Having My Say:Conversations With Chesapeake Bay Watermen Wylie "Gator" Abbott


". . . vital to any bookshelf dedicated to Maryland history."

Baltimore Magazine


Wylie Abbott’s story of a lifetime spent on the water has special meaning for residents of Maryland’s tidewater region, but also resonates with readers far beyond Chesapeake Bay. In Europe, readers considered him Everyman and compared him to Breton fishermen.

Abbott started his career in the early 1940s, as soon as he could walk, fishing minnows and “turkles” from ditches in southern Dorchester County. Eventually, he engaged in nearly every variety of work on the water, and also did business ashore buying and retailing seafood, plying his trade from Baltimore to Texas.

In Louisiana he was feted as the World Champion Muskrat Skinner, a title that landed him on the front page of The Wall Street Journal, startling prominent investors—especially highrollers he’d guided through Dorchester marshes hunting ducks.

Long-time friend and neighbor A. M. Foley captured Abbott’s story in interview sessions and on windy days spent among loiterers in Nora Foxwell’s store.




". . . This new book takes readers inside a life spent on the water and marshes of Dorchester County. Having My Say is Abbott’s first-hand, unfiltered view of his childhood growing up in southern Dorchester County in the 1940s, and his life as a commercial fisherman and guide."

—The Mariner


"This unique book takes a reader inside the life of an Eastern Shore waterman and reveals the personality behind the white boots, cap, and worn jeans. In relating their conversations, A. M. Foley captures the essence of Wylie Abbott...one of the Shore's genuine personalities."

—Brice N. Stump, The Daily Times

  Author, Working Skipjacks of Deal Island


"I'm so glad you have done this . . . preserving some of the Shore the way it was for so many years and never will be again...I send  you a pat on the shoulder for a job well done!"      

 —C.R. Hook, Radio personality and Entertainment Promoter  


"Compelling . . ."       

Bobbie Christmas, Zebra Communications, Author, Write In Style


"I finished reading with a sense of loss. I have little interest in hunting or fishing, yet for all of that your book held me to the end...A kind of Everyman...his life reminded me of some Breton watermen who live along the west coast of France, resolute, strong men I have long admired..."

     —Michael O'Donnell, Tipperary Historical Society, Republic of Ireland

". . . a real treasure . . Even if you've never met Wylie Abbott, never seen a muskrat or an oyster tong, the stories in Having My Say are compelling."

—Gail Dean, Editor, Dorchester Star


". . . an amazing man and a wonderful storyteller . . .the last of the breed. When they pass, they'll take the old Shore with them, because we'll never see their like again. . .  It was just like sitting in Miss Nora's listening to all those boys talking. I can't tell you how much I enjoyed Having My Say. . . . Your book has become a treasured part of my Eastern Shore Collection."

—Helen Chappell, Author, Oysterback Tales

"A masterpiece..."    

—George and Suzanne Hurley, Authors, Shipwrecks & Rescues


"The most interesting life of an Eastern Shore waterman..."  

John Goodspeed, Star Democrat

"This book is a great read."

—Capt. Edgar Hansen & Nick Mavar, FV Northwestern