A place for Quattrones, Betteridges, and Praticos to share our family stories, history, and heritage.
Nuncie filled up the ‘52 Plymouth with gas,and LuLu packed a lunch, probably pepper and egg sandwiches.My sister Barbara and I were going crabbing-out in the country.Cabbing in the ‘50s &’60s, was a Q. clan event with Ferdinando , Gregorio ,and other relatives from 10th St. The cooks, Josephine & Beppa ,stayed home.Two carloads of Quattrone/Praticos drove caravan style on rural Route 70 ,through the Pinelands past Toms River to Barnegat Bay, NJ. The destination was Becker’s Boats, but the Qs called it “Charlie’s Hole”,possibly because it was a down on its luck fishing and crabbing pier.The business card to Becker’s Boats is attached to this story.
Charlie Becker was the friendly owner of the pier and bait shop.We bought chopped up pieces of fish for bait, and grabbed a spot on the pier.We threw the boxy metal cage traps in the water which was about 5 feet high .Known as blue crabs, the crabs we caught were mostly green/ brown,with blue or red claws. If I caught a crab, an adult would pick up the crab from behind, or use a tong, because the crab’s claws could bite.We also used a single line with a sinker & bait which required a second person to swoop up the crab with a pole net.
One time Gregorio was so proud because he caught an eel to take home.We usually left Charlie’s Hole with a bushel basket of live crabs by about 2 – 3 pm .There was usually some bragging about who caught the biggest crab on the way home to Grandmom Josephine’s kitchen.The crabs would be water/iced,and would fight each other in the crowded basket.
You can’t cook/eat a dead crab, so it was necessary to waken the slumbering feisty army, now with claws moving in a pinching motion.Occasionally one jumped out of the sink onto the counter or fell on the floor.A few moments of tension and yelling got the adrenaline pumping ,this time waking up the humans. My Mom & Barbara would then bail out into the dining room until the crab was caught and declawed.The kitchen sink was where the removal of the claws took place, followed by the live crabs being thrown into a big pot of boiling water.
We then had a crabs and spaghetti feast.I always wanted to eat the crab I caught, but there were no name tags attached.I do not like seafood,and except for eating bumble bee white albacore in a can,this is the only seafood I ever ate.
It was dinnertime, so the Qs who had not been crabbing , perhaps Carmen, Dan,Carmen P.Joanie, Jean, Connie, etc. would appear at Grandmom’s house.After dinner, the younger cousins would play in the “double” back yard,while many of the men would enjoy a cigarette, cheap Phillies cigar,or pipe in the living room ,or outside on the step.Ferdinando finally took off his straw fedora Stetson hat.My Mom would be chatting and cleaning up, then having coffee with the other women in the kitchen. The smell of crabbing at Charlie’ Hole lasted all the way home on our drive to Jackson Street.
P.S. I Googled Becker’s Boats, and it appears that Hurricane Sandy wiped the pier & house away.This area is near Seaside Heights.Still, next summer Mary & I are going to take a ride out there just to see for ourselves.If anyone has any crabbing pictures from Charlie’s Hole,I would love to see them.