Emile Gruppe’s “Clam Diggers” as Shared by the Late Frances Langford, SLR/IRL

"Clam Diggers" Gruppe
“Clam Diggers” Gloucester, MA by Emile Gruppe as shared by Gloria Fike from a Christmas card years ago sent by Frances Langford.

Water…and the gifts of life from the water….

Today I am sharing a beautiful work of art that is connected to our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon by the late, famous, and long time resident, Frances Langford. She resided most of her life along both rivers’ shores.

Kimberly Falconer is a friend of mine that I grew up with here in Martin County. Kim now lives in Miami as owner of “Ocean Adventures.” After reading my blog post a few weeks back about the famed Gruppe collection of Frances Langford, she wrote:

“—-thought I would share a few images with you. This one is of artist Emile Gruppe’s painting entitled“Clam Diggers Gloucester, MA.” It was reproduced as a Christmas card by Frances. Feel free to use it however you wish. Credit for sharing should go to my mother, Gloria Cabre Fike.” (Kim’s family was great friends with the late Mrs. Langford.)

Today is supposed to bring heavy rains again due to the El Nino conditions. Our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon will continue to be destroyed by releases from Lake Okeechobee and the area canals. I though this image might be of interest and inspiration and a break from the aerial photos. Think of it as an early Christmas card from Frances Langford.

I think the image says a lot about the intricate relationship between man and water whether it be in Massachusetts or Florida.

Former blog post on Gruppe collection, Frances Langford: https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/2016/01/20/emile-gruppes-the-hut-and-the-heart-of-frances-langford-slrirl/

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7 thoughts on “Emile Gruppe’s “Clam Diggers” as Shared by the Late Frances Langford, SLR/IRL

  1. Wanted to share. So interesting:

    Jacqui—

    I noticed the image of Clam Diggers Gloucester MA on your blog and was very intrigued. Our permanent home is in Beverly, Massachusetts (often claimed to be the Birthplace of the American Navy, along with Marblehead) and we have been clamming in the Gloucester/Essex/Ipswich area since the early 1980s. The painting presents several interesting incongruities to me. The following observations are certainly not a critique of the painting title, just interesting tidbits FYI:

    1) it is my understanding that clammers in that area did not typically ply their trade from dories launched from large fishing schooners, such as those depicted in the painting. IMHO clammers during that period would have either walked to the flats from land or used small shallow draft row boats launched from nearby tidal creeks. That’s how we do it! Those schooners and their dories were typically used for offshore fishing, with huge halibut the typical target species. Winslow Homer’s dory painting comes to mind.

    2) Some of those types of schooners were built in Gloucester and other areas of coastal New England, but the vast majority were built in the nearby town of Essex, which also is the main clamming town in the area (along with the adjacent flats in Ipswich).

    Based on these factors, IMHO the painting is either a combination, i.e., a collage, of these two quintessential Cape Ann activities (fishing and clamming),

    or

    the painting is of actual clammers on the flats near downtown Essex, where many of these schooners would have also been in the water, within the same visual field. Immediately following their maiden launchings, schooners would be outfitted and then towed to sea out the very shallow Essex River, during spring tides. As far as I know, these schooners did not use Essex as their home port, as the river is very windy and shallow. As another historical tidbit, over 4,000 (yes thousand) wooden vessels were built in Essex between colonial times and the 1940s, including many hundreds of these schooners. The largest of the wooden boats was about 190 feet long, but typically they were about 100+ feet. If I recall, the peak completion rate of wooden boats in Essex was about 15-30 per month, during the heyday (1890s to 1920s). That’s a lot of wood chips on the ground!

    Cheers,

    Richard Baker

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  2. What see in the painting is people removeing calcium and NOT putting any back. If people continue to act like a swarm of locust they will eventually suffer the fate of locust when the food is all gone

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  3. Three weeks ago the radio announced pompino were biteing in the surf,That weekend it was elbow to elbow people fishing for pompino, Last week they were putting oyster shells around a little island where brds were nesting on the southwest corner of the Melbourne causeway.Pee and poo from birds chuning violently in oyster shell is a recipe for phytoplankton that baby clams eat— which is the pompinos favorite food, They had maby 5 young volinteers helping, There are many more examples

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  4. That week beach was solid fishermen for 20 miles—if only people were as interested in restoring the lagoon to the way it was instead of trying to kill that last fish

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  5. Yes fishermen let undersize pompano go but when this many fishermen all throw back saltwater catfish(because they have no food value)it creates a BIG imbalance that makes it nearly imposable for the small pompano to compete and survive. With bacteria coated fins sharks tend to avoid salt water catfish and sharks food value is also poor,

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