Keith Bruno: Commercial Fisherman by Day, Bird Man Also by Day
The bird man of Endurance Seafood, Keith Bruno. Photo courtesy of the Pamlico News.
Those old enough to remember The Marlboro Man are old enough to wonder if Oriental’s Keith Bruno wasn’t perhaps The Fish Man appearing on packages of Gorton’s Fish Sticks. Already the star of stage, screen, and television documentaries on commercial fishing, Bruno has also appeared as Blackbeard the Pirate with a parrot on his shoulder promoting a Putt-Putt golf course in Greenville, the home of East Carolina University’s Pirate Nation.
But that’s not all. Keith Bruno is also a hold-over from one of Alfred Hitchcock’s thrillers. The Birdman of Alcatraz and his birds live at the western end of the intra-state highway 55 bridge in Oriental.
Though he has never played the role of Jack the Ripper, a favorite story about him was the time a customer picked out a live flounder for purchase. Bruno is known for selling fish in his Endurance Seafood Market so fresh they are still swimming in a holding tank of re-circulating Neuse River water when purchased.
A new client appeared at his dock one day and selected an appropriately sized fish for her family. Keith picked up his dip net and pulled the fish out of the water – with a whole lot more grace than United Airlines removes passengers from airplanes. As the fish was doing the normal gyrations of a fish out of water, Bruno laid it on the cutting board by the sink on the dock, picked up an industrial strength knife, and proceeded to take the necessary steps to generate fresh filets.
That’s when the lady shrieked, “Oh, you’re going to kill it? I can’t stand that.” At which time she scurried down the steps, got in her car, and drove away. Fortunately, she screamed before the knife penetrated the scales and a fish’s life was spared, more a stay of execution.
But no one accuse Keith Bruno of having bird brains because of that.
Keith and his two sons, Zachary and Benjamin, are part of an aviary managed by family matriarch, Marianne. Customers of their Endurance Seafood market have often remarked that they heard voices while there, but they couldn’t figure out who was speaking.
The secret is out. Customers were not dreaming when they heard voices from out of nowhere pontificate about the quality of the seafood. “That’s one nice fish.” “They are the best looking shrimp that have been caught so far this year.” “Look at the size of those soft shelled crabs. One would be a whole meal.”
As the late Paul Harvey would say on his radio broadcasts, “And now you know the rest of the story.”
“You need to buy bigger fish!” Keith Bruno’s parrot has been trained well. Photo courtesy of the Pamlico News.
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