Telling History by Telling Stories


Of all the stories my grandfather told me, the one that stands out most concerned sharks. When I tell you the story, you will understand why.

The story he told was of how crew members got rid of sharks that gobbled up snappers from their lines as they fished far off the Florida coast. As a young man in his teens, my grandfather and other fishermen, mostly Sicilian immigrants, spent a month at sea on large sailing schooners called “smacks.” To rid themselves of the sharks who trailed their smack, the crew would slit the belly of a large snapper, pack it with lye wrapped in the tin liner of a cigarette pack, and sew the fish back up. Then they would toss the booby-trapped snapper back into the Gulf water and wait until a shark snapped it up.

Excerpted from the Journal of the Texas Supreme Court Historical Society, Spring 2012, Vol. 1, No. 3. To read the full article, click here.

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