This third post in the series shared with us from David W. Teele and Betsey Horovitz from the The Annisquam Historical Society’s “Notes from the Firehouse” gives us a wonderful look back at clamming with some amazing photographs dating back to the late 1800s.
You an also read prior posts in this series by clicking on these links:
Visit the Annisquam Historical Society HERE: https://www.annisquamhistoricalsociety.org/
You can also read all entries in their Notes from the Firehouse Series HERE: https://www.annisquamhistoricalsociety.org/notesfromthefirehouse
Below is an excerpt from “Happy as a Clam at High Tide.” See attached screen grabs to read more.
“It was not only illegal to dig clams at high tide, it was virtually impossible.
Few creatures as apparently simple as the clam have proved so useful, for so long, for so many. Great piles of shells (middens) testify to the importance of clams to Native Americans. From the earliest days of the Massachusetts Bay Colony (then including Maine) coastal towns had the right to regulate their clam banks; mostly, they still do. Owners of the “uplands”, land above the high tide mark, did not own the clams, although they did, and do, own the inter-tidal flats.
Clams not only could be served up for dinner, but they also were a cash crop. During some of the worst economic depressions, the clam banks might be the only banks that would honor the check of a destitute seaside resident. Clams went to Gloucester, Boston, New York, and Cleveland* in their shells, on ice; shucked clams, raw or salted, went by uncounted barrels-full to serve as bait. What would a clam bake be with no clams? Children need no tools to dig for the only crop that squirts back at them.”