“I was born in 1930. I grew up in Point Clear, south of Zundel’s Wharf. Someone made me this crown from a crab trap from my 90th birthday. I’ve been in this house in Fairhope overlooking Mobile Bay since 1965. My flower bed is a friendship bed, and the flowers were given to me by friends and family. There are lilies, gloriosas and hydrangeas. I sit out here and watch the water and remember the good times. We were free children and wild spirits on the bay. It’s breathtaking to know that I have seen this beautiful world for so long.
My family made it through the Depression because my father and his brothers fished and oystered. They bartered with farmers for potatoes, vegetables and meat. It gave all of us a better diet. Black and white folks grew up together and shared what we had. We even helped deliver each other’s babies. We knew there was a difference between us, but there wasn’t hate.
My great-grandfather came from Spain. He jumped ship in Mobile, then camped under an oak tree in Point Clear. The oak tree is still there, and the land is still in our family. His brother, Louis, also came over. They built a grocery store and the Blue Goose Saloon. They had a good business. One night two men got into a fight in the saloon. Louis tried to break it up and was killed. They closed the Blue Goose for good. My grandfather later used a team of oxen to move their house to the bay in Point Clear. They raised their family there and it was a gathering place.
My grandfather took care of lighthouses and stayed in a little camp in Bon Secour during the week. I can still see him rowing up the bay, dipping those oars to come home. He didn’t like it when they tried to put a motor on his boat. Dad built beautiful boats out of cypress. He also built beautiful chandeliers for the Grand Hotel. Dad painted and did carpentry work on the summer homes of families from Mobile.
My grandmother was a midwife and came down from Iowa. She wasn’t part of the Single Tax Colony, but they came down to rent farmland because of the colony. They didn’t have the money to buy the land, but you could rent it and prosper. My family is buried at the Confederate Cemetery.
We were late getting electricity in Point Clear, but it wasn’t a bad life reading by lamps. We watched the tides and barometers to know a hurricane was coming, then we played cards and rode it out. We didn’t go to Fairhope often. Brodbeck and Zundel general store in Point Clear had everything we needed. I went to the Little Point Clear School for six years. There were three grades, divided by rows, in one room with one teacher. When I finished my work, I heard the lessons for the higher grades and learned more. The school was still in great shape until someone set it afire a few years ago.
The bay has fed many generations of Poses, and the recipes for gumbo and crab cakes were passed down. Granny and I loved going soft crabbing. The full moon was beautiful rising on us. I lived by the moon and the tide. The tide went out, and we saw the humps of soft crabs underneath the beds of seaweed. We had an oyster bed off our pier. I was good at casting a net for shrimping–I did it so much that I began to think like a shrimp. There is something about throwing a net and feeling the bump of shrimp hitting it. The bumps feel like they are talking to me. I keep records of the shrimp I catch. Some years I caught 600-900 pounds. I once caught 24 pounds of shrimp in one cast. I thought I hit the jackpot. Jesus, you can take me right now.
I wish the bay was clear like it used to be. We would wade in waist-deep water looking for flounder. The water was so clear that you could see your toenails. I was a great swimmer and could go a long way in one breath. I swam with my eyes open to see the fish and to look through the beds of seaweed and ribbon grass. The water was blue-green, the porpoises always came in, and you could feel God all around. I loved watching my kids be on the water all day. I rang the bell to call them home. The harder I rang the bell, the faster they needed to get home. They could hear it way out there.
The bay has changed. There is so much construction, and the beaches aren’t where they used to be. Man has done a good job destroying what we had.
I collect pelicans. Daddy told us never to shoot a pelican because you may be shooting your grandpa or uncle. He said fishermen never die, they come back as pelicans. The pelicans that fly over are my friends and family, and I salute them as they pass. I told my kids and grandkids that when I die, look up and wave when they see a pelican. That will be me flying by.”