Razor Clamming for Survival in the 1920s and 1930s

When Ella and Vernon Worthington passed away not long ago, both over 100 years old, the frugal dairy farmers left a largess to ocean environmental organizations – and their story as folks who grew up and married on the Long Beach peninsula near some of the best razor clam beaches in the world. Their lives were unavoidably involved with razor clams and razor clamming. The ninth of 10 children, Ella moved to the Peninsula from West Virginia when she was five years old. She recalled digging “hundreds of clams” before going to school each morning but, even so, by ninth grade, her father told her she’d have to quit school and enter the local workforce to help the family make ends meet.

Ella recalled how razor clamming was at times essential for survival in a May 14, 2018 story in the Chinook Observer:

“There were no jobs in the 1920s and 1930s,” Ella said. “We worked in the cranberry bogs, dug razor clams, and Vern worked on the oyster beds and I worked in the steam canneries. We didn’t have time to feel sorry because we were poor. We were too busy and having too much fun with our friends.”

Said Kolb [a relative], “Aunt Ella once told me she had dug over two tons of clams in her day. I remember going clamming with her when I was a kid. She always dug in the surf and, man! Was she quick! She’d have her limit before most of us had our first clam!”