A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk / Along the briny beach

Man harvesting oysters; J.J. Brenner Oyster Co.

It may not be an ‘r’ month, but we recently dug up the Oyster industry scrapbooks from the J.J. Brenner Oyster Co. in Olympia.  These scrapbooks are full of clippings and advertisements, recipes and pamphlets, as well as a few photographs, letters, and posters. They also contain numerous clippings and letters concerning water pollution in the South Sound and its effects on native Olympia oysters.  Oyster growers’ fight with Rayonier, which had a pulp mill  dumping “sulphite waste liquor” in the South Sound during the 1950s, is particularly well-documented. There is also a plethora of oyster advertising, including a World War II era poster urging people to contribute to the rationing of meat by eating oysters instead. My personal favourite, however, may be the ‘diet’ which involves consuming nothing but oysters and alcohol with the promise of becoming the best-looking alcoholic around. There’s nothing like a little truth in advertising.

The Oyster industry scrapbooks consist of four volumes dating from the early 1920s through the 1980s. The first three volumes, with materials from the 1920s through the 1960s, appear to have been compiled by Earl G. Brenner, J.J. Brenner’s son. As part of Washington Sea Grant’s ‘100 Years of Oyster Culture’ celebration, these three volumes were copied into Washington Oysters: A Scrapbook. The fourth volume, clippings from the 1980s, appears to have been the work Brenner’s son Earl R. Brenner.

Image Credits:

J.J. Brenner Oyster Co., Oyster Industry Scrapbooks, vol. 1.

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Jessie

I started working in Special Collections this fall as a cataloging assistant. I do bibliographical and biographical research for the Pacific Northwest Collection and children's books. In my spare time, I am working toward another degree, and researching and writing about the Middle Ages.

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