By Richard E. Noble
Now many of you readers out there may not be all that familiar with the nautical and seafaring traditions of this coastal area. For example you might have the notion that a Marine Patrol Officer or a Conservation Man would be a respected position in an area that is for the most part either water or forest. You may even have a relative that has been or is employed in one of these areas. You might even think that to inform a local fisherman that you have a cousin or a brother who works for the Conservation or the Marine Patrol might be a way to endear yourself to a local Eastpointer or a way of making small talk. Well, it isn’t.
To tell an oysterman that your brother-in-law also used to work on the water; he was a Marine Patrol would not be considered as a gesture of friendship. It would be like telling a Cherokee Indian that you have a friend who has a valuable collection of scalps and that you could send him some pictures, if he’d like.
So that being said, and if you will keep that in mind I will go on with my little story.
I was standing on the dock down in Eastpoint after a long hard day of catching oysters. My boss, the oysterman, owner/dealer that I sold my oysters to, came steaming up to the pier in his skiff.
He landed with a bang but didn’t punch a hole in his skiff and managed not to crash the entire dock into the Bay. He cut his motor and immediately began screaming. “That Son of a so and so; that no good SOS …”
“Who you talking about?”
“I’m talking about that no good, lyin’, underhanded, good for nothin’ Officer Mariner (not his real name). That worthless piece of trash gave me another ticket for undersized oysters. And you know why that illegitimate slime ball became a Marine Patrol in the first place?”
“Because he was the laziest, sorriest oysterman this Bay has ever seen. And now I suppose the Marine Patrol Ball is coming up and that useless, lazy no-good needs to drum up some money to pay for his tickets.”
“They can’t use that fine money for their own personal use, can they?”
“Are you kidding me? Why that whole bunch of thieves have been crooked for so long they couldn’t straightened up now even if they wanted to. “But I’m going to tell you something; I didn’t just sit there and take it this time. I told that sorry bunch of pond scum to get the heck off my boat.”
I had been around and working the water long enough to understand most of what my boss was screaming and yelling about but there was one thing that had me a little confused.
The old boy seemed mighty happy and quite pleased with himself for having ordered these Marine Patrol off his boat. This had me somewhat confused. I was not all that familiar with all the “rules” of the sea. I never heard that an oysterman could order a Marine Patrol officer off his boat. But then I didn’t really know.
The Marine Patrol Officer always requested permission to come aboard your boat. They would pull up along side our little “Bail A little Sail A little” and holler; “Captain? Requesting permission to come aboard.” The first time this happened to me I started looking every which way to find a Captain. You mean we needed a Captain on this wooden bathtub we called an oyster boat? Where the heck was I going to find a Captain? We were lucky we found two life jackets this morning. We dug one of them up off the beach two days before. “Ahoy there! Captain! Requesting permission to come aboard?”
Well, after a bit I got used to that procedure but with regards to my boss and his situation I wondered; If the Marine Patrol must request permission to come aboard, maybe the “Captain” has the right to throw them off. What do I know? Like maybe a man’s oyster boat is his castle and they need a search warrant or something?
“You mean you are allowed to order a Marine Patrol off your boat, boss?” I asked.
“Why of course you can order them off your boat. This ain’t Russia yet!”
“And he has to do as you say?”
“Heck no! He don’t have to do nothing that I say. But I can tell him. I can tell him if I feel like it. I can tell him any dang thing I want to.”
“Well, what good does just telling the man do?”
“What good does it do? … What good does it do? It does a whole lot of good. It stopped me from killing that son of a bee right there and then, didn’t it?”
“You suppose darn right son. You’re darn right you suppose.”
Richard E. Noble is a Freelance Writer and has been an “Eastpointer” for around thirty years. He has authored two books: “A Summer with Charlie” which is currently listed on Amazon.com and “Hobo-ing America” which should be listed on Amazon in the not too distant future. Most recently he completed his first novel “Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother” which will be published soon.