Florida's Forgotten Coast

  • Collection DOI:
    Principal Investigator:
    Amy Evans
  • Florida's Forgotten Coast oral history collection includes twenty-one interviews documenting the seafood industry in Franklin County, FL, with an emphasis on Apalachicola, plus two interviews relating to tupelo honey. Original Collection Housed at Archives & Special Collections at the University of Mississippi and online at www.southernfoodways.com.

Interviewee Collection Sort descending Description Interviewer Date of Interview Location of Interview Affiliation
Lynn Martina Florida's Forgotten Coast

Born and raised in Eastpoint, Lynn Martina grew up in the seafood industry. Her parents, John and Sherrill Carroll, were in the business for almost thirty years. Lynn started shucking at her parents' oyster house at the age of nine. She would get out of school and head straight to the shucking stall. But after Lynn finished school, she got a job in banking. In 1997, though, Lynn's parents were ready to retire. They sold Braxton and Carroll Seafood to their daughter. Lynn changed the name to Lynn's Quality Oysters.

Amy Evans Eastpoint, FL Southern Foodways Alliance
Carl McCaplan Florida's Forgotten Coast

Carl McCaplan's family has relied on of the Apalachicola Bay for generations. Born in 1968, Carl practically grew up on the water. He remembers going out to oyster with his father when he was just eight years old. As a teenager, Carl moved away, looking for a different life. But the people and the place drew him back. He returned to Apalachicola and invested in his future. In the late 1980s Carl worked with the Oyster Association to replant the oyster beds. Twenty years later, oystermen are now harvesting those areas.

Amy Evans Apalachicola, FL Southern Foodways Alliance
Betty and James McNeill Florida's Forgotten Coast

James McNeill Jr. was born at Indian Pass, just west of Apalachicola, in 1924. His father, James McNeill Sr., was originally from North Carolina. Working the rivers rafting timber downstream, James Sr. eventually made his way to Florida. Soon after, he got into the turpentine business and eventually acquired some 13,000 acres of Florida wilderness. James Sr. passed away in 1941. In 1947 James Jr. married Betty Lane. Together, they established the Indian Pass Seafood Company.

Amy Evans Indian Pass, FL Southern Foodways Alliance
Charles and Rex Pennycuff Florida's Forgotten Coast

Originally from Tennessee, Charles Pennycuff's parents moved their family to Eastpoint in 1971. Since Charles first saw the bay at the age of seventeen, he has made his living from it. Over the years, Charles has done it all. He has shrimped, oystered, crabbed, and even grunted for worms. His son, Rex, worked the bay, too. Like a lot of folks, though, they wanted something more reliable. In 1993 Charles opened Fisherman's Choice Bait & Tackle in Eastpoint. He has no employees, only his family.

Amy Evans Eastpoint, FL Southern Foodways Alliance
A.L. Quick Florida's Forgotten Coast

A. L. "Unk" Quick has been an oysterman all of his life. Originally from Wewahitchka, Florida, his family moved to Eastpoint in 1949, when Unk was just nine years old. He quit school at the age of sixteen and started oystering the very next day. In 1964 he proposed to his wife, Gloria, and she started shucking oysters right away. They have worked together ever since. He catches, she shucks. Some days, they'll go out on the bay together. He catches, she culls. In the off-season they pick up odd jobs and do yard work. Whatever they're doing, they make a good team.

Amy Evans Eastpoint, FL Southern Foodways Alliance
Albert "Corky" Richards Florida's Forgotten Coast

Born to a barber and a beautician in 1942, Corky Richards did not grow up in the seafood industry, but he got in it as soon as he could. Corky's family moved to Apalachicola when he was a teenager, and he immediately got to work on the bay. Using his carpentry skills, he began to make his own oyster tongs. One year in the off-season, a local marine supply company asked him to make tongs for the store. Soon, Corky was making and selling tongs to oystermen throughout Franklin County. Business was so good that Corky opened a woodworking shop.

Amy Evans Apalachicola, FL Southern Foodways Alliance
Janice Richards Florida's Forgotten Coast

Janice Richards was born in Eastpoint in 1945 and has been shucking oysters since 1960. Her mother taught her the trade when she was a girl. Early on she learned to take her time to shuck a clean oyster. Janice married her husband, Johnny Richards, an oysterman, at the age of fourteen. They've worked at a handful of seafood houses over the years, and today they work together at Tommy Ward's oyster house, 13 Mile. Johnny gets the oysters, and Janice shucks his catch. But these years of shucking have taken their toll.

Amy Evans Apalachicola, FL Southern Foodways Alliance
Robert Shiver Florida's Forgotten Coast

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. 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.

Amy Evans Eastpoint, FL Southern Foodways Alliance
Donald Smiley Florida's Forgotten Coast

The son of farmers, Donald Smiley was not born with the bay in his blood. He spent his childhood in the inland town of Wewahitchka, and, as a young man, Donald worked as an air conditioning technician in Panama City. But in 1980 he moved to Franklin County and began oystering. Donald says he made more money in one day of oystering than he could make in a week at doing A/C repair. He harvested oysters for the next thirteen years, until in 1993 the industry was changing so much that Donald wanted out. As a hobby, he started tinkering with bees.

Amy Evans Wewahitchka, FL Southern Foodways Alliance
Wes Birdsong Florida's Forgotten Coast

Oringinally from Atlanta, Wes Birdsong and his wife sailed into Apalachicola in 1996. They docked their boat in town at the Deep Water Marina & Boatyard. It soon it became obvious to Wes that the marina needed some attention, so he took it upon himself to become caretaker of the place and help service the boats. Deep Water Marina, once the only working boatyard in the area, serviced all of the commercial fishing boats in Apalachicola. It was also a place for recreational boats to dry dock for repairs. In 2006 the Deep Water Marina & Boatyard closed.

Amy Evans Apalachicola, FL Southern Foodways Alliance