Monday, July 25, 2005


(Originally run 1/23/04 on our old site)

Everyone once-in-a-while, it’s fun to get a bit of background on old friends who have gone far afield. Here are two of them that, through no intent at all, both ended up in Oregon, of all places.

Ann Shannon Snodgrass

Hello, Ernie. All is well with me and mine. My husband and our three sons and their families (six grandchildren!) are all settled in the Great Northwest. We’re retired university profs, blessed with good health and a happy life. Hope all is good with you and yours. Hello, Tom. Before you run out of aspirin — Mira and Becca’s dads are brothers. Becca, Martha, and my mother were sisters. We’re fortunate that Becca and Mira’s dads and Martha’s mother are still with us, especially as each of them continues to “parent” us. Family is wonderful. Now, would you like to hear about the 22 double-cousins on my dad’s side of the family? No? I didn’t think so.

Tom Pry

“22 double cousins”?!?! Do they all live in Kentucky?

Dan E. Randle

I ran across this picture and thought you might enjoy seeing what I really look like and the big Geoduc (Gooey Duck) clam I dug on Bainbridge Island, across the bay from Seattle. You do believe that this is a true picture of what I look like now, right? OK you got me; it was taken the summer of 1973. The clam is the biggest one some friends of mine that lived in Seattle had ever seen dug by hand.

This family of clams usually are harvested out in the water by scuba divers. This one I found very close to the low tide water line, which explains why it took me about 30 minutes to dig down deep enough to get the monster. Unfortunately we forgot to bring a shovel, so I had to use an old clam shell I found on the beach. As you dig down in the sand, the sides slough off so you are constantly removing sand as you are digging a deeper hole. We did bring along something like a large stove pipe that you place in the hole when it gets large enough. This keeps what sloughs off from falling into the hole. If we had brought the shovel, it wouldn't have taken that much time.

Anyway, as I was digging, the tide started coming in, and was getting close to where I was digging. Then the bigger waves (every 7th wave) started pouring water in the hole. My friends were trying to tell me to give it up, but after digging that long, I wasn't going to let a clam beat me. Finally I was deep enough to get a grip on the top part of its shell.

The battle still wasn't won at this point, because I had to break the vacuum formed by the shell and its little digging foot. My head was partially in the pipe and, as the next large wave washed over my head, I finally was able to extract the clam from its snug bed. After the battle we weighed it and, to our surprise, it weighed 5 pounds. Believe me it really tasted excellent.

I dug other clams that week, steamers, scalloped and cohogs. The cohogs were the largest I had ever dug. Since the Geoducs are more tender, most people don't dig the Cohogs. Since they aren’t disturbed, they get to grow to giant size: six Cohogs fill a 5 gallon bucket. That week, I was eating clams 3 meals a day. If you have ever eaten clams that fresh you would know why. When I finally went home, I had 17-1/2 pounds of clams in the cooler going with me. Between fried clams and clam chowder, they didn't last long.

This experience is just one of the reasons I love living in the Pacific Northwest.

I asked Ann what she felt the draw was of the Pacific Northwest, and she summed it up neatly:

The Pacific NW has space, big sky, clean air, lots of trees, mountains, low population, laid-back attitudes, and a genuine respect for individual privacy. No location is more beautiful than the Oregon coast.

And clams, Ann, don’t forget clams!

Finally, I’d like to impose on you by bringing you a quote from one of my all-time favorite authors, Nevil Shute. (Never heard of him? Gee, he only sold something like 15 million books around the world, including two made into movies: “No Highway,” with Jimmy Stewart, Marlene Dietrich, and Glynis Johns, plus “On the Beach,” starring Gregory Peck, Fred Astaire, and Ava Gardner).

Anyway, in his book, “Round the Bend,” his narrating character says, “As you go through your life, you undertake so many duties that you haven’t time for making new, close friendships any more; you’ve got too much to do. For the remainder of your life, you have to make do with the friends you gathered in your short youth.”

Something to think about.


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