Sponging

 

 

Home 
Agenda 
Main 
Conclusion 
Q&A 
References 

 

 

360 Sponge Docks by St.Pete Times


George KatsarosThe living legend of the ‘rebetiko’ song. He was born in Greece the last decade of the 19th century, left for USA in 1914, lived there until 1960 and then settled down in Tarpon Springs, Mexico. An exceptional singer and guitarist, not only he became famous during the past decades but he still sings and plays the guitar at the age of 107! Recently he gave two sold-out concerts in Athens. This album contains recordings of the 40’s and 50’s.



This is the third album of the series ‘Rare Rebetika Songs’.

George Katsaros
According to the ancient writers and physicists, sponges were first found onthe beaches of the Mediterranean Sea by the Greek People. The ancient Greek name for sponge, "zo- ofiton", means half-plant and half-animal. Approximately 850 B. C., in the ILiad, Homer writes of the Goddess Thetis (Achilles' mother) who went to Olympus to find Hepheastos (Vulcan), and with tears in her eyes, asked the god of fire to forge a new panoply (suit of armor) for her warring son. And, when the blacksmith of Olympus saw the divine Thetis, who once with Eurynome, daughter of Oceanus, saved his life, entering the workshop he took a sponge and wiped the perspirationfrom his godly forehead, arms, swarthy neck and hairy chest. Homer also refers to the sponge in his "Odyssey"...when Penelope's maidens used sponges to clean the dining table of her wooers. Aristotle wrote that the Greek warriors used sponges to clean their helmets and shields and other arms. The sponge which they used was called "Achilleion" and from its descrip- tion is thought to be the "Melathi'), the soff silky-textured variety. Roman Empresses and other aristocratic women used the sponge in their famous baths. Medical texts of the fiffeenth century describe the use of sponge in cleaning and bathing wounds. Shakespeare made use ofsponges, in the metaphorical sense at least, when in Act IV Scene 11 of"Hamlet," ·Rosencrantz is i compared to a sponge for soaking up the King's favors. Reference to the sponge appears in the Bible; John 19, verse 28 and 29; Mark 15.36; and Matthew 27.48. The most tragic part of the history of the sponge was written on the Hill of Golgotha. When Christ, according to John 19, verse 28 and 29, dying on the cross said; "I thirst", the Roman soldiers filled a sponge with vinegar and put upon it hyssop (an herb with a pleasing fragrance) and put it to His mouth.
"IN A CLASS BY ITSELF"

If there is one place in the western hemisphere where the Hellenic customs, habits and traditions are lived and prac- ticed, as closely as in Hellas itself, that place is Tarpon Springs, Florida. Every phase and concept of Hellenic life exists in Tarpon Springs as it does in Greece. Here, the members ofthe Hellenic Orthodox Community ofSt. Nicholas - the patron saint ofships and sea-faring men - work, worry and worship; live, love and labor, in the truest Hellenic fashion and in the purest Hellenic atmosphere and environment. Here, the Hellenic Church bell tolls the hour of prayer; here the eye is treated to the pictur- esque array of Grecian-style boats, sponge diving equipment, sun-browned and weather-beaten men with sleeves rolled up, going about the performance oftheir daily tasks or pleasures, like dancing at a Glendi (Greek Festival) or visiting the in- stitutionally distinctive Greek coffee houses where pictures of great scenes from Byzantine history in vivid colors adorn the walls, to sit at small tables, sip thick black coffee, play cards and smoke while poring over a newspaper printed in Greek. Thus have the Greek people of Tarpon Springs introduced into American life the picturesque "old world."

A sunny village in the state of Florida, a handful of Greek islanders from the eastern Mediterranean ..how these two groups met, side by side and eventually blended to a large extent ... this is the history of Tarpon Springs.It was the sponge in the Gulf of Mexico that brought the Greeks, expert spongers for countless centuries. Native Americans had started the Florida sponge industry, plucking the sponges from the sea bottom with long hooked poles. In 1905 the Greeks came with their diving suits ... the new technique was over four times as efficient as the old method, and the Greeks took over the industry. For nearly seventy years Tarpon Springs has been a sponge town, and the Sponge Exchange, the only one in the country, is now on the National Register of History sites.The Greeks brought with them their speech, their religion, and a whole colorful Mediterranean way of life.Tarpon Springs is not only a Greek sponge town, how ever.It has the heritage of the South and the men who fought for the Confederacy, and a sparkling of British from Key West and the Bahamas. Very early it also attracted northern business men who saw its climate and scenic beauty as a sound investment, and made Tarpon Springs a charming winter resort for affluent families as well as a year-round home for themselves.In addition to this there is the Tarpon Springs Negro community, which has been here since the t arliest years of the town.This book deals with the interweaving of these groups, until the end of the second world war. There is a special section on the Greeks because their story may be un- familiar.


Old Caffe Club Êáöåíåéïí
Mullet Boat Restaurant
The best Place for Sea Food
Tarpon Springs Florida
SPONGING BEGINS IN AMERICA
The history of sponge fishing in America begins back in the early 19th century when native Key West, Florida fishermen, together with the "Conch" (a name given Cubans and others from the Bahamas because they consumed a great number of shell-fish daily) found sponges washed on the shores after storms.

These sponges became the reason for the formation of a small fleet of"Hook Boats". They were called this because they Used hooks (hooking method) to retrieve the sponges from shallow waters.
As the sponge industry expanded in Key West, the spongers went out in quest of other sponge fields and discovered that
further north up the Gulf of Mexico, west of what is now called Tarpon Springs and which was an unsettled forest at the time,
were beds loaded with sponges of different varieties.
These spongers found that avillage, called Anclote, existed a little way up the river. The first settler here was Frederic Meyer, who camg here shortly after the close of the Civil War, in 1867, from Marion County. His brother, Franklin B..Nleyer,
followed a few months later. Soon others came. The spongers went to Anclote for diversion and supplies.
TARPON SPRINGS SPONGE INDUSTRY UPS AND DOWNS
The sponge industry has had many ups and downs. It realized its peak year in 1936 when production reached more than $3 million. Several prosperous years followed. During the good years, the waterfront was a beautiful pic- ture to behold ...the mass of sponge boats, berthed side by side, liftingtheir bows from time to time as the ripples ofthe water pushed them up and lowered them back down. When the crews returned to port, the city was bathed in gaiety. Streets were crowded and faces beamed. Coffee houses buzzed and were filled with the returned crews playing cards, smoking Turkish water pipes and dancing; barber's scissors clicked; the butcher; the baker; all were busy as bees. The picture changed. Beginning in 1943 and running through 1949, the sponge beds suffere`d the disease known as the "red tide." It all but closed the industry. There were virtu- ally no sponges to be gathered. The small amount harvested in the early 1940's, the war years,went to the Armed Forces. The public was forced to use the synthetic sponge. Many boats were converted to fishing and lobster boats. Others were sold for private use. Some of those tied to their moorings sank for lack of proper care. Gradually, year after year, the sponge beds began to regain their health and become productive again. By 1960, production was up to $425,000 and stayed near this figure until 1966 when it fell to about half. The problem is not with the sponges. A tremendous amount of healthy sponges have been and are on the beds, since the decline in sales, waiting to be harvested. In fact, overgrowth causes the beds to become dormant. It may become so over- grown that a rich resource will cease to be. The problem be- came and still is the shortage of manpower. The sponge industry has had many ups and downs.
It realized its peak year in 1936 when production reached more than $3 million. Several prosperous years followed.During the good years, the waterfront was a beautiful pic- ture to behold ...the mass of sponge boats, berthed side by side, liftingtheir bows from time to time as the ripples ofthe water pushed them up and lowered them back down. When the crews returned to port, the city was bathed in gaiety. Streets were crowded and faces beamed. Coffee houses buzzed and were filled with the returned crews playing cards,smoking Turkish water pipes and dancing; barber's scissors clicked; the butcher; the baker; all were busy as bees. The picture changed. Beginning in 1943 and running through 1949, the sponge beds suffere`d the disease known as the "red tide." It all but closed the industry. There were virtu- ally no sponges to be gathered. The small amount harvested in the early 1940's, the war years,went to the Armed Forces. The public was forced to use the synthetic sponge. Many boats were converted to fishing and lobster boats. Others were sold for private use. Some of those tied to their moorings sank for lack of proper care.Gradually, year after year, the sponge beds began to regain their health and become productive again. By 1960, production was up to $425,000 and stayed near this figure until 1966 when it fell to about half. The problem is not with the sponges. A tremendous amount of healthy sponges have been and are on the beds, since the decline in sales, waiting to be harvested. In fact, overgrowth causes the beds to become dormant. It may become so over- grown that a rich resource will cease to be. The problem be- came and still is the shortage of manpower. The local population has multiplied many times since 1966. However, while Captains are eager to take the boats out to work the beds, they cannot secure the crews. The older men of the industry are now feeble men and cannot endure the rough sea life. Th e younger generation does not care to follow in their father's footsteps, having to be away weeks at a time - away from families and friends,enduring the inconveniences and dangers of a sponger's life. The old sponger had a limited education and knew no other way of earning a living. His son has received an education and prefers other professions. Just how long the remaining sponge diving boats now in operation will continue or whether, for whatever the reason, the tide changes and the industry makes a come back to the glorious days of the past with production again in the millions-of-dollars, is anybody's guess.
Web Sites Creator
Profesional Look's
Full frame Animations Flash
Light Wave Profesional
Network Servers
Only for Bussines and Corp.

Write Angelo Angelatos

Click to Hear The Official
Greek radio Station from Tarpon Springs
Greek Party Cruise
With WPSO RADIO
a 5 Days cruise Vacation to Western Caribbean from Tampa
JANUARY 27 2001
Call Now (727)944-2000
Ask for Tina Pashalis Or Jhon Lioulias
Millennium
Travel

Tarpon Springs Fl.
(727)944-2000
For your Trip Call Us Now
Levedia Folk Dancers 20 Years of Dancing
The Sponge Docks are situated on the north side of Tarpon Springs
which is at the northern end of Pinellas County, Florida. Tarpon Springs is approximately 28 miles northwest of Tampa, 35 miles north ofSt. Petersburg and 13 miles north of Clearwater. It is on the Gulf of Mexico and the Anclote River. The area generally referred to as the Sponge Docks is Dodecanese Boulevard (previously called Anclote Boulevard), which runs alongside the south bank of the Anclote River between North Pinellas Avenue (State Road Alt. 19) at the east end and, Tarpon Bayou on the west end. Tarpon Bayou con- tinues south from the Anclote River, alongside Roosevelt Av- enue, for a distance ofone-halfmile to Park and Canal Streets. More precisely, the Sponge Docks built by the City, are on Dodecanese Boulevard. They start at Athens Street and go towards the west. The Sponge Docks, built for the convenience of the sponge fishing boats to unload their cargo and stay at while in port, were not erected at this location until the 1920's even though sponging was taking place in the area for years prior to this. Around the time the wooden Sponge Docks on Dodecanese Boulevard were built, the concrete sea-wall and paved streets came later, the waterfront was lined with a number ofmarine ways to service the boats. Also shipyards, to build the different type sponge boats suited for deeper water and diving equip- ment. And, various stores ofa craftsmen nature, such as sail- makers, blacksmiths, coppersmiths, machinists, nautical sup- plies and Grecian type coffee shops. The original Tarpon Springs Sponge Exchange, which was built to store sponges until they were sold, was erected around 1908. The present Sponge Exchange, of cement and iron, re- placing the original frame structure, was built in 1939.
For many years the center of selling and buying sponges in the United States was Key West, Florida. However, after the diving boats started in Tarpon Springs it became the largest sponge center of the world. In 1908 a shareholding company was organized to form the Sponge Exchange for the storage and sale of sponges. In 1939 a large sponge market (the present Sponge Ex- change) was built with cement and iron to replace the original small frame structure. Today, the Exchange has over 100 rooms, much likejail cells, where sponges are stored and wholesale auctions are generally held Tuesdays.and Fridays at 9:30 A.M. For the services of storage, auction, etc., the Sponge Ex- change bills the seller a small percentage ofthe price at which the sponges were sold. Almost all of the sponges collected by Tarpon Springs boats are sold at the Sponge Exchange. On the days ofthe auctions the sponges are brought out ofthe cells and spread on the grounds for the buyers to examine. At 9:30 A.M., the clerk of the Sponge Exchange blows a whistle officially starting the auction. Having inspected the sponges, the buyers write down the price they wish to pay for a specific lot and hand their offer to the clerk. After all secret bids are turned in, the clerk announces the buyer making the high- est offer. The seller, hearing the name ofthe buyer and price offered, is obliged to call out "sold" if acceptable or "refused" if rejected. The seller is not obligated to sell and can hold his sponges over for a future auction.
The local population has multiplied many times since 1966. However, while Captains are eager to take the boats out to work the beds, they cannot secure the crews. The older men of the industry are now feeble men and cannot endure the rough sea life. The younger generation does not care to follow in their father's footsteps, having to be away weeks at a time - away from families and friends, enduring the inconveniences and dangers of a sponger's life. The old sponger had a limited education and knew no other way of earning a living. His son has received an education and prefers other professions. Just how long the remaining sponge diving boats now in operation will continue or whether, for whatever the reason, the tide changes and the industry makes a come back to the glorious days of the past with production again in the millions-of-dollars, is anybody's guess.
 

info@mytarponsprings.comAngelos Angelatos Tarpon Springs @2000 E-Mail

 

[Home][Agenda][Main][Conclusion][Q& A][References]

Copyright (c) 2000 My Company. All rights reserved.

info@mytarponsprings.net