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Interviewee: Bob Slager

Role: Commercial Fishermen

Date of Interview: 7/16/00

Collection: Long Island Traditions

Click on the link below to play the audio clip from the interviewee.

Abstract: Bob Slager has lived his whole life in the West Sayville region of Long Island. He discovered his love for fishing at a young age working with his father on the family dredge boat. Over the years, Bob has worked jobs with regular shifts, but he prefers the freedom of making his own schedule. Bob says he could not work “upland”—he needs to be near the water. He is proud that his son followed him into the industry, and vows to continue to work on the bay as long as possible.

Transcript: “I was born in Bay Shore in 1945. I'm on the Great South Bay, between West Sayville and Fire Island and between Blue Point and [Nichols?] Point, which is [Hedger Park?]. I quit high school when I was about sixteen, that was about 1968, and thereafter I started dragging clams. I was the youngest captain on the bay. ‘Oh it was in my blood,’ no, it became my blood because of what I did and I developed a love for it by reason of having done it.

I tell people all the time, ‘If you want to run that boat, you have to be able to build that boat.’ A lot of people didn't understand what that meant, but in other words, if you don't know every nook and cranny of that boat, everything that could possibly go wrong with it, if you're not there to watch it, and see it as it happens, it can get you in a world of trouble. If you make a call on the radio and there's nobody to answer the radio, you are out there by yourself.

I try to detach myself from what I'm doing, listen to the radio, listen to a few songs from the fifties, and think about how good things used to be, and at the same time hope that things are going to get a little bit better in the future. What I think about in regards to exactly what I'm doing, yeah, how can I do it better? Is there another place I can go to? How far away is it? How far do I have to run? I'm probably going to lose time and that's all, better off staying where I am. I love the freedom of not having to get up and punch a time clock. I love it. I absolutely love it.”

To listen to Bob's interview, click here.