This is my grandma’s cousin Bill. Bill is wearing the clam hat. You might think you too would look good in a clam hat, but you need to ask yourself, do you really deserve it? Bill gets to wear this hat because a) he’s cooking clams, and b) he and his son dug and cleaned over 10 buckets of clams and were then generous enough to share. I’m not so good at sharing, especially when it comes to clams. I probably shouldn’t wear the hat.
some of the best seafood in the country. I already talked a little bit about what it was like to grow up in Alaska, but I may not have mentioned that it is indescribably difficult to escape a childhood in Alaska without becoming a first class seafood snob. I distinctly remember a bumper sticker on the wall of the cannery where we delivered our fish. It said, “friends don’t let friends eat farmed fish.” The attitude, however, was more along the lines of friends don’t let friends eat anything other than Copper River Salmon, Alaskan king crab, spot shrimp from Prince William Sound, the list goes on. We are the ones embarrassing our dining companions by grilling the waiter about the origin of our dinner. (Is is local? Anyone seen that episode of Portlandia?)
My great-grandparents arrived in Alaska in the early 1930s to dig clams in Boswell Bay. At the time, clam digging was a big business. My grandma and Bill remember summers spent as young children on Mummy Island (near Cordova). The older kids watched the younger ones while their parents were out digging clams. Sometimes there were as many as a dozen families on the island, each with their own rustic cabin. The commercial clam industry was devastated by the 1964 earthquake, when the ground was raised several feet. If you are interested in learning more about the early days, the National Parks website has a great article on the first commercial clam canneries in Alaska.