Historic Places in South Jersey

Historic Places in South Jersey

A discussion of historic sites, and events, with the purpose of sharing, encouraging participation, and networking.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Great Books on Oysters

Thinking of my daughter coming to visit from New York, where she lives, reminded me to  mention a really good book I'm reading called The Big Oyster - History on the Half Shell by Mark Kurlansky.  He also wrote a wonderful book called Salt.  I had just finished reading the Oyster Wars of Chesapeake Bay by John R. Wennersten, another fascinating read that I strongly recommend. 
From the book on the Oyster Wars, I was shocked to read about the shanghai, kidnap and enslavement of new immigrants from Germany and Ireland for service on the windlass of oyster schooners.  It was heartbreaking to read how they were mistreated and even murdered.  In one pitched battle between oyster pirates and marine police a ship was sunk with immigrant mariners locked in the hold.    It is also sad to read about the watermen who depleted their own oyster beds in New England and New York, then sailed down the coast to raid the oyster beds in Virginia and Maryland. 
Now, anyone reading this who knows me personally, knows that I am a vegetarian, though a tolerant and not too self-righteous one, so I'm not about to criticize anyone for boiling alive a crab or lobster or ripping the shell apart and eating a living oyster, but it doesn't sound appetizing to me.  The main thing to me, was that the oysters each filtered and cleaned upwards of 22 gallons of water a day and when they are gone, the dumping and polluting into the rivers on top of the loss of the natural filtering provided by the oyster, is a death knell to the big rivers like the Hudson.  What a shame.  Hopefully newer generations will have more respect for our natural world and learn from those among us who already do and have struggled in the good fight for decades. 
I have always had a deep love of rivers from my childhood in South Philadelphia, not far from the Delawaare River.  In fact, my old childhood church, Gloria Dei, Old Swede's Church, which I have mentioned before, was right on the river and I saw the changing face of that noble waterway every Sunday thoughout the seasons.  It is encouraging to hear that the Delaware has made such a turn-about from its former state of pollution. 
When you see a clean river, after being used to the dark, murky and algae and refuse filled rivers where we live, in particular the Cooper, it is a pleasant surprise. 
Finally, to anyone out there who is reading this and is a Mother, I salute you!  To anyone out there reading this who has a living mother, you are lucky - appreciate her.  May the weekend bring pleasure and health and family love to all!

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