Interviewee: Ambrose Besson

Role: Commercial Fisherman

Date of Interview: 8/5/09

Collection: Louisiana Sea Grant Oral Histories

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

Abstract: Ambrose Besson is a second generation commercial fisherman from Grand Isle, Louisiana. He tells what is was like growing up off the land and sea in Grand Isle.


My name's Ambrose Besson. I was born April the first, 1934.

And I remember going with my daddy sometimes and bringing that fish. My daddy – they had a seine. Gill net and a seine. They would go on the beach during the winter months on the beach, and they'd circle a part of the beach, pull it in to shoreline, and it'd be full of fish because they had fish all over the place. They didn't have conservation like you have today. You catch what you needed. Of course people then just took what they needed. They didn't take more than – well we duck hunted, we marsh hand hunted, we lived off the land. So that's how we lived when I was growing up. Off the land. You'd go hunting, you'd kill four ducks – that's all they could eat the next day – the family. Don't kill five – no ice box. And your daddy would get – you'd be reprimanded when you got home if you killed five. You had to kill four. It's what they could eat. Because a lot of people today ask you – man the good old days. There was nothing good about the good old days. It was too rough. But uh, Grand Isle, to see it then and – I lived the old and the new. To see it now and to see it then – it was like night and day. Totally different. The young people today couldn't survive off the land – they'd starve to death. They couldn't do it.

I can go from my house – I live on the middle of the island. I can walk a country block back, and go catch me some oysters if I want to eat oysters. Crabs. Or I can walk a country block to the Gulf, catch me some fish – you won't starve on Grand Isle – I won't. The young people, they might, because they don't know what it is to throw a cast net to catch mullets.

To read Ambrose's full transcript, click here.