•COMING IN SEPTEMBER, 2015•

Brass Valley: The Fall of an American Industry

by Emery Roth

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

September Song


DEAN LAWRENCE LUNT (from Hauling by Hand): "Yet another chore was making and mending trap 'heads' and bait pockets. Heads are the mesh netting made of twine that are stretched across the ends of traps and form the entrance to a trap on the side. Inside each trap, a mesh, funnel-shaped netting allows the lobster to move from the compartment with the bait to a second compartment called a "parlor." It is in the parlor that the lobster is trapped.... A common sight in island homes during the first 75 years of the 20th century was a man or woman sitting in the kitchen with a string attached to the kitchen doorknob, pulling wooden needles and cotton twine around a 'mesh board' --- a wooden block similar in shape to a harmonica --- to makes heads or pockets. Islanders sometimes held knitting bees at which eight or 10 people might gather at a house for ice cream and cake and to knit heads."

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: This image is from mid-September. The lobsters are in retreat to deeper, warmer waters, and lobstermen are pulling back their traps; nearest to shore come in first. Each wharf is filling with them and buoys, toggles and ropes. The lobstermen have spent their summer as I've heard them say, "Trying to outthink the lobsters." The hunt is learned from early childhood, passed from father to son and now sometimes to daughters too. I see stove pipes on many of the lobster shacks, so there is a winter routine as well. If I return in the spring I know I will see rows of scrubbed traps with ropes, buoys, and toggles neatly packaged inside in readiness for the lobsters' return.