff~ -~ 11'5 \ ----Figure 4-2 Drawing of April Star, a Wooden Round-stern ~-Jork Boat, at Webster's Cove near Mount Vernon \ -..J N

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73 work-boat innovation. With a hull design copied from that of the U.S. Navy's torpedo boat destroyers, the draketail provided the watermen with a fast and relatively inexpensive wooden workboat. 6 When the square or "box" stern cabin cruiser appeared and became widely available it successfully replaced the draketail. Many watermen built box stern boats for themselves, their relatives, or others who paid them (see figure 4-3). I interviewed a sixty-nine year old waterman from Smith Island in 1983. He had built many types of boats at his home in Ewell. In 1969 he built a forty foot box stern with an eleven foot beam and in 1974 he built his last boat, measuring forty feet in length with twelve foot beam, for his son. Both are box stern V-hulls and are being used daily as wor k boats. As is so often the case, the boats are named after the wife and daughter of the builder, it being a very common practice to name work boats after female members of the family. During the period of my research in the early 1980's, workboats were not being built by these watermen and those men with the necessary knowledge and experience are over sixty years old. In recent years many watermen have shifted to fiber glass work boats which are lighter and easier to maintain. However, many Crisfield and Smith Island watermen prefer the older style and heavier wooden work boat because of its better handling, especially in rough weather. These men keep older and heavier wooden boats in repair and continue to use them. The development of the wire hard crab pot sometime in the decade 1930-40 extended the range of crab fishing. Crab pots tied to floats could be employed in all areas--ri vers, sounds, creeks, and deeper

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1111r.HN TfLEITOI Figure 4-3 ---===----~~;:fl,..r..... --~ Miiid~ ~~=-.s. ~---=aDrawing of Mark Jim, a Wooden Box-stern Work Boat Rigged with a Patent Tong, at Tylerton on Smith -...J

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75 water bordering on the channel--and lef t to fish passively unt i l checked, emptied and rebaited. Later, in the years immediately following World War II, the invention of a hydraulic rig to harvest soft shell clams set off a flurry of clamming activity throughout the bay. It also resulted in conflict between clammers and oystermen. These technological innovations and their impact will be further discussed in chapter VI. My interviews confirmed Warner's statement that Somerset watermen, like other baymen, subscribe to the idea of "the right of free plunder," i.e., the right to take oysters and other marine resources when, where and as they can (Warner 1976:89). Inevitably the conservation inspired efforts of the Maryland Legislature to regulate the manner, season and volume of harvesting the various fishery resources of the Chesapeake and its tributaries collided with the deeply entrenched views of these independent men. As the state's regulatory activities became an increasingly important factor affecting commercial fishing, confrontations between watermen and the marine police erupted from time to time. Until recently the last recorded violent confrontation involving a Somerset waterman occurred i n 1949 (C r isfield Times July 8, 1949). In that year a Virginia Fisheries deputy shot and mortally wounded a Crisfield waterman while trying to arrest him for illegally fishing in Virginia waters. Since then it appeared that the era of violent confrontations had come to an end. In 1982, however, crabbers from the two states exchanged gunfire near Smith Island. The southernmost uninhabited portion of the island is bisected by the Maryland-Virginia

PAGE 89

76 line and it has been a longtime frustration of the Smith Islanders that they were not allowed to fish in the crab-rich Virginia waters. One Smith Islander, annoyed at not being able to fish in what he considered the home waters of his island as well as the more southerly Virginia waters, succeeded in bringing a federal court case protesting the restriction. The federal court ruled that since crabs, unlike oysters, are migratory and as such they are covered by the laws of interstate commerce. This meant Virginia had to change its laws to allow Maryland watermen to set crab pots in summer and winter dredge for crabs ( the latter is illegal in Maryland) so long as they bought Virginia licenses. In 1984 the Maryland crab fleet, many of them from Somerset, came to Virginia waters in force for the first time. They started placing their crab pots in April and in some areas there were more Maryland crabbers than Virginia ones. The Virginians claim the Marylanders are setting 500 to 1,000 crab pots while they don't ever set more than about 350. The Virginians further claim that most of the crab buyers are from Maryland and that they pay Virginia watermen a lower bushel price than they pay the Maryland crabbers (Washington Post April 30, 1984:45). There are hard feelings on the part of the Virginians and while it is quite possible that these allegations are true, it is just as likely that they are somewhat exaggerated. Smith Islanders have deserved reputations as aggressive, hardworking and opportunistically minded fishermen. Since the bay warms earlier in the southern reaches of the lower Virginia portion, the crabs come out of hibernation there before they do in the more

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77 northerly Maryland portion. The Smith Islanders were quick to cash in on being able to start the crab season nearly a month earlier than they were able to do when restricted from crabbing in Virginia waters. Once most watermen became convinced, earlier in this century, that the marine police of both Maryland and Virginia could and would enforce the fisheries laws, the logical next step was for the laws to be challenged. The federal court decision represented a new approach for the Somerset County watermen. By successfully employing legal action as a strategy in gaining greater access to the crab fishery, the Somerset watermen added another strategy to their adaptive repertoire. Even so, Somerset commercial fishermen are still a stubbornly independent and tough minded people, many of whom are strongly set in their ways. Some are not above circumventing the fisheries regulations and game laws if they believe they can escape discovery, though most have accepted the inevitability if not the necessity, of the game warden, marine police patrol, the fisheries licensing, and the conservation statutes.

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78 Notes 1. The exact location of the boundary between Maryland and Virginia continued to be a matter of dispute until the Black and Jenkins Act of 1877. 2. The other important settlement areas were St. Mary's City, Kent Island, and the Severn River/Annapolis local. The Annapolis community began to outstrip St. Mary's City and the seat of government was transferred from St. Mary's City to Annapolis in the mid 1690's. 3. The brick house known as Makepeace, probably built in the early 1700's, today stands on the outskirts of Crisfield City and is occupied as a residence by its present owner. 4. The heritage of this tradition may well account for much of the closed community aspect of the Smith Island villages referred to in the previous chapter. 5. For a detailed exposition of the development of the Oyster Police from this period on into the twentieth century and their role in enforcing the various fisheries laws, especially as pertains to oysters and crabs, see Wennersten (1978 and 1981). 6. The only draketail work boat in Tangier Sound is owned by a Smith Island waterman and regularly used as a workboat. An example of a log canoe is on display at the Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, Maryland.

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CHAPTER V SOCIODEMOGRAPHIC CHARACTERISTICS Population Size, Age and Sex Composition Since the days of the oyster boom in the nineteenth century, Somerset County's population has gradually declined. From 28,653 in 1890, it had dropped to 18,922 in 1970. The 1980 figure (19,188), however, indicates a modest (1.4 % ) increase over the 1970 census figure. The small population growth in the 197 0 -80 decade was localized in the area the county seat of Princess Anne nort h ward toward the growing city of Salisbury in neighboring Wicomico County. This increase did not affect the areas where most watermen and their families reside (i.e, Rumbley-Frenchtown, Crisfield, Mount Vernon, Deal Island and Smith Island) which have either remained stable or declined in population since 1970 (Bureau of the Census 1983:256). In 1980 the median age of the county population was 32.7 years and the mean household size was 2.8 persons. Twenty-six percent were aged under eighteen and 15.6% were sixty-five or older. This age distribution has implications for health care delivery and will be examined in Chapter VII (Bureau of the Census 1983:257). In 1980 52% of the county population were female and 48% were male (Maryland Department of State Planning N.D.) 79

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80 Ethnic Composition Somerset County's ethnic composition, which in 1980 was 65.02 % white, 34. 6% black and 38% a variety of American Indian, Chinese, Filipino, Asian Indian and unclassified others, has remained nearly unchanged for many decades (Maryland Department of State Plannin g N.D.). The black population is~ comparatively stable group with some emigration and little immigration. It is probable that most county blacks can trace their heritage back to ancestors who were slaves owned by local whites. The low level of involvement of county blacks in commercial fishing is puzzling, especially since other areas of the bay have villages of black watermen. There are, for example, some predominately black fishing villages on Hoopers Island, Dorchester County immediately north of Tangier Sound. But in Somerset black commercial fishermen are rare. As for the presence of blacks in the fishing villages of Somerset, there are none living in the three communities on Smith Island and none in the Rumbley-Frenchtown area. On Deal Island proper (excluding Dames Quarter and Tangier where blacks and whites are about equal in number) blacks number only 12% of the population. Blacks comprise about 30% of the population of Crisfield (Bureau of the Census 1983:256). During my research I saw black sports fishermen chartering boats out of Crisfield and a black man employed as a hand on a skipjack crew. According to older informants in the Crisfield area, blacks were the majority of people who worked the seasonal job of oyster shucker in

PAGE 94

81 various oyster packing and shipping enterprises. It may be that blacks were prevented, legally or extralegally, from working on the water following the Civil War. The conspicuous absence of blacks, who number more than a third of the county population, from the ranks of the commercial fishermen in Somerset invites further investigation, but is beyond the scope of this study. Density, Rurality and Settlement Somerset is one of the least densely populated and most rural of all Maryland counties (Bureau of the Census 1983: 256). Its population density (1980 Census) is only 56.7 persons per square mile as compared with the Maryland statewide average of 428. 7. Within the county only 15.2% (2,917) of the population resides in areas designated as urban. Although, as earlier noted, the general county population increased slightly in the 1970-80 decade, its urban population declined by 5% while its rural population increased by 2. 6% (Maryland Department of State Planning N. D.: 22-9). This phenomenon results from growth and expansion of the city of Salisbury. People employed in Salisbury are increasingly buying land and constructing or renting homes in the low density and less expensive areas of nearby northern Somerset County. From these locations, they can commute less than twenty-five miles to work in Salisbury. Thus, urbanization and suburbanization related to Salisbury have begun to af feet Somerset I s pattern of population settlement. As yet, however, this trend has not greatly affected the predominantly fishing communities, except insofar as there are more nonfishing work opportunities gradually becoming available, especially for those

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82 willing to commute. The Deal Islanders and the Mount Vernonites are geographically the most well-situated to take advantage of these jobs and the fishing communities most likely to be affected by the suburbanization of the Salisbury population. Commercial fishermen tend to live in the small city of Crisfield, in hamlets and villages very near the water, and on island communities in Tangier Sound or the Chesapeake Bay proper, such as Hollands Island, Deal Island, Janes Island (also known as Old Island), Watts Island, Smith Island and Tangier Island. Today Smith Island, Deal Island and Tangier Island, the latter in Virginia waters, remain the only inhabited islands in the area. The others were abandoned owing to severe erosion or because the gradually rising waters of the Chesapeake Bay turned them to tidal marshes. Holland's Island, for example, which as late as 1912 was three miles long, a mile wide, and occupied by more than three hundred people living in sixty houses, became uninhabitable and was entirely abandoned by 1922 (Wilson 1973:218-220). The same fate appears to await Smith Island which in the late 19th century had sufficient nonmarsh land to allow dispersed settlement and farming. Today Smith Island cannot support agriculture at all and has only three small areas with land high enough for the islanders' homes, i.e., Ewell (also called North End), Rhodes Point and Tylerton. Income, Unemployment and Poverty Somerset County citizens are comparatively poor by Maryland standards. The county family median income (1979), $14,602, is the lowest of all twenty-three Maryland counties and is $8,510 less than the statewide median family income of $23,112. Seventy-five percent of

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---, 83 county families (see table 5-1) as compared with only 49% of all Maryland families reported earning less than $20,000 annually. More dramatically illustrative of the county population's comparative poverty within the state is that 41% of its families earn less than $10,000 annually, nearly twice the statewide figure of 22%. Eleven percent of county families and 15.7% of individuals in the labor force report incomes below the poverty level for 1979, while for the state as a whole family and individual incomes below poverty level were only 7.5% and 9.8%, respectively (see table 5-2). Somerset has the second highest percentage of families and individuals living below the poverty level in the whole state. Only Garrett County, in the mountainous western end of Maryland, ranks higher in percentage of population with incomes below poverty level (Bureau of the Census 1983:264). Reported levels of unemployment in Somerset are also high. In 1982 the Bureau of Labor Statistics (Bureau of the Census 1983:262) indicated a civilian labor force unemployment rate of 19.7%. Housing Among residential structures in the county there is a significantly high proportion of older houses than is generally found throughout the state or in any of the more urban counties. This is consistent with the high poverty level, rurality and low income level of the area. Almost forty-four percent (43. 7%) of Somerset County houses as compared with only 22.4% of all houses in the state were constructed prior to 1940. More recently, there has been an upturn in

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Table 5-1 1979 Family Incomes for Smith Is l and, Somerset County and Maryland State Annual Family Smith Island Somerset County Income % % Less than $10,000 54.0 41.0 $10,000 to $19,999 37 .5 34.0 $20,000 to $29,999 4.0 15.0 $30,000 to $39,999 o.o 6.0 $40,000 to $49,999 4.5 2.5 $50,000 and over o.o 1.5 Mary l and % 22.0 27.0 23.0 14.0 7.0 7.0 Source: Bureau of the Census (1983: 264) and Maryland Department of State Planning (N .D.: 255). 84

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85 Table 5-2 Percent of Families and Individuals with Incomes Below Poverty Level in 1979 for Smith Island, Somerset County and Maryland State. Families Individuals Smith Island % 21.0 28.0 Somerset County % 11.0 15.7 Maryland State % 7.5 9.8 Source: Bureau of the Census (1983: 264) and Maryland Department of State Planning (N.D.: 255).

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86 county housing construction such that the percentage of houses built in the county and statewide were about equal in the 1970-80 decade, i.e., 22.2% and 23.6% respectively. Plumbing facilities are lacking in 9.6% of county homes and only 1.9% of homes throughout the state. Sixty percent of Somerset County houses but only 36% of houses statewide are heated by fuel oil or kerosene. Finally, the median value of homes is $27,500 in Somerset and $59,200 statewide while median monthly rent is $161 in the county and $266 in the state for 1980 (Bureau of the Census 1983: 261). Marriage Courthouse records from Princess Anne reveal that Somerset County inhabitants tend to marry individuals from their own part of the county. Marriage statistics for the areas of Somerset where most watermen reside, i.e., Deal Island, Rumbley, Crisfield, Mount Vernon, and Smith Island, were examined to discover the extent to which persons from these areas marry individuals from within or from beyond their own areas. Tables 5-3 and 5-4 show the numbers and percentages of marriages within and beyond each of these areas since 1910. I computed the means of the percentages of in-marriage for the eight years for each of the areas which allowed me to rank the five areas by degree of in-marriage. The most to least in-marrying areas are Smith Island (mean percentage of 70), Crisfield (mean percentage of 64), Deal Island (mean percentage of 50), Mount Vernon (mean percentage of 29) and Rumbley-Frenchtown (mean percentage of 19).

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Marriages of Residents of: Crisfield to Same to Others Smith Island to Same to Others Mount Vernon to Same to Others Deal Island to Same to Others Rumbley to Same to Others Table 5-3 In-Marriage and Out-Marriage Figures for Selected Somerset County, Maryland Areas Year of Marriage 1910 1920 1930 1940 1950 1960 # # # # # # 47 54 40 81 111 35 17 25 25 46 48 22 4 5 4 12 12 5 5 3 0 7 5 2 7 11 4 0 0 2 1 7 3 6 0 6 20 23 10 15 12 9 3 2 10 23 18 9 11 2 0 0 0 1 8 1 0 3 0 8 Source: Courthouse Records, Princess Anne, Maryland. 1970 # 33 30 10 3 0 0 3 14 0 0 Note: Deal Island includes Deal Island, Dames Quarter, Wenona and Chance; Smith Island includes Ewell, Rhodes Point and Tylerton; Rumbley includes Rumbley, Frenchtown, Fairmount and Upper Fairmount. 87 1981 # 36 21 5 2 0 2 3 8 1 5

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Marriages of Residents of: Crisfield to Same to Others Smith Island to Same to Others Mount Vernon to Same to Others Deal Island to Same to Others Rumbley to Same to Others Table 5-4 In-Marriage and Out-Marriage Percentages for Selected Areas in Somerset County, Maryland Year of Marriage 1910 1920 1930 1940 1950 1960 % % % % % % 73 68 62 64 70 61 27 32 38 36 30 39 44 63 100 63 71 71 56 37 0 37 29 29 88 61 57 0 0 25 12 39 43 100 0 75 87 92 50 39 40 50 13 8 50 61 60 50 58 67 0 0 0 11 42 33 0 100 0 89 Source: Courthouse Records, Princess Anne, Maryland. Note: Deal Island includes Deal Island, Dames Quarter, 1970 % 52 48 77 23 0 0 18 82 0 0 Wenona and Chance; Smith Island includes Ewell, Rhodes Point and Tylerton; Rumbley includes Rumbley, Frenchtown, Fairmount and Upper Fairmount. 88 1981 % 63 37 71 29 0 100 27 73 17 83 j

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89 There has been marked decline in the percentages of in-marriage characteristic of three of the areas, i.e., Mount Vernon, Deal Island and Rumbley. For Mount Vernon and Deal Island this is most probably the result of geographical proximity and greater accessibility by automobile to Route 13, the major highway through the county, area, and to Princess Anne and Salisbury. Deal Islanders and Mount Vernonites were mixing more with outsiders and commuting to work in these areas beyond their communities. Rumbley and Mount Vernon, during the 20th century. partners declined and no For all three areas, but especially for there was a marked population reduction This number of possible local marriage doubt drove people to look beyond their immediate communities for spouses. By comparison Crisfield and Smith Island, the other two areas, maintained higher levels of in-marriage (see tables 5-3 and 5-4). More oriented to the water and the fisheries, and more isolated from the growing population centers and new highways inland, Cris ielders and, especially, Smith Islanders continued to choose their marriage partners from their own communities at high rates. However, if the decline in Smith Island population continues, it is likely that the islanders will find themselves being forced, like those in Rumbley earlier were forced, to look increasingly beyond their community for a spouse. The court house marriage records are supported by information I gathered during field work. For example, Smith Island informants indicated it was customary for local men to marry women from the island or, secondarily, from Crisfield, Tangier or Deal Island. Islanders usually commented that those Smith Island women who marry nonSmith

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90 Islander men us u ally leave the i s land to settle elsewhere rather than settle with their nonislander husbands on the island. There is a general feeling among islanders that it is difficult, and some say not desirable, f o r outsiders to settle on the island. I know of only one Smith Island woman who married a nonisland man whose husband came to Smith Island to make a home. Such cases are exceptional. Also, I am told by informants that the outsider waterman who marries an island woman and settles on Smith Island usually has relatives already living on the island. Apparently such kinship linkages afford a level of acceptance from community members that another outsider without kin ties would not receive. Though similar marriage patterns and suspicion of persons who come from beyond the local community are typical of most county communities, these attitudes seem stronger on Smith Island. The greater geographical and social isolation of the island population and the near total dominance of the occupation of commercial fishing on the island seem to create the marriage patterns described above as well as their attitudes toward outsiders. Social Distance and Insularity There is a notable degree of social insularity among Somerset natives. Old relationships based on longstanding church and community membership, common occupation, and ties of ki n ship strongly bi n d these people. Outsiders are not easily integrated into the well established set of social relationships. Even though newcomers may be treated with courtesy and outward politeness, they are not readily included.

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91 This tendency to maintain social distance from outsiders and "new" arrivals is clear and strong. The local term "come here" is used by county inhabitants in reference to these people. One hears it employed even in reference to a person who has lived in the county for "only thirty years." To understand this attitude one must remember that many of these people have lived in the same small community all or most of their lives. Many of their parents attended school and grew up together. For some, their grandparents and great grandparents were friends, acquaintances or even kinsmen. The low density settlement pattern, rural life style, low level of irunigration, and extensive network of kinship ties all serve to create a degree of social insularity and an attitude reticence toward outsiders and "come heres." This sense of insularity has been so pronounced on Smith Island that the islanders have observed an informal norm prohibiting the sale of houses or real property to nonislanders. effectively prevented most outsiders In the past, this practice from joining the island community. Exceptions to the norm were countenanced in cases of watermen from neighboring communities who married Smith Island women. For example, in 1975, a Crisfield waterman married an island woman and was encouraged to buy a home and live on the island. The waterman's deceased father had been born and raised on the island, but had moved away as a young man. The waterman had uncles, aunts and cousins still living on Smith Island, i.e., his own relatives and those of his bride.

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I 92 The norm discouraging the sale to outsiders was broken more spectacularly in 1976 when an island inhabitant, who was postmaster and a former waterman, retired, sold his home to the Chesapeake Ba y Foundation and moved away. Many community members were angry and some were outraged at the man's action. Even during my field research, fiv e years after the event, I heard is l anders express strong resentment about the sale. It should be borne in mind, however, that Smith Islanders probably represent the greatest extreme in regard to insularity among the various communities of the county. Still, their attitudes serve to illustrate the attitude toward newcomers, strangers and tourists commonly found throughout the county. The social function of such norms and attitudes toward newcomers seems clea r Through the exercise of such behaviors the local population controls the entry of new individuals to their social field. By maintaining such an exclusionary norm, they delimit the membership of the local community. There may also be an element of social and economic protectionism operating, i.e., only individuals whose occupations and economic goals fit community members' views of what is appropriate for their community being encouraged to settle. At local community levels, norms such as the one found operating on Smith Island seem to have functioned effectively to exclude newcomers, except for a certain narrow category of acceptable new entrants. In the past such new community members on Smith Island would normally be either outside women or watermen marrying into the community and have relatives or in-laws encouraging their move to Smith Island. Today, however, the concensus of the islanders regarding the

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93 importance of abiding by the exclusionary norm seems to have weakened in the face of new economic de v elopments. The fledgeling local tourist industry and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation Center have provided a few more job opportunities which may serve to further weaken the traditional views of the islanders regarding sale of real property to outsiders, especially if the price one can secure for the sale of one's home to an outsider appreciably increases. This has yet to occur. Conclusion In this chapter I have provided information about the deomographic, social and economic conditions which predominate in Somerset County and, where appropriate, how the county compares with other Maryland counties and the state in general. The picture which emerges is of a comparatively sparsely settled area with a population which until recently had been gradually declining for the last century. However, a very slight population increase was found to have occurred since 1970 which appears to be related to the periurban growth of Salisbury, a city in neighboring Wicomico County. Educational levels and family income levels are low and unemployment is high with a limited array of types of work being available within the county. Earlier in the century there appears to have been a general tendency for a greater percentage of marriages to be between persons living in the same or adjacent communities within the county. While this pattern has persisted in Crisfield and even more strongly on Smith Island, it appears to have declined in other areas of the county. Finally, the existence of norms of behavior that prevent the entry of outsiders into

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94 the more conservative of the county communities, and thereby exclude them from participation in local decision-making, was discussed. In Chapter VI I will focus on the commercial fishermen and their families, socialization, work strategies, social organization and work attitudes.

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CHAPTER VI SOMERSET COUNTY COMMERCIAL FISHERMEN Somerset County commercial fishermen share broadly similar rural social origins, socialization and work experiences. However, it would be incorrect to assume their work strategies are identical. In fact, there is considerable individual variation in the degree and nature of watermen's exploitation of the different fisheries as well as the extent to which they rely solely on fishing or combine commercial fishing with other work to produce a livelihood for themselves and their families. Watermen routinely make choices about which fishery(ies) to exploit, which strategy(ies) to employ in a particular fishery, and whether to mix fishing with non fishing work during the annual cycle. These decisions are primarily conditioned by the various licensing laws, gear regulations, naturally defined seasons for exploiting a particular fishery, and the market value of the catch during a particular period. The nature of the economic contributions of the wives of watermen varies, but is usually substantial. In some cases the wives hold jobs which provide a steady flow of income throughout the year, and in other cases the wives help their husbands with various aspects of their fishing work which may or may not yield a separate income. The nature of the social organization of watermen conditions their access to the fisheries as well as to the markets for their catches. Also notable as factors affecting access to the fisheries are 95

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96 variations in estuarine environment, regulations promulgated by the Maryland State Department of Natural Resources and the Federal Government to ma nag e and conserve the fisheries species, and differences among watermen with respect to both their understanding of fish behavior and their application of available fishing technolog y In this chapter, I will describe (1) the socialization of watermen; (2) their income a nd poverty level; (3) their work opportunities in light of their socialization experiences and the type of work locally available to them; ( 4) the strategies employed by watermen and their wives to establish some degree of economic stability; (5) wa t erman social organization and its effect on their access to the fisheries and markets for their catches; and (6) characteristic attitudes and opinions of watermen about their work. Becoming a Waterman Informal Socialization In order to comprehend the attraction which the occupation of waterman holds for these men, one must understand their experiences in childhood, adolescence and the teen years. The most obvious pull toward opting for a "life on the water" is simply to have been reared in a community where many families are dependent on fishing for a living. This is a primary recruitment factor leading toward the choice of commercial fishing as an occupation. The ubiquity of watermen in the communities of orientation of the young during their formative years, combined with the comparative lack of other occupations as role models, contributes greatly toward their choice of commercial fishing

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97 as a livelihood. This attraction is even stronger when one has family members who are themselves involved in the fishing trades and when one has had informal on-the-job training as a teenager by assisting one's father or other kinsmen. The significance of one's father and other relatives having been watermen as a factor in early socialization is strikingly clear from the interview data. Ninety-two p ercent (24 out of 26) of the watermen interviewed had fathers who were watermen. Furthermore, 100% of these watermen had relatives who were watermen. Some reported having as many as ten relatives who were watermen while others reported as few as only two, the average number being 5.6. The children accumulate an unsuspected amount of practical experience with boats, boat gear, aquatic and marsh wildlife, fishing methods, tidal action, bay bottom composition, marshlands and weather patterns. In the process they acquire the ability to exploit the estuarine environment for the purposes of making a living. By the time boys are about sixteen years old, they are already skilled and knowledgeable and lack only the seasoning of experience. Most typically the pattern has been for boys and girls to learn while working in the crab shanties of their watermen relatives. They observe and participate in boat handling and gear maintenance. They see the catches of finfish and shellfish and also learn to identify the many wild fowl and marsh mammal species. They learn to tell from a cursory glance at the water whether it is a flood or an ebb tide. All this is a part of the experience of those reared among watermen.

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i I I I I 9 8 From early ages children, especially the bo y s, are taken on the boats during good summer weather where they see the men pot and scrape for crabs and also gain experience maneuvering boats. In the shanties, small structures built over the water edge on piles driven deep into the bottom mud, the children learn how the crabs are put in shallow floats filled with water to shed their shells and become soft crabs ready for market. They learn to know at a glance whether or not a crab is about to molt its shell. This skill in identifying those crabs which are in their earliest stages of molting, known as "peelers," is vital to a waterman's success in the soft era b business. If the peelers are not separated from the non-molting crabs, they will die or be killed by the hard crabs. This process of separating the peelers into a separate float, known as "fishing up," must be performed several times a day around the clock during the crab season. Boys and girls both learn this skill because whether one becomes a fisherman or a fishermen's wife, each will share in working with the crab floats in the shanty (see figure 6-1). Formal Education Historically formal education has not been an important factor in training to become a commercial fishermen and the same remains true today. The average number of years of formal education commonly achieved by these men has typically been low, but generally parallel with the levels of the county population. Of the twenty-five watermen for whom I have data on education, the average number of years of formal education is 9.3 years. But the average is somewhat misleading. Examination of table 6-1, which displays by ag e groups the

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., ,r-.r-~ -~ :~. ; ~-., / .. T r, ~ -. :=i:.. ~-":-. :~ r-1 Figure 6-1 ~: i .... _s. .J. _-:::-.::. -::r 1, { .. Drawing of a Boy Taking His Father to Shore in an Outboard Motor-Powered Wooden Skiff After "Fisbing Up" at Their Smith Island Crab Shanty ) -~) \0 \0

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Table 6-1 Mean Number Years of Education by Age Cohorts of a Sample of Somerset County Commercial Fishermen Fishermen Aged 20 34 35 49 so 64 Over 64 Mean# Years Education 11.5 10.3 8.3 7.6 Source: Interviews conducted in Somerset County, Maryland. Note: Sample size is 25. 100

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101 average educational levels of the twentyive watermen in the sample for whom educational data was collected, reveals that a clear historical trend toward more formal education has occurred. Older watermen tend to have less formal education than younger ones. Finally, one should realize that the increase in the levels of education among watermen is related more to the general tendency for the county population to stay in school through the eleventh or twelfth grade than to any special trend among the watermen for more education. In fact, this has been a general trend among rural U. S. A. populations during the present century. Watermen's comparatively low number of years of formal education, however, does serve to limit their other job opportunities should they decide to give up the occupation of commercial fishing. And, as we will see in a later discussion of their nonfishing work, most of these men have rarely performed white collar or managerial work and none, of course, have been in the professions. One will, however, find an occasionally anomaly, i.e., a highly educated person who retires and turns, or returns, to a life on the water. The watermen joke about these people who never last long on the water. A notable exception, though, is Varley Lang, who wrote Follow the Water (Lang 1961). Lang completed a Ph.D. in English from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and taught for a few years, but decided to quit the profession and go on the water. Returning to his childhood residence in Talbot County on Maryland's Eastern Shore, he successfully took up the life of an oysterman and crabber. Of course, he did not come to the water ignorant of the life of the watermen. He had shared very many of the

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102 early socialization experiences with waterman and he knew the life and many of the necessary skills prior to turning to it. Some of these men, especially the older ones, have indicate d the i r awareness of how limited their nonfishing work possibilities seem to be. Their comments suggest they are somewhat ambivalent about their choice of a "life on the water." They believe it is appropriate for a man to go "on the water" if he is able to and wants to, but stress that it is a hard life and one that they would like their children to have more of a choice about entering than they did. Thus they tend to encourage those children with an interest to continue their education and even to go on for a college education. Although the attainment of twelve years or less of formal education may inhibit easy movement into white collar and other jobs requiring more training and education, it does not form a barrier to their entry into the several types of commercial fishing. Watermen's Income and Poverty Levels Reliability of the Income Data Although the reported income levels are available in the federal censuses, there are several reasons to doubt their accuracy. First, watermen and their families are unwilling to answer questions about their income. Seco~dly, they are not entirely sure of the amount themselves. This is so because among them there is a good deal of reciprocal mutual aid which goes uncounted. Thirdly, their incomes can be significantly augmented by their consumption of the unsold portions of their catches. This may either be eaten or given as gifts, thus

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103 reducing their expenditures on food by an amount which is extremely variable from family to family. Fourthly, a wife's economic contribution to the family may go uncounted unless she has a wage paying job which is reported to the government for tax purposes. For these reasons, therefore, the census data figures on income should be used only as a general guide and a way of discovering relative income positions of individuals and families. Smith Islanders' Incomes: An Indicator Since the occupation of commercial fisherman is lumped together with other kinds of work in the census, it is difficult to obtain an accurate picture of the income and poverty levels of watermen. However, we can use the Smith Island population as a rough indicator for Somerset County watermen since virtually every person living on Smith Island (see table 6-2) is a waterman, a member of the family of a waterman family, or involved in some ancillary aspect of commercial fishing. In table 6-2 all of the one hundred and twenty-nine persons listed under the first category in the table are commercial fishermen since there is no agriculture, forestry or mining enterprise on the island. Furthermore, the thirteen persons involved in transport are also watermen, even if only part-time or seasonally, and service the watermen's and their families' transport needs between the island and the city of Crisfield on the mainland. Only a few nonfishermen residents, such as the Methodist minister, the nurse, the grocers, the school teachers, and a few others, have incomes which may skew the data to some degree.

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Table 6-2 Employed Persons 16 Years and Over by Industry in 1980 for Smith Island Type of Industry Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries and Mining Transportation Retail Trade Personal Entertainment, and Recreational Services Educational Services Public Administration Total Number Employed Number Employed 129 13 20 6 14 6 188 Source: Maryland Department of State Planning (N. D.). Note: From a computer printout based on the 1980 U.S. Census. 104

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105 The reported Smith Island family income median and mean were $8,984 and $11,048 respectively in 1979. Twenty-one percent of the families had incomes below the poverty level, a figure nearly twice that of the county figure of 11%. Table 6-3 demonstrates that among the one hundred and seventy-seven families on the island, a simple majority (54%) reported making less than $10,000 annually and that the overwhelming majority (91.5%) said they earned less than $20,000. Only fifteen families (8.5%) reported earnings in excess of $20,000 and none of the families earned more than $50,000 (Maryland Department of State Planning N.D.:255). Wo r k Opportunities Limited County Work Opportunities Comparatively few manufacturing or retail job opportunities exist within the county at present and, in the nineteenth century, these were even less numerous. Farming or a mixture of farming and fishing sometimes combined with marine freight hauling appear to have been the dominant nineteenth century strategies for the majority of Somerset's population. There was in the past century and earlier in the present one, a greater reliance on home grown and gathered food stuffs as well as the various cottage industry and small scale manufacturing skills (such as carpentry, smithing, boatbuilding, food preservation) which one would expect with such a strategy. Though there is some light industry and manufacturing (e.g., the Carvel Hall knife factory in Crisfield), seafood processing (e.g., Mrs. Pauls Seafood in Crisfield), __J

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106 Table 6-3 Smith Island Family Income for 1979 Income Range Number of Families Percentage Less than $ 2,500 0 0 $ 2,500 to $ 9,999 95 54 $10,000 to $19,999 67 37.S $20,000 to $29,999 7 4 $30,000 to $39,999 0 0 $40,000 to $49,999 8 4.5 $50,000 or more 0 0 Totals 177 100 Source: Maryland Department of State Planning (N. D.). Note: From a computer printout based on the 1980 U. S. Census.

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107 seafood shipping, a n d p o ultry "farming," toda y farming and commercial fishing and the businesses which serve and support them remain the strongest enterprises within the county. Some persons unable to find work within the county or wishing to work in jobs locally unavailable resettle elsewhere However, man y individuals prefer to remain within the county and, thus, choose to commute to work beyond the count y limits in order to be able to do so. In fact, about 30% of the employed Somerset residents commute daily to work outside the county. The cities of Salisbury in Wicomico County and Ocean City in Worcester County are the major destinations for mainland county residents who regularly work beyond Somerset. And, as we shall discuss further on, even some of the watermen have a sort of seasonal work migration pattern that takes them beyond the bay and river waters immediately adjacent to their Somerset County residences. The Fisheries Available fisheries. The two most important commercially exploited species in the Chesapeake Bay at the present time are first the oyster and second the blue crab. Soft-shell clams and some finfish species, such as bluefish, alewife and especially the striped bass (locally called "rockfish"), are taken in significant numbers as well. In addition, in the Virginia portion of the Bay and adjacent Atlantic Ocean waters, there are also the important surf (hard) shell clam and menhaden fishers, the latter a finfish species. Eels and terrapin are sporadically taken throughout the bay and and its tributaries.

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108 Potential eel fishery expansion. The eel fishery shows some promise of becoming more commercially important. A few watermen fish for eels annually in the spring to use them for bait on their crab trotlines, but there has been no domestic market for eels to make their commercial harvest profitable. Therefore it appears expansion of the eel harvest will depend upon the development of a reliable foreign export market, probably to either Japan or Europe where there is a tradition of eel consumption. A few shipments overseas have been made but as yet no reliable market has been established. Declining clam fishery. The market for bay soft shelled clams was in New England rather than local to the Chesapeake itself. In the 1940 1 s some watermen began to exploit the fishery to send to the northern market. In 1950 Fletcher Hanks, an Eastern Shore waterman, invented a hydraulic clam dredge rig that efficiently harvested clams in up to eight feet of water (Lang 1961:99). This technological advance used jets of water to scour the clams from the bottom onto a conveyor belt and bring them up into the boat. The industry was unregulated at first and many clam rigs plundered the bay unrestrainedly. In the process many oyster bars were covered with silt and ruined. Much friction developed between the oystermen and the clammers in the 1950 1 s resulting in state legislation beginning in 1955 to regulate the industry. In response the clammers organized and succeeded in having some portions of the oyster bars, which had been placed off limits to clammers, reclassified as clamming areas. Today the heyday of soft shell clamming seems to have passed. Even with the licensing and attempts to regulate and conserve the clam

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109 fishery, it has declined as a result of overfishing to the point where many clammers are getting out of the fishery. Those who stay in have to range the bay geographically much more extensively than in earlier years in order to find sufficient quantities to harvest. With the clam rig requiring a large, expensive boat and lots of mechanical tinkering and expensive upkeep, many watermen have sold out and shifted to other fisheries. In 1979 there were twenty-four clam rigs and dealers licensed in Somerset, but the following year there were only seventeen. It is generally accepted among the Somerset watermen that Manninose (soft shell) clams are difficult to locate anymore and that hydraulic clamming is "going out" on the bay. General decline in bay fisheries. Besides the decline in the soft shell clam fishery, apparently owing in large part to underregulation and overfishing, there has been a general decline in all of the fisheries. In recent years some of the fisheries stocks have dropped to the historically lowest levels ever recorded. Pollution from agricultural run-off and industrial and sewerage wastes have been partly to blame. Diseases, parasites and overexploitation by commercial fishermen have also contributed to the downturn in the numbers of various species of marine species available for commercial harvesting. For some species decline has reached alarming levels. In 1984 Maryland placed a ban on the catching and selling of the striped bass, or "rockfish", one of the most popular fish taken from the Chesapeake. Additionally the Bay's oyster stocks have fallen alarmingly from 3. 5 million bushels in the mid-l 960s to 1. 1 million bushels in the 1984-85 season (Washington Post June 16, 1985: Section

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110 B, page 8). In the case of the oyster, the Department of Natural Resources has not responded with a ban on the taking of oysters. Instead it will take a two pronged action which will involve (1) a $2 million effort at restocking the bay with young oysters raised in hatcheries, and (2) more vigorously enforcing the existing conservation regulations to prevent overfishing of the resource. Somerset county. Somerset County watermen license registrations account each year for about 17% of the oyster licenses, 6.4% of the commercial crabbing licenses, 5% of the clam licenses, and 3.5% of the various net and fishing guide licenses issued in Maryland. Within Somerset County itself (see table 6-4), the greatest number of licenses taken out are overwhelmingly in the crab and oyster fisheries which together comprise approximately 93% of all licenses issued to county residents, while all other licenses taken together are only 17%. Clearly, the crab and oyster fisheries provided the major work opportunities for Somerset watermen. Work Strategies It is interesting to examine how watermen and their families exploit the bay fisheries and other work opportunities to provide an economic base for their subsistence and the maintenance of their rural life style. Watermen work strategies will be discussed from the following perspectives: (1) sketches of the work histories of fifteen watermen, (2) descriptions of present work patterns of watermen in the interview sample and from participant observation, and (3) the economic and other contributions of the women of watermen's families.

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Table 6-4 Maryland Fisheries Licenses Issued for Somerset County in 1980 Type of License Code ( ) Number Issued Percent of Total County Licenses Issued Total Crab Licenses Commercial Crabber (CRB) Crab Pot (CPL) Worcester Crab Pot (CWP) Crab Shipper (CBS) Sport Crabber (NCB) Crab Bank Trap (CBK) Crab Packer (CBP) Crab Pound License (CPD) Collapsable Trap (CCT) Total Oyster Oyster Catcher Oyster Dealer Private Dredge Licenses (OYS) (OYD) (PPD) Total Finfish Licenses Gill Net (GIL) Restricted Gill Net(RGN) Fish Pot (FPT) Fyke or Hoop Net (FKN) Pound Net (PND) Total Other Clam Dredge Licenses (CHD) (RCD) (TRP) Soft Clam Dealer Terrapin Fishing Guide Boat Dealer (CFG) (BTD) 903 397 217 162 31 35 10 10 1 859 805 39 15 73 58 10 1 3 1 58 15 2 21 14 6 20.97 11.46 8.56 2.11 1.64 1.85 .53 .53 .OS 42.53 2.06 .79 3.06 .53 .05 .16 .os .79 .11 1.11 .74 .32 47.70 45.38 3.85 3.07 Total Licenses 1,893 100.00 Source: Licensing and Consumer Services Department of the Maryland Department ~f Natural Resources (1981). 111

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112 Work Histories The fifteen work histories in appendix B reflect the rural backgrounds and the mixed farming-fishing economic base generally characteristic of the lower Eastern Shore population. Several patterns are evident in the work histories, i.e, (1) the full-time, life-time waterman, (2) the full-time waterman secondarily involved in nonfishing work, (3) full-time watermen who have performed other full-time work during their work lives, (4) the part-time waterman involved equally in part-time nonfishing work, (5) the full-time employee or small business man who is secondarily involved in commercial fishing, and (6) the man who works briefly on the water full-time, but completely abandons commercial fishing to go into some other work for most of his working life. Four of the men (see work histories 4, 11, 13 and 15 in appendix B) have been full-time watermen all their lives, the only exception being a couple years military or wartime service in the Baltimore shipyards (see histories 6 and 9). All of them have been involved in both the crab and oyster fisheries. There are also four examples of the second pattern, i.e., the full-time watermen secondarily involved in nonfishing work (see histories 3, 6, 9 ~nd 10). Some of the full-time watermen take on nonfishing related part time jobs that they can perform while continuing full-time commercial fishing. The best example is the Smith Island man (see history 10) who, though regularly involved in patent tonging for oysters in winter and setting crab pots in the spring and

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113 summer, is the telephone repair and installation man for the island population. Three of the men (see histories 3, 6 and 9) indicate having been involved in carpentry and boat building off and on during their lives. They either built their own home or boats or made money working for others. Some watermen worked for years at a time at nonfishing work of different kinds before "going on the water" full-time or as a change of pace from full-time commercial fishing. Work histories of several men in appendix B fit this third pattern. One Smith Island man (see history 8), now semiretired and doing only occasional oyster shaft tonging from an eighteen foot open wooden boat, served four years in the navy, worked three years as a stevedore in Virginia and spent four years in the Mrs. Pauls Kitchens seafood packing factory in Crisfield. A Mount Vernon man (see history 12) graduated from high school, spent three years in the army in Vietnam, five years working in construction for the telephone company for five years, and five years tending bar before taking up commercial fishing on a full time basis. Another example is the Crisfield waterman (see history 7) who worked two years in Baltimore during World War II and more than twelve years as a truck driver before going permanently into commercial fishing on a full-time basis. There are several examples of the fourth work history pattern, the part-time waterman equally involved in nonfishing work. One is a Crisfield man who owns two small boats used in shaft tonging for oysters and setting crab pots (see history 14). In addition he has other seasonal work which varies a good deal from year to year, but

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11 4 usually includes cutting wood for a month following Christmas, taking factory work as available, and shipping on as a hand on a state oyster boat for a month in the early spring. This work strategy is a stage through which some of the older men have passed earlier in their work histories. The strategy can be seen in the early and middle stages of some of the older men's work histories. For example, the abovementioned Mount Vernon man_ ( see history 12) was working as a bartender and as a waterman for two years before he went on the water full time. There is also evidence (see history chapter above) that in the past this fourth type of work arrangement was less exclusively transitional and more often permanent. It was usually a combination of spring/summer farming and boatbuilding and winter oystering (see history 1). On Smith Island in the last century farming-fishing arrangement was an important and commonly found strategy. But the rising water levels of the bay eliminated land suitable for farming in many coastal areas and completely on Smith Island. Today in Somerset County farmers and commercial fishermen form almost entirely separate occupational groups. The fifth work arrangement, that of the full-time waterman who moves into primarily nonfishing work while still maintaining some low level of involvement in commercial fishing or connection with a community of fishermen, is exemplified by a Smith Island man (see history 2). After working as an oysterrnan for eighteen years, he bought a grocery store on the island and shortly thereafter acquired the postmastership as well. In the early years of owning the grocery-postal service business, he also purchased a larger boat and established an oyster buying and selling business. This tradition

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115 continues today, especially on Smith Island, where the grocery store and small business owners all began as watermen and occasionally still dabble in one commercial fishery or another as their business permits. A sixth work history pattern is also apparent. It is that of the man who goes briefly on the water during his life but then abandons fishing altogether. A good example of this is the man from Revels Neck (see history 5) who grew up on a farm, worked some years on a tugboat, an oil tanker, a sailing schooner, an oyster dredge boat; was a gas station owner, an airplane mechanic and a hauler of farm produce; and finally settled down to a combination of farming and rural postal delivery for most of his working life. The aforementioned six work patterns provide an essentially diachronic view of the variety of Somerset County watermen's efforts at making a living during their lives. Now we will turn to a synchronic investigation of the work strategies of watermen and their families as suggested by census data, interviews, participant observation and fisheries license information. Work Strategies of the Men Adaptation to annual cycle and seasonal fluctuations. In planning their commercial fishing activities, watermen must consider the nature of the annual cycle of weather and how the behaviors of the various fish are affected by it. The several commercially significant species are harvested during different, sometimes overlapping, periods of the year and, in addition, state law regulates the lengths of the periods (see table 6-5) during which particular fisheries are open and closed.

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Table 6-5 Legal Harvest Seasons in the Maryland Portion of Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Coastal Waters of Worcester County, Maryland Species Stripped Bass Blue Crab Soft Shell Clam Oyster Hard Shell Clam Open Period None beginning 1985 (formerly March to June). 15 April to 30 October (winter dredging is allowed in Virginia, but not in Maryland). 1 June to 14 September from 1 hour before sunrise until 12 noon and 15 September to 31 May from sunrise to sunset. 15 September to 31 March for noncommercial use; the commercial season also falls within these dates but varies by gear, i.e., skipjack maynot dredge until 1 November. 15 October to 31 April in Worcester County (not taken in Chesapeake Bay but in the Atlantic coastal waters). Source: Maryland Department of Natural Resources (1978). 116

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117 Watermen's activities must adjust to these realities if they are to achieve success in exploiting the fisheries for a livelihood. Watermen exploit the oyster fishery during a regulated season lasting from September 15 to March 31. However, the harvesting activity is not performed evenly throughout the entire season. November and December are the months of greatest market demand and most intensive harvesting. The weather during those months is usually good. But, as it turns colder, stormier and the bay becomes rougher, oystering is increasingly difficult and dangerous or impossible. It is not usually the cold itself that frequently keeps the oystermen inshore from January through mid-March. Watermen are able to work in very cold conditions and pride themselves on becoming acclimatized to the cold. It is, rather, the winter storms, icing conditions on the boats, or the actual freezing over of portions of the bay for days or weeks at a stretch which restrict their fishing. Also, during these months the demand for oysters may decline and the prices may fall off. The general view among oystermen is that one has to work hardest and do well in the two months prior to Christmas to succeed as an oysterman. Watermen employ a variety of gears in harvesting oysters strategies of which the most common are the shaft tong, the patent tong and the dredge (see figures 4-1, 4-2 and 6-2). In addition a few men employ diving suits to obtain oysters. Not many years ago the licensing categories for oystering were changed. Prior to 1978 three different kinds of licenses were issued (i.e., shaft tong, patent tong and dredging), beginning in 1978 only one type of license, the oyster catcher, has been issued regardless of

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c: ----;f== c==--~ ----..::: ~: ~ ~ ~ '~ --~~ -/ ~ -~ & ~ _, -<=;'" ....... :-~ : 'c:-' ~, / r ~ --5L-...-?~;;,:;;cc:; --< "" =::,~ -;;;;--~---=--~ .:=z;:: ~Z \ ~____.,.. ~ 4<-Cj' ~ =c~ CZ'~ ,----~~.;~ z: -g --==--L === 2 --/-< ~ --='<" :-:-:_ __ ---~> .. ~--=='""',--;;:--...-c:;: z ~ ~~" ==-_ _ JIAISEIC1111'1<-~ 1.,s ~-'I-"_:_ -~--= ---=-= ~ .,,,---~ Figure 6-2 Drawing of Oyster Patent Tong Boats at Tylerton Boat Harbor on Smith Island t .., ---. -:..:_ . :. ;;,. ~--= ,_. ,_. CX>

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119 the nature of the gear employed. In 1977, the last year the different types of license were issued, the most popular gear type was cle a rly the shaft tong followed by the patent ton g rig and with the dredge being last (s ee table 6-6). Although the shaft tong is the most often used gear th r oughout the bay, on Smith Island it is the patent tong rig that is most popular. In answer to the question "Who on Smith Island shaft tongs for oysters?" the names of only seven men were given. Table 6-7 shows that all but one, an eighteen year old, were fifty-four or older. All of the older shaft tongers were semi-retired and worked the oyster season only sporadically as their heal th and the weather permitted. Two of them also used gill nets to take finfish, primarily in March and April; another fished for hard crabs in the summer. Shaft tonging gear is inexpensive, easy to maintain, and one can shaft tong from a boat as small as an open sixteen foot skiff with an outboard motor. Unlike oyster dredging which requires a crew of three or four, a man c an shaft tong for oysters alone; and unlike both oyster dredging and pa tent tonging, he can shaft tong with a very small capital investment and practically no overhead expenses for such items as gear maintenance and boat repair. It is these financial reasons that attract young men with no cap i ta l to begin their careers as oyster shaft tongers or as hired hands on the other kinds of oyster rigs. For the older men w h o only wish to go out occasionally, the expense of maintaining a large boat rigged for patent tonging or maintaining a sailing dredge boat is prohibitive. Therefore, they sell their large boat and patent tong gear and keep a skiff from which they may I J

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120 Table 6-6 Oyster Licenses Issued in Maryland, 1977-1980 Type of License 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 Oyster Dredge 31 30 28 Patent Tong 942 855 675 Shaft Tong 3791 4076 4654 Oyster Catcher 4768 4522 4368 Total Licenses 4764 4961 5357 4768 4522 4368 Source: The Statistical Officer, Licensing Office of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

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1 2 1 Table 6-7 Oyster Shaft Tongers on Smith Island 1982 Waterman Age Othe r Licenses Marital Status #1 18 None Unmarried #2 54 Crab Pot Unmarried #3 57 None Married #4 60 None Married #5 64 Gill Net Married #6 68 None Married #7 70 Gill Net Married Source: Field work interviews

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122 occasionally go shaft tonging. In this way, also, these older men are in a position to teach the younger boys--their grandchildren or neighbor children--the art of the hand tong. Commercial harvesting of finfish species by Somerset County watermen occurs primarily in the early spring. Although other watermen in the northern reaches of the bay still set their nets off and on throughout the yea r most Somers~t watermen exploit the finfishery only briefly. A major reason for their efforts in the finfishery is to obtain bait fish, usually alewives, which they freeze and later use to bait their crab pots during the summer. A few watermen harvest bait fish as a small business, selling what they net to commercial crab potters for profit. Among Somerset County watermen who ex p lo i t the finfishery the overwhelming favored gear type is the gill net. Of the seventy-three net and fish pot licenses issued in the county in 1980 (see table 6-4), fifty-eight were for gill nets. These nets may be set by anchor or staked across the upstream areas during the periods when various fish species run upriver to spawn or may be thrown in unsecured, allowed to free float, and then removed. A number of watermen try their hands from time to time in hope of netting a catch of the striped bass, a fish prized for eating and also its market value. Watermen harvest crabs from mid April to the end of October in Maryland waters and in Virginia they also dredge for hibernating crabs during the winter. As the water warms in the spring, the crabs emerge from hibernation in the muddy bay bottom into which they burrowed to survive during the cold winter months. The tempo of the eating,

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123 molting, mating and moving throughout the bay gradually increases as the warm weather arrives. Watermen remove the oyster patent tonging gear and make necessary repairs and alterations for crabbing. A few men construct temporary wooden frame shade awnings and cover them with canvas, leaving the four sides open, to protect them from the summer sun while they work. Some may need to have their boats hauled out of the water for scraping and repainting. In preparation for the summer season, watermen refurbish old gear that is reusable and either make or buy new pots and other gear. Many of the men have spent their spare time in the January to March period making new crab pots at home when they were unable to go out to the oyster beds due to bad weather. A role of wire cost about $40 in 1982. One can make ten crab pots out of a single role to which a line with a float and a small identification marker must also be added. Many winter days are spent on warm porches or in kerosene stove heated shanties making crab pots. The historical development of the various crab fishing gears began with the simple use of a dip net to scoop crabs from shallow water either while wading or from a small row or sail boat. The trotline appeared next. Trotlining is a simple system employing a line usually from fifty to one hundred yards long with anchors at each end and floats to buoy up the line between the anchors. Every yard or so strings with bait (salted eel chunks usually) are tied so as to hang down in the water a few feet below the line. Beginning at one end of the line and heading toward the other end, the baited lines are checked as the trotline itself passes over a roller protruding about three feet

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----124 from the side of the boat. Crabs feeding on the bait will follow the bait to the surface before letting go. The fisherman uses a long handled dip net to capture the crab and bring it aboard. Today as in the past trotlining is a technique employed in the rivers and streams feeding the bay where crab potters are generally restricted from fishing. The origins of use of the trotline to take hard crabs are unclear, but it was in use in the nineteenth century. Until the 1870's when the crab scrape was invented by L. C. Dize (Warner 1976:30) in the Crisfield area, the trotline was the only productive gear available for commercial crabbing purposes. It remained the dominant method to secure hard crabs until the 1930 1 s when the crab pot began to be employed by increasin g numbers of watermen. In 1929 the gear producing the most pounds and dollar value of crabs was the trotline (Fairbanks and Hamill 1931:179 and 181). By the early 1980 1 s it had become the crab pot that produced the greatest poundage and dollar value of hard crabs. The trotline was originally fished from either a row boat or a small sailing skiff. As boats acquired motors during the early years of the twentieth century, trotlining was made easier and more efficient. Before the advent of the use of crab pots on the bay, trotlining was the primarily used method of taking hard crabs commercially. The crab season generally started later since the crabs buried in the deeper channel waters took a few weeks or a month to move from their hibernation grounds into the inlets and up the rivers that feed the bay where trotlining can be practiced. When crab pots

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125 were set in deeper waters near the steamer channels, the season could begin earlier. As one Smith Island elder waterman commented, I remember when we used to have a month to six weeks off between the end of oyster season and the start of crab season [ 15 March to the end of April] and a month in the fall. Before motor boats came in, there'd be plenty days you just couldn't take those pungies, skipjacks or bugeyes [bay sailing vessels of varying size] out for lack of wind, or the small crab scrape sailing boats for roughness. But these motor boats allowed us to go out more and eventually the larger, better built tong boats could go out in pretty bad weather. Once crab pots came in, we found there were crabs in the deeper water and began to fish them earlier. Since we never made much money and could always use more, we started right in working earlier in the s eason than we had used to do. Motors and crab pots changed the life on the water, they did! The blue crab after molting its hard shell is called a soft crab. Crabs about to molt are weak and those having just shed their hard shells are vulnerable until the soft new shell hardens and becomes protective. Crabs about to molt or that have just molted usually seek protected areas in which to hide, such as the shallower waters near shore where they hide from predators in the eel grass. These are the prime areas for the use of the crab scrape, an apparatus much like an oyster dredge, which is the primary gear for the taking of soft crabs. Soft crabs have been an important catch since the latter part of the last century in the Tangier Sound area. By 1908 Crisfield and Deal Island had become the principal shipping points for soft crabs in the Chesapeake (Conservation Commission of Maryland 1909:155-156). Though catches have declined, Tangier Sound still remains the major soft crab harvesting area on the bay. Scraping for soft crabs begins somewhat later and ends somewhat earlier than potting for hard crabs due to the migratory habits which

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126 the crabs exhibit as the water warms at the beginning of the season and then cools in the fall. Crabs are said to move to shallower water as the weather warms and to return to the deeper water as the weather cools. Eventually they cease moving and hibernate. Soft crab scrapi n g requires comparatively little capital outlay to start up. A smaller less expensive boat and gear than is necessary for crab potting can be used in crab.scraping (see figuresn 6-3 and 6-4). A pair of crab scrapes costs about one hundred and twenty dollars and the nets for them are eighteen dollars each. A waterman can get three years service from a pair of scrapes, but must put a new pair of nets on them each summer. There is also the expense of electricity for the crab shanty where the crab floats are kept. Harvested crabs which are about to molt are kept in these floats and removed and packed for shiping when they lose their shells. Small pumps constantly keep a current of water circulating through the crab floats; otherwise the crabs would die. There is usually a freezer or refrigerator in the shanty to keep ice and soft crabs until enough are acquired for a box full to be shipped. Crab potting requires a larger boat able to transport two hundred or more pots in order to place them in the desirable fishing areas as these change. The outlay for crab pots is seven to twelve dollars each and a waterman will run three hundred to five hundred pots. Each year as many as two hundred pots will be lost or become unusable and have to be replaced. While scrapers can work solo, potters sometimes need to hire another person, especially when they are relocating their pots.

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1 i I\ 'W 1 \ Figure 6-3 Drawing of Kristy Lynn and Miss Beth, Crab Scrape Bateaux at Tylerton, Smith Island -,_. N -..J

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~ .. __ ____, w .... ,i.. ,-~ f ~ : :i, ::__ _. ...._, .r-.. .. . .., , -_..;z,..~ ,_ ,,_._;:--~ "', --';:-..:---1'----,.. -....... -:.... ~ --Figure 6-4 ...-: :-;;;--,-. ._~"\ ~ ~$i~ ::::::::---:.::: -~ --. -~--------. -----~..::----r-,.,, ---------~ 1-/A.&tR.rtt,:iR-;;_ 1,,s Drawing of a Crab Scrape Bateau and Three Fishing Shanties at Ewell, Smith Island c:: .. -,. --=-..::::::::: '--......... -. I--' N 00

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.. 129 One Smith Island informant estimated in 1982 that crab potters had to make from three hundred to five hundred dollars each week before they began to turn a profit while crab scrapers only had to make about one hundred dollars. Clearly the crab scraping strategy offers a cheaper avenue into the crab fishery. However, the soft crab season doesn t last quite as long as the hard crab seas o n and has the added aspect of live crabs in floats to maintain in the shanty. If these are not regularly culled of the newly molted crabs several times each day, the soft crabs will be killed by the others crabs in the floats. It requires more constant daily attention than crab potting. One can leave pots to fish alone for several days if one can't get out to them for some reason. The pots will still have live hard crabs in them. We have thus far examined the various fisheries, the gears employed, and the seasonal availability of the various species of commercial importance. Next we investigate the ways in which the watermen combine the exploitation of more than one fishery during this seasonal cycle. Combinations of fisheries exploitation. The oyster and crab fisheries are the most productive and lucrative of all the bay fisheries. Even so, the cyclical nature of these fisheries and their regulation by state law make it impossible to be a full-time commercial fisherman on a year-round basis without exploiting several fisheries. Many watermen do take this approach. Table 6-8 shows how the Smith Island watermen approach this problem of securing fisheries work on a year round basis.

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,. " .. .. i Table 6-8 License Combinations for Smith Island Watermen, 1980 1 License Number Oyster Catcher (OYS) 36 CPL (Crab Pot) 12 Worcester County Crab Pot (CWP) 8 Commercial Crabber (CRB) 7 Oyster Dealer (OYD) 3 Gill Net (GIL) 1 Terrapin (TRP) 1 Total 68 2 Licenses Number OYS and CPL OYS and CRB OYS and CWP OYS and GIL CWP and GIL CPL and GIL CRB and CPL Total 31 31 7 2 1 1 1 74 3 Licenses Number OYS, CRB and CPL 7 OYS, CPL and CHD ( Hydraulic Clammer)! OYS, CPL and OYD I OYS, CRB and CFG (Fishing Guide) 1 OYS, CRB and CWP I Total 11 Source: Licensing and Consumer Services Department of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (1981). 130

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" 131 In 1980 one hundred and fifty-three Smith Islanders had one or more fisheries licenses of one kind or another. Sixty-eight (44%) had only one license of which thirty-nine had oyster catcher or oyster dealer licenses and twenty-seven took out one of the three types of crab licenses, i.e., crab pot, commercial crabber or Worcester County crab pot. Clearly, those with only oyster licenses must find other employment during spring and surrnner and those with only crab licenses are in need of winter occupation for income. The economic pressures on these one license men are not as great as one might at first suppose. Since many islanders own their houses outright or have only small loans, which are often held by a family member rather than by a bank, they will not necessarily suffer for not working year round. usually work with Since they have extended families to rely on and the minimum of capital investment and overhead expenditure possible, some can get by working only one fishery. The financial pressures increase, however, for married men who are much less likely to be able to fish only a part of the year and support their family. Some of those working the crab fishery at home in the summer will take a job as a hand on an oyster dredge boat and be away from home for a week or two at a time, only coming home for weekend visits during the oyster season. In the licensing statistics these men will appear to be working only the crab season while in reality they are year-round operators. It is the sailing oyster dredge boats themselves that must be licensed and not the men who work them as hands. Thus, an indeterminant number of those who are only licensed for the crab

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I r 132 harvest are also exploiting oysters as well. The number cannot be very large, though, since there are only about thirty dredge boats working the bay. Among those men who register only for an oyster catcher license each year, a few make enough to not have to work the crab season. However, this is alw ay s unpredictable and some who may not crab for a year or two will find themselves forced to work the summer following a poor oyster harvest. Others have regular summer work as employees at the boat repair yards in Rhodes Point, Crisfield or Deal Island, work construction, do retail clerk work in the family grocery store, take odd jobs that arise, do construction work, work in a crab packing or shipping house in Crisfield, or find summer employment in connection with the tourist trade as tour boat captains or crew members. Seventy-four (48%) of the licensed Smith Islanders, see table 6-8, have taken out tw o licenses. Of these seventy-four double licensees, sixty-nine have combined an oyster license with one of the three crab licenses. These are split roughly in half into thirty-eight men with an oyster and a crab pot license and thirty-one with an oyster and a commercial crabber license. The commercial crabber license can be used to trotline for hard crabs or scrape for soft crabs. While only scraping for soft crabs is practiced by the Smith Islanders, elsewhere in the county--up the rivers and streams tributary to Tangier Sound--trotlining widely is employed. Of the remaining five Smith Island men with double licenses, three combinations are evident. Of these five men, two combine oystering with gill netting, two combine crab potting and gill netting, and one

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133 intensifies his crab fishery efforts by combin i ng two types of c r a b licenses, one for hard crabs and one or soft crabs. The last category is watermen with three l i censes each (see table 6-8). Eleven (7%) Smit h Island wa t ermen out of the 153 have three licenses. All eleven have oyster licenses and at least one kind of crab license. Eight of the eleven have added a second kind of crab license as their third license; one has added a hydraulic clam rig license, one has added an oyster dealer licenses and the last one has added a commercial fishing guide license as the third license. These triple license watermen are the most deeply involved in the harvest of the bay fisheries (see table 6-8). While we can characterize most of the two-license men as full-time, year-round commercial fishermen, these three-license men are the intensive full-time, year-round commercial fishermen. They are usually not much involved in nonfishing work activities. They are attempting to increase their income through maximizing the i r fishing activities. Employment ancillary to work on the water. Boat building, welding, gas and diesel engine repair, merchant marine work, stevedoring, and shipyard work are types of employment ancillary to commercial fishing which waterman engage in at one time or another. A number of watermen supplement their fishing earnings by chartering fishing parties on their large work boats during the summer. A few others have entered the marine transport business as in the case of the two watermen who are in partnership to run the daily freight and passenger service boat between Crisfield and Smith Island. In addition, one enterprising Smith Islander has entered the business of taking

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13 4 boatloads of tourists from Crisfield to either Smith Island or Tangier Island where they visit and then eat a meal in his restaurant. During the fall, winter and early spring, the tourist business is nonexistent, however, and this waterman turns to harvesting oyster and later finfish. Other work the men sometimes perform which is not in any direct way supportive of fishing or any type of work on the water includes truck driving, farming, store keeping, mail delivery, mechanical work, factory work, military enlisted service, telephone company employment, construction work and bar tending. Contributions of the Women The daily routine of a waterman's wife. The following is a description of the daily routine of a particular waterman's wife and not a composite view based on formal interviews of a sample of wives. Based on fieldwork experience, however, I believe it is fairly typical of the ac ti vi ties of women who are wives of full-time, year-round watermen and who do not hold jobs outside their homes. Other watermen's wives might have less involvement in their husbands' fishing activities, especially if they work outside the home, but few would have any greater involvement in their husbands' activities than the wife whose activities I describe below. At the time interviewed I her in 1983, Katey White (pseudonym), a native of Smith Island, was twenty-six years old. She left school in the eleventh grade and worked at home with her mother picking hard crabs which they sold in order to augment the income of her waterman

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135 father. At the time of the interview, she was living with her husband and baby daughter in a plain two-story white frame house in Tylerton. Her parents and younger brother also live in Tylerton, and her divorced older brother has his own home there as well. Katey's mother has four married brothers and sisters who live in Ewell on the north end of Smith Island. Katey has never spent much time off the island, except for a couple of months living in Crisfield with her in-laws. Neither has she ever held a salaried outside job of any kind. However, her contributions to her family are extremely important for its maintenance and continued survival as a unit. In the winter, Katey's husband is away most of the time from mid October until Christmas and, then, off and on from early January to early March working as a hand on his step-father's oyster dredge boat, a skipjack sailing vessel. In order to save money during these months, Katey and her daughter close up their own house in November and move in with Katey's parents until March when her husband has finished working the oystering season. The two households are separate units from early March through October, but then combine to form one during each winter. The financial benefits are fairly obvious, i.e., each nuclear family saves on fuel for heating and cooking which is a very expensive item. Both the company of her parents and brother and the necessity to economize are reasons given by Katey for living with her parents in the winter. During the summer Katey's husband is home working the local crab fishery with his eighteen foot scrape bateau for soft crabs which he

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136 ships by boat to a buyer in Crisfield. In addition to soft crabs, his scrapes regularly yield a small quantity of hard crabs which he turns over to his wife to be picked. The daily routine for Katey during crab season usually begins early in the morning. At 4:40 a.m. she rises with her husband, makes his breakfast and a sack lunch for him to eat on the boat, and sees him off around 5: 30 a. m. From then until mid morning, about 9 or 9: 30 a.m., she picks the meat from hard crabs which she cooked the night before. She takes short breaks to feed and dress her daughter, do laundry, and perform other household chores. In the later part of the morning, Katey leaves the baby with her mother or a neighbor and walks or rides her bicycle two blocks to the water and takes a skiff out to their crab shanty which is built on piles driven into the inlet bottom. There she fishes the newly molted soft crabs from the crab floats with a s m all di p net. These she cuts and packages for shipme n t to the buyer in Crisfield. After Katey prepares lunch for herself and her daughter, she usually picks any remaining hard crabs. She estimates that each week she picks about thirty-five pounds of crab meat which she se ll s ( in 1982 and 1983) for four to five dollars per pound, potentially yielding as much as one hundred forty or one hundred seventy-five dollars per week if she would se.11 all of it. Usually she holds back some of the meat, freezing it for her own use at a later time. Her mother knows the buyers and coordinates the efforts of four to six island women in order to fill the orders. Katey insists,

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without this "bootleg" crab money, we wouldn't make it by some weeks when the crabs don't "run" [ no crabs are caught] or [my husband's] boat "goes up" [breaks down]. 137 During the day Katey bicycles frequently on errands to the grocery store a couple blocks from her house or to a friend's home. She receives and makes numerous phone calls to other Smith Island women. Her husband is usually back from crabbing and cleaning up the crab shanty about 3:30 p.m. She starts to fix the big meal of the day when he returns and they usually eat around 4:45 or 5 p.m. Since watermen eat lightly while working in the heat of the day, evening meals are usually fairly large affairs. Of the six which I have participated in all seemed extensive for a summer meal. A typical evening meal which Katey might serve would include all of the following items: Oven-cooked "barbecued" chicken, Ketchup and brown sugar sauce, for the chicken, Floured, pan fried well-salted soft crabs, Boiled fresh corn-on-the-cob, Canned green beans, Uncooked fresh sliced tomatoes, Potato salad, Rolls and butter, Iced tea, and Canned fruit salad in jello. After cleaning up the dinner dishes, Katey will join her husband and daughter in front of the television for a while. Then she will get up and cook the hard crabs her husband has caught so they will be cool and ready to pick in the morning. She and her husband are usually in bed about 10 p.m.

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138 Katey is attending night classes at the local elementary school for an hour and a half three times a week in order to finish her high school education. She also belongs to the Methodist Church and is a member of the church I s Ladies Aid Society which is very important to her. The society has a "secret pals" program in which each member draws another member's name and anonym o usly gives her presents on specified days during an entire year. Each Christmas the members are told who their secret pal has been and then choose and begin the program for another year. Women's work. The sex role division of labor is such among watermen that the daily household work and childcare is seen as primarily the responsibility of women. Katey and many other wives of commercial fishermen, however, regularly add to those responsibilities various activities which are directly related to their husbands' fishing efforts. These, for example, may include picking hard crabs, selling the picked meat, preparing soft crabs for shipment, putting the shipment on the transport vessel, calling around to find this or that tool or engine part for their husband, or tending the crab floats at the shanty. It is assumed that a wife will do this work in addition to childcare and household work. These chores which are related to their husbands' occupation are a part of the expected role behavior of the wives of commercial fishermen. Like Katey, Smith Island fishermen's wives usually get up about 4:30 a.m. with their husbands who then leave to work on the water until the mid afternoon. It is common for many of the women to pick crab meat which they sell to their buyers on the shore. It is illegal

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139 because they pay no tax on it and because the sanitation surrounding its production is not inspected. Until recently legal restrictions prohibited the m from keeping any crab meat in their home freezers, but a new law now allows them to hold up to twenty pounds. Women may begin to pick crabs as early as 4 a.m. and continue until as late as 11 a.m. Between about 9 and 11 a.m., however, the women are frequently on the phon e to each other and some of them pick crabs while they cradle the phone between chin and shoulder. A few small groups of women gather at one of their member's home to have company while they work. Most women, though, work alone and "visit" on the phone. They talk about the people in the community, for example, about how many crabs a certain woman must had had to pick to get enough money for the new addition to her house. Small women's crab picking cooperatives organized along family and friendship lines exist on the island. There were five such groups on Smith Island in 1982. These groups are directed by women, such as Katey's mother, who have developed a network of reliable buyers for the picked meat. These cooperative group leaders save the other women the trouble of having to be involved in locating buyers, and for this service may receive a fee or a percentage of the other women's sales. Kinship and residential proximity both are factors in the formation of such groups. By no means do all the wives pick crabs to sell. Some of them are regularly employed on a full or part-time basis outside the household or operate their own businesses from their homes. Among the outside jobs the wives of the watermen held which I discovered during the

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140 period of f i eldwork were elementary school teacher, emergency room nurse, visiting nurse, elementary school teacher/principal, grocer y clerk, waitress, short order cook, attorney's secretary, postal clerk and bookkeeper ( s ee table 6-9). These kinds of employment reflect both what is loca l ly available as well a s what is locally thought to be appropriate work for women. These notions, in fact, are the common stereotypical ones held in the wider society about what constitutes women's appropriate work. None of them are carpenters, mechanics, or fishermen or hold other jobs associated in the public mind primarily as men's work. Some of the wives develop small businesses based in their homes which range from part to nearly full-time work for them. This type of arrangement is considered highly desirable as it allows women to remain at home and continue their childcare, household activities and tasks supportive of their husbands' commercial fishing. Examples of women's home-based small business endeavors are listed in table 6-9. By far the most frequently occurring home based work that brings income to the wives of watermen is the picking of crab meat which was discussed earlier in this section. Ta k en in combination, the various work choices of fishermen and their wives provide a financial base for their families' subsistence. Clearly there is a variety of adaptive patterns evident in the data. These range (1) from the full-time, year round fishermen whose wives do not work outside the home, ( 2) through various mixes of part-time fishing and nonfishing strategies of the men and the home based or outside work of ther wives, (3) to the part-time fishermen whose wives

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Table 6-9 Business Activities of Fishermen's Wives in Crisfield and Smith Island Ho me Based Work Piano Teacher Barber Hairdresser Overnight Lodging and Breakfast Dance Teacher Crab Picker Outside Work School Teacher Teacher/Principal Visiting Nurse Emergency Room Nurse Short Order Cook Store Clerk (Grocery, etc.) Bookkeeper Secretary Source: Participant observation and interviews. 141

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142 hold a full or part-time salaried job outside the home. However, even though there is great variety in the combined work strategies of the husbands and wives, the most prevalent pattern is one in which the husband performs the full-time work work outside the home, which is expected to be able to support the family and the wife's contribution is expected to be primarily home-based. In her case there is great variety in terms of actual money earning work. She may supply some degree of financial support but it is widely agreed among most watermen that she should do this only if she also regularly maintains the home and cares for the children first. Maintenance of fam i ly and community relationships. The women play an additional important social role in the management of personal relations within family and local community. Through the powerful informal force of gossip and the reciprocal fear of ridicule, the women effectively form and shape attitudes and behavior within their social spheres of influence. They can make life very difficult for community members who do not properly carry out their family, church and other social obligations. The force of an informal social control mechanism is greatest and most evident in the more isolated communities such as those on Smith Island. A former island nurse-midwife, a Australian-born woman who lived on Smith Island for seven years, observed, the men appear to run things, but it is really the women who "call the shots." If the men don't do what the women want with regard to family and community problems, the women make life very difficult for them.

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143 The nurse is asserting that the women through their friendships, crab picking groups, church associations and kinsmen, powerfully, though informally, affect the maintenance of the social and emotional fabric of the island community. The women assert and the men generally agree that most community activities (such as church dinners, fire hall sponsored fund raisers, dances, or musical evenings at the comrnuni ty recreation hall) are primarily the result of the organizational work of the island women. Social Organization What, then, are the social groups and networks into which waterman and their wives are organized in the predominantly fishing communities we are considering? How do these groups contribute to and affect the activities of the commercial fishermen? Kinsmen and Neighbors Like other Somerset County residents, the watermen's ideal family unit is the monogamous nuclear family and the ideal marital residence is neolocal. Economic pressures and obligations to the elderly, especially in their declining years, family households or, as in the case however, may create extended of Katey White's family, a seasonal pattern alternating between nuclear family households in the summer and extended family residence in winter. Their descent system is a bilateral one, but the family name is that of the husband with children patrilineally inheriting it from their father. There is a strong tendency, especially in the locales predominantly inhabited by fishermen and their families for the children of these families to

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144 marry someone whose family is also intimately involved with fishing or some aspect of the life on the water. This results in the presence of many near and distant kinsmen sprinkled throughout the local community and nearby communities. These kinsmen are a potential resource for partners, hired hands or jobs and a s o urce of information about work and the status of various fishing grounds and seafood markets. Friends and neighbors, as well as relatives, are sources of information about the fisheries, fish gears, boats, the activities of the marine police, and fishermen who either need work or have work to offer during a particular season. This kind of information is regularly shared among watermen themselves as they gather for a soft drink or cup of coffee in a corner of the local store, such stores commonly serving as informal gathering places for the men after work or after dinner. Intelligence is also garnered by their wives and female relatives from their own kinship and friendship networks especially by many phone conversations they make daily. Church and Fire Department The most pervasive local organizations to be found through the county are the churches and the volunteer fire departments. Both serve as foci of comrnuni ty activities and in a few cases have developed important annual festivals which function as rituals of intensification for the communities which they serve. The oldest and best known of these festivals is the Smith Island Camp Meeting, previously discussed in chapter IV. Essentially a week-long religious revival, it is the last remaining such annual revival to be regularly held any where in the county. It is an echo of an earlier time when many such "camp

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145 meetings" were routinely held at Deal Island, Smith Island, Crisfield, Tangier Island and elsewhere. Wh il e the Smith Island Methodist Camp Meeting is the only annual church festival of its size among the watermen's communities, most churches have a variety of smaller social events scattered throughout the year. Volunteer fire departments are found throughout the county. They are present in all the small fishing communities where significant numbers of watermen dwell. Besides fulfilling their manifest function of fire prevention and fire fighting, these organizations often serve as community recreational centers. In some cases, halls for this purpose have been built on to or near the fire departments. There is usually an organization of volunteer firemen and a ladies auxiliary. Dinners, dances, f undraisers and other events will take place at the communities fire halls. Three of these fire departments, i.e., those in Deal Island, Mount Vernon and Princess Anne, have developed traditions of an annual fund raising festival which have become rather big affairs drawing attendance from not only the local community but from throughout the county and beyond. The Mount Vernon Fire Department, for example, sponsors a Waterman's Festival which provides an outside stage with a country music band for entertainment, food booths prominently featuring a variety of seafood, fried chicken and beer, work boat races and docking contests, and boat rides. Much of the food and all of the labor is volunteered by the fire hall members and their wives. The culminating event of the festival is usually an informally organized wet T-shirt contest which usually occurs around dusk as the festival is winding

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146 down. A fire hose is unrolled from a pump truck and a half dozen to fifteen young teen-aged women who have doffed their bras and blouses and donned thin T-shirts line up in a row. The judge is the fire chief or some one appointed by him. The young women are gently wet down by the fireman with the hos e who incidentally is dressed in full fire fighting regalia--fire hat, yellow slicker, trousers and boots. The winner is announced amidst lots of joking, blushing and giggling, and the event is over and people are heading for their cars or back for a last beer before going home. In addition to the Mt. Vernon festival, two other fire departments sponsor important day-long festivals. Around Labor Day each year the Deal Island fire department sponsors a skipjack sailing race and the Princess Anne fire fighting organization has an "all you can eat" feast featuring hardcrabs, fresh corn and beer in late July. On Smith Island the three Methodist churches and the two fire stations are important centers of community activity. Since these communities are unincorporated entities, the church and fire hall form a de facto local governmental structure through which many community issues are confronted. There is, for example, a Smith Island Medical Board composed of two members from each of the three villages, the Methodist minister, and the nurse employed by the board to serve the island population. The Medical Board is really an arm of the church structure since the persons chosen to serve on it must be active members in good standing of one of the three Methodist congregations.

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147 Work Groupings and Cooperation Watermen and their wives represent one type of work group and we have seen that sometimes two related families may collaborate. We have also noted that some of the women cooperate in crab picking groups under the direction of a woman who has developed reliable marketing contacts for the group's product. Both by preference and by the nature of the ways in which the fisheries are exploited, watermen work alone or in very small groups. It is possible to shaft tong, patent tong, crab pot and crab scrape alone and most watermen prefer this independent work arrangement. Some of them work double patent tong rigs from one boat and have another waterman working along with them. Watermen occcasionally take sons and other relatives on as paid or unpaid crew members so they can learn the business. The fishermen who operate the clam hydraulic rigs usually have a hired crew member; and the oyster dredge boats cannot function with crews of less than three, more commonly they ship four crewmen. Another kind of group is occasionally formed out of necessity. It is the oyster workboats/buy boat group. When oystering is very poor in home waters, the watermen operating patent tong rigs must consider removing to other parts of the bay to find work. When this is done the men may be away from their families for many weeks. During this period they spend most of their time on their boats, working their tonging rigs and sleeping in the heated cabins of their twenty-five to forty feet long work boats.

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148 Much discussion precedes a decision to move to another oyster harvest area. Usually a number of patent tongers will collaborate and coordinate their movements, thus forming a small flotilla of work boats. If possible, a larger boat owned by an oyster buyer will accompany them. The oystermen agree to sell their catches only to the buy boat captain. Each afternoon after a day of oystering, the men will transfer the day's catch onto the buy boat and be paid by the buyer. The buy boat captain is usually a watermen from home who no longer harvests oysters but instead has taken up the business of dealing in seafood. All deals and arrangements are made on the basis of verbal agreements and handshakes, and with few exceptions all transactions are made in cash. In October 1983 the oyster catch in the home waters of Somerset County promised to be even worse than the previous season's low yield. For the first time in nearly ten years, Somerset County watermen were hard hit. Some of the more enterprising patent tong captains from Smith Island and Crisfield formed an informal flotilla and moved their boats northward up the bay in search of a better oyster harvest. The size of the group fluctuated from time to time between eight and twelve as boats of a few captains came and went from the informing cluster. But, for most of the time there was a core of six Smith Islanders who remained. From late October until just before Christmas the group operated out of the Annapolis harbor.

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149 Early each morning the men would rise, having slept on the boats, and head out to the oyster bars in nearby areas of the bay. They might motor for as much as an hour before arriving at their chosen oystering ground for that day. Toward mid afternoon, the big buy boat would leave its berth in front of the Annapolis Hilton Hotel and station itself in the midst of the harbor ready to take on the day's catch from the oyster work boats. Then singly and in knots of two or three, the Somerset oysterboats began to return-Becky Lyn, Miss Viv, Miss Angie, Little Doll, Miss Frances, Allison and Jennifer E. One at a time they came parallel alongside the buy boat and loaded their catch into a large bucket lowered at the end of a cable from a boom swung out from the buy boat. After mooring their boats, stowing their gear and securing the locks on their cabin doors, the watermen would usually have dinner together in a restaurant. Sometimes the buy boat captain and one of the watermen, who had had their automobiles driven to Annapolis, would take the men to eat at the Ponderosa or the Rustler's Steak House on the edge of town. Usually, every week or two on Friday or Saturday, the men would secure their boats and drive home for a day or two of rest and catching up with their families. Just before Christmas the group dispersed and the watermen all took their boats south down the bay and back to Smith Island and Crisfield. Then, in early January following the holidays until early March, the men harvested oysters in the waters nearer to their homes when the weather would allow.

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150 Fishing Cooperatives The development of more formally organized fishing cooperatives that go beyond such informal arrangements as we have just discussed has not been a regular feature of waterman social organization. However, from time to time in the past there have been cooperatives developed in the Somerset region, and Orbach (1980:48-55) has documented their periodic existence in other areas of the Chesapeake as well. In its eighth annual report, the Maryland Board of Natural Resources noted, the extraordinary increase of 65% in Somerset County of leased oyster acreage was occasioned by the lease of approximately 1500 acres by the association of Smith Island residents establishing a community cooperative oyster growing project. These leaseholds were located in the waters of Tangier Sound, Kedges Straits, and the Bay Proper, all areas being adjacent to Smith Island. (Maryland Board of Natural Resources 1951:25) The report goes on to indicate that while only about 4% of the state's natural oyster bars were privately leased, it was estimated that about 20% of the State oyster harvest is accounted for by the leased acres. Why such cooperatives break up once having been formed? During fieldwork I had several conversations with Smith Island watermen who recalled the abovementioned oyster cooperative. They indicated that much of the success of the cooperative was based on illegal power boat dredging. The inefficiency or infrequency of marine police patrols through the area allowed this practice to continue without much chance of detection and regulation. 1 The Smith Island watermen claim that the oyster cooperative disbanded because of d a m a ge done to the oyster beds by the advent of disease, probably a virus and a fungus, which caused 2 high mortality among the oysters. Ultim a tely, they assert the local

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151 beds were ruined by Hazel, a bad storm which hit the area in 1973 with devasting effects. Notably absent from their explanation is the possibility that the beds might also have been in decline due to the admitted extensive overharvesting which was being undertaken and was apparently at least part of the reason of the cooperative's success in marketing rather large amounts of oysters during its existence. Watermen's Associations The following announcement, or one similar to it, appeared regularly in the local Crisfield paper during the period of fieldwork in Somerset County, COUNTY WATERMEN ASSOCIATION MEETING. The Somerset County Watermen's Association will meet on Tuesday, November 3 at 7 p .m. at the J. Millard Tawes School in Westover. Members are urged to attend. (Crisfield Times October 28, 1981) The Somerset County Watermen's Association is one of two local county organizations of the Maryland Watermen's Association in Somerset County. The presidents of the local associations act as delegates to the state organization headquartered in Annapolis, the state capital. The state organization meets as a group once a year usually in January or February. It's president is a working waterman who has a small staff officed in Annapolis. Its major functions are (1) to provide its members with information concerning proposd state legislation which would affect the livelihood of the membership, (2) to organize lobbying actions to oppose such bills (3) to propose legislative changes desired by watermen and organize lobbying support for them and (4) to provide information concerning a variety of topics of interest to watermen, such as new boat designs, boat maintenance, gears and fishing

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152 techniques, taxes, boat insurance, seafood marketing, and catch information on various species. Until the formation of the Somerset County Watermen's Association about 1976, the only local association was the Tangier Sound Watermen's Association. The Tangier Sound Watermen's Association arose following the demise of the Smith Island oyster cooperative which existed in the 1950' s and 1960' s. Crisfield watermen and others from the mainland joined it over the years but it remained primarily controlled by the Smith Islanders. All of the association presidents and vice-presidents since at least 1960 have been Smith Islanders. Until the late 1970' s, the Tangier Sound Watermen's Association included many watermen from Crisfield and other areas in the county as well as Smith Island. However during the 1980-83 period I questioned twenty-one watermen about their association memberships. Their responses suggest that association membership has been realigning since the formation of the newer Somerset Watermen's Association. Seven fishermen reported having no memberships; four Smith Islanders were members of the Tangier Sound association; and three Crisfielders, four Deal Islanders, two Mt. Vernon men and one Rumbley fisherman were members of the Somerset County association. With the organization of the Somerset County Watermen's Association, the Tangier Sound association is becoming, nearly exclusively, an association of Smith Islanders once The Maryland Watermen's Association recognizes both the Somerset County Watermen's Association and the Tangier Sound Watermen's Association and accepts delegates from each of the two.

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153 Reports from the watermen were that neither association's meetings were well attended. The watermen seem to view the associations as good things to keep going in the event that they need to speak out against a problem to the state legislature, to the fisheries offices of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, or to any other group they wish to engage on an important fisheries issue. The watermen share an understanding that they need a mechanism through which their voice can be heard. They have a sufficiently well developed spirit of cooperativeness in this regard that they are usually able to keep such associations alive, if only barely, even in times when there are no pressing issues for them to address, or to organize them if they are needed. There are great similarities of occupation, life style and social organization among watermen. These have resulted in common attitudes and views upon which cooperativeness and the organization of associations have been based. Let us now consider some of the common views and opinions found among watermen, especially the attitudes and opinions they have concerning the occupation of fishing. Watermen's Views and Opinions Watermen are conservative in political outlook and family and community issues. They are part of a rurally oriented working class with a tradition of self-reliance and economic independence. They prefer work for themselves rather than be employed by others if at all possible. Since they are usually self-employed, they tend to be more

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154 self-motivated and entrepreneurial in outlook than is usual for working class individuals who are employees. Much romanticism surrounds the public's views of the bay watermen and their work. To some degree this is perpetuated and supported by the media which frequently present the public with stories about t h e watermen and by the tourism industry throughout the tidewater regions. Urban dwellers seem fascinated by the image of the waterman who lives for himself and goes to work in a boat on the beautiful waters of the bay. In their minds they contrast the romantic image of the life on the water with their own experiences of lives constrained by jobs in government or business bureaucracies which require daily commuting to work in what they see as sterile office environments. The watermen's own views of their work are considerable less romantic, however. Importance of Luck One thread comprising the common view of the watermen held both by the public and by some of those who have written about them is that they are superstitious men who are significantly guided in their behavior by taboos concerning their boats and by beliefs about persons with bad luck. Carey (1971), Tawes (1967), and Byron (1957) have commented on the concepts of luck and the behavioral avoidances which fishermen follow to avoid misfortune. In the course of field work I heard fishermen joke about other fishermen who are superstitious about women on boats, the color blue and the breaking of a mirror on boats. The implication always seems to be that the person retailing the story does not believe in the power of such superstitions. There is more credence given, however, to the idea that a person may be jinxed or

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155 plagued with bad luck and that this bad luck can affect fishing success. Clearly the idea of a "Jonah", a person who brings bad luck, even misfortune, to fishermen is a commonly understood concept. However, it is difficult to assess whether such ideas really affect the thinking and behavior of Somerset watermen today. My own feeling is that these ideas, while they may have had stronger impact in the past, do not hold the men in thrall today. Probably for most of the watermen I spoke with and observed such beliefs affect their behavior no more than the belief about spilt salt needing to be thrown over one's shoulder in order to avert bad luck affects the majority of other people in the United States. I asked a small sample of watermen (see table 6-10) to respond to the statement, ''Making a good living as a commercial fisherman requires luck." They were unanimous in their disagreement; 49.9% disagreed and 57 .1% strongly disagreed with the statement. The most common explanation centered around the need to have knowedge and skill and perseverence. The idea of needing luck or counting on luck seemed laughable to most of them. It seems probable that the statement was not interpreted by them to refer to any sacred semantic domain including the ideas of the "Jonah" or various superstitions, but instead to the profane and pragmatic aspects of fishing. Importance of Knowledge and Skill "Anyone can succeed in commercial fishing since it does not require much skill or knowledge," was the next statement to which the men were asked to respond (see table 6-10). None of the men strongly agreed, agreed or said they didn't know, while 61. 9% disagreed and

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Table 6-10 Opinions of Somerset County Watermen Concerning Work in the Commercial Fisheries Statements Strongly Don't DisStrongly for Response Agree Agree Know agree Disagree "Making a good 0 0 0 9 12 living as a (0%) (0%) (0%) (42.9%) (57.1%) commercial fisherman requires luck." "Anyone can succeed 0 0 0 13 8 in commercial fishing (0%) (0%) (0%) (61.9%) (38.1%) since it does not require much skill or knowledge." "Fishing is challeng10 9 2 0 0 ing work which often (47.6%) (42.9%) (9.5%) (0%) (0%) requires good judgement and making important decisions." "Commercial fishing 8 5 0 8 0 is satisfying work (38.1%) (23.8%) (0%) (38.1%) (0%) which I want to continue." "Commercial Fishing 2 14 3 2 0 is dangerous and (9.5%) (66.7%) (14. 3%) (9.5%) (0%) sometimes lifethreatening." Source: Field work interviews. Note: Sample consists of 21 licensed commercial fishermen. 156

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157 38. 1% strongly disagreed with the statement. Many of their comments were reminiscent of responses made to the first statement concerning luck. They have a strongly held view that while a few men may have natural talent for the occupation that everyone who "goes on the water," even the talented ones, must learn the requisite skills and gain knowledge through first-hand experience. They don't think men who weren't raised around boats and fishing will be very likely to succeed. They cite instances of men who have quit their jobs, bought a boat, and gone on the water. Most, they say, have given up after a short time. Judgement and Making Decisions The men were asked whether they agreed or disagreed with the statement, "Fishing is challenging work which often requires good judgement and the making of important decisions." None of them disagreed, 9. 5% didn't know, 42. 9. % agreed and 4 7. 6% strongly agreed with the statement. They indicated that no one told them when to get up, where to go, which fishery to exploit, what gear to fish it with, how to maintain thier boats, when to change to another fishery, or to whom they should sell their catch. They were were clear in pointing out how important the quality of the many judgements they regularly made were in their overall success. They also stressed the quality of perseverence, especially in a man's early years on the water. They respect and will offer friendly suggestions to a man who gets up early everyday, goes out regularly and keeps trying even in the face of poor catches.

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158 Work Satisfaction Anyone who makes a point of routinely asking people whether the y like the job or not will soon begin to feel that there is practically no one in the area who i s s ati sfied with their work. However, when I asked the watermen if they agreed or disagreed with the statement, "Commercial fishing is satisfying work which I want to continue," I was surprised with their responses. While 38.1% indicated disagreement with the statement, 23.8% agreed and 38.1% strongly agreed with it. Satisfactions centered around the physical demands of the work and the uncertainty of one's income from season to season. Several of the men pointed out that commercial fishing was a difficult way to get a livelihood. Though they were used to and resigned to it, they hoped their children would have more options than they had in choosing their life's work. Though most agreed that the work was hard, they asserted that they liked it and wanted to continue pursuing it. They admitted to feeling occasionally they wanted to do some other type of work, but that i t was usually during the hardest part of the oyster season or when crabbing was slow and money was scarce. Many thought they would pursue fishing in one form or another and in varying degrees of intensity as they grew older. When asked about retirement, the men often chuckled. One man seeme d t o sum up the general sentiment in his comment, "If you're a waterman, ya retire when ya die."

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159 Danger and Threat to Life Responses of the watermen to the last question on the survey, like those to the foregoing question, were more varied than the responses to the earlier three. The men were asked whether they agreed or disagreed with the statement, "Commercial fishing is dangerous and sometimes life-threatening." Sixty-six and seven tenths percent of the men agreed, 9.5% strongly agreed, 14.3% didn't know, and 9.5% disagreed. Watermen are acutely conscious of the weather, know the waters they work in, and take very few chances. They are, however, susceptible to accidents, especially the elderly fishermen who continue to go on the water, of ten alone, in their seventies and eighties. Their will to work and their independence sometimes place them at risk. For example, they may become overtired from working a good oyster source not found until late in the day, suffer a dizzy spell or merely have a lapse in concentration. Any of these may result in a fall overboard and drowning. One seventy-five year old Deal Island waterman who routinely went shaft tonging for oysters failed to come in on time. A returning patent tonger found the oldster's eighteen foot skiff floating empty near the mouth of a creek. The police were notified and word was passed to other watermen. They found the man's body after searching for several hours. He had apparently had a heart attack, fallen overboard and drowned. During a visit to Smith Island I was told of a watermen who slipped from the pier into the boat channel. He couldn't swim and his foul weather clothing quickly filled with water and dragged him down.

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160 Fortunately, he was saved by another waterman who repeatedly dived into the cold water until at last he brought the man up. Neglect of proper boat and gear maintenance may also be a source of danger. Stories are told about bottoms of boats becoming so rotten through lack of proper maintenance that they leak constantly or break up when run aground by accident. Among watermen there is recognition of the inherent danger of drowning, injury from gear, hypothermia, boat sinkings and the like. Most of them do not think much about it. If they believe the procedures and behaviors they have adopted are wise and safe, then they do not dwell on all the possible things that might happen to them. It is much the same attitude as held by an experienced automobile driver who has developed good driving habits. He knows any number of things beyond his control could happen to him while on the road but chooses not to dwell on the possibility. If he does, it may affect his driving or he may loose his nerve and begin to avoid driving altogether. It serves no useful purpose to worry about the danger, so he does not. Watermen take the same attitude about the dangers inherent in the commercial fishing work they perform. Though watermen will admit to the dangers and their realities, they do not usually think a lot about them. Commercial fishermen will not ignore, however, the dangers offered by a freezing and rough-watered winter day during oyster season. They know their boats and their own abilities, and they respect the realities of the watery environment on which they work.

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1 6 1 Notes 1. Today the marine police patrol by boat and also by aircraft. They identify boats by large registration numbers which boats must display. 2. The marine enemies o f the oyster are the oyster drill, a small snail that bores through the shells of younger oysters; a virus and a fungus, Dermocystidium marinum, both found in the lower Bay; and a water plant, Myriophyllum spicatum (Lang 1961:48-49; Owen 1980:482-483).

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CHAPTER VII HEALTH AND HEALTH CAR E This chapter discussess the occupationally related health problems of Somerset County's commercial fishermen. Since these problems are better understood in their social context, there is also an examination of the past and present health care system in the county and among Smith Islanders. The questions which are investigated concern: (1) the history of the delivery of medical care in the area, (2) the nature of the present health care system, (3) the health problems of the county and region in general, and (4) the occupational health problems of the commercial fishermen. Health Care The County: An Overview During the boom town days of the Crisfield oyster "rush" in the 1870's and 1880's several doctors established practices in that burgeoning town and surrounding areas. Their growth in numbers and the development of their general practices by the turn of the century is clear from a notice published in the Crisfield Times, PHYSICIANS CHARGES--Inasmuch as the cost of everything has increased greatly during recent years, we the undersigned physicians of Crisfield have mutually agreed upon the following schedule of charges for visits. All house calls in Crisfield will be $1.00. House calls will be $1.50 in areas beyond the town limits including Calvary, Byrdtown, Lawsonia, Bedsworth, Cash Corner, Thomas Long's Store, St. Peters Church, Jacksonville and neighborhood. In all of that territory from Cash Corner to Parsonville, 162

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St. Paul's Church, Dr. Berry's residence and Thomas Long's store, the charge for house calls will be $2.00. All calls at night after 10 :00 p.m. w i ll be double the price of the day call. Min imu m charge for obstetrical work, $10.00. G. T. Si mo n s on, J. F. Somers, William H. Coulbourn, C. E. Collins, C. C. Ward, G o r don T. Atkinson, William F. Hall. (Crisfield Times Feb. 20, 190 9) 163 Routinization of fees for di f ferent geographical zones and times of the day bespeaks a progressing level of cooperation among the local physicians of the time. In addition, the mention of obstetrical service is interesting since it is from this time onward that the traditional reliance on midwives begins to decline, though as we will see in the discussion of Smith Island below lay midwifery lasted much later in some parts of Somerset. In the case of seriously ill or injured persons whose conditions did not improve following the administration of home/lay treatment, or the ministrations of a doctor when one was available, a decision might be made to send the patient by sailing vessel or packet steamer to Baltimore where better car e was thought to be available. Of course, many seriously ill persons who were sent when their disease or injury was well advanced would d ie before arriva l or soon thereafter. A case reported in the Crisfield Times illustrates just such situations, SMITH ISLAND--With sadness we announce the death of Joseph Johnson last Sunday. He was taken very ill two weeks ago with appendicitis and was carried to Baltimore Hospital and was operated on and it proved fatal. He was 38 y.ears old and was born on the Western Shore, Virginia, and came here when a young man and has been here ever since. He leaves a wife and one son. (Crisfield Times May 22, 1909).

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164 This practice continued in the more isolated areas of t h e county e v en after the advent of a number of doctors practicing i n the county and the establishment of a small hospital in Crisfield. During the last decade of the nineteenth centur y there w e re several unsuccessful attempts to found a hospital in Somerset Coun ty Finally a hospital, the first in the county, was organized and built in 1908 at Marion (Wilson 1973:56). At the time Marion was an important rail sh i pping depot for strawberries and other truck farm crops. About the same time the Marion hospital opened attempts were also under wa y to start a hospital in Crisfield. It was originally known as the Cris ield General and Marine Hospital and was in operation by 1910 (Wilson 1973:59). Just prior to World War I the Marion hospital closed and the staff merged with the hospital at Crisfield. Monies for a new hospital building at Crisfield were donated in the early 1920's by the McCready family and the new structure replaced the old building in which the hospital had been housed, The new hospital, named after the McCready family, opened in 1923. It has continued to serve the lower Somerset population since that time, The advent of penicillin and, later, other antibiotic drugs enabled many infectious diseases to be more effectively treated by the local county doctors and reduced the death rate as well as the need to send such cases away to Baltimore. The use of home remedies declined but did not entirely disappear. Home remedies and self-medications known to be used are listed in table 7-1. Even though home remedies and self-medication continue to be employed to some extent, primary and secondary care have become the routine province of nurse-midwives,

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Table 7-1 Home Remedies and Self-Medications Employed in Somerset County Home Remedy/Self-Medication 1. "Packing" bed sheets and clothes with raw or boiled onions. 2. Putting "Sweet Oil" (an over the-counter product--0.T.C.) in the ear canal. 3. "Bag Balm" (O.T.C. product used on cows' udders) 4. Asafoetida hung round the neck by a string. 5. "Adolphe's Meat Tenderizer" (O.T.C. grocery item containing an enzyme which apparently is the active ingredient). 6. Epsom Salts and water for soaking. 7. Heat mussel juice and pour into ear (uncommon). 8. Mixture of 1 or 2 drops of kerosene and sugar drunk from a spoon. 9. Apply piece of porkside fat meat to "draw out" the wound. 10. Apply a scraped piece of raw white potato to "draw out" the sickness. 11. "Pontocaine"--easily obtained prescription drop or salve. Used to Treat 1. Fevers. 2. Ear aches. 3. Used especially in oyster season when hands chafe, crack peel from being wet & enclosed in rubber or neoprene work gloves. 4. To prevent colds and flu (rarely employed). S. To treat "sea nettle" (jelly fish inhabiting bay & ocean waters) tentacle stings. 6. Infected fingers, hands, feet, toes, etc. 7. Ear aches. 8. "Croop"--respiratory cough and complaint. 9. Bruises, black eyes, and small punctures. 10. Styes on the eye. 11. "Sea nettle" stings to the eye widely used by watermen. Source: Interviews of watermen and health care deliverers in Somerset County, Maryland. 165

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166 private practice physicians, clinics and hospitals. In addition long term care in geriatric and convalescent homes is also available. These types of care have become firmly entrenched in the county in recent decades. In the 1978-80 period McCready Hospital underwent a building program which expanded its number of beds and reactivated its microbiology laboratory. Since 1983, due to the growing statewide surplus of hospital beds, the hospital has been under scrutiny by the state hospital regulating agency as have other institutions in the state. In a report made in July 1985, it was suggested that McCready either cut back its number of beds or close its doors entirely. It further asserted that the vast majority of county residents are able to use the services of Peninsula General, a full service institution in nearby Wicomico County. At the present time, the future of the hospital in Crisfield is uncertain. Two factors are in its favor, though. The first is the strong support the hospital has from the local southern county residents and the second is the fact that the county has been designated as medically underserved. However, the large full, service Peninsula General Hospital located in the city of Salisbury just north of Somerset County is the facility in the region to which more and more patients from Somerset and other neighboring eastern shore areas are drawn for their hospital inpatient and outpatient health care needs. In 1978 Somerset County was declared a medically underserved are by the federal government and funding was made available for an outpatient clinic and dental facility to be established. These were opened in Princess Anne, the county seat, under the aegis of the

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167 Somerset County Organization on Poverty and Education (S.C.O.P.E.) with the aid of federal money. The grant provides for staff, space and supplies, and the clinic is manned by two doctors paid by the National Health Service Corps. One is an internist and the other a family practitioner. Even though Princess Anne is only sixteen miles f ram Crisfield, many south county residents prefer to use the hospital and the doctors in Crisfield. However, most of residents of the areas at the ends of the necks which extend from the mainland toward the bay, such as Fairmount, Rumbley, Frenchtown, Monie, Tangier, Deal Island, Dames Quarter, Mount Vernon, Oriole and Champ, find travelling to Princess Anne closer and more convenient than driving almost twice as far to get to Crisfield. The Somerset County Health Department operates the Robert H. Johnson (R.H. J.) Health Center located on Route 413 just south of Princess Anne. The R. H. J. Heal th Center is operated by the county health officer and is essentially a preventive care maintains an out reach program in environmental sanitation and insect control), a well baby clinic, facility. It health (i.e., gynecological examinations, and offers substance abuse, nutritional and geriatric counseling to county residents. The number of R. H. J. Heal th Center's personnel varies but is usually near thirty. In 1980 there were eight nurses, one chief nurse and one nurse's aid. There were four sanitarians, one social worker, and one assistant social worker. The office staff included one administrative assistant, two clerks and three aids. There was also one drug counselor, one alcohol counselor, one geriatric counselor and

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168 a one half-time nutritionist who was shared with McCready Hospital and the Tawes Nursing Home in Crisfield. The Al ice B Tawes Nursing Home wa s constructed in Crisfield in 1967-69 adja c en t to McCread y Hospital in Crisfield. It is a sixty-two bed nursing home intended to serve the needs of the entire county's elderly population. The elderly mem b ers of the county are also served by the geriatric counselor at the County Health Department Clinic, and several centers for Maintenance of the Aged in the Community (M.A.C.). M.A.C. centers have been established in Ewell (Smith Island), Deal Island, Princess Anne and Crisfield. The male-female sex ratio of those elders who make use of the M.A.C. centers' facilities is 1:3. Activities at th e centers include arts and crafts, talks, slide shows, exercise sessions, games, and religious counseling. Most seem to attend for the fellowship as many live alone and are lonely. The centers also provide a "meals on wheels" program for a low price which brings nutritionally balanced meals to the homes of those elders who subscribe to the program. Meals are also provided at the centers and some of the abovementioned activities are offered from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on weekdays and occasionally on week ends as well. Other services in the county are provided at the offices of primary care private ph y sicians and a t the McCready Memorial Hospital emergency ward, w h ich many south county residents use as a primary care facility. There are eleven primary health care personnel who practice in the county, i.e., one nurse/midwife (Smith Island), two dentists (Princess Anne and Crisfield), one family pract i ce doctor (Princess Anne), one internist (Princess Anne), three general pract i tioners (Crisfield) and two surgeons (Crisfield).

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169 In addition to these full-time health care specialists, the R. H. J. Center staff and the nursing and support staff at McCready hospital, there are a number of others who come for several days per week or on weekends to provide more specialized services at McCready. They include a radiologist from Salisbury, a pathologist from Baltimore, an eye-ear-nose-and-throat specialist two days a week from Virginia, and a shock-trauma specialist surgeon from Baltimore on weekends. There is also a dentist from the Western Shore who comes to Smith Island one or two days every few weeks to service the islanders' dental needs. Finally, a few Somerset residents live on the southern border of the county near Pocomoke City which is just over the border in Worcester County. They use the services of the two doctors (a podiatrist and a general practitioner) in Pocomoke City. Smith Island: Health Care in a Fishing Community Winding north from the Smith Island village of Rhodes Point, and turning east toward Ewell flows a narrow ribbon of water known to the islanders as "doctor's gut." A gut, or sometimes it is pronounced "cut", in Eastern Shore usage, is a stream or creek running through a low marshy area. "Doctor's gut" takes its name because the house where a number of doctors have resided used to be located across it. "Doctor house" no longer stands, nor, for that matter, do any of the houses that used to be found dispersed about the northern end of Smith Island in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The bay's gradually rising water level caused more and more guts to crisscross the lowest areas of land turning them to uninhabitable marsh.

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170 The history of health care on the island in the last century and early years of the present century was one largely of home remedy and local midwifery. Four local women are remembered as "able to deliver babies and do a few other things like stitch cuts and treat various illnesses." They practiced their craft durin g the period 1910 to the early 19SO's. While this tradition of lay midwifery persisted into the middle twentieth century, the care of doctors and trained nurses became increasingly more common. Three resident doctors are recalled by the older informants on the island. These doctors lived on the island in the house over "d o c tor's gut" across which a small bridge allowed access by foot the the villages of Rhodes Point and Ewell. One of the doctors was remembered as something of a drinker. He lived on the island in the 1930's and 1940' s practicing his trade. He is buried on the island. A second doctor lived in the doctor's house with his wife and two daughters. One day, according to an eighty year old retired Ewell man, the doctor's wife poisoned herself and the two children. The doctor was able to save the children. My informant vividly recalls helping out by walking the children in order to keep them from going to sleep until they were out of danger. The doctor gave his wife a tracheotomy, but was unable to save her. The third doctor was a woman who is fondly remembered. After she left it became difficult to obtain a resident doctor. Since the mid 19SO's the islanders have usually hired a resident nurse or nurse-midwife. The island women use McCready Memorial Hospital for childbirth having entirely given up birthing at home. Even when the island is

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171 frozen in and boats can't move expectant mothers a helicopter can be called to bring them to the hospital. A helicopter is occasionall y used to transport critically injured or acutely ill persons to hospitals in Crisfield, Salisbury or Baltimore in all kinds of weather conditions. It transported, for example, a y oung man from the island who had been severely injured in a boating accident in November 1983. He was flown to the shock-trauma unit in Baltimore where he was treated but later died. Many of the islanders have family doctors in Crisfield but routinely visit the island nurse. They see her concerning minor problems or for consul tat ion before using their family doctor which requires a trip by boat from the island to Crisfield and then the arrangement of a ride to and from the doctor's office from the boat dock. The nurse routinely performs well baby checks and monitors the blood pressure of many of the islanders who are hypertensive. Gynecological examinations and more serious injuries will be referred directly to the doctor, though first aid may be given as required by the nurse in the interim. The nurse often consults by phone with an islander's doctor who may, on the basis of the nurse's diagnosis, suggest treatment and call in a prescription. The pharmacist in Crisfield sends the prescription on the next boat to the island and charges it to the islander's account. The nurses are interviewed, hired and administered by the eight-member Smith Island Medical Board. The board is made up of one member from Tylerton, two from Rhodes Point, three from Ewell, and the current resident Methodist minister. It monitors the nurse's work and

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172 collects the funds from the islanders to maintain the house in Ewell which is a combination clinic and residence for the nurse. An Australian woman, born 1943, was the island nurse from 1972 until 1979. When I interviewed her she was preparing to leave the island and was look i ng forward to being replaced. Her training was as a nurse-midwife and she had worked as an operating room nurse for a year in Vietnam. She indicated that she worked closely with three doctors in Crisfield, but that one doctor in particular had been extremely supportive. This doctor had backed her diagnoses and called in pharmacy prescriptions at her request and had them sent out to the island by boat. She also had a citizen's band radio and a short wave radio rig at the clinic and was able to call in a helicopter evacuation in case of a medical emergency. She had also organized the teaching of cardiopulmonary resuscitation classes for the islanders. The next island nurse, born in 1935, began working on the island in July 1979. She is a registered nurse and received $80 per week in salary plus a house with a small clinic in the basement to live in. All of her house utility expenses were paid by the medical board. She made regular visits to the other two communities on the island during the week and charged two dollars for a house call. She had tried to organize an ALANON program on the island to begin to deal with the problems of excessive drinking. She was bemoaning the failure of her effort when I interviewed her. Many islanders agree some of the men are alcoholics but say the problem is "tolerated" rather than dealt with in a straightforward manner.

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173 According to the present nurse, most of the islanders have no health insurance. However, a health maintenance organization (H.M.O.) is in the process of being brought into the south county area. The advent of an H.M.O. to the area would make health insurance coverage substantially less expensive than the usual Blue Cross/Blue Shield and similar heal th policies now locally available. The nurse felt many islanders would join an H.M.O. if the price was low enough. Health Problems The Health Planning Council of the Eastern Shore, Incorporated (H.P.C.E.S.), located in Cambridge, Maryland, is the organization charged with monitoring health and health care information concerning the nine county Eastern Shore region which includes Somerset County. H.P .C.E.S. maintains an annually updated plan which includes vital statistical and health care information on the population of the Eastern Shore region. Using the statewide health plan and the data for the Eastern Shore region, the H.P.C.E.S. revises and updates the nine county plan annually. However, owing to the nature of the data employed, these annually updated regional plans provide no data concerning commercial occupationally fishermen or related injury other types of and illness for work. Likewise, either state publications on vital statistics were not helpful in discovering information about the health problems related to commercial fishermen as fishermen are not a separate category in the listings and could not be disaggregated from the rather broad categories employed (Division of Labor and Industry of Maryland 1977a and 1977b; Maryland Department of Licensing and Regulation of the Di vision of Labor and Industry 1975).

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174 Thus, while the H.P.C.E.S. plans for 1978 through 1983 have been employed to provide the background health and health care information about Somerset County a n d the Eastern Shore region, the data about the health and health care of commercial fishermen have come primarily from interviews of Somerset County health care personnel and watermen carried out during field work. State, Region and County The most significant health problems of the region and those which have been given priority status for attention by the H.P.C.E.S. are (a) heart disease, (b) hypertension and (c) infant mortality (H.P.C.E.S. 1978). Subsequent to having targeted these three health problems, (d) mental illness was added as a fourth priority health concern the following year (H.P.C.E.S. 1979). Heart disease. Diseases of the circulatory system account for 50.59% of all deaths in the state of Maryland, 54.29% of all the deaths in the nine counties of the Eastern Shore, and 55% of deaths in Somerset County (see table 7-2). In all three geographical regions about 70% of these circulatory system disease deaths are due to heart disease, primarily ischem.ic heart disease (I.H.D.) due to reduced efficiency of the coronary artery blood flow to the heart (H.P.C.E.S. 1978: HD-16). The major risk factors correlated with I.H.D. are cigarette smoking, raised serum cholesterol level and hypertension. Hypertension. High blood pressure (H.B.P.), hypertension, is the second of the health problems targeted for the Eastern Shore region. From the standpoint of death rate, illness, reduced activity and

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Table 7-2 Diseases of the Circulatory System 1974 Number Death Rate Percent of Area of Deaths per 1,000 All Deaths Maryland 16,670 4.08 50.59 Eastern Shore 1,567 5.83 54.27 Somerset County 132 6.87 55.00 Source: Hea l th P la n ning Council of the Eastern Shore (1978: HD-14). Note: The Eastern Shore of Maryland contains nine counties including Somerset. 175

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176 incidence within the population, it is a significant public health problem. It is impossible, of course, to disentangle the hypertension and heart disease issues to any great extent since they are usually so closely intertwined and both are diseases of the circulatory system. The extent of the contribution of hypertension to illness and death in the region and county is evident from the estimated rates of hypertension for these areas (see table 7-3). Finally, of the 1,930 persons on the Eastern Shore who suffer from some degree of limitation of their activity because of H.B.P., 160 (8.3%) reside in Somerset County (H.P.C.E.S. 1978: HY-20). About two thirds (110) of the Somerset population with restricted activity from H.B.P. are women and about one third (SO) are men. Infant mortality. Thirdly, dramatic reductions in infant (birth to one year) mortality rates in the state have been evident over the recent decades having fallen from 49.2 per 1,000 live births in 1940 to 17.6 in 1975. The great discrepancy between white and nonwhite infant mortality rates observable in 1940 had narrowed appreciably by 1975. Nonetheless, the life expectancy for nonwhite infants throughout the state remained somewhat higher than for white infants. In the Eastern Shore region the discrepancy between nonwhite and white infant mortality rates also narrowed but did so rather later occurring rapidly during the early 1970's (see table 7-4). By the mid 1970 ' s Somerset County I s total infant mortality rate (I.M.R.) had become intermediate between that of the Eastern Shore region and the State. Furthermore, while a discrepancy between white and nonwhite I.M.R. continued to exist, it was much reduced and the

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Table 7-3 Estimated Number of Hypertensives 1975 (Systolic > 160 or Diastolic> 95) Population Estimated Number Area Over 17 of Hypertensives Maryland State 2,828,760 508,889 Eastern Shore 191,960 34,489 Somerset County 13,800 2,781 Source: Health Planning Council of the Eastern Shore (1978: HY-16). 177

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Area Maryland Total White Non-White Eastern Shore Total White Non-White Table 7-4 Infant Mortality Rates 1940 49.2 41. 7 76.6 1960 27.4 22.3 44.9 1970 19.1 16.0 28.9 25.4 16.8 46.2 1975 17.6 15.6 22.5 18.9 18.0 21.3 Source: Health Planning Council of the Eastern Shore (1978: IM-19). Note: Infant refers to the ages from birth to one year of age. Mortality rates are deaths per 1,000 live births. 178

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179 difference less than for the Eastern Shore and the State ( see table 7-5). The development of an aggressive "well baby" and obstetrics-gynecology program run through the county health clinic and the opening of the new clinic in Princess Anne staffed with Public Health Service doctors have both contributed to the continued reduction of the I.M.R. for both white and nonwhite segments of the population. Mental illness. Originally this health issue was not included as a targeted heal th problem in the Eastern Shore heal th systems plan (H.P.C.E.S. 1978). Comments from citizens who attended the various county level planning meetings made clear, however, that it was a health issue of concern in the region. State-operated mental hospital and psychiatric facilities utilization statistics reveals that for the entire state there was a decline in the inpatient resident population from 3.04 per 1,000 population in 1950 to 0.99 per 1,000 in 1977 (H.P.C.E.S. 1979: III-D 7). However, inpatient admissions rates for the Eastern Shore 9 county region (3.84) continued to be higher than the rate for the state as a whole ( 2. 84), i.e. a bout 35% higher in 1976. The Somerset County inpatient admissions rate of 3.80 was well above that for the state as well (see table 7-6). Somerset County Health: Views of the Health Care Personnel A Somerset County primary care physician told me that in his opinion the significant health issues in the county were caused by the "personal habits and life style of the people such as smoking and drinking" and that "depression was an important and underreported

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Table 7-5 1971-1975 Infant Mortality Composite Rates Area Maryland Eastern Shore Somerset County White 14.17 16.24 15.60 Rates Non-White 23.29 26.75 22.15 Total 16.85 19.02 18.58 Source: Maryland Center for Health Statistics (1977). Note: Birth to one year; deaths per 1,000 live births.

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Table 7-6 Admissions to Maryland State Inpatient Facilities for Fiscal Year 1976 County Caroline Cecil Dorchester Kent Queen Anne's Somerset Talbot Wicomico Worcester Total for Eastern Shore Total for Maryland Rate Per 1,000 Population 4.50 1.60 6.80 3.40 3.90 3.80 3.50 4.20 4.40 3.84 2.84 Source: Health Planning Council of the Eastern Shore (1979: III-D 8). 181

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182 problem." He indicated that he sees many people with "allergies and upper respiratory problems owing to a high incidence of 'mold bloom'." 1 He added, "Somerset County residents have a higher than average allergic reaction to penicillin which is probably related to the high incidences of pollens and 'mold blooms' in the area." His impression was that "many county people are nearsighted and have not been checked for eye glasses." He also observed that many were "nearsighted" in the way they chose their marriage partners and this tended to increase the frequency of certain heritable diseases such as diabetes, coronary artery disease and osteogenesis imperfecta. With regard to the condition of their teeth, the doctor indicated his "patients have better teeth than they ought to considering they never or rarely see a dentist." He attributes it to the high fluorine content of the local water. To ensure better representativeness and more accuracy about the health problems than that of the views of only one doctor, I interviewed a number of different kinds of personnel in the county health care system. Among them were primary care and family practice doctors, a pharmacist, hospital emergency room personnel, hospital and visiting nurses, members of the county health planning committee, and the county medical officer. Nearly all of them cited two of the most common health problems for the Eastern Shore--as indicated by the H.P.C.E.S.--, i.e., heart disease and hypertension. Most also indicated that depression was a problem in the county. Only the county health officer and one of the hospital nurses mentioned infant mortality as a county problem. This is probably owing to the county heal th department's greater involvement in monitoring and addressing

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183 health problems on a county-wide basis. A compilation of all of the health problems mentioned by the health care personnel whom I interviewed can be seen in table 7-7. Cystic kidney disease, osteogenesis imperfecta, diabetes, and Tangiers disease, though by no means felt to be as frequent or widespread as the other illnesses mentioned by the interviewees, were believed to be in higher than usual evidence in the county population. The health care personnel suggested these were heritable problems which tended to manifest themselves more of ten than usual in the county. They cited a long-standing tradition of inmarriage within local communities and within the county generally, especially in many of the more isolated communities such as Smith Island, as the most probable cause. Health Problems of Somerset Watermen Views of health care personnel. The health care personnel all agreed that the watermen and their families shared, in general, the health problems common to the county population. Doctors and nurses both felt from their experience that there were higher incidences of diabetes, Tangiers disease and cystic kidney disease among residents of some of the watering communities than in the general county population. 2 Smith Islanders were singled out as having an especially high incidence of diabetes for both men and women. Some disagreement existed among the heal th professionals concerning whether there was a greater incidence of back problems, e.g., lower back disc disintegration and lower back muscle problems, among watermen as compared with the rest of the population. The emergency room nurse's

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Table 7-7 Somerset County Medical Personnel Views on Health Problems of the General County Population (Including Watermen) Health Problems 1. Diabetes (especially noted on Smith Island) 2. Heart disease (especially coronary artery disease) 3. Cystic kidney disease 4. Osteogenesis imperfecta S. Tangiers disease (high eosinophil blood count and enlarged, orange-colored tonsils) 6. Alcoholism 7. High blood pressure/hypertension 8. Depression (especially in women) 9. Infant mortality Source: Interviews of four nurses, four doctors, one member of the county health planning council, one pharmacist, and one minister. 184

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185 view was that watermen had comparatively few back problems, but two of the doctors felt the watermen had a somewhat higher incidence of back complaints. As we will see below watermen mention back aches as an occupationally related problem. The heal th care deliverers agreed, though, that there were some kinds of illness and injury more common among watermen owing to their occupation. The most frequentl y mentioned of these occupationally related difficulties were various skin cancers, cuts, lacerations, punctures, back injuries, and eye problems (see table 7-8). Skin cancers of the lip margins, fore head, ear tips, backs of hands and forearms are frequently found in watermen of about forty years old and older. There seems little doubt that these skin cancers are due to working in the sun, but they don't show up until middle age because they require many years of exposure in order to develop. There is growing awareness of this problem among the watermen. Many of them routinely wear hats and a few will use a sun blocking lotion. Few fishermen work for any but a brief period of time in the sun without a shirt. The hips, thighs and feet are alway covered by trousers and footware. Watermen rarely, if ever, work in shorts or without shoes or boots. Oddly, only one of the twenty-five watermen interviewed cited skin cancer as an occupationally related health problem. He, a man in his early fifties, had had to have a skin cancer spot removed from his forehead during the prior year, and was no doubt more sensitized to the problem than the others. Since these cancers are not usually painful or debilitating or responsible for keeping them from work, the other

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Table 7-8 Somerset County Medical Personnel Views on Health Problems of Watermen Health Problems of Watermen 1. Skin Cancers of the squamous cells of a. lip margins b. tips of ears c. forehead d. forearms e. backs of hands 2. Traumas such as a. crab bites b. fish spine punctures c. oyster shell cuts d. jelly fish ("sea nettle") stings 3. Back difficulties a. collapsed Discs 4. Eye problems a. pterygium--probably due to prolonged exposure to sunlight glare and wind b. jelly fish ("sea nettles") tentacle sting of the eye 5. Serious or fatal accidents a. drownings b. lightning strikes Source: Interviews of four nurses, four doctors, one member of the county health planning council, one pharmacist and one minister. 186

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187 watermen who have them may not consider them to be a significant problem. Views of the watermen. Twenty-five watermen were interviewed concerning their own health problems and occupationally related health difficulties. They were asked the following questions: (1) Did you experience any health problems--illnesses, injuries, accidents, chronic complaints--during the last twelve months? What were they? (see table 7-9); (2) Can you remember any health problems which caused you to miss work at any time during the past year or earlier while working as a commercial fisherman? How many days of work were missed for each health problem you indicated? (see table 7-10); (3) Which of your health problems, if any, have been caused by your commercial fishing work? (see table 7-11); (4) What are the health problems which watermen have that result from the type of work they do? (see table 7-12). Of the sample of watermen that were interviewed concerning their own health problems during the previous twelve month period, six (24%) reported having had none and nineteen (76%) indicated thirty-one problems (see table 7-9). These included flus and colds, sore and painful hands and forearms, infected fingers, stomach ulcers, back injuries, broken arms, shoulder dislocations, arthritis, kidney stones, abcessed teeth, and _peeling hands. The most frequently mentioned of the health difficulties cited by the men were: (1) flus and colds which comprised 22.6%; (2) pain, swelling and tingling in the hand and/or forearm 19.9%; and (3) infected fingers 16.2%.

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Table 7-9 Health Problems of Watermen During the Year Immediately Prior to Their Interviews Health Problem Number Percentage 1. Flu and Colds 7 2. Pain, swelling and tingling 6 in the hand and/or forearm 3. Infected Fingers 5 4. Stomach Ulcer 2 5. Back Injury 2 6. Dislocated Shoulder 2 7. Arthritis in Various Joints 2 8. Peeling hand skin 2 9. Kidney Stones 1 10. Broken Arm 1 11. Abcessed Tooth 1 Total Illnesses/Injuries 31 Source: Interviews of twenty-five Somerset County commercial fishermen. 22.6 19.4 16.2 6.5 6.5 6.5 6.5 6.5 3.2 3.2 3.2 100.0 Note: The thirty-one incidences of illness were cited by nineteen of the twenty-five watermen interviewed; the other six indicated they had had no illnesses during the previous year. % 188

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Table 7-10 Health Problems Watermen Reported Have Caused Them to Miss Work Health Problems that Caused Loss of Work 1. Flu, colds or pneumonia # Citing Total# the Problem Days Lost 2. Pain, swelling and tingling 5 2 2 2 2 2 1 1 1 1 36 20 15 37 in the hand and/or forearm 3. Stomach ulcer 4. Back problems 5. Broken arm or collar bone 6. Infected fingers 7. Dislocated shoulder 8. Arthritis 9. Peeling hand skin 10. Hodgkins disease 1 1 Emphysema, hypertension 102 6 17 3 3 675 Average# Days Lost 7.2 10 7.5 18.5 51 3 17 3 3 675 and "weak" heart 12. Knee and shin injury 1 (Near 1 total 3 2 3 retirement) 3 13. Tooth abcess 14. Deep cut on palm of hand 15. Remove skin cancer from forehead 16. Appendicitis 17. Kidney stones 1 1 1 1 1 1 15 5 Source: Interviews of twenty-five Somerset watermen. Note: One man missed work owing to a broken collar bone and also because of influenza. 2 3 1 15 5 189

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Table 7-11 Health Problems Causing Work Loss Which Watermen Believe to be the Result of Commercial Fishing Work Health Caused/Exacerbated by their Work Problems Yes No 1. Flu. colds or pneumonia 5 0 2. Pain. swelling and tingling 2 0 in hand and/or forearm 3. Stomach ulcer 1 1 4. Back pain 2 0 5. Broken arm or collar bone 2 0 6. Infected fingers 2 0 7. Peeling hand skin 2 0 8. Arthritis 0 1 9. Shoulder dislocation 0 1 10. Hodgkins disease 0 1 11. Emphysema, hypertension, and weak heart 0 1 12. Knee and shin injury 1 0 13. Tooth abcess 0 1 14. Cut to palm of hand 1 0 15. Skin cancer on forehead 1 0 16. Appendicitis 0 1 17. Kidney stones 0 1 Source: Interviews of twenty-five Somerset county watermen. Note: This table should be read in conjunction with table 7-10. For example, of the five watermen who reported lost work days--see table 7-10--owing to "flu, colds or pneumo nia," all five blamed commercial fishing and none said "flu, colds or pneumonia" were unrelated to their work. 190

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Table 7-12 Watermen's Views on Health Problems Related to Commercial Fishing Health Problems Caused by Commercial Fishing as Cited by Watermen Citations 1. Lots of colds; colds all winter 2. Back aches from crabbing and oystering 3. Infected crab "bites" in summer 4. Jellyfish tentacle stings in eyes while crabbing S. Peeling of skin on hands--especially in April and May, but common throughout the year to some extent 6. Loss of feeling in fingers or fingertips from cold exposure 7. Tingling/itching pain and swelling in hands and/or forearms 8. Lip blisters from sun exposure 9. Painful swollen knees; "water on the knee" from skipjack oyster dredging 10. Painful shoulders; bursitis Total number and percent of health problems which were cited Number Percent 9 14.1 9 14.1 9 14.1 8 12.4 7 10.9 7 10.9 5 7.8 4 6.3 4 6.3 2 3 .1 64 100.0 % Source: Interviews of twenty-five Somerset county watermen. 191

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192 When the men were questioned concerning illness or injury which had caused them to miss days of work, seventeen different health problems were cited by the men (see table 7-10). Eleven of these problems were cited only once, five were cited twice, and one was cited five times. This latter category, "flu and colds", was the most frequently cited as the cause of missed workdays by the men as well as the most often cited health problem they experienced during the previous year. It is interesting that al though the category "pain, swelling and tingling in the hand and/or forearm" was cited as a health problem experienced in the previous year by six of the men, only two of them indicated they had ever lost days of work due to the problem. Likewise five of the men said infected fingers had been a problem during the past year for them, but only two of them recall ever missing work due to the problem. The fishermen were asked whether they thought the health problems which had resulted in loss of work were caused or made worse by their work activities. Of the five men who indicated loss of work owing to flu, colds or pneumonia (see table 7-10), all believed their work caused or exacerbated their illness while none felt it had nothing to do with their illness (see table 7-11). The painful, swollen hands and arms, the back pain, broken bones, infected fingers, peeling hands, knee/shin injury, skin cancer on forehead, and the cut to the palm of the hand all were attributed entirely to their work. The shoulder dislocation, the arthritis, Hodgkins disease, weak heart, the emphysema, hypertension, tooth abcess, appendicitis and kidney stone, however, were not attributed to their work by the men who experienced

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193 these difficulties. The only disagreement concerned stomache ulcer. Of the two men with ulcers, one blamed the "worry" associated with the uncertainty of his commercial fishing work as the main cause while the other man did not believe his work on the water had anything to do with causing his ulcer (see table 7-11). The twenty-five watermen in the sample were also asked to generalize and make a list of illnesses and injuries--whether minor or major--which they believed were caused by or associated with their occupation. In all the watermen suggested ten different complaints (see table 7-12). Colds and flu, back aches, and infected fingers were the most frequently cited problems; sea nettle stings to the eye, peeling hand skin, and loss of feeling in the fingers were the next most often cited; pain and swelling in hands and forearms, lip blisters and swollen knees followed; and, finally, painful shoulder joints and bursitis were mentioned. Comparison and discussion. A comparison of the views of health care personnel with those of the watermen interviewed shows fourteen health problems cited between them, four mentioned by both watermen and health care personnel, seven by watermen only, and four by health care personnel only (see table 7-13). Both groups assert that commercial fishermen have (1) lower back difficulties, (2) problems with crab bite and other cuts which become infected, (3) "sea nettle" stings to the eyes, and (4) over exposure to the sun causing lip blisters. Lower back complaints among watermen are not a surprise since much bending and pulling and lifting are involved in their work. The watermen sometimes get a cut or puncture at the tip

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Table7-13 Occupationally Related Illness/Injury of Watermen: A Comparison of the Views of Watermen and Health Care Personnel (H.C.P.) Health Problems of Watermen 1. Colds/flu 2. Back problems (aches, pains, bad discs) 3. Infections from bites, cuts, punctures 4. Jellyfish stings to the eye 5. Jellyfish stings elsewhere (arms, face, etc.) 6. Peeling hands 7. Loss of feeling in fingers/frostbite 8. Tingling/itching pain & swelling in hands and forearms 9. Lip blisters from sun exposure 10. Skin cancers of lip margin, back of hand, forehead, forearm, ear tip 11. "Water on the Knee"/swollen knees 12. Bursitis/painful shoulder joints 13. Broken arms/collar bones from falls on/around boats 14. Pterygium and possibly other eye problems from sun, glare & wind exposure over many years 15. Fatal accidents (drowning/lightning) Watermen Only + + + + + + + Cited by: H.C.P. Only + + + + Source: Interviews of twenty-five watermen and eleven health care personnel in Somerset county. Both + + + + 194

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195 of a finger, say from a crab pincer or spine puncture, which becomes infected and may engulf the perimeter of the fingernail with a painful pussy swelling. They call them "run-arounds" and, though they are quite painful, the men seldom ever miss work because of them. The common home treatments are to soak the digit in a solution of water and epsom salts and the application of antibiotic salves. If the infection spreads on the hand and they are unable to control it through self-medication, they will eventually consult a doctor. The watermen will often let the infection become advanced before going for professional help. For this and other reasons the local doctors and the emergency room nurse are of the opinion that watermen are capable of withstanding rather a lot of pain. Apparently the watermen take the attitude that the medical personnel should patch them up well enough so they can immediately return to work. This attitude extends to other more serious problems such as broken bones and severe cuts as well. Lip blisters due to overexposure to the sun were the last problem cited by both medical personnel and watermen. They are most prevalent in the late spring, summer and early fall. Many watermen wear hats which afford them some facial protection from the sun. However, the most common practice is the construction of temporary wooden frameworks on their workboats over which they stretch a light canvas or other cloth material. This affords them protection from the sun and makes their working conditions more comfortable as well. It seems strange that even though one of the watermen reported having had a forehead cancer removed which he attributed to exposure to sun glare and reflection owing to the conditions of his work, neither he nor any of the other watermen mentioned skin cancers as a general health hazard

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196 related to the i r work. Probably their long development period, the fact that exposure to the sun is not limited to commercial fishing work, and the ease and success of treatment of skin cancers have served to disassociate skin cancers from the work of commercial fishing in the minds of the watermen. Medical personnel and watermen alike cited sea nettle (jellyfish) tentacle stings to the eye as being fairly common occurrances during summer and early fall. Small bits of sea nettle fly off the crab pots or crab scrapes as they are raised and lowered back and forth between the boat and the water. Though some men routinely wear sun glasses to avoid getting nettle in their eyes, even they will get stung sometimes. The watermen have acquired prescription medicine, usually Pon tocaine or some other medicine with cortisone in it, which they carry with them on board their work boats. A drop or two in the eye stops the pain and they are able to continue their work largely unaffected by the sting of the jellyfish tentacle. We turn now to discuss some of those health problems which only the watermen cited as occupationally related. Watermen perceived that they had more colds and flu than other persons while health care personnel did not, but noted lots of colds and flu among the county population in general. Greater continuous cold exposure during the work day is experienced by those who work aboard skipjacks or shaft tong from small unhea ted, cabinless boats thus making it more difficult to get rid of a cold once acquired. A couple of the men indicated that during oyster season they had "a cold all the time." Those men working from boats with small heated cabins can go in them from time to time if they want shelter from wind, cold or rain.

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197 Several watermen indicated that they "never get cold while they're working, only on the trip out and back or when I stop working." They warm up due to the physical activity of operating the patent tongs, culling the oysters and moving around the boat during various related tasks. In fact by the time cold weather has become a daily reality during the oyster season, these men are wearing comparatively fewer articles of warmer clothing than one might expect. They seem to become habituated to the cold and are able to work in it all day wearing a couple or three layers of shirts and a jacket or an armless down vest, a hat and long trousers over which they sometimes wear a pair of waterproof proof slicker pants. Waterproof slip-on rubber boots with sock-like felt inserts cover their feet. I have been on board oyster boats and been unable to stay on deck for very long without retreating to the heated cabin, even though I would be wearing more clothes than the watermen. Of course they were warmed to some degree by their work as they pointed out. However, there is little doubt that some physiological mechanism--probably habituation--has resulted in this adaptation. The watermen believe they acquire this ability to work in cold conditions with less clothing than others would need owing to the year-round exposure they experience in their work. They believe their bodies gradually adjust to the changing temperature conditions as the seasons progress. The issue of peeling hand skin is one which none of the heal th care personnel mentioned, but seven of the watermen did. The general belief among the watermen is that the use of the heavy rubber gloves which they wear to protect their hands are the cause of having the skin

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198 on their hands peel continually, especially during oyster season. The gloves help them avoid cuts and punctures while culling oysters to separate the keepers from all that is thrown back into the water. In addition, they afford some warmth and protection from the frigid wind across their wet hands. One sixty year old waterman indicated that for nearly three years he experienced peeling and rashes which would never entirely clear up. He used all kinds of salves and ointments both prescriptioms and over-the-counter ointments (i.e., bag balm) but none of them really cleared it up. He thinks he is allergic to something in the gloves constitution and says that since he tried a different brand of glove and tried to have them on as little as possible, the peeling has been much less of a problem. Watermen also attribute a more definitely seasonal peeling of the skin on the palm of the hand--during April and May--to the loss of callouses which have have been acquired in the course of oyster shaft tonging work. The regular hand manipulation of the long wooden shafts results in heavy tough callouses. When the work ceases and the transition to crabbing is underway, these thick callouses usually peel. This can be rather uncomfortable and sometimes hands may become painfully infected and require antibiotic treatment. Seven watermen in the sample indicated that loss of feeling in the fingers was a problem that some commercial fishermen experienced but that it did not usually cause them any great difficulty in performance of their work. They attribute it to cold exposure--frostbite--during the oyster season. Men working the skipjack dredge boats and using small unheated, cabinless boats from which to shaft tong are more

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199 likely to become frostbitten than the men using the patent tong rigs on larger work boats that have small heated cabins. No health care personnel cited this as an occupational health problem of watermen. Tingling, prickling and itching pain, swelling and tightness in the hands and forearms were symptoms which five of the watermen attributed to their work and which they asserted were not uncommon complaints of watermen in general. Two men indicated that the symptoms were usually the most intense at night and that shaking their hands and wrists sometimes alleviated the symptoms. None of the health care deliverers mentioned these symptoms, probably because the watermen tend to accept them as an unavoidable, untreatable by product of their work not worth going to the doctor about. There appear to be several possible aspects of their work which might cause these symptoms, i.e., (1) grasping and pulling the ropes connecting the floats marking the location of crab pots in order to get them into the boats to unload the crabs--from fifty to two hundred times a day; (2) pulling in the scrapes used to harvest soft crabs for four to seven times an hour for five to seven hours a day; and (3) repeated and nearly continuous grasping of the handles of shaft tongs to lower and raise them from the bay bottom into the boat and back again. (4) There is also the repetitious work of culling oysters and sorting crabs which punctuates these activities. All this physical work centering on the hands, forearms, shoulders and lower back must certainly contribute some trauma to these parts of the body which in the long run may cause problems in these parts of the men's bodies which simple rest will not repair. (5) In addition, there is the possibility of a genetic component in this syndrome since one of the watermen, a thirty-six year

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200 old Deal Islander, indicated that his mother, sister, father and father's brother all have similar problems with their hands and 3 forearms. Many watermen experience transient tightness and pain in their hands and forearms from their work which is alleviated by relaxation and a night's rest. A few of them, such as the Deal Island watermen manifest more severe symptoms which, though more apparent at night, have become continuing rather than transient complaints. A perusal of the medical literature (Yamaguchi 1962; Beeson and McDermott 1975:162-163 and 783; Sabiston 1977:1634-1636; Galton 1978:199; and McKusick 1983:89) suggests that carpal tunnel syndrome is implicated. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a neuropathy of the peripheral nerves of the arm and hand. More specifically it is due to the compression of the median nerve at the wrist where it passes through the canal created by the ligament and the carpal bones. In some cases it is characterized by a flattening of the median nerve immediately distal to the wrist crease and either thickening of the ligament or the flexor tendons. A ganglion or a degenerative joint may compress the median nerve thus causing the symptoms. Galton (1978), Yamaguchi (1962) and Beeson and McDermott (1975) indicate carpal tunnel syndrome to be most prevalent in women, particularly middle aged women. Beeson and McDermott (1975) cite rheumatoid arthritis as the most common basis for carpal tunnel syndrome, but indicate that in most patients the problem is localized and not associated with systemic arthritic disease. They also indicate an association of the syndrome with myxedema and acromegaly. Sabiston (1977) lists the following

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201 causes of median nerve compression at the wrist and in the hand: (1) repeated minor trauma, (2) synovial sheath hypertrophy of the two major flexor tendons, (3) trauma to the area which has been forgotten by the patient, (4) a mass (e.g., ganglion, aberrant calcification vascular dysfunction, hypertrophic fat pad) on the volar aspect of the wrist, (5) elongated portions of the several muscles in the area putting pressure on the carpal canal, (6) new neural or fat growths, (7) displacements of the carpus due to fracture, and (8) digit amputation. Galton (1978) cites excessive wrist movement, arthritis and swelling of the wrist as causes. Certainly the work of watermen would provide sufficient instances of repeated minor trauma, forgotten trauma to the wrist, and excessive repeated wrist movement to result in some degree of compression of the median nerve in the carpal tunnel. Many aspects of a waterman's work involves repeated flexion of the wrists and grasping and pulling with the hands (e.g., manufacturing crab pots, culling oysters, separating hard and soft crabs into floats, preparing soft crabs for shipment, numerous types of boat and gear maintenance and repair, and pulling in crab scrapes, crab pots, oyster dredges, patent tongs, and fish nets). Considering the amount of time many watermen's wives expend picking hard crabs, which involves continuous and repeated wrist movement, we should also see some of the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome among them. As shall be discussed further on in this chapter, two female relatives of a Deal Island waterman appear to have carpal tunnel syndrome. This project, however, did not focus on health problems of the wives of watermen and can, therefore, only guess that carpal tunnel

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202 may be a problem for the women. This could be further investigated in a subsequent research project. There is, of course, the possibility of a genetic cause or precondition instead of a purely occupational cause for the incidence of carpal tunnel syndrome among the watermen. McKusick (1983) reviewed the literature suggesting a dominant Mendelian genetic basis for carpal tunnel syndrome caused by constriction of the median nerve under a thickened transverse carpal ligament. Most of the evidence he cites suggests a male to male transmission but he also cites a case of transmission from father to daughter. McKusick indicates that the age of onset was usually in the twenties but was noted as early as age ten in one patient. What is unclear, though, is the degree to which genetic factors may be contributing to the incidence of this pathology among watermen and their families. The Deal Island waterman's case is certainly tantalizing in this regard since he and four other members of his family (i.e., his mother, sister, father and father's brother) have experienced the symptoms in varying degrees. The tendency of the watermen to marry women from their own or immediately neighboring communities, especially women whose fathers and brothers are watermen, suggests this would be an ideal population to use for a more extensive study of the heritable aspects of carpal tunnel syndrome which would focus on all members of the family. Among the health issues mentioned as work related problems by the medical personnel but not by the watermen are (1) sea nettle stings to the body, (2) skin cancers of the head and hands, (3) fatal accidents, 7

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203 and ( 4) an eye problem known as pterygium. Sea nettle stings to the body, i.e., arms, torso, neck and face, as well as the eye are mentioned as hazards of commercial fishing work by medical personnel. As already mentioned above, only stings to the eye are seen by watermen as worth mentioning. The watermen accept the pain of the nettle stings to other areas of the body without much fanfare or comment. Such stings are often ignored and this is another example of the watermen's capacity to accept a greater level or hardship and pain which the medical personnel have noted and which was discussed previously in this chapter. However, occasionally such stings are medicated later at home using Adolphe's Meat Tenderizer containing an enzyme which neutralizes the pain-causing protein in the nettle sting. Skin cancer has already been discussed in the foregoing pages and the most common fatal accidents appear to be drownings, serious trauma due to boat collisions and boat machinery accidents, and lightning strikes. The causes of work related accidental death and the rates of these accidental deaths by cause requires further research among this population as only the information from this small sample is available at present. Finally, two of the doctors mentioned that pterygium, an eye condition, seemed more prevalent among watermen than in the rest of the population. It consist of a fibrous, membraneous tissue which gradually grows from the corner of the eye nearest the nose. It may grow to such an extent that it partially occludes vision and has to be surgically removed. The doctors indicated that the condition probably results from continued and long-term exposure to wind and glaring

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204 sunlight. Certainly the conditions of commercial fishing provide ample supply of both suspected causes. More information on the eye diseases of these watermen should soon be forthcoming. During the period of field research, a team of doctors from Johns Hopkins University were checking the eyes of a small sample of Smith Island watermen to compare them with those of a small sample of coal miners. Preliminary results were published by Maguire et al. (1982:129) who found a higher incidence of pterygium and corneal droplet keratopathy as well cataracts among the fishermen. In 1985 I spoke with Dr. Hugh Taylor at Johns Hopkins, one of Maguire's colleagues, who indicated that grant monies were being sought in order to do a more rigorous study involving a larger and randomly drawn sample from each of the two populations. Notes 1. By 'mold bloom' he is referring to the greater incidence of mold spores in the air owing to the moist environment of the bay, rivers and marshes. 2. Two doctors mentioned Tangiers disease, but I could find no reference to it in the National Library of Medicine. It is reputedly heritable, characterized by orange-colored tonsils and a high eosinophil count in the blood, and first identified among the Tangier Islanders in the 196O's. 3. His mother and sister are wives of watermen and have done a great deal of crab meat picking over the years while his father and paternal uncle were watermen their entire working lives.

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CHAPTER VII I CONCLUSIO N A review of changes in the four variables of environment, demography, social organization and technology reveals a historical pattern of adjustment on the part of the island, riverine and coastal dwelling population of Somerset County. Significant changes occurred in the environment, subsistence strategy, settlement pattern, technology and health care of these communities which have required new strategies and adaptations (see table 8-1). Nonetheless the people of these water-oriented communities have maintained an impressive degree of cultural continuity, social isolation, occupational homogeneity, cultural identity, local cooperativeness and local autonomy which is surprising considering the economic dependency one would expect from a social system primarily founded on a single economic base, i.e., commercial fishing. It has, of course, required an ethic of individual economic responsibility, self-reliance, pride in being independent and a reluctance to be regulated by external authority, especially as regards the manner in which they exploit the marine resources on which they depend for their livelihood. Environment, Population, Social Organization and Technology: Changes and Interactions Two changes in the natural environment of the Chesapeake Bay have produced a number of effects in the Somerset County area. First, there was the abandonment of homes, settlements, and farms owing to the 205

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Table 8-1 Changes in Four Variables and Their Effects in Somerset County, Especially Among Commercial Fishermen Variable Causes Environment Glacial melt Same as above Same as above Same as above Pollution from industry, agriculture and sewerage Overfishing Same as above Population Rising water Same as above Changes Rising sea level Same as above Same as above Same as above Decline in marine grasses Fish species decline in number Same as above Settlement patterns change Same as above Effects Islands erode New marshes are created Tillable land is lost Homes & farms abandoned Decline in soft crab scraping areas Fishermen change their work strategies State government enacts and enforces restrictions on fishing People abandon former farm land as it becomes marshland Homes cluster in the areas of high ground not turned into marsh 2 06

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Table 8-1--continued. Causes Changes Advent of railway Same as above and highways develops shipping & receiving points Technology Innovations from other sectors of the society Same as above Same as above Same as above Same as above Innovation of internal combus tion engine and its adaptat i on to small vessels Same as above Advent. of radio, telephone, television, and C.B. radio Same as above Advent of the helicopter Same as above Same as above Change from sail to motor powe r in boats Same as above Effects People settle at these points along these lines (e.g. Crisfield) Serve to reduce the degree of social isolation and difference Useful in natural disasters (storm and ice bound conditions) and medical emergency Air lift medical and food stuffs in emergency Remove injured or critically ill to hospital Reduce mortality rate of isolated populations for accidents & critical illness Greater efficiency in fishing efforts Additional cost to fishing efforts for fuel and engine maintenance 207

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Table 8-1--continued. Social Causes Innovative efforts of fishermen to refine /improve the i r harvest Innovations from local boat wrights and elsewhere in and society Spin offs of the attempt to solve health problems of the burgeoning urban populations during the last century Organization 1 Values Loss of cheap slave labor, development of the seafood market, development of truck farm crops (tomatoes, strawberries, potatoes) ship ped out by steam boat, then rail and later by truck Changes Effects New fishing Greater efficiency gears, i.e., in fishing efforts crab scrape, crab pot, clam New alternatives hydraulic rig, for watermen to oyster patent select from in tong rig developing work strategies New boat types-Introduces variety in skip jack, bateau, deadrise hull, square and round sterns, wooden, fiber glass and metal hulls Public health improvements resulting from cleaner water, garbage/trash removal, better systems for human waste removal and Ideology Change from plantation agriculture and focus on grain, tobacco, and g r ain to greater economic diversity throughout the county generally maintenance costs, ease of handling, and original cost of the boat Reduction of mortality rates Greater involve ment in the cycles of boom and bust as market pressures fluc tuate prices 208

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Table 8-1--continued. Causes Bigger markets for local produce --especially sea food and selected crops Improved trans port & greater market volume in seafood and certain crops Growth of teleImproved trans port & food preservation Same as above Same as above Dramatic decline in the oyster fishery and later in other fisheries Changes More involvement with money based market economy More contact with the world beyond and its products and values Same as above Growth of larger seafood market Same as above Same as above Growth of govern mental regulation of exploitation of the fisheries Effects More commercial fishermen, more truck farming and poultry, timbering and light industry Greater involvement in consumer economy; more need for money; greater need to work more Same as above Development of full-time commercial fishing Development of jobs ancillary to fishing Overfishing/ fish stock decline Conflict between fishermen and the marine police who enforce the fisheries laws 209

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210 continued gradual rise of the water level in the Chesapeake. The Bay's formation was comparatively recent in the geological sense, around ten thousand years ago. The Chesapeake is essentially the drowned valley of the lower Susquehanna River. Its formation probably results from the melting of glacial ice which elevated water levels in the Bay and elsewhere throughout the world. The result has been the continuing, though gradual, creation of new wetlands and marshes, and, simultaneously, the elimination or transformation of islands and litoral lands which formerly were tillable. Homes and farms were abandoned as these areas became too marshy for agriculture or were swept away al together. Thus, owing to this hydrological process, it became necessary to abandon these areas or to alter the settlement pattern and subsistance strategies, especially among the inhabitants of the various islands in Tangier Sound. On these islands and 1i toral areas, there was a shift from dispersed to nucleated settlement. There was also a change from a predominantly agricultural subsistance pattern which included some incidental fishing to a strategy firmly centered on commercial fishing and types of work ancillary to it ( such as boat construction and seafood transport) which for a while continued to include agriculture in the form kitchen gardens. Secondly, there were dramatic reductions in the availability of commercially important wildfowl and fish stocks since the mid nineteenth century. Two factors were instrumental in causing these ecosystem changes, i.e., (a) pollution of the rivers, sounds and bay from industrial and farm chemical run-off and raw sewerage, and ( b) overexploitation of the various bay fish stocks--beginning with the

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211 oyster--and wildfowl populations. Pollution, especially of the upriver spawning areas of some species of finfish, has resulted in the dramatic reduction in numbers of such species available for commercial harvest. Pollution has also caused declines in the marine grasses which grow in the shallows around the islands in the Tangier Sound. Such grasses provide shelter for fish fry and molting crabs as well as food resources for terrapin and some species of wildfowl. Such aquatic grass areas are prime locations for the harvesting of soft crabs and the Tangier Sound watermen have noted in recent years decline in the yields of soft crabs from these formerly highly productive spots. A major sociotechnological effect of the population declines of the various commercially exploitable fish species has been the production of adjustments in the fishing gears and strategies employed by the watermen. As one or another fishery proved less fruitful than in previous years, watermen either implemented more intensive techniques or di versified their efforts to include other fisheries. Following the decline of the oyster fishery, owing primarily to overfishing during the 1870-1895 period, watermen continued to exploit the oyster fishery, but also increased their involvement in crabbing. The soft crab fishery became an important economic resource for watermen. Soft shell crabs were primarily harvested with the crab scrape which was invented in Crisfield in the 1890's. Later the advent of power-driven work boats, the invention of the crab pot, and the discovery that harvestable numbers of hard crabs were readily available in the deeper waters away from the shoreline shallows added yet other commercial fishing alternatives from which watermen might choose.

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212 Efforts were made by the Maryland legislature and designated law enforcement agencies to reduce the harvesting pressure of first the oyster and later other commercially important fish species. Legislation to restrict the manner, time and volume of the harvest was not welcomed b y the watermen who, at first, strenuously resisted su c h regulation, often violently. In the long run, however, the watermen had to accept the authority of the state in the regulation of what previously had been an entirely unregulated and significantly lawless occupation. These new outside elements, i.e., statutes and marine police enforcement of them, intruded into their previously independent occupational decisions and inhibited the watermen's ability to make a living. They could no long fish as easily and profitably as they had been able to do without such interference. The ideals of these earlier watermen held that the resources of the chesapeake were free for the taking and shoould not be regulated. Though this attitude has continued to be widespread among watermen, today watermen usually fight what they believe to be unfair fishery restrictions in the courts. Demographic population, have changes been in Somerset, driven in especially part by the in the fishing abovementioned environmental changes. Rising bay water has resulted in changes in the settlement pattern. In the island and litoral areas most affected by the creation of new marsh, tillable land has been lost. Particularly on the islands the remaining areas of high ground have become focal points of settlement where before there was wider dispersion of homes. This process is nowhere clearer than on Smith Island and the coastal

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213 settlements of Frenchtown and Rumbley which today have their populations settled in nucleated villages surrounded by the encroaching marsh lands. In time these communities will, no doubt, have to be abandoned to the marsh. Another cause of the nucleation of county settlements, of course, was the advent first of rail lines and later of highways. Railheads such as Marion Station and, further down neck toward the water, Crisfield in the late nineteenth century, were magnets for population resettlement of the population. Warehouses, businesses and homes were built at these points and the settlements grew. The highways developed to accommodate the better movement of the automobile and the truck became ribbons of attraction along which businesses and homes were constructed; crossroads became small nucleated settlements. However, the automobile also freed people to remain settled on their land and still be able to participate in town life as they wished. Thus, county population did not become entirely settled in hamlets and small towns. Some people continued to live in dispersed rural farms as before. But, where the marsh was expanding, the people really had no choice but to group together unless, as some did, they relocated further inland to higher, tillable land. A series of innovations in technology which occurred in other sectors of the society were adopted and brought changes to Somerset County during the past century and a half, i.e., new forms of transport, innovations in fishing gears and vessels, new forms of communication, and changes in public health. In some cases, though, innovations in fishing gear (e.g., the crab scrape) or experiments with

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214 adapting internal combustion engines to sailing craft (e.g., the placement of a small engine in a sailing log canoe) were made by local blacksmiths, boatwrights and fishermen rather than by outsiders. The development of rail transport and improved food preservation in combination developed a larger market for local seafood and some agricultural crops, especially strawberries and tomatoes. In addition to the steam-driven railway, dev~lopment of internal combustion engine driven vehicles and later the diesel rail technology increasingly took over the commercial shipping which had formerly been dominated by bay sailing and steam-driven vessels. The economy turned away from its nearly exclusive dependence on waterborne transport. The adaptation of the small internal combustion engine for use in small boats and bay fishing vessels in the early years of the present century resulted in the rapid abandonment of sailing craft by the fishermen. They favored motor-powered vessels which proved useful and efficient in the exploitation of the fisheries. The continued use of the sailing skipjack--about twenty-eight remain in service today--is anachronistic and due entirely to the oyster fishery conservation laws enacted in the first decade of the present century. The laws restrict the use of oyster dredges from motor-powered boats to two days each week but allow sail dredging for the other three days. Thus today the small skipjack fleet dredges under sail power for three days and for the other two days under power by lowering a motorized dingy, known as a "push boat," astern. The motorized dingy pushes the skipjack since the law prohibits the installation of a motor in the sailing dredge boat itself.

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215 The advent of new forms of telecommunication such as radio, television, telephone and the citizen's band radio (C.B.) have served to reduce the degree of social isolation and cultural difference which the area maintained well into the present century. These new forms of communication, especially telephone and long and wireless radio communication, have been extremely useful during natural disasters such as hurricanes, ice-bound winter conditions on the islands, and medical emergencies such as accidental injuries and acute illnesses. The use of the helicopter as an emergency response vehicle, especially in these more isolated littoral and island communities has become increasingly more common in recent years. According to county health professionals, the helicopter has reduced the mortality rate for accidental severe trauma and acute, critical illnesses in these out of the way areas. New fishing gears were innovated by fishermen attempting to refine existing harvesting methods and increase the size of their harvests. The development of the crab scrape, crab pot, clam hydraulic rig and oyster patent tong rig are the most important of the gear improvements which have been made since the 1890's. These innovations have resulted in greater efficiency and in new alternatives for watermen who may now select from a wider range of gears and fishing techniques in developing their annual work cycle strategies. In the area of social organization there were a number of changes which should be ment~oned. The changeover from slave labor, the growth of the seafood market and the development of truck farming and poultry raising combined to cause a change from small farmer/fisher approaches and large plantation agriculture focusing on grain, cotton and

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216 tobacco. There now developed a greater involvement in other, newer external markets and in the cycles of boom and bust which occurred as these markets fluctuated. Bigger markets for local seafood and truck farm products resulted in an increasing involvement in the money-based market economy for a growing number of people. More people became commercial fishermen, truck farmers, and poultry growers while fewer were self-sufficient small farmers. Improved transport and increasing external market demand for seafood, truck farm vegetables and poultry encouraged even greater contact with the products and values of the world beyond. Thus, local people increased their involvement in the money-driven consumer economy. Economic self-sufficiency no longer meant supplying most of one's own needs by farming or by the farmer/fisher strategy, but came to mean occupational specialization and work focused on a particular marketable commodity such as seafood, poultry or truck truck farm crops. The growth of a larger seafood market spurred development of greater number of full-time commercial fishermen and also caused the growth of jobs ancillary to fishing, e.g., boat and fishing gear sales and repair, boat construction, retail grocery and clothing sales, and restaurants. Recently published research on the Chesapeake Bay region, exact location not indicated, by Ellis (1984) suggests the additional possibility that the dominant family form may differ significantly between isolated fishing communities in the same area with similar ecology and cultural heritage. Her findings hint that a community's dominant family structure--whether the "atomistic" nuclear conjugal unit or the kindred organized family form as in her two communities--may be the result of variations in the manner in which

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217 such communities connect with the wider society. It is most likely, then, that today there are more varieties of family structure within the Somerset County-Tangier Sound region's communities, especially the isolated ones, than was the case in the past when a greater degree of local self-sufficiency and more reliance on farmin g and farming-fishing strategies existed. The aforementioned interconnected changes in environment, population, social organization and technology molded and shaped the occupational and health characteristics of the Somerset County watermen, With these changes as social and historical context, we now turn to a summary examination of the several research questions posed in the first chapter. Somerset Watermen: Summary Conclusions In the introductory chapter six goals were given as the reasons for undertaking this research project. They were (1) to see if the work of these fishermen results in some particular pattern of illness and injury, (2) to document the historical sequence of exploitation of the several bay fisheries, (3) to establish the historical changes in the gears and strategies employed by the fishermen, (4) to examine how men are recruited and socialized into this kind of work, (5) to classify the work histories and current strategies employed by the fishermen, and (6) to ascertain the nature of the social system within which these fishermen operate and how it relates to the organization and performance of their work.

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218 F i rst, both watermen and health care professionals indicate that certain aspects of the health of the watermen are directly connected with the demands of their work. Foremost among these occupational health problems are: (a) back problems (aches and pains, bad discs), (b) infections from bites, cuts and punctures (especially to the hands and digits), (c) jellyfish tentacle stings to the eye during the summer, and (d) lip blisters from sun exposure. In addition, the watermen cited several other problems as work related. They have (a) more colds and episodes of influenza than normal which they believe are caused by continued exposure to all types of weather conditions. They complain of (b) occasional peeling of the skin on the fingers and palms which they relate to the peeling of callouses as well as to the constant wetting of their hands in the line of their work and (c) loss of feeling in the fingers which they attribute to frostbite while working. They attribute the (d) tingling and itching pain and swelling in their hands and forearms (probably carpal tunnel syndrome in some of the cases) to the constant repetition of grasping and pulling required in the work (especially in crab scraping, crab potting, and oyster shaft tonging). They believe the occurrance of (e) "water-on-the-knee" is from repeated kneeling to cull oysters while working on skip jacks, i.e., the sailing oyster dredge boats. Moreover, (f) painful shoulder joints are common complaints usually attributed b'y the watermen to pulling and lifting which are common actions in their daily work, and (g) accidental falls on the boats or in the shanties which cause some broken limb and collar bones occur from time to time.

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219 Other problems which are not mentioned by watermen but which health care deliverers associate with the commercial fishing occupation are: (a) skin cancers of lip margin, back of hand, forehead, forearm and ear tip which are thought to result from continued and long term exposure to sun light, (b) jellyfish stings to arms, hand, neck and face, ( c) fatalities from boating accidents, drowning and lightning, and (d) pterygium, an eye condition, attributed to long term exposure to wind and sunlight glare. The differences in the views of watermen and health care personnel are interesting. I believe that the first group of health problems, i.e., those mentioned by both health care givers and watermen, are both more obviously connected with the work of commercial fishing and also more likely to cause watermen to seek relief from professionals than other occupational health problems. Most of the complaints cited only by the watermen are viewed by them as comparatively minor though annoying--peeling hand skin, some loss of feeling in fingers, aching shoulder joints, tingling and itching pain in hands and forearms, and water-on-the-knee, and minor accidents--and nothing to see a doctor about. Taking a day off to see a doctor for such small problems is something they don't usually do. Broken bones, acute cases of water-on-the-knee and advanced stages of carpal tunnel syndrome will result in a medical consultation. At this point an interesting question arises with regard to carpal tunnel syndrome. If it is a comparatively common complaint among watermen and even though it may have genetic preconditions, why don't the medical personnel identify it as an occupational problem of the

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220 commercial fishermen? I suspect that it ma y be a s y ndrome which is missed by the local doctors. It may often be diagnosed as the "normal" aches and pains of a manual labor occupation about which not much can be done. In only one case did a waterman indicate that a doctor identified his problem as carpal tunnel. That doctor was a specialist at the large hospital in Salisbury who was known to the fisherman as a member of a fishing party of friends who occasionally chartered his boat for a day, not one of the local general practitioners usually consulted by the fishermen. Secondly, what has been the historical sequence of exploitation of the various bay fisheries? I have shown that fishing was performed originally for home subistance and for sale in a limited local market. Then, just prior to the Civil War, a wider market for oysters began to which, though interrupted by the war, eventually resulted in an oyster boom in the 1870's and 1880's. Later, as the availability of oysters diminished, the soft crab fishery became commercially important, especially in Somerset county waters. With the move to motor powered work boats, which occured rapidly during the first quarter of the twentieth century, and the development of the crab pot to fish for hard crabs in the deeper waters of the bay away form the shallows and rivers where crabs had been harvested traditionally, the hard crab harvest became significantly more productive than ever before. The exploitation of the soft shelled, or manninose, clam did not get underway until the late 1940's and was at its height from the mid1950's until the early 1970's. It has declined markedly and many fewer watermen are rigged for its exploitation today than ju s t a few y ears ago.

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221 While a few Somerset watermen net various finfish species in the spring, this activity has apparently never been an important fishery and few continue to exploit it t o day. Those who do bemoan the dramatic reduction in the numbers of such important table species as the rockfish. Today most local finfishing is done to secure bait fish for the crab pots employed in the summer crab fishery. A few watermen set eel pots in the spring. Eels have traditionally been the bait of choice employed by era b trot liners in the rivers of the county and a many trotliners routinely set pots in the spring to catch and salt enough eels for their trotlines. Recently, the use of eels has begun to be eroded by the use of bull lips (which are just what they sound like they are) as bait. Bull lips stand up longer in the water and require less frequent rebaiting. So far their price has been low enough to make them a more attractive bait than eels. Crabs and oysters remain the mainstay of the commercial watermen's economic base today as they have for the most of the twentieth century. Thirdly, what have been the historical changes in the gears and strategies employed by the fishermen in the research area? The foregoing discussion has partially answered this question. In the oyster fishery the historical development of gears began with the use of the scissor-like shaft tongs at least as early as the middle eighteenth century (Lang 1961:13) but this method was not able to provide the volume of oysters which the market demanded following the

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222 Civil War. Another gear, the dredge, became widely employed during the oyster boom and afterwards well into the present century was the oyster dredge. The dredge proved so efficient that the oyster stocks were severely depleted by the 1890's but it was not until the first decade of the twentieth century that restrictions were put on its use. The advent of the power winch and the power driven boat when combined with the efficiency of the oyster dredge to make a formidably effective harvesting method. Dredging under power was restricted for conservation reasons. The next innovation in the oystering gears was the patent tong rig in combination with the motor powered work boat usually featuring a small cabin placed well forward toward the bow. Even prior to the turn of the century a few watermen experimented with a boom and block-and-tackle from which metal tongs were strung on rope. These were sail-driven boats and the method of operation for the block-and-tackle tong was a windlass operated by human muscle. A few watermen used this technology to harvest oysters and clams, but it did not catch on. Later, during the 1930's, the hydraulic patent tong rig employing a power winder was developed and installed in the motorized work boats. It is an improved version of this gear, commonly called a patent tong, which is widely employed throughout the Chesapeake at present. Hand, or shaft, tonging also continues to be widely employed especially in the rivers and creeks due to the comparatively low capital investment needed to begin in the oyster harvesting business as a shaft tonger by contrast with the much more expensive patent tong rig. Additionally a smaller, less expensive boat can be used by the

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,-------------------223 shaft tonger while the patent tonger will usually need a more costly larger craft, usually thirty to forty-five feet long. In the crab fishery the use of dip nets and trotlines was well developed early in the last century and it was not until the close of the nineteenth century that the scrape, a new crab gear, was developed. Invented by a Crisfield man in the 1890's, the crab scrape was modeled after the oyster dredge to which it bears a strong similarity. However, the scrape is smaller and lighter, has a rope rather than a chain catchment bag, and lacks the metal teeth found on the leading edge of the oyster dredge. It's rapid local adoption boosted the size of the soft crab harvest in the Tangier Sound area. The increased efficiency and reliability of the crab scrape made it possible to specialize in the harvesting soft crabs. At this time the trotlining method continued to be the major source of hard crabs. Not until the advent of the crab pot did another significant change in the crab fishery harvesting methods developed. In the 1930' s watermen began to set crab pots away form the shallows and in the deeper waters where scraping and trotlining were not effective. Prior to this experimentation in potting for crabs in the deeper waters, many watermen were of the opinion that there were no crabs in commercially important numbers to be found away from the shallower waters. The development of the clam hydraulic rig, the gear which opened the soft shell clam fishery on the bay, occurred in the late 1940' s. It's refinement and eventual patenting lead to a scramble for this now commercially harvestable species. One result of the rig's introduction

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224 was the destruction of some of the oyster beds by the hydraulic clammers. There ensued disputes between clammers and oystermen over this issue in the 19SO's and 1960's. Eventually the state promulgated new regulations to resolve the conflict. Some bay areas were transferred to the clam fishery and others remained exclusively for the use of the oystermen. One sees the same pattern repeated as occurred earlier in the oyster fishery. First there was the growth of a market and the development of an efficient method exploitation which made the harvesting of it a commercially profitable enterprise. Conflict between those employing preexisting harvesting techniques and other developed next. This was followed by the governmental enactment of regulatory measures intended to reduce conflict by allocating the exploitation of the disputed resource among the competitors and to conserve it. In the case of both the clam and the oyster fisheries, however, effective conservation efforts developed following a great decline in the fisheries owing to overfishing. Conservation inspired regulations have not prevented their further decline but may have slowed it. The changes in fishing strategies which the watermen have employed over the past century and a half have been broadly sketched by the foregoing discussion of the historical sequence of the exploitation of the several bay fisheries and the review of the development of various new fishing gears during the same period. Generally these have resulted in the development of a greater variety of and a growth in the efficiency of the gears and boat types available for the exploitation of more fisheries. But there has also been a shrinkage in the available biomass in the various fisheries which have been commercially

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225 important. With the exception of the very effective old oyster dredge method, today there are better methods than in the past to harvest the variety of shellfish and finfish species, but the fisheries are in dramatic decline. Fourthly, what is the pattern of recruitment and socialization common to these commercial fishermen? A low number of years of formal education, averaging about nine years but rarely less than seven or more than twelve, is characteristic of watermen. A rural or small town socialization experience combined the presence of a kinsmen in the region where they are reared are also common features. The aforementioned socialization characteristics are also common to many of the farmers and other inhabitants of Somerset County. All of the watermen in the research sample grew up in families of watermen or at the very least had extended kinsmen who were watermen. The average was number of relatives who were watermen was high (5.6) and the range in the sample was from two to ten watermen relations. Twenty-four of the men in the sample had watermen fathers. Thus the commercial fishing occupational role model was widely present within their families. There were uncountable opportunities during their childhood and teen age years for them to acquire practical experience with boats, boat gear, aquatic and marsh wildlife, fishing methods, tidal action, bay bottom composition, marshlands and weather patterns which prepare them for a life on the water. They work as hands aboard oyster or crab boats when they have accumulated enough skill to be of use. Relatives may aid a young man to purchase his first boat and gear and older men may pass on their larger craft to their sons or even to a son-in-law when they wish to reduce their involvement in fishing in their later

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226 years. But just as frequently the bulk of the small investment for a first boat is raised b y a young man himself by working and saving. First a small used inexpensive boat, and possibly a used set of oyster shaft tongs or a set of crab scra pes ar e purchased. A young man will buy the material for c r ab pots and save money by constructing them himself rather than buying them. And, thus, a man "goes on the water." Fifthly, what pattern(s) of adaptation is(are) revealed by an examination of the work histories and current work strategies of these -watermen and their wives? Six patterns of work are evident in the fifteen work histories w h ich were examined. These range from the full-time, life-time waterman at the one extreme to the man who works briefly on the water but abandons commercial fishing to do other kinds of work most of his life. In addition to the six work patterns which emerge from the work histories, a variet y of work patterns became clear from examining the current work postures of the sample of watermen which were interviewed as well from a study of the number and type of fishing licenses which the Department of Natural Resources issued i n Somerset County in 1980. The interviews showed the w at e r men to be adapting to the annual cycle of seasonal fluctuations in their exploitation of the various fisheries. Oystering in the fall and winter and crabbing in the spring and summer, of course, being the major swing for the majority of the full-time watermen. An examination of the number and types of licenses issued in the county revealed that nearly 48% were crab fishery licenses, 45% were oyster fishery licenses and the remainder were for

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22 7 finfish, clams and miscellaneous other activities, such as fishing guide. The list of licenses issued to Smith Islanders was examined for patterning, i.e., to see if individual watermen have different numbers and kinds of licenses. If they did, it should reveal something about their work strategies. I found (see table 6-8) that one hundred fifty-three (153) Smith Island men had registered for licenses of which sixty-eight (44.4%) had only one type of license, seventy-four (48.4 % ) had two kinds, and eleven ( 7. 2%) had three kinds of license. The various combinations of multiple licenses reveal that oyster catching combined with some type of crabbing are overwhelmingly the most popular license combinations for watermen having two or more licenses. Only a minority (4) of the eighty-five watermen with more than one license had combinations which did not include both an oyster and a crab license. Of the sixty-eight Smith Island men with only one kind of license, thirty-six had an oyster license, thirty-one had some type of crab license, three were oyster dealers, one had a gill net license and one had a terrapin license. Most of the sixty-eight men on Smith Island having only one license and some of those with two licenses were involved in other work or had wives who had other sources of income to contribute to the family. Most of the employment of the fishermen who were not year-round, full-time fishermen was in work related to the fishing efforts of others (sale of fuel, boat repair, etc.) or in the few local business catering to the grocery and other basic needs of the watermen's families.

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228 Though not a major focus of this research, the contributions of the wives of working watermen were found to be important to the economic viability of their families. Many watermen's wives are income producers in their own right, either having business activities based in their homes--related or unrelated to their husbands' occupation--or being employed full-time or part-time outside the home (see table 6-9). Apparently a sizeable number of women regularly contribute to the family income by picking crab meat and by participating in the land-based part of the work necessary to the continuation of their h b d f" h . 1 2 us ans is ing activities. Sixthly, what is the nature of the social system within which these fishermen operate, and how do watermen organize to further the success of their commercial fishing work? This question was answered by exploring which social groups and networks functioned to aid and support the watermen's successful continuation in their commercial fishing efforts? There is a strong tendency for watermen to choose wives form amongst the families of other watermen. Spouses are usually chosen from their own community or from a neighboring one. This pattern of marriage serves to create husband-wife partnerships between individuals who are more likely to share common expectations concerning one another's roles in marriage. They are, therefore, more likely to effectively cooperate due to their common experience with various aspects of the occupation of commercial fishing. Moreover, the presence of a high number of both consanguineal and affinal relations, many of whom are fishermen or fishwives, in the immediate and

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229 neighboring communities is significant. These kinsmen are an important information resource and can provide support which is helpful, especially in times of hardship. Friends and neighbors, also, are important sources of information concerning the fisheries, boats and fishing gears. Friends and neighbors regularly gather, informally, at local stores to discuss topics among themselves. One mark of a closely knit occupational community is whether the workers spend significant amounts of nonwork time together socializing such as these men. The men work separately for the most part, though often within in sight and shouting distance from others like themselves, and spend time visiting with each other--often in the local stores, bars or on the docks--before the late afternoon main meal and sometimes following it as well. The amount of this nonwork interaction varies from regular and intense, as on Smith Island, to the less routine and more irregular nonwork interactions of mainland based watermen, especially those who must drive five to ten miles to get home. Churches and volunteer fire organizations are important local groups to which many watermen belong. The activities of these associations are important in providing some of the most important basic needs. Sermons in the churches in fishing communities focus repeatedly on images of the sea, the fishing occupations of the men, the necessity for strong religious faith, and provide a clear pattern of life cycle and life crisis ritual responses by which common experiences may be patterned and explained.

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230 In addition to its ideological function of defining meanings and goals of life, some churches are significantly in vol ved--as on Smith Island--in establishing and maintaining community economic, leisure and health care infrastructures such as street lighting, recreational facilities, visiting nurse service, dental clinic service, and other services which in other communities be provided by local government. Volunteer fire association in these communities, of course, pursue activities related to their primary manifest function of answering the firefighting needs of the members of their communities. In addition their existence frequently results in secondary benefits. Among these are the erection and maintenance of recreation-community meeting halls, the organization of a women's auxiliary to the male fire fighting group, and the presentation of dances, concerts, lectures, movies, and health classes--such as cardiopulmonary resucitation and first aid. They also hold fund-raising events for the maintenance of the fireball and the purchase of new firefighting equipment. Several of these firehalls, it has been noted, sponsor annual events lasting from one to three days ton raise money. Some of these events incorporate activities which represent important aspects of the culture of the watermen and their occupation. The Deal Island Skipjack Races and the Mount Vernon Watermen's Festival are prime examples of intensification rituals centered around the theme of making a living "on the water." As discussed in chapter VI, watermen and their wives represent one type of work group but the actual fishing work is usually performed by single men in their own boats or by very small g roups of r a rely more than two or three watermen in one boat. Most prefer to work for

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231 themselves but may occasionally hire a crew member as it becomes necessary. Except for needing four men to properly operate a skipjack, the most commonl y employed fishing strategies among Somerset watermen can be successfully pursued in this manner. However, occasionally during oyster season a work boat/buy boat group--i.e., a loose collaboration between one buy boat and several patent tong oyster boats--will form and exploit the oyster beds away from home waters. This kind of collaboration is infrequent and fragile, but represents an adaptation which the watermen will make to increase their oyster catch volume when the harvest is poor near home. In addition, the Somerset watermen have sometimes in the past organized cooperatives. At the present time, though, none exist in the area. There was an oyster cooperative among Smith Islanders in the 1950' s and 1960 1 s, but it was no longer operative at the time of my research. It appears that the fishermen are willing to collaborate with one another in short term ways, even to the point of briefly loaning a boat to a trusted close friend. And, they will sometimes form an informal work party to aid a member of their community refurbish a boat, repair an engine or patent tong rig, or sink new wooden shanty supports into the muddy bottom. They will cooperate with each other enough to keep everyone in the community who in their view responsibly tries to earn a living "on the water" in a position to do so. They expect reciprocity if they find themselves in difficulty. At the same time they are independent workers who do not often join formally organized groups. The tradition of putting as little capital as possible into their fishing enterprise also works against

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232 the development of cooperatives in which the men would have to invest money and operate according to the rules of the cooperative. What Orbach (1980) has pointed out for the Bay fishermen in general--i.e., cooperativeness is not lacking but the formation of cooperatives does not necessarily follow--is also true for the Somerset county fishermen. When conditions are right--i.e., prices from buyers are too low or a local fishery resource which local watermen want to protect for their exclusive use--watermen may form cooperatives. But, they will abandon them as soon as the cooperatives are perceived as no longer useful. The demise of the oyster cooperative on Smith Island followed the virtual destruction of the local oyster bars by disease over several years and, finally, a severe hurricane in 1973. It is a good example of the local watermen's continuing search for the best exploitation strategy--whether individually or cooperatively--with which to respond to the continually changing Bay fisheries conditions. Occupational associations have been formed by watermen throughout the state under the aegis of the Maryland Waterman Association (M. W. A.). Some local associations which predated the statewide organization have persisted but have affiliated with the M. W. A The Tangier Sound Waterman Association (T. S. W. A.)--today primarily composed of Smith Island oystermen and a remnant of the now defunct oyster cooperative which used to exist on the island--is an example of this kind of association. Other local, sometimes county-wide, associations of watermen have been more recently formed largely by the efforts of the state association such as the new Somerset County Waterman Association

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233 (S. C. W. A.), largely composed of Crisfielders and fishermen from other mainland Somerset county communities. Both the T. S. W. A. and the S. C. W. A. are recognized by the state association headquartered in Annapolis and both send representatives to state association meetings. Thus, even though Somerset watermen are concerned to be independent and self-sufficient, they have developed a wide range of social supports which clearly help them succeed at making a living through commercial fishing. These supports include but are not limited to the following: choice of appropriate spouse, involvements with extended family, friends and neighbors which enhance their chances of success in commercial fishing, and cooperating with other watermen in ways which are useful to their fishing efforts (e.g., mutual reciprocal aid, formation of small work groups, organization of cooperatives when necessary, and the participation in occupational associations). Research Recommendations The following are suggestions for further research in the Tangier Sound-Somerset County area. (1) Recently McCay (1984) has ar g ue d for a tradition of resistance t o le g al e nc losur e s of the wat e r c o r m r.o .. as c: c o nti nu ing cu lt u r al t heme among northern New J.ersey inshore bay fishermen. Research should be done to see whether or not there are parallels in Tangier Sound fishing communities to the situation McCay describes. This can be done by (a) interviewing watermen regarding illegal forms of fishing and their opinions concerning fishing regulations and (b) investigating the

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234 marine violations cases on record in the county court house for recent and historical patterns of disputes concerning local resistance to fisheries regulations. (2) Ethnohistorical research should be done i n the Eastern Shore black community to document and better understand the position of the Eastern Shore black population in the Chesapeake Bay commercial fisheries. (3) A community study of one of the isolated predominantly black fishing communities on Maryland's Eastern Shore would contribute to a better picture of the post Civil War rural black social life than presently exists. (4 ) What are the attitudes of Somerset county fishermen's wives to their husbands' work? Danowski (1980) found Rhode Island fishermen I s wives to have positive views of their husbands' occupations while Dixon et al. ( 1984) found Harkers Island, South Carolina, fishermen's wives generally dissatisfied with their husbands' occupational choice and even indicated that they would try to dissuade their sons from becoming fishermen or their daughters from marrying them. What factors account for such attitudinal differences? One possibility may be the specific nature of the fishing work done by their husbands. If long stays away from home and increased danger go with distant water fishing or trips of several days duration, then this may worry the women and also upset the daily routine. It is likely that bay and inshore fishing of a day's duration or less would be less distressing to the wives. My hypothesis is that Somerset county fishwives have a comparatively high level of satisfaction with their husbands' choice of work.

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235 (5 ) What variation exi s ts in fam i ly structure and in connectio n to the world beyond for the communities of Smith Is l and, Rumbl e y, Crisfield and Deal Island? Does family structure vary as a result of the nature of the interfacing and brokerage patterns which link families in one community as opposed to another? Ellis (19 8 4) suggests that it does? This should be further looked at since it raises questio n s about the widely held idea of a simple movement from an extended to a nuclear family in the somerset region over the past century. ( 6) What are the ethnoecological conceptions of Smith Island fishermen regarding their island, its adjacent waters and the location of commercially important marine and wildfowl species? How do these conceptions guide them in deciding where, when and what to fish for? How do their ideas differ from those of fisheries biologists and estuarine scientists? What are their underlying principles? What implications do the differences in the two views have for conservation efforts? Notes 1. Recent work by Danowski ( 1980), Dixon et al. ( 1984) and Lummis (1985) examined the attitudes of fishwives toward their husbands' occupation as well as their economic contributions to their families. 2. My data on women's work no doubt suffers from selection bias as it derives from the "Personals" column of The Crisfield Times and incidentally from the interviews of th e ir husbands. Women's work was not originally a research focus, but I have discussed it based on the data collected.

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APPENDIX A MOST FREQUENTLY OCCURRING FAMILY NAMES AMONG SOMERSET COUNTY WATERMEN It is common for county residents to be able to trace the presence of their family on the Eastern Shore back to the seventeenth or eighteenth centuries. Among the thirty-eight most prevalent family names of Somerset County's licensed (1980) oystermen, at least fifteen of the family names can be shown to have been present in the county since the eighteenth century (see table A-1). There is much variation in the number of people who have each name and some names are strongly associated with a particular location in the county (see table A-2). The Websters, for example, are preeminently a Deal Island family while the Tylers are found about equally on Smith Island and in Crisfield. There are more fishermen with the name Evans on Smith than with any other single family. The descendants of the Reverend Joshua Thomas, the nineteenth century Methodist evangelist, have spread throughout the county by are mostly found in the Crisfield area and on Deal Island where Thomas was buried. 236

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Tab l e A-1 Most Common Family Names of Somerset County Watermen # Name # Name # Name 34 Webster 12 Somers 8 Morgan 33 Evans 11 Bradshaw 7 Anderson 24 Tyler 11 Dize 7 Harrison 23 Thomas 11 Holland 7 Price 20 Bozman 11 Horner 6 Brimer 18 Ford 11 Taylor 6 Butler 18 Marshall 10 Catlin 6 Crockett 15 Parks 10 Hoffman 6 Kitching 15 Sterling 10 Smith 6 Marsh 14 Abbott 9 Corbin 6 Meredith 14 Jones 9 Laird 6 Tull 13 Parkinson 9 White 6 Ward 12 Benton 8 Daniels Source: Adapted from Licensing and Consumer Services of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (1981). Note: These names occur from six to thirty-four times each in the computer printout of licensed oyster catchers for Somerset County, Maryland. Those names appearing less six times were not included in the table. 237

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~~----------------------------------# Family Name 34 Webster 33 Evans 24 Tyler 23 Thomas 20 Bozman 18 Ford 18 Marshall 15 Parks 15 Sterling 14 Abbott 14 Jones 13 Parkinson 13 Somers 12 Benton 11 Bradshaw 11 Dize 11 Holland 11 Horner 11 Taylor 10 Catlin 10 Hoffman 10 Smith Table A-2 Most Common Family Names of Licensed Somerset County Watermen by Residential Area Frequenc y of Family Names by Residential Area Fairmount Crisfield Deal Isle Smith Princess Rumbley Area Tangier Island Anne Frenchtown Dames Quarter 27 4 6 26 1 10 24 1 10 8 1 3 8 5 7 8 2 1 12 6 2 2 2 15 3 9 2 3 5 1 3 3 6 4 5 1 3 1 9 1 3 8 2 2 3 4 2 8 2 7 1 3 8 1 7 3 1 1 8 Source: Adapted from Licensing and Consumer Services of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (1981). Note: Taken from a computer printout with names, addresses and birth dates of licensed oyster catchers for Somerset County for 1980. 238 Other 3 3 4 1 5 3 2 4 1 4 5 1 1

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APPENDIX B WORK HISTORIES OF FIFTEE N SOMERSET WATERMEN Several of the histories were abstracted from published accounts (cited where appropriate), but the remainder were taken from interview and participant observation data. In the following sketches when there is no citation, the data is from field work and the name given is a pseudonym. Work History #1: Farmer, Boat Builder, 0ysterman Born in 1851, Benjamin Laird (Washington High School 1981: 22-32) was raised on a farm at the head of the Little Annemessex River where at the age of sixteen he worked helping to build bay sailing vessels known as "bugeyes". He also began working the winters on oyster dredge boats--bugeyes and skipjacks--which work he continued between 1867 and 1905. By 1875, when he was twenty-four, Laird had learned enough about boat construction to go on his own. He began a pattern of boat building in the summer, working it as an oyster dredge the following winter, selling it, and building another the next summer. He continued this strategy until about 1905 when he quit oyster dredging. He returned to farming but continued to construct sailing work boats as well. He built the largest of his vessels, a bugeye eighty-five feet long and twenty-three feet eight inches wide drawing six feet of water, in 1906. 239

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Work History #2: Oysterman, Skipjack Captain, General Store Keeper, Pos t Master 240 Captain L.S.Tyler (Crisfield Times. August 8, 1981), born 1878 and died 1957 on Smith Island, attended school for seven years and went "on the water" at the age of thirteen. After acquiring sufficient experience during the summers, he began to work as a crew member aboard oyster dredg i ng sailing vessels known as "skipjacks." Following several seasons working the dredges, he bought his own skipjack which he worked as an oyster boat. Tyler bought and sold several sailing oyster dredge boats which he captained until 1919 when his most recent purchase, a bugeye named McDaniel, sank leaving he and his crew to nearly lose their lives. He turned in 1920 to the grocery business which along with the post master job he acquired shortly thereafter, continued to be his primary occupations for the duration of his working life. The grocery business had been in his wife's family for a generation and this enabled him to have first access to it when it went up for sale. In 1924 Tyler bought a gasoline engine powered boat and, in partnership with his brother, tried his hand buying oysters and transporting them to Washington, D.C. for sale. This business lasted until 1933 when the power boat was ruined in a hurricane. Capt. Tyler is still well remembered on the island today by the older inhabitants. He is an excellent example of a waterman with an entrepreneurial cast of mind and is typical of the kind of success which some of the watermen achieve beyond the work of commercial fishing itself.

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Work History #3: Farmer, Fisherman, Carpenter, S k ipjack Captain 241 Colbourn James was born in 188 6 and spent his life on Smith Island. When I interviewed him he was ninet y -four years old. He typifies the waterman who has little formal education (five years) and learns the skills of fishing, farming and carpentry from an early a g e. He remembers when the island still had a scattered settlement pattern, and when many islanders had large gardens, fruit trees and livestock. James began to work on the water a bout 1900 when he was only 14. He fished for both oysters and crabs. Married in 1909, he built the hou s e in which he and his wife lived all their lives. He remembers that by about 1910, many areas of the island had been abandoned due to the encroachment of the marshes from the gradual rising of the bay waters. For most of his working life he owned and captained a skip jack. He sold his last skipjack in 1966 and retired from oystering, but continued to do occasional summer crabbing. For the crabbing, he used a roundstern wooden workboat and when it sank, he retired completely. He has three daughters married to island watermen and nine grandchildren as well as a number of great grandchildren. Work History #4: 0ysterman, Crabber, Kitchen Gardener Fred Goldsborough was born Smith Island in 1899 and was 80 when I interviewed him in 1979. He spent his life on the island working as a fisherman. He had a sixth grade education and began crabbing summers as a boy of ten. He worked on sailing oyster dredge boats from 1915 later shifting over to patent tonging from powered boats instead. He eventually bought his own boat which he worked until he retired from

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242 oystering in the late 1960s. However, he continued to regularl y set out a few crab pots in the summer which he fished daily until he was seventy-eight. He slowed down after taking a bad fall and injuring his shin and hip. At age eighty he was restricting himself to light work around his son's crab shanty. In 1925 he married a woman from near Crisfield who was the sister of one of the island school teachers. She supplemented their income by running a modest bed and breakfast business in one room of their home since 1958. They have two married sons who are both watermen, and three grandchildren. Mr. Goldsborough remembers that in his youth many on the island kept large gardens and sometimes a pig and chickens. He has always kept a garden himself and continued to keep a small one at the time of our interview. Work History #5: Farmer, Oysterman, Truck Driver, Merchant Marine Seaman, Rural Mail Carrier, Airplane Mechanic Wayne Nelson (Washington High School 1981: 5-12) was born in 1908 and raised on a farm near Revels Neck on the mainland of Somerset County. He completed the ninth grade in Princess Anne and learned to sail his grandfather's skipjack from the age of twelve. From 1925 he worked for a couple of years as a tugboat hand near Philadelphia. Then he returned to farming during the spring and summer and worked winters on oyster dredge boats from 1928 to 1933. During the period 1930-1933, he also had a job hauling farm produce. From 1933 to 1940, he worked as a seaman on a Standard Oil tanker and was away from home most of those years. He was briefly the owner of a gas station in 1940-41, and

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243 then worked in Baltimore as an airplane mechanic during the early part of the second world war. He then returned to Somerset to farm because of the national food shortage. Following the war he continued farming and also obtained a rural delivery mail contract for the area between Rumbley and Westover which he continued for nearly thirty years. Nelson I s early experience on the water as an oysterman did not result in his becoming a commercial fisherman. Work History #6: Oysterman, Crabber, Shipyard Worker, Boat Builder, Carpenter Robert Harrison was born on Smith Island in 1914. His father died when he was nine and by the age of ten he had learned to navigate a small sailing skiff from which he scraped for crabs in summer. About 1930 he began to oyster during the winters and continued that work until 1961 when a bad back caused him to give it up. In 1943 he left Smith Island and worked for four months in a Baltimore shipyard. But, since he was his family's sole means of support, he came home to Smith Island to work. At this time he began to build the first of the twelve work boats he constructed in his backyard, completing the last one in 1972. In 1948, he made a change from scraping for soft crabs to using pots f o r hard crabs. A t the ti me of our conversa t io n in 19 82 n e continued to fish crab pots during the summer but only for two or three days per week which he said was as much as his back would allow. He also occupies himself in making small pieces of fine furniture during the winter months.

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Work History #7: Crabber, Truck Driver, Shipyard Worker, Boat Builder, Oysterman 244 William Marshall was born in Crisfield in 1915 and attended grammar school through the seventh grade. Except for a year's wor k in a Baltimore shipyard during World War II and three years in establish a new crabbing business on the Gulf in Mississippi, Marshall has lived and worked in Crisfield. After leaving school he was a truck driver from 1929 to 1943 and again for several years in the late 1940's. In 1956, after returning from Mississippi, he built his own work boat, which he still uses, and went "on the water" full time. At the time of my interview with him, Marshall was semi-retired. He continued to patent tong for oysters in winter a few half days a week, and work a few crab pots in the summer. If the weather is bad or he something around the house to do, he doesn't take his boat out that day. His wife has kept a beauty salon-barber shop business in their Crisfield home for more than twenty-five years. Work History #8: Shaft Tonger, Stevedore, Factory Worker, Crabber, Navy Enlisted Man William Colbourn, born on Smith Island in 1920, attended school for 6 y ears and went "on the water" shaft tonging for oysters using a small skiff. From 1942 until 1946 he served in the Navy and following the war was a stevedor for three years in Virginia. In 1949 Colbourn returned to the island and resumed oyster shaft tonging. He continued this work until 1975 when poor health forced him to slow down and eventually retire from tonging. For a couple of winters in the late 1960's, he worked in Crisfield at the Mrs. Pauls Seafood factory. He

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245 has a wife and three grown children. His wife supplements their meager income picking and selling crab meat; his two sons are watermen; his daughter is married to a waterman. Work History #9: Oysterman, Crabber, Boat Builder, Navy Enlisted Man, Carpenter-Electrician Marshall Parks is a Smith Island waterman who was born in 1929 and obtained a seventh grade education. He learned to work wood, crab and oyster as a young man on the island. Away from home for four years while in the Navy, he learned welding and electrician skills before returning home. Back on the island he made a living patent tonging oysters and crab scraping and occasionally built small boats known as "skiffs" for various island watermen. Retired from active work on the water, he continues to work as he is able doing the odd electrical or carpentry job for islanders in his immediate community. Neither he nor his brother have ever married and they live with their elderly, failing mother. Work History #10: Crabber, Oysterman, Telephone Man Born in 1930 on Smith Island, Henry Grant attended high school by living in Crisfield during the week and coming back to the island on weekends. During the summers he learned crabbing from his father and after graduating from high school began oystering with him during the winters. He eventually acquired a boat and went on his own. In 1970 he became the islan~ telephone man which part time work for the phone company supplements his commercial fishing income. He is married and has two children.

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246 Work History #11: 0ysterman and Crabber John Corbin was born in 1946 on Deal Island and finished high school in 1964. He went full time "on the water" immediately after graduation as a patent tonger and crab potter. In 1982 he owned two large, well equiped power work boats. He comes from a long line of commercial fishermen as does his wife. They have one child. Work History #12: Vietnam Veteran, Construction Worker, Bar Tender, Waterman Brad Jones lives in Mount. Vernon and was born there in 1950. In 1967 he finished high school in Princess Anne and was drafted into the Army. He was stationed briefly in Texas and served in Vietnam. From 1970 until 1975, Jones was a construction worker with the telephone company in Salisbury and also worked as a part time bartender fro 1973-78. In 1976 he bought a power workboat and went on the water. He patent tongs oysters and trotlines for hard crabs. He indicated to me in our conversation that he wish he'd "gone on the water" right after he got out of the army. He seems to like commercial fishing very much, especially the independence it affords him. planning to get married soon. He is unmarried but Work History #13: Crabber and Oysterman Born in 1951, Jack Abbott attended high school in Crisfield and graduated in 1969. He remained in Crisfield until he married a Smith Island woman and settled there in 1975. He began fishing for hard crabs in 1964 as a boy of thirteen years. Later, when he moved to the island, he bought an eighteen foot bateau and shifted over to scraping

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247 for soft crabs. From 1969 until 1979 he worked winters on the bay as a hand on his stepfather's skipjack dredging for oysters. But, in 1979 he purchased a power work boat large enough to fit with a patent tong rig and began to work for himself. His wife picks crab meat at home several hours daily during crab season and freezes it for either sale or home consumption. They have two small children. Work History #14: Oysterman, Crabber, State Oyster Boat Crewman Since his birth in 1954 until 1982 when we talked, Don Ward lived and worked in Crisfield. He graduated from high school in 1972, but had already worked for three summers setting out crab pots and selling his catch. In the period 1972-74, he worked on a Maryland State oyster boat putting down clean oyster shells for oyster spat (young oysters) to attach to, thus creating new oyster beds. He owned a small boat since 1969 from which he shaft tonged for oysters. In 1974 he bought a twenty foot boat with a small heated cabin and is able to pursue shaft tonging somewhat more comfortably than before. In the summer the scrapes for soft crabs. During 1979-80 he was also employed for ten months at the Carvel Hall knife factory, but was laid off. His wife got a secretarial job with a Crisfield attorney in 1981 and her income has been very important to them. He said he had worked as an independent commercial fisherman more or less full time for about eight years. Work History #15: Oyster Dredge Boat Hand and Crabber The last waterman to mention is Haney Marsh who was born on Smith Island in 1957, went through the seventh grade, and learned crabbing

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248 and oystering on the island. He moved to Crisfield in 1979 where he has since resided. In 1972 Marsh became ill with Hodgkins disease and unable to work. He recovered sufficiently to "go on the water" full time by 1975. He owned a boat suitable for crabbing but insufficiently large to accomodate a patent tong rig. So, he has worked as a skipjack hand from November through December during the years 1976-1982. His wife is an emergency room nurse at the McCready Memorial Hospital in Crisfield.

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1958 Essays in Sociology. H. H. Gerth, and C. W. M i lls, translators and eds. New York: Oxford University P r ess. Webster's Dictionary 1970 Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary. Springfield, Massachusetts: G. and C. Merriam. Wennersten, J. R. 1978 The Almighty Oyster: a Saga of Old Somers e t and the Eastern Shore, 1850-1920. Maryland Historical Magazine, 74(1):80-93. 1981 The Oyster Wars of the Chesapeake Bay. Centreville, Maryland: Tidewater Publishing Company. Wils o n, Woodrow T. 1973 History of Crisfield and Surrounding Areas on Maryland's Eastern Shore. Baltimore: Gateway Press. 1977 Crisfield, Maryland 1676-1976. Baltimore: Gateway Press. Wilstach, Paul 1931 Tidewater Maryland. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill. Yamaguchi, D. M. 1962 Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: A Clinical Pathological Study. Master of Science Thesis, University of Minnesota. Young, T. 1975 The Dingle Fishermen: An Analysis of the Economic Action of an Irish Fishing Fleet. Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. Zarur, George de Cerqueira Leite 1975 Seafood Gatherers in Mullet Springs: Economic Rationality and the Social System. Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Florida. Zulaika, Joseba 1981 Terranova: The Ethos and Luc k of D ee p Sea Fishermen. Philadelphia, Pe nn sy l vani a : Institut e for the Study of Human Issues. 262

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BIOGRAPHI C AL SKETCH Andrew Lee Habermacher was born in Corpus Christi, Texas, in 1943. He e a rned a B.A. in sociology from Bucknell U niversity (Lewisburg, Pennsylvania) in 1965 and an M.A. in anthropology from the Catholi c University of America (Washington, D.C.) in 1970. From 1976 to 1978 he attended the University of Florida sponsored by an N.D.F.L. grant from the Center for African Studies to complete his doctoral course work in anthropology. Mr. Habermacher is a tenured professor at Prince George's Community College (Maryland) where he has held a teaching position in the anthropology and sociology department since 1968. He served as president of the faculty organization at Prince George's Community for two years from 1983 to 1985. He is a member of the Anthropological Society of Washington and the American Anthropological Association. He resides with his wife and two children in Maryland where he has served two years on the executive board of the Queen Anne School Parents Association and four years on the board of the Charing Cross Home Owners Association. He edits a monthly community newsletter. Mr. Habermacher has travelled extensively throughout the United States, Colombia and Mexico. He taught En g lish-as-Second-Langu a ge (1971-72) in Medellin, Colombia, and helped or g anize and direct a summer field school for undergradu a tes in Mexico in 1974. He has excavated historical a rcheological sites in W a shin g ton, D. C. 263

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264 Maryland, and North Carolina. Between 1979 and 19 8 5 he conducted field research among commercial fishermen in the Chesapeake Bay w h ile also con t i nuing to teach at Prince George's Community College. Mr. Habermacher's activities and interests also include computers, drawing, jogging, real estate investment, musical instrument construction (dulcimers), and playing the guitar, dulcimer, and recorder.

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I certify that I have read conforms to acceptable standards adequate, in scope and quality, Doctor of Philosophy. I certify that I have read conforms to acceptable standards adequate, in scope and quality, Doctor of Philosophy. I certify that I have read conforms to acceptable standards adequate, in scope and quality, Doctor of Philosophy. I certify that I have read conforms to acceptable standards adequate, in scope and quality, Doctor of Philosophy. this study and that in my opinion it of scholarly presentation and is fully as a dissertation for the degree of N, Ul..plo ~ f-: n M. duToit, Chairman Professor of Anthropology this study and that in my opinion it of scholarly presentation and is fully as a dissertation for the degree of this study and that in my opinion it of scholarly presentation and is fully asi?~ the degree of Ro ert Lawless Associate Professor of Anthropology this study and that in my opinion it of scholarly presentation and is fully as a dissertation for the degree of Professor of Geography I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. ~ es C. Cato Professor of Food and Resource Economics This dissertation was submitted to the Graduate Faculty of the Department of Anthropology in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and to the Graduate School and was accepted as partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. May 19 86 Dean, Graduate School

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