Going to Ohio to Cook New England Clambake
April 4, 1938 Gloucester Daily Time
Here is an article we found in our family archives about how Chubby and only three other people brought a clambake for 5,000 to Marietta, Ohio. Unfortunately the article is cut short but there’s enough here to share!
ESSEX– When descendants of those hardy pioneers of Marietta, OH decided to do things up in style and celebrate New England day next Friday, with a New England clam chowder and clambake to top off their tercentenary celebration of the founding of the river settlement by Ipswich natives, these descendants didn’t know how to go about getting up a bake.
Then along came a hurry call to the native soil along the Essex River, and their prayers were answered when Fire Chief Lawrence (Chubby) Woodman, clam baker for the last 15 years, accepted the post for a $100 fee. It will be the largest party Woodman has ever baked for, since the number to be served is 5000. He is taking Clare Mitchell of Gloucester along, and they and their wives will start the long roll overland by car tomorrow morning expecting to arrive at Marietta on Wednesday, and be ready to treat the natives Friday as they have never been dined before.
Chubby’s clambake recipe is a departure from the old-fashioned method. Ever since the town was a part, with Ipswich and Hamilton, making one village called Chebacco, the natives have simply built an oven of beach rocks, thrown seaweed over them and driftwood into the heat, set fire to the wood and let the rocks heat. Then the clams were thrown into the blaze, a large piece of canvas set atop them to keep in the heat and the beach picnickers continued their frolicking on the strands until the cry of “come and get ‘em!”
That method didn’t suit Chubby when he began his career. He thought the system deprived the clam of its flavor. He digs a hole in the sand a few feet deep, constructs a rock oven, builds his fire with wood, but over this fire he places specially constructed racks on which he sets wash boilers or large kettles containing not only the clams, but also sweet corn, frankfurters and lobsters. Instead of throwing the clams in one heap in the boilers he takes enough clams to satisfy one person’s appetite, and wraps them in a cheesecloth bag, making as many of these clam packages as there are picnickers. The cheesecloth retains the juice in the clams; otherwise, he claims, they would be dry after baking. The seaweed is then thrown in large quantities on top of the kettles, and the bake is its own way until an hour later when all’s set for the serving.