Living

The Perfection seen here circa 1938 is still in operation

This postcard was sent by Miss Vernelle Vance to her grandmother in Mobile. She mentioned in her message that her father, V. K. Vance of Vance Radio Services had installed the radio in the Perfection.
This postcard was sent by Miss Vernelle Vance to her grandmother in Mobile. She mentioned in her message that her father, V. K. Vance of Vance Radio Services had installed the radio in the Perfection. Courtesy Paul Jermyn

This 1938 postcard features two young women showing off a good catch. The picture is obviously a photo shoot, as it was taken by Anthony Ragusin (1902-1997) of the Biloxi Chamber of Commerce.

His job was to promote the City of Biloxi and to entice visitors. He was also instrumental in acquiring Keesler Air Force Base for the city. Ragusin, a prolific photographer, left a vast legacy of photographs that were taken all around Biloxi.

The ladies are pictured on board the schooner Perfection, which was owned by the Mavar Fish Shrimp and Oyster Co. in Biloxi in 1938.

Henry Brasher built the Perfection at his shipyard in Seymour (present-day D’Iberville). The Perfection’s original Master Carpenter’s Certificate, issued on July 24, 1918, shows its dimensions were 57.7 feet in length, 18.6 feet in breadth, and 4.1 feet depth of hold. It was 27 gross tons and built for the Barataria Canning Co. in Biloxi.

The Perfection was the victor in many of the old Biloxi working schooner races that occurred until 1932. But, a special race between the five biggest and fastest working schooners took place in 1938.

The competing vessels had been motorized since 1933, but they still carried their sailing rigs. The Perfection took first place in an easy win. It is hard to believe that the schooner, which approaches its 100th year, is still in the water and is documented by the U.S. Coast Guard. It is docked in Empire, Louisiana, and is owned by Hewitt Gauthier Jr.

Gauthier’s father, Hewitt Sr., purchased the Perfection, which had fallen into disrepair, from the Southern Shell Co. in Biloxi in 1982. Gauthier restored the boat and sold it to his son, who used it for shrimping and oyster dredging for 30 years. Hewitt Jr. has shown the Perfection at the annual Wooden Boat Festival at Maddisonville, Louisiana, three times. Today, he in the process of further restoration.

Murella H. Powell, a local historian, writes the weekly Flashback column. Do you have a local photograph to submit to Flashback? It can be of any subject or event in the Coast’s distant or recent past. Please send a description with your name, address and phone number to Flashback, Sun Herald, P.O. Box 4567, Biloxi MS39535; call 896-2424; or email living@sunherald.com.

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