Back in the 1950s my mother and father packed us all up in our red 1951 Pontiac and drive from our house in the Back Bay of Boston to a memorable outing up route 1 toward the North Shore of Boston. First, we went swimming and sunbathing in the Atlantic Ocean at Crane’s Beach, in Ipswich on a hot and beautiful July summer day. Later, packing us back into the car in the late afternoon, with everyone famished and exhausted from the sea and the sun, we drove to that wonderful fish shack restaurant WOODMAN’S in Essex, Massachusetts for (as my mother would always say) a BIG BUCKET OF DELICIOUS FRIED FISH WHICH INCLUDED HOT meal-covered SHRIMP, CLAMS, HADDOCK, SCALLOPS, AND FRENCH FRIES WITH ONION RINGS ON THE SIDE (now you can get Woodman’s catered to you in Boston, North Shore. What a wonderful memory and what a delicious hot and fragrant fish dinner it was! Sweet, tender, and moist heavenly morsels that melted in your mouth and have remained in my memory …

And of course it was an annual excursion year after year, and I still remember THOSE LARGE GREEN RAW AND RED COOKED LOBSTERS PILED HIGH OUTSIDE THE RESTAURANT, THE STEAM, AND THOSE BEAUTIFUL CRUSTACEA SITTING ON PILES OF CRUSHED ICE IN LARGE BINS AND OF COURSE ALL those long lines of customers, as far as ONE could see, waiting with their mouths watering, for their chance to purchase steamed lobsters OR CLAMS or fried fish dinners of pure delight! After all was eaten, we all headed toward our Boston home WITH SMILES ON OUR FACES, completely stuffed full, and with bright red sunburns all around. Such childhood memories never leave you no matter how many years pass by. So it is no surprise when, now grown up and having children of my own, they also experience this wonderful BIG BUCKET OF FISH SAGA at WOODMAN’S CLAM SHACK RESTAURANT, and THEY TOO take their children out for this wonderful experience and relish in it for their own.

So now, with time on my hands and BEING a woman of leisure and a member of the RED HAT GROUP OF BOSTON, I DECIDED to get involved in planning a long-deserved trip back up to WOODMAN’S FISH RESTAURANT WITH APPROXIMATLEY 25 WOMEN in tow. This time, however instead of the beach, we plan to shop in the many exciting ANTIQUE SHOPS THAT ESSEX, MASSACHUSETTS IS FAMOUS FOR, AND AFTER THEY “SHOP UNTIL THEY DROP” WE WILL HEAD OVER TO HAVE THIS SAVORY MEAL, and AND I WILL CELEBRATE WITH ALL MY RED HAT FRIENDS WHO HAVE NEVER HAD THIS EXPERIENCE BEFORE. The women all arrived by bus, dressed in red and purple clothing AS IS THEIR CUSTOM, ready to invade the town with a splash! As they walked from one antique shop to another, they started to accumulate wonderful treasures along the way. Quite a palate of colors these women brought to this small town, so much so that many passing automobiles stared from their windows as they passed the busy ladies on parade, laughing and enjoying their summer adventure.

FINALLY THE WOMEN HEADED DOWN TO WOODMAN’S and looked at the lines and began to laugh…soon everyone was talking to strangers from as far as Montreal and New Orleans! The Woodman’s staff also was there to help the people in line and they happily offered the RED HAT LADIES little gifts and history lessons about the WOODMAN FAMILY TRADITION, the restaurant’s beginning way back in 1914, and how they are also known for starting the whole fried clam thing. Time passed quickly and everyone finally got seated with their FAMOUS FRIED CLAMS, SHRIMP, HADDOCK, FRENCH FRIES AND ONIONS RINGS, and AND STEAMED LOBSTERS! The day finally ended and I could have called it a success story, but it was more than that….it was friendly people enjoying the best fresh seafood available, with wholesome conversation, laughter, and nostalgia all wrapped into a day full of memories.  AS ONE RED HAT WOMAN SAID: THIS IS definitely GOING TO BE AN ANNUAL EVENT…. A TRADTION THAT WILL BE ENJOYED YEAR, AFTER YEAR, FROM NOW ON, FOR ALL THOSE RED HATTERS TO COME….


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