Four Guys in Front of a Shack

The good folks at Sepia Saturday sometimes like to throw some of the most ambiguous photos at us to use as a weekly theme. This week's prompt shows three men having a drink in front of a shack.

clams, shuckers, newburyport, water street, shacks, shanty, barrell, knife
Postcards: CrazyasaCoolFox
The postcard here is of a group of "clam shanties or shacks." The City of Newburyport was once famous for the clams harvested from the Joppa clam flats. The "flats," as they are named,  are exposed at low tide. Because the flats produced thousands of bushels of clams per season they needed to have "clam shuckers" to process them. The shuckers worked out of these shacks. You can see a few of these crusty old "salts" working their trade.

To shuck a clam the shucker would insert a knife blade into the clam to cut the muscle the clam uses to hold the shell closed. They would then open the shell and scoop out the contents which they then dropped into a pail. The shells were then throw out the back door directly into the river. They did this over and over and did it with speed and accuracy. I can't imagine how they could do it so fast. I tried to shuck some clams once. I ended up cutting myself after the 3rd clam which took me 15 minutes!

Joppa Flats was closed in the 1960's due to severe river pollution. However lately the Merrimack River has become dramatically cleaner over the years and when the tide and currents are right clamming is reopened.

On the the front of the postcard writer says, "There is to be a bride in the King's Daughters in June. I will tell you who is my next (written along the bottom) Ananias." The card is postmarked in two places. One is Newburyport, Mass 4:30 PM, May 9, 1906. The other postmark is it's destination: Sharon, Mass 6:00 AM, May 10, 1906. It's addressed to a Mrs. Sarah E. Mulliken, Sharon, Mass. On the left bottom corner it says Sharon Sanatorium.

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