This unit includes the original audio, as well as the original transcript and the pictures that folklorist Bulger created during the interview. These materials, audio and visual, were created as part of the Florida Folklife Program, and are presently housed at the State Archives of Florida.
In the interview, longtime net maker and Fernandina resident Billy Burbank III discusses the history and practices of the net making trade. Conducted by folklorist Peggy Bulger in July 1980, the interview begins with Burbank describing how his grandfather began the family business, Burbank Trawl Makers Inc., in 1915.
Since then, Burbank nets have been used by people in the U.S. from North Carolina down to Florida and up the Gulf Coast through the Texas Panhandle area. In addition, their nets have been exported to Central and South America and Africa. At the time of the interview, Burbank Trawl Makers was the largest producer of fishing nets in the United States. Stories about the family business include nets made for President Nixon and a fishing boat that accidentally caught a submarine in its trawl nets.
In addition, Burbank also describes the different net types and uses – including flat nets, four seam balloon nets, two seam balloon nets, and a modification that Billy Burbank III developed called the Mongoose, which is actually two nets in one. He also describes the net making process, and the various tools and skills involved.
Listen to the recording
This is the original typed transcript by interviewer Bulger of the taped interview of Billy Burbank III that was recorded in 1980. The above transcript that accompanies the audio recording includes a few minor spelling and grammatical corrections.