EB Norris and Norris Jet Squid

Editors note

This article appeared in the issue # 12 of the Surfcaster’s Journal magazine in 2010 with permission of late Frank Pintauro and Dave Dennison. Readers wishing to learn more about Salt Water Lure Collectors Club should visit www.swlcc.com

EB Norris and his Norris Jet Squid15 - extremely rare jet squids

Most of the appreciation and knowledge we have about the unique looking and highly desirable Norris Jet Squids comes from an interview Ed Poore did with EB Norris’ daughter, Sally, in March of 1990.

But recently Dave Dennison unearthed information that furthers what we know about Norris lure production and clarifies the story behind one of the masterpieces of New England lure making ingenuity and that is……. EB Norris had not one partner but two!

Thanks to Dave’s persistence and detective work what follows are interviews with Ruth Norris (EB’s daughter-in-law) and Briar Cook, the son of Bill Cook, one of EB’s partners. Enjoy!1 - EB with redfish

Dave Dennison: So your father, Bill Cook, made the lures with EB Norris here in the basement [of the Cook house].

Briar Cook: Yes, that’s correct. My Dad and EB were really close friends and fished together all the time.

Ruth Norris: EB had a sister named Pearl, who was married to Everett Kelly. They lived in South Yarmouth. Everett also made lures and sold them out of his house.

DAVE: So we know for sure that your Dad – Bill Cook – made them with EB?

BRIAR: That’s right. Everett got involved later on once EB and my Dad got established and were dead set on selling them. Everett picked them up later on and kept them going for a while after EB lost interest but I can’t remember for how long.

RUTH: As far as I know, Everett made a lot of lures and sold them but I don’t know what kind they were.

DAVE: Ruth, can you fill me in on EB’s family?

RUTH: EB had a daughter, Sally, and a son, Bradford. EB also had a sister, Pearl, and a brother, Chester, who lived out in Dumont Drive in Hyannis. I know Uncle Chester was a carpenter and also had a workshop, but I don’t believe he made the lures. I married EB’s son Brad in 1956.

DAVE: A lot of people call it the Brad Norris Jet Squid and I know there was confusion over who made it. Can you clear that up, Briar?

BC Ernest’s middle name was Bradley. Ernest’s son Brad was not involved in the production at all and to my knowledge did not even fish. One other thing worth noting is that Ernest lived in Hyannis and was not a neighbor to the Kennedy’s, who lived in Hyannisport over a mile away.

DAVE: Do either of you remember when they started making the lures?

BRIAR: I would guess it would have to be sometime between 1949 – 1951.

RUTH: That makes sense because I married Brad in 1956 and I know they were involved in that long before I ever came to the Cape.2 - EB and a teen size bass

BRIAR: One thing you need to know: I was here at the house when EB brought in the first jet squid. And he was really anxious to get my Dad to go with him to try it out. Dad and he, of course, fished all the time, so they went over to a place called Great Island. Now Great Island is a private area but my father knew everybody and was allowed out there. So they went out to the end of Great Island where there’s a rip. There’s a lighthouse tower on the top. You have to go down about sixty stairs to get to the beach. They went down to what we call a rip, a shallow area where the water runs pretty hard. EB cast out a jet squid and caught a striper on the very first cast. So that got them going. Once they did that they came home and almost immediately they started making them.

DAVE: So EB caught a striper on his first cast with a Jet Squid?

BRIAR: That’s right!

DAVE: Wow!!! Briar, do you recall their set-up?

BRIAR: They turned the lures out of both houses, which were only a stone’s throw from each other. EB had a lathe in his basement and my Dad had a lathe in our basement. I remember seeing the lures stacked like cordwood down there.

DAVE: Who painted them?

BRIAR: They both painted them. I was too young at the time to help.

DAVE: Do you remember anything about the packaging? Or where they sold them?3 - jointed needlefish

BRIAR: They probably took them to different shops on the Cape. I know Goose Hummock was one shop – they also sold them out of the back of their car.

RUTH: EB’s daughter, Sally, was very artsy and she might have had something to do with the Hobby card but we don’t know for sure.

DAVE: Do you know where they purchased their hardware?

BRIAR: I would guess at Barker & Chadsey. Dad worked there for a while and they were wholesale distributors for a lot of plugs.

DAVE: Your father was also quite the trapper?

BRIAR: Oh yes. He did that for years. He was a mailman. He would take 30 days off in the winter and he trapped every day of that 30 days. He’d bring home anywhere between 80 and 120 muskrats a day. He’d hang them up on the line – like a clothesline – and my brother and I would come home from school: “Take a look at that clothesline, Tom. Oh gosh, he did it again!” So we’d have to come in and get them all skinned before dinner. And we also trapped otter, fox, and raccoon. He and one other man were the major trappers on the Cape. He trapped the whole Cape all the way to Provincetown.

DAVE: The great Stan Gibbs was a trapper before he got into lure making full time. It’s kind of neat that your Dad, Bill, did the same thing.4 - which came first

BRIAR: I am sure my Dad knew Gibbs.

DAVE: What can you tell me about the needlefish?

BRIAR: Well, I don’t think they came first. I don’t think they came before the Jet Squid! The hardware was different on them but that was because of time and the amount of money we did not have. Dad got whatever parts he could from whomever, so they would vary.

DAVE: It is actually possible EB and your Dad developed these needlefish for fishing in Florida. When Ed Poore interviewed Sally Norris she indicated that EB was field testing the needles in Florida and the Florida guys actually joked with him that his lures were “too big” for Florida fishing. Little did they know that by the 1980’s they would be one of the most popular lures on the East Coast for striper fishing.

BRIAR: That is something.

DAVE: When did production of the Jet Squid end?

RUTH: I don’t think EB made these after 1959 because that is when EB’s wife died and he went down to live in Melbourne, Florida and eventually remarried.5 - atom like swimmers

DAVE: Briar, any other memories, fishing with EB and your Dad?

BRIAR: Oh yes, my brother and I would be in the back of the Model A and Ernest and Dad would be in the front. And Ernest would be smoking that rotten cigar. And he’d just about kill us by the time we got there. But we had a great time fishing locally with them and, of course, we ran the whole Cape beach out to Provincetown with the Model A. In those days there were no restrictions on where we could take the buggy.12 - Bill Cook and friend 9 - EB in his workshop 7 - Ruth Norris and Bill Cook 13 - EB's calling card

DAVE: Thanks so much for your time, Briar and Ruth. We greatly appreciate the memories.

6 comments on “EB Norris and Norris Jet Squid

    1. Peter

      Would love to make my own Lures , To try different shapes and length’s bait shop’s just don’t make , And don’t know where to start other than a Lathe , Ya know what , I am going to give it a go fir this season . THANK”S for the influence …


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