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Norman McSwain, Sr.

Norman McSwain, Sr. was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1891. While he lived with his grandparents in Biloxi during his teenage years, his adult life would begin in Alabama. It was while he owned an ice cream shop in Mobile, Alabama that he met and married Mary Jane Singleton, in 1918. Together their family would grow to include three sons and two daughters.

Norman was drafted into the United States Army during World War I and was stationed at Keesler Field, Biloxi, where he and Mary bought their first home at 206 East Division Street. Mary found work as a domestic maid and, after receiving a medical discharge from the U.S. Army, Norman began his work in the seafood industry.

Very skilled at making cast nets, Norman would purchase supplies at the marine equipment and supply store on “The Point” in Biloxi and work meticulously in his back yard at his trade. He would sell most of his work, but often give some away, as he had a very charitable spirit. Using his personal net, he would catch fish and would sell them in the community using his bicycle with a large basket affixed to the front. This gained Norman the moniker, “The Fish Man”, in the East Biloxi community.

Later, the McSwains also owned a building located at the corner of Division and Elder streets. This building was rented to Mr. Eddie Parker who operated “Eddie Parker’s Seafood Market & Restaurant” - a fresh seafood market by day and a seafood restaurant by evening.

To the age of 75, Norman would still ride his bike selling fish and gathering soda bottles for the deposit. It was in 1966 that he fell from his bike and fractured his hip. He was admitted to the VA hospitals, first in Biloxi, then later in Tuskegee, Alabama, but soon succumbed to his injuries. He is buried in the Biloxi National Cemetery honoring his service as a World War I veteran. It is here, in the Maritime & Seafood Industry’s Heritage Hall of Fame, that we honor his contributions to the Biloxi community’s seafood industry.


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