From the beginning, seafood fueled the growth of the Gulf Coast economy. Retired fisherman Walter Ross discusses the early days of the seafood industry.
Oyster processing plants in Biloxi used steam to make shucking the oysters easier. Ross recalls fondly the smell of the steam coming from the many large factories.
When he was thirteen, Ross began working part time in the factory where his mother worked. He remembers being much too slow to keep up with the women.
William Thiroux (pronounced T-rue), of Ocean Springs, has been catching crabs for over thirty years. He recalls a thriving industry and a plentiful supply.
In an effort to protect the crab population, Mississippi made it illegal to catch female sponge crabs, a move Thiroux says has decimated the state’s crab industry. He feels that by allowing the harvest of only male crabs, the law has had a negative impact on the crab population.
In 1967, Chris Ethridge, of Meridian, was twenty years old and working as a bass guitar player in Los Angeles. He recalls how a mutual friend put him in contact with country rock legend, Gram Parsons. Ethridge and Parsons, together with Chris Hillman of The Byrds, went on to found country rock band, The Flying Burrito Brothers.
Four years later, in 1973, Gram Parsons died of a drug overdose in Joshua Tree, California. Ethridge explains how the final wishes of Parsons led to one of the most bizarre incidents in the history of Rock-n-Roll. Ethridge discusses the legacy of the Burrito Brothers and the legend of Gram Parsons.
Chris Ethridge passed away on April 23rd, 2012, at the age of 65.
Prior to the advent of the modern supermarket, people had their produce delivered by
local grocers and street vendors. Helen Rayne of Natchez recalls how her grandmother would shop for food.
Rayne details how her grandmother would buy whole milk and use it to make other dairy products.
She also remembers the fun her grandparents had on wine bottling day.
From an early age, Chris Ethridge of Meridian was interested in music. He recalls how his father’s job affected that interest and how his love of Hank Williams’ music eventually led him to the bass guitar.
In a career spanning close to five decades, Ethridge performed and recorded with Willie Nelson, Jackson Brown, Linda Ronstadt and was a member of the Flying Buritto Brothers along with Gram Parsons and Chris Hillman. Chris Ethridge passed away on April 23rd, 2012, at the age of 65.
Jai Johanny Johanson (pronounced Jay Johnny) learned to play the drums while growing up in Ocean Springs. He remembers playing clubs in Gulfport while still in high school.
Through contacts made while playing around Jackson State, Jai Johanny landed a job as drummer for Otis Redding. He explains how that led to a spot in Percy Sledge’s band.
By 1969, Jai Johanny had a new stage name. That year, Jaimoe (Jay Moe) would help
form a new band with an unknown guitar player named Duane Allman.
After Hurricane Katrina, the decision was made not to re-open the Gulfport harbor to commercial fishermen. William Stewart discusses the impact this has had on the fishing industry.
Eugene Stork of Pecan, Mississippi, spent many years as a commercial fisherman. He recalls the pleasure of harvesting oysters, and how his wife would help him process his catch. He also describes the proper way to shuck an oyster.
Betty McGehee of Natchez recalls growing up on several plantations in Louisiana that were managed by her father.
Shedetails the difference between tenant farmers and day hands. McGehee also explains how the lack of transportation made tenant farmers dependent on the plantation store for supplies.
Jackson County resident Wesley Stork learned to fish from his father during the 1930s. He recalls the back-breaking work and how his father caught and sold terrapins to make ends meet.
In 1948 Stork began working for Clark Seafood. He recounts his 39 years with the company and how changing laws affected the industry.
Growing up in Jamaica, Raymond Brown learned to cook traditional island foods from his mother. He recalls his decision to open a Caribbean-style restaurant in Biloxi.
Offering a wide variety of Caribbean foods in his restaurant, Brown explains how he combines traditional island recipes with Southern style. He uses fresh ingredients and traditional cooking techniques to assure his customers guilt-free dining.
Father Peter Quinn was the priest of Hattiesburg’s only black Catholic Church, Holy Rosary, during the Civil Rights movement. Taking a leadership position in the movement made him a frequent target. He was protected by a group called the Deacons of Defense.
In 1966, Father Peter Quinn was a young priest at Hattiesburg’s Sacred Heart Church. When he was asked to become the priest for the community's black parish, he soon found himself involved in the Civil Rights movement. Quinn explains how as spiritual leader, he was called on to calm the community’s young people after Dr. King’s assassination.
Having the right mixture of fresh water and salt water is crucial for growing oysters. Clyde Brown recalls how community leaders in Jackson County increased oyster production.
Reecy Dickson decided to run for Superintendent of Education of Noxubee County in 1975. She recalls her decision to run for a position that had only been held by white males.
Our coastal wetlands are an important natural resource for a variety of reasons. Jennifer Buchanan of the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources discusses how they affect the seafood industry. Buchanan explains why the waters of the
For many Mississippians, family recipes are cherished keepsakes. Lisa Burnett of Ruleville remembers cooking with her family and a favorite cookbook. Burnett recalls both her grandparents, George and Tina Burnett, were excellent cooks. She describes a typical Friday night growing up in Ruleville and her Papaw’s unusual smoker.
In 2009, Burnett published her own cookbook of family recipes called Cooking on the
After building the first four Holiday Inns in
Mike Sturdivant, of
By 1976, when Studivant sat down to reflect on twenty years in the business, their company, Mississippi Management was operating over 2000 hotel rooms.
Today, MMI of Flowood. operates over 100 properties throughout the southeast.
Over the years, commercial fishermen and conservationists have often viewed each other as adversaries.
Peter Floyd of
Floyd explains how a life-long interest in herpetology, the study of reptiles and amphibians, led to a second career as a turtle researcher.
Floyd sees in the Gulf, an abundant variety of marine life. He feels that over-regulation of the fishing industry is costing the state millions in lost income.
Founded in 1876, P&J Oyster Company of
Al Sunseri explains that oyster shucking has always been done by immigrants. He laments having to lay off long-time employees. He marvels at the out-pouring of support for their company as they look to the future.
P&J Oysters can be found online at Oysterlovers.com.
After the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, British Petroleum established a program to compensate those affected. Roscoe Liebig, a shrimper from Pas Christian, says that program was poorly administered and rife with fraudulent claims.
Liebig has noticed that young people are no longer choosing a career in the shrimping industry. He wonders about the future of the industry.
By the 1950s, the Catholic Church was actively supporting racial equality and integration. The Honorable Gerald Blessey, former Mayor of Biloxi recalls how growing up Catholic influenced his decision to become politically active in college.
While attending Ole’ Miss as an undergrad, Blessey witnessed the riot sparked by the enrollment of the school’s first black student, James Meredith. Later, as a law student, he assisted Civil Rights activists during the 1964 Freedom Summer.
For Frank Parker of
Norman Yandell of
He recounts how he started making and selling his own brand of fishing lures called “Norm Bait.”
Yandell can be found most Saturdays at the Biloxi Maritime and
The Mary Queen of Vietnam Community Development Corp. was established in 2006 to assist area Vietnamese-Americans after Hurricane Katrina. Known as the CDC, they were called on once again to assist the Gulf Coast Vietnamese fishing community after the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.