Steve Woodman: My name is Steve Woodman, grandson of Chubby Woodman, who sided the business in 1914. Well, actually before even my grandfather moved to Essex, he lived in lived in Hamilton with his parents. His father died young and his mom moved to Essex shortly after that and that’s how my grandfather came to Essex. As he was going to school, he completed third grade and he decided to quit school to start making some money. He went to his uncle’s farm to actually be a stable boy and that was in Wenham. We worked there, at 10 years old, for seven years. He got to know people from Beverly farms, and Wenham, and Hamilton, and became a very good writer and people knew who he was.
After seven years, he came back to Essex and started working to make money. Then, he started clamming and the history goes with the clamming and starting the business in 1914. Then, in 1916, with making potato chips, he started making fried clams, and that’s the history of how the fried clams started. The business was going well during the summer. It was tough than at the winter, there was basically no business around. They were always trying to find something to do. Depression came and it got a little harder, the ’30s came around, there was a little bit of activity happening.
My grandfather decided to actually buy the restaurant across the street which fell into hard times. He secured a loan for $3,000, started getting the restaurant back together and get ready to open. The bank decided that it didn’t want to have that money out and so, it called the loan, so here’s my grandfather, grandmother figuring what can they do. They don’t have $3,000, they’re going to lose the restaurant and probably, some other personal money that they had put in. They couldn’t figure out what to do, so they’ve took a ride. They took a ride down to Cape Cod.
Saw people down there clamming, see clamming, and shucking, and figured out how much they were paying for the bushels of sea clams, what they could get shucking them. He knew what they were paying for up here to JC Blood and Lynn, and a few other people who are buying sea clams at. He figured he could make some money doing that. He bought as many clams as he could, he brought him up to Lynn, to JC blood, got there three o’clock in the morning, got the night watchman says, “I’ve got some sea clams here that needed refrigerating.” They ended up calling Mr. Blood and tell him, Chubby Woodman was here and he wanted to sell him some sea clams.
They negotiated the price, he says, “I’ll buy all you that you can get me at that price.” He went down to Cape, and the whole family went down there. They rented a place, and he started operating a sea clam and shucking house 24 hours a day, just ships going back and forth, driving them back and forth up to Lynn and selling them. Well, in that month, they made that $3,000 to pay off the loan. What he did is, took that $3,000, got him all in $1 bills, put them in a pillow sack, burst it into a meeting that the president was having, because the president told him he said, “Chubby, I’m going to own that restaurant.” Broke up the meeting through the pillowcase on the table, and he says, “There’s your money. I’ll never do business again with this bank.” and he left. That was the story of how he stayed in business during some hard times.