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A Way of Life: Digging for Clams

Tool Catalogue
Courtesy of Joseph Carlin.

Anyone who has ever dug clams will tell you that this is hard work:

 “Clamming is an extremely difficult, hard, hard thing to do. You’re bent over, you’re pulling mud, and every 50 pounds of clams, you put it in the bucket, you pick it up and dump it into the bag, pick up the bag and put it into your boat, then pick up the bag and take it out of your boat, put it in your truck, take it out of your truck, put it into the basket where you’re selling it. And in addition to that, it’s mentally very draining. You basically just have your thoughts with yourself. And you basically have to continually motivate yourself to keep moving. It’s hard, alright. Then you have the elements. It can be really hot in the summertime with midgies in your ears and in your eyes, and in your mouth, you know. And it’s hot. While in the winter time it could be freezing out, the flats can be freezing and hard. So you have to find a puddle to dig through. So yeah, is it challenging, difficult work? Extremely. But the rewards can be good too. When you get home after a tide of clams, and you’ve worked hard, and you’ve sold your clams, and you’re sitting in your boat having a cold water, you feel pretty good about yourself. Because no one helped you. You did it. It’s on you, right?” - Kyle Woodman

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Henry Jeffs Basket

“This basket is old. It was made by a man by the name of Henry Jeffs who was a clammer in Essex back at the turn of the last century, back in the early 1900s. I kept it like this because nobody makes these anymore. When I look at it, I see all the hard work that went into making that look like it does now. It’s made out of white oak -- had to be white oak. I don’t know why, but that’s what I was told when I was your age. And in the winter time the clammers would make their own baskets. Henry Jeffs was the best.” - Len Woodman

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A Way of Life: Digging for Clams