A story about naked boys in the late 1800s who fish for crabs among the millions of logs stored in and around the Erie and Brooklyn Basins.
The Morning Call, September 21, 1892
The Small Boy Goes "Crabbing.
Now is the season when the merry crabber, net in hand, wends his way to his favorite fishing grounds, which are mostly found at the foot of Clinton Street and in the Erie and Brooklyn basins, on each side of the long dock. The millions of logs that are stored there offer secure fishing stations for hundreds of anglers for the ugly looking but toothsome crustacean. All day naked youngsters are perched on these logs, watching their bait, chasing each other over the slippery lumber or diving and paddling in the water. The outfit of the crabber is simple enough. If fully equipped he carries a round purse net stretched over an iron ring some two or three feet in diameter. At the bottom a stone is dropped to stretch the net when in the water. The crab is a greedy feeder and not at all choice in what it eats. Fish heads or chunks of half decayed meat are fastened across the net, which is dropped in the water and secured by a rope to the stringpiece. Once in awhile it is hauled up and before master crab can disgorge he is out of his element and transferred to a bag or basket, there to squirm and pinch with his fellow captives. But the small boy's outfit is far simpler; it consists of a long handled net and a piece of string with a chunk of carrion tied to one end. This is lowered into the shallow water where crabs abound, and once in awhile the juvenile fisher draws the bait gently toward the surface. The crab is generally too busy to do anything but feed until he is almost at the surface, when the net is scooped under him and he is landed with a whoop of exultation. No angler for trout, salmon or bluefish pursues his game more intently than the crabber does, but how in these burning days the youngsters can remain naked on the logs for half a day without losing every particle of skin is a mystery. Their yellow little hides seem as impervious to the sun's heat as those of the Egyptian fellahs.—Brooklyn Eagle.