Edward H. Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History & Culture Enduring Connections: Exploring Delmarva's Black History


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Crisfield Traditions in Time: Interview with Hazel Cropper, 26 June 2003

Audio Recording

About This Recording

This interview was conducted with "Hurricane" Hazel Cropper, a Crisfield native and professional crab picker who won the Crab Derby picking contest ten times at the time of the interview. In the interview, she describes her upbringing and introduction to crab picking, noting her strategies and shortcomings when it came to competitions. She also talks about how her talent benefitted her on the road, demonstrating her abilities in Philadelphia and Baltimore, impressing crowds, and earning some press coverage for her talents.

This interview is part of the Crisfield Traditions in Time Project. For more information, see the Edward H. Nabb Center Finding Aid.


2003 Folklife Field School -Salisbury, Maryland Audio Log: Team 3 “Celebratory Events in the Community”

Accession number: CTT-WC-A003

Researcher’s name: Wendy Clupper

Event: Interview with Hazel Cropper

Place: Mrs. Cropper’s home, Broadway and 3 rd Street, Crisfield, MD Date: June 26, 2003

Co-workers present: Roberta Perkins, Jennifer Perunko

The following is a catalog of a tape-recorded interview with Mrs. Hazel Cropper, Crisfield native and champion crab picker. Mrs. Cropper has won the Crab Derby Crab Picking Contest ten times in the past.

015 -Biographical information about Mrs. Cropper (hereafter “HC”). Bom Easter Sunday. 65 years old. Where she was raised in town. Birthplace of parents. Number of children and grandchildren.

080 -Crabpicking. When started and who taught her. Techniques. Viewpoint on the art of crabpicking. People she has trained. Travel to demonstrate crab picking. Story of how she started competing in 1989. Rivalry with cousin. HC record of 41 pounds, 9 ounces in 15 minutes.

-When she has been beaten. Her crab picking strategies. Protocol for picking competitively. Rules of the competition. HC tells how her family has benefited by her winning. How much she was able to make a day picking.

-HC shares viewpoint on the decline of the seafood industry.

364- HC remembrances of the Crab Derby

Side B

015 -HC shares the things she likes to do. Home life. 073 -Being an Elks daughter. Dances, fashion shows, open houses. Trips with the Elks. Elks parade. Her influence now on youth.

226 -HC’s trip to Philadelphia, PA., to demonstrate crab picking. Won many times in the years she traveled. Injury to hand affects her picking.

287 -Trip to Baltimore Aquarium to demonstrate her art. Press coverage.

305 -HC comments on her heritage and sense of pride. Proud of being a native. Mayor presented her the keys to the city. HC feels she plays an important part of the town history and knows the city is proud of her.