In 1960, Biloxi trawl maker Francis R.C. Creel, better known as Junius, went to a Louisiana man who was in the boat business to collect money owed for nets. The man claimed he had no cash, so the Biloxian pointed to two outboard motors.|
That's how the Creel family boat-motor sales and service business was born on Reynoir Street near Back Bay. Creel's four sons worked across the street in the trawl shop and soon learned boats and motors.
In 1979, one of the sons, the one named after his dad's nickname, bought the business and named it Seven C's Marine after his family of seven, including five children and wife Sylvia. The family reference is appropriate because a third generation now works there.
As Katrina approached, the Seven C's team secured the shop for the worst, lifting things up to the Camille water mark, lining seven unsold boats up across the street against a building for wind protection. All together, Junius had 18 boats and 28 motors.
Monday morning, Junius' brother Dale, who weathered the storm at the old trawl shop-home, photographed boats floating in front of Seven C's. When the water receded, the boats headed to Keegan Bayou and neighborhood yards.
Seven C's got 6½ to 7½ feet of water inside. Junius had to sell 28 motors for salvage. As for the boats, he was able to fix any damage - they floated well - and has since sold all but one of them, plus lots more.
"We've been so busy it's unbelievable. People are buying boats like crazy. I sold four boats to people who didn't even have houses," said Junius, who lost his own house.
He had the shop open five weeks after Katrina, and the phones haven't stopped ringing.
"Every time the phone rings, people want a motor put on before the holiday weekend. We've lucky. We've been very busy. We're fortunate."
- KAT BERGERON