“I can go back to the time when Sol Legare was a dirt road. We own property down the street that my granddaddy bought in 1880. Everybody who lived here was family. Right now most of it’s still that way, but as the older generation is dying out, the younger generation is moving on. Each heir gets a part of the property and they do what they want with it, either build a home here or sell.
“My grandmother was born before slavery ended and she would tell me stories about living in this area. One of the battles between the Union soldiers and the Confederate soldiers was fought on the property that I live on now. People as far away as Detroit have read these things in books and came here with metal detectors wanting to find artifacts. I said, ‘Well, no, that’s something we don’t allow, you know?’
“Mosquito Beach was what really made a difference for Sol Legare in the ’50s and ’60s. One section of Mosquito Beach was the oyster factory. That’s why there’s an oyster house here now. For most of the men who live on this road, as we grew up, that was our way of life. Now, it’s got to the point where nobody in the younger generation wants to do it. It’s a dirty job and it’s hard work.
“We come in early in the morning to shuck the oysters and pack them in containers so they’re ready to go off to market.
“Harvesting is the strenuous part. You have to get in there and break off the dead shell, find the best quality oysters out there, then put them in your basket in your boat, wash them up, pack them, put them in the cooler. You look for the shell that produces the most oysters to bring to the shucking house. Baskets full of oyster shell are heavy and you are lifting them all day long.
“Anything that is hard, well, today younger men are made of a different material. They may have better minds, because they have the opportunity to see different things, technology wise, but as far as the hard physical work, there ain’t too many left around who will do it.” —as told to Jason A. Zwiker