Frank Brebes Abalone Empire


Frank started working in the abalone industry with Bill Pierce when he was a young man. This was in the late 1930's and in the 1940's he started his own business. He started with one boat, the HORNET, and soon had five additional boats in his fleet. He built California's biggest abalone harvesting business.

He had operations in Morro Bay, Avila and Santa Barbara. In the early 1940's working off San Miguel Island, they observed a large Japanese submarine. The submarine moved off toward the west not noticing them. There were other sightings like this and they were reported. They even found evidence that some of the crews had landed on the island.

Many articles appeared in the Los Angeles Times about Frank and his crew. We will reproduce one on another page.

One of Frank's boats is ready to off-load abalone....Joe Gianinni photo

Frank Brebes and Charley Pierce did most of the diving, but John and Henry Brebes did some also. Other divers of note were Tudor Pierce, Noah Williams, Karl Pierce and Glen Bickford. Glen Bickford also dove for the Department of Fish and Game. Some of Frank's colorful local crew were Al Bozo Silva, TBone Fanning, Chuck Fanning and Earl McCutcheon. Frank's processing plant was moved to the present location of Giovanni's Fish Market (formerly Alden's) and Frank added a gift shop and a restaurant in the 1960's.

Both Frank and John Brebes were baseball players of note, both getting to the minor league after playing on the Morro team and the San Luis Blues. Frank also had a few boxing matches at the ring in the back of Happy Jacks. Charley Pierce eventually did gold mining and lives somewhere in the vicinity north of Boron, California. Bozo is deceased. TBone established a dry wall business near Santa Barbara. Chuck Fanning was lost at sea. Earl McCutcheon was killed in a freak accident locally due to the tsunami produced by the huge Alaskan quake. Karl Pierce is deceased.

See the Times news photo(Frank Brebes and Charlie Pierce)

The People and the Process

Karl and Les Pierce

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