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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.

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Melinda and Donald Punch

Donald Punch was a shrimper all his life, following in the boot steps of his father, until his own son’s Type 1 diabetes forced him onto land. In the 1980s, Lockport’s small, public elementary school didn’t staff a nurse who could administer the kind of care a child with daily medical needs required. Donald and his wife, Melinda, then a high school physical sciences teacher, decided to open a seafood market so that Donald could get to his son at school as frequently as necessary. Donald misses life on the water and dreams of once again owning a small shrimp boat that he could man alone, but Punch’s Seafood Market is going strong and provides a more stable income than shrimping does these days. And besides that, his sons, Travis and Jason, need an outlet for their crabs. Both of the Punch boys chose fishing as a career, after having spent much of their childhood and adolescence on or near the water, and they sell their catch to Melinda and Donald. The market is a family affair in an even broader sense. Donald’s parents, Hazel and Leroy Punch, also work there, arriving around dawn each morning to make crab patties, stuffed shrimp, and crawfish bisque.

Date of interview:
2011-09-19 00:00

Sara Roahen

Sara Roahen

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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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