Preserving Oral Histories of Waterfront-Related Pursuits in Bayou La Batre | National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Preserving Oral Histories of Waterfront-Related Pursuits in Bayou La Batre

  • Collection DOI:
    Principal Investigator:
    Gregory A. Waselkov
  • Bayou La Batre, like other Gulf coastal fishing towns, is undergoing rapid change associated with international market pressures while being threatened by pleasure industry development. As a result, its people are losing key aspects of their traditional lifeways. This oral history film project is an attempt to preserve remembrances and knowledge obtained through such fading ways of life. 

Interviewee Description Interviewer Date of Interview Location of Interview Affiliation Collection
Milton and Midge Zirlott

Milton Zirlott, of Coden, Alabama, was interviewed on August 7, 2008 along with his wife, Midge. Mr. Zirlott's family has also been in the seafood industry for generations, specifically in oystering, net making, boat building, shrimping, and retailing aspects. Mr. Zirlott, now retired, shrimped most of his life and at one point owned several shrimp boats. This profession took Mr. Zirlott to many destinations besides the Gulf Waters, including South America and Africa.

Michael Stieber Coden, AL The Center for Archaeological Studies at the University of South Alabama, Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium Preserving Oral Histories of Waterfront-Related Pursuits in Bayou La Batre
Dillard Wilkerson

Dillard Wilkerson was interviewed on August 22, 2008. This interview was very productive because it took place on the site of Mr. Sprinkle's net shop and footage of a shrimp net being constructed was filmed. Both men used to shrimp and own their own boats. However, both are retired from the shrimping industry because of high costs of maintaining a boat. The two spoke about the shrimping industry in the past and present, in addition to discussing the techniques and materials used in shrimp net making.

Michael Stieber Unknown The Center for Archaeological Studies at the University of South Alabama, Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium Preserving Oral Histories of Waterfront-Related Pursuits in Bayou La Batre
B. G. Thompson

B.G. Thompson, whose family has been in the seafood industry another for generations, in one way or another, was interviewed on August 22, 2008. Mr. Thompson spoke of his family?s involvement in the seafood industry, which included oystering and shrimping. Mr. Thompson related that his father used to own an oyster canning plant in Coden, Alabama and brought an empty can he has kept over the years to show us. Mr. Thompson, who worked for the National Marine Fisheries Service for 27 years, also spoke in great detail about regulations that have affected the fishing industry in the area.

Michael Stieber Bayou LaBatre, AL The Center for Archaeological Studies at the University of South Alabama, Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium Preserving Oral Histories of Waterfront-Related Pursuits in Bayou La Batre
George Henry Sprinkle

George Henry Sprinkle was interviewed on August 22, 2008. This interview was very productive because it took place on the site of Mr. Sprinkle?s net shop and footage of a shrimp net being constructed was filmed. Both men used to shrimp and own their own boats. However, both are retired from the shrimping industry because of high costs of maintaining a boat. The two spoke about the shrimping industry in the past and present, in addition to discussing the techniques and materials used in shrimp net making.

Michael Stieber Unknown The Center for Archaeological Studies at the University of South Alabama, Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium Preserving Oral Histories of Waterfront-Related Pursuits in Bayou La Batre
Rodney Lyons

Interview with Rodney Lyons on August 22, 2008.

Michael Stieber Unknown The Center for Archaeological Studies at the University of South Alabama, Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium Preserving Oral Histories of Waterfront-Related Pursuits in Bayou La Batre
Minh Van Le

Minh Van Le, of Bayou La Batre, Alabama, was interviewed on September 10, 2008. Mr. Le is branch manager of Boat People SOS in Bayou La Batre. In addition, Mr. Le owns two shrimp boats. In the 1970's Bayou La Batre experienced and influx of refugees from Asian countries. Boat People SOS helps refugees get integrated into communities around the country. Mr. Le also discussed current conditions in the seafood industry and the role Asians have played in the seafood industry and Bayou La Batre in general. Lastly, Mr.

Unknown Bayou LaBatre, AL The Center for Archaeological Studies at the University of South Alabama, Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium Preserving Oral Histories of Waterfront-Related Pursuits in Bayou La Batre
Brett Dungan

Brett S. Dungan's interview took place on August 5, 2008 on location at Master Marine. Mr. Dungan, president and general manager of Master Marine, discussed the changes in commercial boat building over time and more specifically the changes that Master Marine has witnessed over time. It was relayed that Master Marine has gone through several stages which included building wooden shrimp boats, then steel shrimp boats. Master Marine has also built numerous boats for foreign countries which included several West African countries.

Michael Stieber Bayou LaBatre, AL The Center for Archaeological Studies at the University of South Alabama, Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium Preserving Oral Histories of Waterfront-Related Pursuits in Bayou La Batre
David Bosarge

David Bosarge, of Coden, Alabama, was interviewed on August 7, 2008. Mr. Bosarge?s family has been in the seafood industry for generations, particularly in the oystering and boat building industries. Besides an interview, Mr. Bosarge was also filmed giving a demonstration of building a pair of oyster tong handles, as well as, working on a wooden boat he was building at the time. Bosarge skiffs are known throughout southwest Alabama, and Mr. Bosarge is the last Bosarge building these boats. However, these boats are now only built part time and to order. Mr.

Michael Stieber Coden, AL The Center for Archaeological Studies at the University of South Alabama, Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium Preserving Oral Histories of Waterfront-Related Pursuits in Bayou La Batre
Avery Bates

Avery Bates, of Bayou La Batre, Alabama, was interviewed on several occasions. Mr. Bates is president of the Organized Seafood Association of Alabama (OSAA). Mr. Bates spoke on past and current conditions of the seafood industry, in addition to various aspects of laws and regulations affecting the industry. Mr. Bates was also instrumental in providing contacts within the fishing community.

Harriet Richardson-Seacat Bayou LaBatre, AL The Center for Archaeological Studies at the University of South Alabama, Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium Preserving Oral Histories of Waterfront-Related Pursuits in Bayou La Batre