Icons Of Charleston And The Low Country
"Ol' Ander The Shrimper Man"
As he was known to all, was the most fearless, undaunted of anyone, black or white on the water.
The big dinner on the plantation was served, as was customary in the low country, in the middle of the day at about two o’clock. Ol’ Ander would come to the house for his dinner, but come quitting time, he would head for his little boat “for to get me supper.” It was then that Ol’ Ander, the shrimper man came into his own. Everyone was admiring of his grace and agility with the net. He was transformed from a beloved simpleton to a star athlete, an Olympic gymnast, and a premier ballet dancer with veils of nets.
We would all gather on the banks for the evening’s performance. The sun would turn gold, then pink and dip into the water. Dust would come, bring the high-pitched song of mosquitoes gathering to feast on us. Still, we stayed. We stayed to ooh, ahh and wager bets on the size of his catch for the night. We stayed in rapt anticipation of the catch that he would share with us. But most of all, we stayed for his nightly finale. For when Ol’ Ander pulled his nets up for the night, he would stand up in the little boat, face his audience on the bank and bow.
Then he would reach down into his bucket, pulling out one shrimp at a time, holding it as high above this head as his arm would reach and them drop it into his mouth and swallow the whole thing live, head, tail and all!
He would continue this until he was full, happy and as long as the applause lasted, until the last hand clapped. Then Ol’ Ander would bow again and dissolve into the darkness of the southern low country night.
Sculpture and verse © by Alyse Lucas Corcoran