Local man passes on his history of his trade, few recipes

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Local man passes on his history of his trade, few recipes

ERVENA FAULKNER<br>Gazette columnist
Published Wednesday, January 10, 2007   |  967 Words  |  /BeaufortGazette/features/food

One of the joys I experienced while being co-manager of the York W. Bailey Museum at Penn Center was meeting "Mr. Crip," a cast net maker. He is an endangered species, as the art of net making is not as popular as the shrimp we love to eat.'
Joseph Legree Jr. was born April 4, 1924, to Joe and Geneva Brown Legare. He was the second of 11 children. He was born on what was then, and still known as, Hickory Hill Plantation. This area was the old homestead of Joseph's grandfather John Brown.'
At 11 months old, Joseph and his family moved to Hopes Plantation. As was customary, the oldest child stayed with the grandparents. Joseph, being the oldest child, stayed with his paternal grandmother Leah Legare after his father and mother moved into their new home on the other side of the highway.'
He attended Frogmore School until third grade, then dropped out to go to work to help provide for his younger siblings.'
As he recalled there was very little money on the island. He recalled picking oysters for a half cent a bushel and going out on Mondays and returning home on Wednesdays or Thursdays.'
The boat had a house on it, therefore they slept on the boat for three to four days at a time. He recalled learning to make a cast net on one of those trips. His cousin and good friend, Harry Owens, taught him the trade. He laughed as he said, "I learned to make that net after watching one time, and I have not forgotten to this day."'
When asked if he knew how to build a boat (bateau), he said he never made a boat, he just made the bottom for a boat. He said, "I have one out there I need to finish now."'
He learned to make crab traps from his friend Marion Jenkins. Until then he used a line with bait tied to it to catch crabs.'
Joseph recalled when he was growing up there were only seven people who had cars on St. Helena Island. His family was not one of them. He bought his first car at age 14 with his brother Johnny. He said it was in 1939, and his mother had to sign for them to buy the 1937 Chevy Impala. He and Johnny always had a car after that first one.'
As a result of a car accident where Joseph broke his leg, he was never able to go into the U.S. Marine Corps like Johnny. That accident caused Joseph to walk with a limp, ultimately earning him the nickname "Crip." Later, he was called "Captain Crip" because of his skills in navigating the waters around the islands.'
They would utilize what means they had to survive, so they planted corn, sweet potatoes, rice, cotton, beans, peas and a lot of other vegetables.'
He recalled it was not until after the storm of 1945, when the government sent a contractor to Parris Island and they went there to work, that they encountered real money. He made $11 a week. As he put it, "Man, that was money."'
Joseph was married twice and survived both wives. At age 82, he still recalls marrying his first wife, Janie Holmes. His mother-in-law and his mother helped him raise their two young daughters until he married Clara Byas.'
He has six living children, including stepchildren, and one son who is deceased. He lives on a family compound on Legree Road, surrounded by his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.'
He still finds joy in providing them with his catches from the river. When not offering local "taxi-services" for his family and friends, he spends his days making nets and doing odd things around the house.'
Although he says most people buy nets from the stores now, it is still a hobby he enjoys. He has attempted on numerous occasions to teach his grandchildren the trade, but no one has mastered it yet.'
The creeks and rivers are his second home. Today, he shares recipes he enjoys at family gatherings.'
Sweet and Sour Shrimp'
1 (20 1/2 ounce) can pineapple chunks'
1/2 cup vinegar'
2/3 cup brown sugar'
1/4 cup soy sauce'
1/4 cup cornstarch'
3/4 teaspoon salt'
1 medium onion, sliced'
1 bell pepper, chopped'
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined'
Drain pineapple, save juice. Combine juice with enough water to make 1 cup in a saucepan. Add the vinegar, brown sugar, soy sauce, cornstarch and salt.'
Cook until sauce is thick, stirring as needed. Add onions, pepper and pineapple chunks. Cover and simmer about 10 minutes. Add raw shrimp and cook just until pink. Serve with rice or noodles.'
Broccoli Shrimp Linguine'
8 ounces uncooked linguine'
2 Tablespoons butter or margarine'
1 jar Fettuccine sauce'
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper'
1 cup fresh or frozen broccoli florets'
1 pound uncooked shrimp'
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese'
Boil linguine as per directions on package, last 4 minutes of boiling, add broccoli florets, and drain after cooking. In medium skillet over medium heat, add butter and shrimp, cook until pink, stirring often, add fettuccine sauce, cheese, pepper and linguine mixture.'
Cook, stirring occasionally, Serve with additional Parmesan cheese.'
Battered Fried Shrimp'
1 pound shrimp peeled and deveined'
1 cup flour'
1 teaspoon baking powder'
Taste of salt'
Vegetable oil'
Pepper to taste'
1 egg, beaten'
1 cup beer'
Taste of sugar'
Dry shrimp with paper towels, mix flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, pepper, egg and beer. Dip shrimp into batter, drop into deep hot vegetable oil until golden brown.