Oral History – Earl Page – Part 3: ‘Blue Top Cottages’

Compiled and edited by Ann Hertzler

Blue Top was the first home that was built. There was a string of cottages next to Blue Top before 1940. The Army hadn’t come in yet.

Walter Winner ran the Blue Top Cottages in ’37. Granddad ran it 38, 39 and 40. Granddad and grandmother moved in to an end cottage—the very first one on this end became an office and a home. Earl’s father came into the picture in ’46. His Mother didn’t care for this kind of life.

She’d stay maybe a month, two months. She was a city woman. Earl got discharged. His Dad asked him to help keep the pier going. Well, Earl and ten million other guys didn’t have a job.

Earl’s grandfather was not a fisherman – never had a rod and reel in his hand or a hand line or a cast net, or anything pertaining to fishing. He was a tie man, a businessman. To look at him every morning, you’d think he just stepped out of Esquire. Earl was doing all manner of fishing.

Every morning from 6 am you could fish for 24 hours for 35 cents. People came earlier than his father would open up. At six o’clock, he would take his row of tickets and walk out on the pier and with a straight pin, pin a ticket on ‘em, and collect 35 cents. Nobody tried to beat you out of it. Most had the 35 cents ready to keep him from having to carry so much change.

Earl was ahead of his father pushing dead trash fish off the pier – little sharks, little stingrays. People left the fish there. The marine life below consumed them. You always wonder—why didn’t they throw them back? Daddy cooked in their restaurant. He was a good cook.

There was a house out on the rise of the pier called the bait house. All piers start here and go up. They hired an older retired man to run the bait house. He had the fattest cat you’d ever seen. Shrimp was 15 cents a pound. The cat ate shrimp all the time because everybody fed it. Some brought their own bait. Ice was a problem back in those days. Blackman’s was the ice house.

As soon as the fish were running, the pier would fill up. So many people would come down and just walk out there to look and see and what’s happening, then they’d go get a ticket to fish. They did not sell nets and fishing rods, just the tackle.