This is a feel-good story. It is an example of what makes so many communities in the USA special. It is another brand new verse of the never-ending scripture of the “Good Samaritan.” Montauk commercial fisherman Captain Chuck “Wheat” Morici was fishing off of Montauk with his buddy Jim Foley (from the Hampton Lady out of Shinnecock Canal) when they both came up with the idea to give the day’s catch away together due to the Coronavirus food shortage.
Captain Chuck “Wheat” Morici is the son of Charles Morici Sr., who was to be the Grand Marshal of the Montauk St. Patrick’s Parade that was canceled due to the present virus pandemic. His mother, Betty Morici, who until her passing this last summer at 79-years-old owned and operated the flower shop in Montauk located next to the Post Office. Chuck has three daughters, Sara, Megan, and Catherine. He mentions Lisa Valcich as both his girlfriend and his inspiration. He proudly states he is now a three-generation Montauk family and that his mother’s family landed in Montauk from Nova Scotia. But make no mistake about it, Chuck “Wheat” Morici is pure Montauk soul. He said, “I was a Montauk boy, went to the Montauk School, then I used to be a landscaper in the summer and then went fishing in the dead of winter. I enjoyed fishing so much that I bought a small boat and then another boat and then ended up with a 60′ steel trawler named the ACT 1.”
He says he fishes “for everything using different nets for different species.” Then, I asked about what’s happening in the world of commercial fishing in Montauk today. Captain Chuck relayed, “Well, today (Tuesday, March 24th), they laid off all the workers that cut fish, like the fluke, and the large jumbo tile fish, jumbo cod, what they want now is a fish a person can bring home and throw in the oven.”
Captain Chuck explained, “So on our way back from fishing, Jim Foley and I decided to give that day’s catch to the people. We had heard the local IGA was down of fish, people were running around screaming, so we contacted Company 6 of the Montauk Volunteer Fire Department to come down to the dock and we gave them bags of fish and they distributed them to the senior citizens of Montauk, and my dad knew a lot of people whom needed fish and he helped James and I give fish away. We drove around and dropped it off, a bag here and a bag there.” When asked how much fish they gave out, he shared, “We gave out exactly 1,000 lbs.” I asked the value in dollars and he replied, “Normally it’s $5,000 dollars. It was sushi fluke and some other fish that’s about what we get for it. We also gave out some scup, whiting and monk, so actually it totaled more like 1,600 lbs. of fish. It took two and a half days to distribute all of it.”
So, I asked Captain Chuck “Wheat” Morici what did he learn, what did he get from this experience? He replied, “My mom, Betty Morici, God rest her soul, taught me a lot of lessons and the biggest lesson was be kind to your neighbor. So God bless my mom’s soul. I know I have to do the right things if I ever want to see her again. She and my dad taught me to be the person I am.”
Captain Chuck also praised long-time buddy James Foley. He lauded the hard work he too sacrificed to do this Good Samaritan deed. At the end of the phone interview, the buzz of a call coming in was clearly heard as Captain Chuck said he had to get the call. A few minutes later, he called me back sounding both very proud, and at the same time flabbergasted and sort of stunned. He then explained why. During the interview, Captain Chuck mentioned he and Foley absorbed the cost of the fuel for that day’s fishing as part of the gift, besides the fish, but asked I not mention that. However, the phone call was from the fuel dock where he buys his fuel. The caller told Morici that, “Some anonymous person had just told the fuel dock to give Captain Chuck 200 gallons of fuel for his next trip.” Captain Chuck informed me “…that’s like $500 bucks! That’s Montauk. This place is just filled with amazing neighbors.” Captain Chuck “Wheat” Morici is certainly one of those amazing neighbors.