The Florida’s Forgotten Coast Oral History Project pays homage to the men and women who have long worked the water, tonging for oysters, casting nets for shrimp and fish, and cultivating soft-shell crabs. People have drawn their livelihoods from the Apalachicola Bay and surrounding waters for generations, but their way of life is changing. These people tell stories of the days when schools of mullet were thick in the water and when tupelo honey was a local find, not a Hollywood star. More than fish tales and folklore, these are the stories of the men and women who have depended on the Apalachicola Bay for generations. They are stories from Florida’s Forgotten Coast.
Florida’s Forgotten Coast
May 20, 2006
The Florida's Forgotten Coast Oral History Project pays homage to the men and women who have long worked the water, tonging for oysters, casting nets for shrimp and fish, and cultivating soft-shell crabs.
Originally from Atlanta, Wes Birdsong and his wife sailed into Apalachicola in 1996. They docked their boat in town at…
Eventually, he returned to the family business. But 13 Mile is not just his business. It’s his heritage. Hurricane…
Today only a handful of seafood houses line the water’s edge through Eastpoint. Terry works at a retail market called…
She and her husband, Leslie Lemieux, oystered together for a few years. In the 1980s Monica was an officer with the…
Oystermen harvested their catch nearby on Cat Point and Porters Bar. Shuckers would work daylight to dark, without…
Melanie Cooper Covell
In 2004 Melanie married Larry Covell. Together, they opened the Wheelhouse Raw Bar in downtown Apalachicola. Melanie’s…
Born and raised in Eastpoint, Lynn Martina grew up in the seafood industry. Her parents, John and Sherrill Carroll,…
Janice Richards was born in Eastpoint in 1945 and has been shucking oysters since 1960. Her mother taught her the trade…
He oystered for near thirty-five years before he decided to hang his hat and get a more reliable job. Today, 13 Mile is…
James and Betty McNeill
In 1947 James Jr. married Betty Lane. Together, they established the Indian Pass Seafood Company. The McNeills also…
As imports began replacing the local hard crab business, soft-shell crabs became popular. It takes a special person to…
Although he came into the industry as an outsider, Grady has earned the respect of his employees, his neighbors, and…
Over the years he has harvested just about everything the bay has to offer. But one day George decided to take up…
Genaro “Jiggs” Zingarelli
Printing has changed, but Jiggs still holds true to the craft he learned so many decades ago. He still prints tags for…
Fred C. Millender
He has found a way to keep Fred’s Best Seafood afloat. Today his daughter Susan operates the seafood house. But Fred…
But in 1980 he moved to Franklin County and began oystering. Donald says he made more money in one day of oystering…
Today Thompson’s Net Shop is one of the last of its kind. Some shrimpers make and repair their own nets, and some might…
Charles and Rex Pennycuff
In 1993 Charles opened Fisherman’s Choice Bait & Tackle in Eastpoint. He has no employees, only his family. From this…
In the late 1980s, Carl McCaplin worked with the Oyster Association to replant the oyster beds in Apalachicola. Twenty…
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…
Anthony took over his father’s seafood business as an adult. But today Taranto’s Seafood is closed. Anthony retired in…
Albert “Corky” Richards
Using his carpentry skills, he began to make his own oyster tongs. One year in the off-season, a local marine supply…
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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.