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Page 31 - Bowden Murphy: 24 Years Splitting Fish

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1983/8/1 (1082 reads)
 

Bowden Murphy CONTINUED FROM INSIDE FRONT COVER You'd come to the outside wharf. You had three blocks. They used to call it a block--they built a wharf--just a block of logs, and fill it with rock, and then put stringers from one block to the other. So you get out far enough in the cove to get water deep enough to float your boats when they're loaded. You'd have to fork the fish all up. You used a fork then, but you had to fork them in the head. You see, if you forked them, in the body of the fish, that bloodstain would never come out of the fish. They had to fork them all in the head. Of course, there were lots that weren't forked in the head. (And where do you do the splitting?) You have a split- house right on the outside wharf, the out? side block. You split, and then everything goes overboard, all the offal of the fish goes overboard, chuck everything. A hatch is right by your splitting table, and eve? rything goes down in the water. There were three at the table. One fel? low 'd take up the fish, and he'd cut the throat and split it down, slit it down the belly. The other fellow'd take the gut out and knock the head off, and shove it over to me, the splitter. And I'll tell you the best knife I ever had, I made it myself, and it was from a scythe for cutting hay. After it got worn so much, I just sawed it, and I took it and curved it a littie-- you've got to have a little curve into it, so as to get under the bone, to take the bone out. I split all the time when I was there. Twenty years. And then, after I left him, I went with an old fellow there from New? foundland for four years. I split for him, too. Twenty-four years, I split. (You must have liked it,) Oh, yeah. And when you got used to it, there's nothing to it, you get so used to it. It was mostly haddock at that time. You hardly ever got very many codfish, very few--all haddock. You got a lot of macker? el. But the haddock used to come inshore, more so than the other fish. You had to be at it every day while the school was on, because it only lasted for about a couple of months. You had to get them while they were going. See, we took the fish here, and split them. Then they were all salted in bulk, until that fishing season was o- ver. Salted in bulk, you know, in a big, long building--there'd be a bulk about 3 to 3% feet high right the whole length of the building. And there'd be bulk after bulk. You had to keep watch over them, in case the flies would get in them. If the flies would get in them, then there'd be maggots in them, they'd rot. And then af? ter the school of haddock was over, you'd wash all those out, put them on the flakes to dry them. And you'd work at that fish till it was all shipped aboard of the Amer? ican boats that used to come in there. Oh, I don't know. I just kind of took a liking to that, you know. I'll tell you, there were lots of times that you wouldn't get over three hours sleep, sometimes not that much, in the nighttime. By the time that you'd get home--when the big rush of the big school of fish would be on--you'd have to split them sometimes till 11 o'clock. By the time you'd get home and get washed up, get a bite to eat--you wouldn't be in bed very long before you had to get up again. Day after day. Of course, there'd be some times that there'd be more or less than others. The more fish, the harder it was right then, the less sleep you got. I never minded, no. I really enjoyed her. (Would they work on Sunday, too?) No, no. No work on Sundays. And I tell you, Nerichac Pottery EARTHENWARE & STONEWARE RETAIL 6e WHOLESALE ARICHAT, ISLE MADAME 226-3004 On Beautiful Isle Madame Acadian CarriDsite 3-Way or Partial Hook-ups Freshwater Lake Boat Rentals June - September ARICHAT 226-2447 LaCuisine Acadienne Fully Licensed Restaurant & Dining Room Charcoal Steaks Fresh Seafood a Specialty Home Cooked Meals Light Snacks Meat Pies - Pizzas - Chinese Food Louisdale, (Dape Breton, N. S. Tel. 345-2817 Fleur-de-lis Trail, Route 320, Richmond County OPEN YEAR ROUND Qualified Dispensers Always in Attendance OWL DRUG STORE Daniel T. McKeough, Proprietor Convalescent and Sick Room Supplies Sales & Rental Drug Sundries and Cosmetics Located on Commercial Street, or write to P.O.Box 125 794-3611 North Sydney ALWAYS AT YOUR SERVICE (31)
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