Jack Musnicki has been clamming in Shinnecock Bay for more than 60 years. Perched over a rake, he has watched the architecture and landscape of Dune Road morph. (There have always been large ocean-side estates there, says Musnicki, who tended the grounds at some of them as a kid). He’s also watched the clam population ebb and flow, although, if you know the right spots of mudflat, it doesn’t take long to fill a bucket, spring, summer or fall.
Clamming is a hobby for Musnicki, who is a nurseryman in Bridgehampton, and who makes a mean chowder. (A former potato farmer, he also keeps a big tomato and pumpkin patch, collects antique herb choppers and seasonally cooks up zimne nogi, a traditional Polish Christmas and Easter dish made from pigs’ feet.) In recent years, Musnicki has clammed with three generations of his family on this same spot that looks onto the south side of the Shinnecock Nation reservation. On one particular day this past August—a great month for eating freshly dug clams, despite what those “R-month” rules will have you believe—Musnicki was joined at low tide by two regulars, his son-in-law Jameson Ellis, a painter who lives in Sag Harbor, and Theo Couloube, a Brooklyn photographer who was visiting Ellis. Between those eureka moments when the tines scrape against hard shell, Coulombe captured the moments of the day.
View the full photo essay here.
Theo Coulombe lives in Williamsburg and visits the East End whenever he can. He is the founder of Brooklynphoto Studio.