I could have, a few years ago, got out of the business and done something else, but it’s just hard to be pessimistic when you’re doing something you love.
Even in a town like Biloxi, it’s not often someone can claim seven generations of fishing heritage. The line in Frank Parker’s family may have stopped at six when his parents pushed him to go to college and consider other lines of work, but the years of growing up playing on the dock had him pretty well convinced he was going to go back out onto the Gulf. So at 24 years old, 12 credits shy of graduating, Frank decided to listen to the sirens and bought himself a boat. The funny thing, though, is that his parents listened to them too. His father retired from furniture refinishing to be his deckhand, and his mother got on the boat to do the support work, and to referee when they butt heads.
A decade later, the industry is facing a crisis – shrimp prices have dropped drastically, expenses are rising, and captains and deckhands alike are bailing all around. But working with his family and selling his catch directly, Frank believes he’s still able to make it work, and he’s getting ready in case his kids one day decide they want to be generation eight.
Date of interview: December 1, 2010 Interviewer: Francis Lam Photographer: Francis Lam