Pasadena History: A Family Business in Crabbing

In the 1920s the entire Dreyer family, including five daughters, helped catch crabs.

Here’s your weekly dose of some Pasadena history thanks to The Pasadena Peninsula by Isabel Shipley Cunningham.

Many people in Pasadena during the 1920s made a living by farming, but a few took to the water. John Dreyer used his entire family to help catch crabs and earn their living.

"Though Mr. Dreyer often had a hired a man or two living in a bunk house, his son and the five Dreyer daughters helped with all the work," Cunningham wrote."The girls hauled the seine net to shore, while their father or brother swam underwater to unhook it from a submerged log or other obstruction.

"Each girl wore a six-inch wide leather belt called a 'becky,' which was laced together in the front with a triple-knotted rope. They looped the ropes they were wearing over the rope of the seine net and leaned back in unison, using their weight to pull the net as they called 'Coming up' or 'Carry forward.'

"This process took an hour or more and sometimes had to be completed by the light of lanterns. 'It was a challenge,' Clara Dreyer Bomhardt recalls, 'but worth the effort.'"

Check back next Wednesday for more Pasadena history. For a complete listing of all Tidbits of History columns, please click here.


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