I know it seems pretty redundant to talk about Fathers, Father’s Day AND Woodman’s but if you know the Woodman’s history, it is pretty easy to connect the dots. Chubby Woodman started the whole thing when he and his wife Bessie opened a little shack on a little river in a little town called Essex. I sometimes wonder if Chubby knew that what he was creating 100 years ago, would be what it is today and will continue to be for future generations. Did he know that his clam shack and a crazy idea would become the fried clam mother ship as the Improper Bostonian calls Woodman’s? Maybe not chubby, but his son Dexter took his father’s vision and fried clam creation and shared it with the world. Dexter had his own vision of what Woodman’s was, is and would be. He passed it on to his sons (and daughters) knowing they would always maintain the spirit of that small clam shack but allow it to evolve and change with the future generations.
I remember growing up in Essex and getting my first job at Woodman’s doing whatever I was told to do. I was a tall, lanky, smarta** with a big mouth and a clown. Anyway, I remember seeing this man at the restaurant or nearby all the time and everyone knew him and he knew them. He was tall and lanky just like me but the thing that I liked best about this man I did not know was his wardrobe. I know it sounds odd but I was a tween and experimenting with different looks and the one I liked most was wild and crazy with lots of color. Anyway, Mr. Woodman was wearing a white shirt, yellow cardigan (glasses hanging around his neck as usual) and the WILDEST pair of shorts I had ever seen. Seeing him wearing so many colors and patterns made it ok for me to wear whatever I wanted.
Fast forward to the summer of 1983. I was working at the Top Deck by this point and had figured out who Mr. Woodman was (I am not sure he knew who I was, but I was wrong). I do not mind telling you, he scared the crap out of me. My father died suddenly in April of 1983. The reason I mention this fact is because at the start of the summer in 83 I was getting stuff for the Top Deck and as I carried my supplies back up Mr. Woodman walking in my direction. He always looked like he was on a mission and I hoped he would not notice me. He did not care who I was anyway, I was another employee I thought. I thought wrong when this tall, imposing man in lots of colors stopped me in the alley. I said hello, he responded with his usual hey. But then he put his hand on my shoulder and asked “are you doing ok kid?” I responded I was doing just fine thanks and he said “of course you are” and continued on his mission. Here was a man that took time to let an employee know he cared as a boss but as a father. I guess he did know who I was after all.
The idea of fatherhood has evolved into so many different genres today, but stop by Woodman’s some Father’s Day and you will experience firsthand a pretty terrific example of what it means to be a father and a Woodman because you can be sure to find to or three generations of Woodman fathers carrying on as their grandfather’s did before them. You will see Doug (still recovering from Vanessa’s wedding) talking to his brother Stevie. Two of Stevie’s sons Eian and Stephen fixing something, ordering something or in Eian’s case waiting for the school bus to drop off his sons Benjamin and Samuel (Emily too). You cannot see them at the restaurant anymore, but you can most definitely feel Larry and Geoff’s spirit everywhere. Your father would be proud of who you are and what you have and will continue to do for the restaurant and those who depend on its success, but more so he would be proud of who you are and what you have accomplished as fathers.
To all the fathers passed (Dexter W., Larry W., Geoff W., John R., Tommy F., David S.) and present (Doug, Steve, Nate, Eian, Jon, Michael R., Pete L., Ted V. and Paul K.) we love you and thank you for all you have done.
Happy Father’s Day from Woodman’s