‘Crabbin’ at the Inner Harbor

Before the Inner Harbor Pavilion was constructed in 1980, the Inner Harbor in Baltimore was a pretty desolate place with lots of rotting piers, chemical companies, pollution and trash and all that good stuff. Today, it still has the polluted water and trash but instead of rotting piers and chemical companies, you have million dollar condos and marinas in their place. In any case, back in the 70’s, there were many places along the harbor where you could crab. One of those places that a friend and I went to a couple of times was over on the East Side along Boston Street. At that particular place, there was what was left of a building and rotting piers that you could walk out on and tie off some strings, and try and catch some crabs.

On one of those hot steamy Baltimore days, John and I went down to the water, gingerly walked out on the boards that were probably about 10-12 inches across and tied off some strings. It was about a half hour into our mission when I remember John, who was quite agile as he was called by many ‘Tarzan’ was walking along one of the wet boards and all of a sudden lost his footing, and took a headfirst dip into the nasty polluted water. Well, it seemed like John was down there for minutes when in reality it was probably just a few seconds, but when John finally did come up he shot up out of the water like a Titan missile. He must have come straight up out of the water to his knees. John was somewhat shaken as the water was dark and nasty, and he never anticipated the dip.

After that mishap, I believe we caught a dozen or so crabs that day, took them back and steamed them, but no matter how much Old Bay you dumped on those crabs, you couldn’t get rid of that oily STP taste. Fortunately, I don’t think we ever went crabbing there after that, as eating those oil and chemical soaked crabs would have probably shortened both of our lives. The thing that sticks out more than anything was John taking a dip in the water and the way he shot up out of it. It was one of those days like many back then where some insignificant event like crabbing and a dip in the harbor sticks with you and becomes even more vivid over the years.

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