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Oral Histories

The SFA oral history program documents life stories from the American South. Collecting these stories, we honor the people whose labor defines the region.

ORAL HISTORY

Bobby Shiver - Boat Builder


Bobby Shiver was born at 13 Mile in 1939. His father oystered and his mother shucked for Miller’s Fish & Oyster Company. As a child, Bobby remembers building toy boats out of scrap metal and wood. In the 1960s he began to build boats as a hobby. But there was just something in him that wanted to build. For years, creating boats was an avocation. Working the bay and building houses was Bobby’s vocation. But when he got older, he began learning more about the trade from local boat builders. With a seventh-grade education, Bobby mastered the craft and made hundreds of boats. He never worked from a design. As he puts it, he sees a picture in his mind and he builds it. His boats are used by oystermen and fishermen all along the Gulf Coast. In 1977 he built a fifty-seven foot shrimp boat called the Mayme Ellyn. Bobby is no longer making boats, but the Mayme Ellyn still hauls plenty of shrimp.

Date of interview:
2006-03-23 00:00

Interviewer:
Amy Evans

Photographer:
Amy Evans

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