A New Commodity: From Bait to Plate
Consumer demand at the turn of the twentieth century resulted in flats all but stripped of clams. In 1909 Dr. David Belding wrote in his Report on the Mollusk Fisheries of Massachusetts:
“With no thought of seed time, but only of harvest, the fertile tidal flats are yearly divested of their fast-decreasing output by reckless and ruthless exploitation, and valuable territories when once exhausted are allowed to become barren. All hopes for the morrow are sacrificed to the clamorous demands of the present. The more the supply decreases, the more insistent becomes the demand; and the greater the demand, the more relentless grows the campaign of spoliation.”
“Glad Not to be Taken Up on it” (from Franklyn Goucher’s memoirs):
years ago, a Cadillac drove into my yard with New York number plates. Out
popped a gent dressed fit to kill, even to the top hat.
He purchased some clams, then looked into his wallet and said, “Gracious, can you change a hundred, it seems to be the smallest I have?”
“Damn sure,” I said, “and ten more just like it.”
It was a big lie but I couldn’t let that overly inflated city slicker think he was impressing an Essex hick like me.