Epic Seafood Boil Memories from Bay St. Louis, Mississippi

Last summer, a beautiful little memory-story came to me through a wonderful Glover Gardens reader who liked my poem, my days by the water (via the Glover Gardens Facebook page, shown below).

She said:

I can see it 🙂 Many parts remind me of family reunions in Bay St. Louis.

So of course I asked her to share her Mississippi Gulf Coast memories. And after a while, she did. Now it’s time for me to share those memories with you.
“Awhile back you’d asked me to tell you about some of our Cowand family reunions in Bay St. Louis. …

The Cowands have a long history in that area dating back to a land grant a couple hundred years ago. My dad’s family was 9 siblings with Swedish/Norwegian parents. They lived a block from the Bay and loved every type of water activity. The empty lot they owned next to their house was where rows of picnic tables would be set up covered with newspaper. The feast included crabs caught off the family pier and trash can loads of fresh shrimp purchased off the Gulfport Pier fresh shrimp. They were boiled to perfection with potatoes and 1/2 corn cobs by too many ‘expert’ brothers.

Doesn’t that Epic Seafood Boil sound delightful? She finished the story from the kids’ point of view, which I just love.

My cousins and I played with minnows in the culvert, hide and go seek, and ran freshly caught crabs back to the party … total freedom and good eating in a safe corner of the world!”

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Crabs from Shoofly Magazine’s post about the 2018 Crabfest– photo by Lionel Haynes, Jr.

This story could have been from my own childhood, except that we were further down the Gulf Coast (on the Bolivar Peninsula in Southeast Texas) and we don’t have Swedish/Norwegian ancestry. But the feelings the Epic Seafood Boil story conjure of being completely free, completely safe, completely alive and completely sated still reverberate in my soul when I look back on my days by the water.

All this kindred reminiscing about seaside living made me curious to find out more about Bay St. Louis, which I have somehow missed in my many Gulf Coast travels. (What’s up with that???)  

A surf around Google shows that Bay St. Louis, est. 1699, is a really cool little place. There’s a Crab Festival! There’s a Frida Kahlo Festival! There’s a quaint downtown and a historic cemetery (with lots of Cowands in it, by the way) and a white, sandy beach – oh my! I’m not just speculating on this coolness, by the way: Bay St. Louis was listed at #4 on Expedia’s 2018 of Most Beautiful Towns in America.

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Photos from the Expedia article: Left Via Flickr/Andrew
Top Right Via Yelp/Angie T.
Bottom Right Via Shutterstock

An excerpt from the Expedia writeup: “You’ve heard being by the water is good for the soul and Bay St. Louis is the perfect place to test it. Surrounded by the bay and marshlands, this pretty little coastal town is a sailor’s delight. Stroll to the marina and listen for the sound of sailboats creaking against the dock, or build sandcastle masterpieces on the shore at the end of Main Street.”

Yep, Bay St. Louis is definitely on my Must-Go list. Below are some other charming images that I found in cyberspace; maybe you’ll put Bay St. Louis on your list, too!

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From BSL Shoofly Magazine; 2017 Crab Fest photos by Ellis Anderson
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From My Mississippi Coast
The harbor at Bay St. Louis from Shoofly Magazine
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Courtesy of Edward Depew’s blog

Resources

Soon, I’ll publish another Epic Seafood Boil memory, a spicy one from my own family history.

© 2018, Glover Gardens

with thanks and credit to my dear reader for sharing her Cowand family story!

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