September 13, 2010

The Boat Fished Out of the Sea

For a number of decades lots of boats (like the Santa Cruz, seen here parked on the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf) plied the waters of Monterey Bay and beyond, harvesting the rich established fisheries along the eastern shore of the Pacific Ocean. Agriculture, fishing, and the relict of the redwood lumber industry still gnawing away at the county's remaining hills and dales were the bastions of what local economy existed during those times in Santa Cruz. Fishing boats like the Santa Cruz helped boats from Monterey and elsewhere empty the waters of sardines as fast as the loggers could clip the hills of trees, and eventually there was hardly a sardine left to fish for, and like the loggers and millhands who dispersed, having little left to do once most of the forest had been seen to, the fleet of fishing boats tied up near the Wharf dwindled in number before relocating to the friendlier confines of an improved Harbor just down the coast, leaving the Wharf in the main to the customer-friendly uses of shops and restaurants.

My father knew a guy in Santa Cruz whose business was shrimp cocktail, packaging small shelled shrimp in little glass jars with some proprietary red sauce or other, cases and cases of the stuff he sold to grocery stores and delis, and handed out to pals when they showed up. I have a haze of a memory of going along on a visit to the guy one time in the earlier 1950's, Dad working the waif angle maybe to pry another carton of the things out of his pal. I've always wondered where they scraped the little shrimp up from, some nearby spot crawling with the things at the time, I suppose. Dad's pal worked out of a big warehousey sort of place hard by the old Union Ice Company's plant on Chestnut and Laurel streets in Santa Cruz. They don't do that sort of business near Chestnut and Laurel anymore, selling shrimp surrounded by some tomato-based something of a sauce in little glass cylinders. Whoever's selling shrimp, from wherever it comes from now, has another way to get it to market these days. And the Union Ice plant is long gone, the need for a facility to produce the vast quantities of ice demanded by the best practices of fishmongering on the enormous scale supported by all the fleets of boats identical to the "Santa Cruz" melting away years before the structure exploded and burned during the Loma Prieta quake in 1989.

1 comment:

rampster said...