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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

Mike Usina


Minorcan Magic

In 1960, Mike Usina got a job at the Fairchild Engine and Airplane Corporation at St. Augustine’s Northeast Regional Airport. He worked on airplanes during the day but spent his forty-five minute lunch break knitting castnets.

Mike learned to knit English-style nets from his father back when it was a commonplace and practical skill. Today, however, Mike is one of the last St. Augustine fishermen sewing nets by hand; the craft dwindled with the rise of mono-filament and machine-made nets.

Since retiring from Fairchild, Mike has become active in the Menorcan Cultural Society of St. Augustine, whose mission is to preserve and promote the culture of northeast Florida’s Minorcan community. He showcases the process and history of the making castnets at area schools and festivals, and participated in the 2015 Florida Folklife Festival. Mike is looking for a willing and able apprentice to whom he can pass the knitting craft tradition. For now he sells his nets through his online business, Minorcan Magic.

Date of interview:
2014-12-18

Interviewer:
Anna Hamilton

Photographer:
Anna Hamilton

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The Southern Foodways Alliance drives a more progressive future by leading conversations that challenge existing constructs, shape perspectives, and foster meaningful discussions. We reconsider the past with research, scrutiny, and documentation.

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