Thanks for all your notes, comments, and links. Lots of love for the first week of Shucked! Two quick things: I have no idea why but I’m now on Twitter (@erinbmurray) and so is the Oyster Dude (@Oyster_Dude). Please, please follow CJ on Twitter. It’s ridiculous. Also, I’ll occasionally post pics from photographer David Grossman who has done an awesome job chronicling the ICO life. Thanks for providing visual aids, Dave!
My mom, Dottie, came up to Boston on Sunday for a quick visit so yesterday I drove her down to Duxbury to show her the new digs. Despite my attempt to totally freak her out with this move (as she puts it: giving up a perfectly good job to go work outside), she has been nothing but supportive from the start. And she’s really trying to like oysters…really, she is! My dad, Kelly, on the other hand took a little longer to come around. We put it into terms he could accept (I was attempting to be the James Michener of the oyster world) and he finally admitted that it all sounded pretty cool.
Mom and I got to ICO Headquarters around lunchtime and found Shore in the office…in slippers. Mom was instantly impressed. He showed her the shop, set up in the barn next to the office, and the piles of equipment out back. Skip rolled up to say hi for a minute and he and Shore gave Mom a quick primer on oyster speak. “It’ll take me awhile to get the hang of the language,” I said but Skip reassured me that I’d catch on quick and that before I knew it, I’d be handling everything, including the boat. Mom admitted her biggest concern, which was how cold my feet might get. “The coldest part of the job is the boat ride out in the mornings,” Skip said. “But it’s manageable. Just like riding a ski lift. If you can handle that, you’re fine for the rest of the day.”
Shore, Mom, and I hopped in Shore’s car and he gave us what I like to think of as the $50 tour of Duxbury (he grew up in town so he’s full of informational tidbits, like historical sites and celebrity houses). We started down Parks Street, where the offices are, down to Bay Road and past Kingston Bay. From there we could see the Myles Standish memorial at the top of a hill just past the bay. We continued down into “bustling” Duxbury Center (where there is a Dunkin Donuts but true to town code, has toned-down logo colors) and followed Washington Street to a little parking area by the beach where the entire bay stretched before us. Shore pointed out the leased acreage of the bay marked by buoys sprinkled across the water. It was eerily empty but for a two farmers dragging from their boats; they use a dragging tool, or rake, which pulls oysters from the ground into a basket that is then hoisted into the boat with a winch. “Just wait until you come back this summer,” he told Mom. “It’s the calm before the storm.”
We drove down to the marina (which didn’t look quite this busy) passing Snug Harbor Fish Co. “You’ll eat lunch out here every day,” said Shore pointing to the cafe’s sunny deck. We pulled up in front of the sorting house which had been pulled out of the water and sat in front of the still-under-construction Maritime School building. Normally, the house is set out in the water like this but it came up on land in December and will go back out towards the end of March.
Inside, we found the two Andys busy culling. Yes, the guys I’ll be working closely with are both named Andy. One (the blonde) was wearing several layers, a blue skull cap and a pair of Hunter boots while the other was decked out in a green fleece and jeans. (Note to self: find better way to identify than “blonde” Andy and “the other” Andy.) Not sure about you, but I’ve been wondering about what I’d wear on my first day of work for months. It was about 34 degrees and sunny yesterday, probably close to what it’ll feel like in a few weeks. Finally, I had a template: lots of layers and rubber boots.
We chatted for a bit and blonde Andy told me to come equipped with good tunes. Music and a couple cups of coffee clearly get these guys through the day.
Continuing on our tour, Shore drove us past the old ship captains’ houses and out to Powder Point across the longest wooden bridge in the country. On the other side was Duxbury Beach which is “like South Beach” in the summertime. Driving back over the bridge, he pointed out the back river (great water skiing) before driving us back out towards town and up to the office.
For me, the tour was a tremendous help; it gave me my bearings, a point of reference… and a better clue on what to wear. Plus, Mom was happy to see I wouldn’t be too far from heat, electricity, and a bathroom.
Back at the office, we said a quick goodbye and headed up Route 3 towards Hingham for lunch. Mom had been craving a lobster roll but settled for a massive lobster club and after lunch, we wandered past a few storefronts to get back to the car. “Look!” Mom said, grabbing my arm. She pointed to a window where a pair of green Hunter boots sat beneath a sale sign.
And that pretty much made the day complete.