The Hines family shared many meals cooked by Luke’s wife, Ruby, in their A-frame house on Seacrest Drive. As a hobby, Luke Hines often
clammed in Wrightsville Beach estuaries. “He was happier when he was in that water than any place on earth,” Hines’s son, L.T., says.
FISH MARKET FRIED SPOTS
L U K E ’ S S T Y L E
2 spot fish per person
1 cup Nabisco cracker meal
1 ½ cup Wesson oil
Salt and pepper
1 large Ziploc bag or paper bag
Clean the fish and remove the heads; leave the tails on. Cut gashes
(two or three) across each side of the fish. Do not cut through the
backbone. Add the oil to a large, well-seasoned, cast iron frying pan
and heat for a few minutes. While the oil heats, salt and pepper both
sides of the spots. Place the cracker meal in the bag. Put the fish in
the bag, about two at a time, and shake the bag until the fish are
coated. When the oil is good and hot (almost smoking), carefully
slide the coated fish into the pan. Do not crowd the fish in the pan.
Cook the fish until golden brown on the first side, then carefully
turn the fish and brown the other side. Remove the fish from the pan
and drain on paper towels or a brown grocery bag. Continue frying
fish until all are cooked. Serve immediately.
Good accompaniments include fries and slaw, stewed potatoes
with onions, big hominy, pork-n-beans, hush puppies or cornbread.
And if you’re from the South, a steamy bowl of cream grits.
“They cooked the shrimp in that big ole washpot,”
Melba said in 2008. “Family members would sit out
there and peel those shrimp all day long, and drive them
over to the fish market, and Daddy would sell them.”
Luke built an addition onto the back of his seafood
market to accommodate a cooking facility that met
modern health standards. But the introduction of
deep-sea fish spelled the beginning of the end for Hines
“The boats kept going further out toward the Gulf
Stream and bringing big fish in there that we were not
used to eating,” L.T. says. “Daddy’s fish market did not
smell (and the deep-sea fish did). He spent a lot of money
keeping it smelling nice.”
Melba said her father believed a seafood market should
smell like the ocean. When customers kept requesting
fish like king mackerel and red snapper, he finally obliged
“You couldn’t get Dad to put a king mackerel in that
shop,” L.T. says. “Finally, people started asking for it, so
one day we had a brand new shipment come in, and he
said, ‘We’re going to steak that king mackerel up and sell
it.’ We cut it up and it was an instant success.”
But it was a change that didn’t suit Luke Hines, so, in
1976, after offering to sell the business to his two children
— alas, to no avail — Luke Hines sold Hines Seafood,
ending a colorful chapter in the history of Wrightsville
It was a fantastic business,” Melba said in 2008. “I
wish I had taken it.”
She said her father had to fish to earn his keep as a child,
but it became his greatest joy and the hallmark of one of
the founding families of modern-day Wrightsville Beach.
This story has been re-edited and updated since first published
in May 2008.
COURTESY THE HINES FAMILY
COURTESY THE HINES FAMILY