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Dreams of Summer

Clambake, International Association of Fire Engineers, 1916. RIHS Graphics Collection G1173.
Clambake, International Association of Fire Engineers, 1916. RIHS Graphics Collection G1173.
I will visit the beach in Rhode Island any time of year, even to the point of inflicting a trip on friends from the South in January. But as the wind speeds rise and temperatures drop, I begin to dream of summer, and especially of summer meals.
This 1916 Clambake program and menu is in the RIHS Graphic’s Ephemera Collection, and while not quite Wiener Werkstatte quality, the dramatic graphic style captures the zeitgeist of the early twentieth century.
Menu, International Association of Fire Engineers, 1916. RIHS Graphics Collection G1173.
Menu, International Association of Fire Engineers, 1916. RIHS Graphics Collection G1173.
The menu captures the flavors of late summer New England, from the Baked Clams with melted butter to Green Corn, cold Boiled Lobster and Iced Watermelon for dessert.
Quonochontaug Clam Bake Can ca. 1970. RIHS Museum Collection.
Quonochontaug Clam Bake Can ca. 1970. RIHS Museum Collection.
I could assemble a clambake for home, and boil it up on my stove for the holidays– the take-home clambake is a more recent tradition than shore dinners and sand pits full of crustaceans– but I’d miss the smell of the ocean, the cry of the seagulls, and warmth of the sun on a late summer afternoon. Until next summer (or a winter trip to Galilee), I can read America’s Founding Food, to better understand New England food traditions, and prepare for next year’s Relishing Rhode Island theme, part of the A la Rhody year-long celebration.
Kirsten Hammerstrom, Director of Collections

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