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Collections - MF 061 “Tom Tilton: Coaster and Fisherman”/ Gale Huntington

MF 061 “Tom Tilton: Coaster and Fisherman”/ Gale Huntington

Number of accessions: 1 (NA 1278)
Dates when interviews were conducted: 1979
Time period covered: late 19th and 20th centuries
Principal interviewers: Gale Huntington
Finding aides: transcript
Access restrictions: yes
Description: NA 1278. Basis of NF XXIII: Tom Tilton: Coaster and Fisherman (1982). Tom Tilton, interviewed by Gale Huntington, Nancy Safford, and Nora Groce Kaplan, 1973 and 1979, Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts. The interviews were mostly between Gale Huntington and his father-in-law Tom Tilton, but they were also joined by Nancy Safford in 1973 and Nora Groce Kaplan (and once by Tilton’s wife Laura) in 1979. All of the tapes are on file at the Dukes County Historical Society, Edgartown, Massachusetts, with duplicates here at the Northeast Archives of Folklore and Oral History. Tilton, 92, talks his work on the water around Martha’s Vineyard; his childhood during the late nineteenth century on Martha’s Vineyard; education; preparing salt cod; boxing a compass; childhood recreation; sailing to transport fish to New Bedford; May baskets; trapping fish, including methods, fish species, and prices; salvaging salable goods from the wrecked Port Hunter and disputes over salvage rights; bull-raking for quahogs; comparison of shoal vessels and keel vessels; cargoes carried on ships and why lime was dangerous; how to slip the anchor and when it was necessary; purification process for contaminated oysters; growing oysters; the transportation of goods to Martha’s Vineyard and seasonal patterns; dances; a near-shipwreck; swordfishing off the coast of Nova Scotia, including season, boat preparation, and techniques; use of sail and power on boats; different styles of dragging boats; tales of fishermen lost at sea; use of trunnels in boat construction; limited options for making a living available to him; his father’s lobstering; living on Nomans’s Land (Island) in the late nineteenth century; keeping fish alive in pockets; end of trap fishing; coasting; goods salvaged from wrecks; fishermen helping each other, particularly when the Coast Guard was occupied with military matters; alcohol and the rarity of drinking while at sea; wasted catches when fish were not iced properly; boating superstitions; potato bugs; and the importance of not giving in to fear in dangerous seas. RESTRICTED. Text: 252 pp. transcript. Recording: T 1340 – T 1345, T 1409 – T 1410 8 hours.

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