The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Opinion

April 18, 2010

Where have all the Possum gone?

— I saw in the news this week that the last sardine cannery in the United States has closed. What a shame! The cannery fell victim to fishing quotas, changing customer taste, and competition from lower-cost countries. The Stinson Seafood Plant was located in Prospect Harbor, Maine, and had been in operation for a hundred years. The first sardine cannery in Maine was built in 1875 and the production peaked in 1950 with 350 million cans being packed that year. The intensely fish smell of herring has been the smell of money for generations of workers in Maine who have snipped, sliced and packed the small fish into billions of cans of sardines on their way to America’s lunch buckets and kitchen cabinets.

The Stinson cannery was owned by Bumblebee Foods, and their sardines were packaged under the brand name, Beachcliff. Being a connoisseur of sardines, I purchased and ate the Beachcliff brand and did not like them. They were not the small, silvery fish that people knew as sardines. When you opened a can of Beachcliff it looked as if someone had hacked a Perch half-in-two and stuffed it in the can. They had no taste and very little smell about them. They did not resemble in any way the small, oily, silvery sardines that we ate while growing up out in the Blackburn community.

When we wanted sardines, we went to Dude Hudson’s store and brought a dime can of Possum. If you remember, the can had a picture of a possum hanging upside-down on the front. Possum sardines had a strong, fishy taste and a peculiar smell about them. They were delicious. I think they were the best sardines ever packed.

Sardines were so handy. You could carry a can of sardines in your back pocket while chopping or picking cotton. Whenever we got hungry, we could pull out our can of sardines, get your sardine key out of your pocket, and open the can. A sardine just fit on a cracker and the oil would glisten in the sun. A liberal dose of Louisiana Hot Sauce would add so much to the sardine and cracker. When the sardines were eaten and washed down with an RC or Double Cola, you could crumble a cracker into the oil and eat that. You could then flatten the can and nail it over rat holes in the corn crib.

Text Only
Opinion
Poll

Do you think Athens-Limestone County is better prepared than in April 2011 to provide shelter from a major tornado?

Yes
No
     View Results
Facebook
AP Video
SKorea Ferry Toll Hits 156, Search Gets Tougher Video Shows Possible Syrian Gas Attack Cubs Superfans Celebrate Wrigley's 100th Raw: Cattle Truck Overturns in Texas Admirers Flock to Dole During Kansas Homecoming Raw: Erupting Volcanoes in Guatemala and Peru Alibaba IPO Could Be Largest Ever for Tech Firm FBI Joining Probe of Suburban NY 'Swatting' Call U.S. Paratroopers in Poland, Amid Ukraine Crisis US Reviews Clemency for Certain Inmates Raw: Violence Erupts in Rio Near Olympic Venue Raw: Deadly Bombing in Egypt Raw: What's Inside a Commercial Jet Wheel Well Raw: Obama Arrives in Japan for State Visit Raw: Anti-Obama Activists Fight Manila Police Motels Near Disney Fighting Homeless Problem Michigan Man Sees Thanks to 'bionic Eye' S.C. Man Apologizes for Naked Walk in Wal-Mart Chief Mate: Crew Told to Escape After Passengers
Twitter Updates
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Stocks
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Business Marquee