2015-09-24 / Senior Savvy

Celebrate National Lobster Day

By Florence Archambault


Florence Archambault, of Newport, is 84 years young and well-known for her community volunteerism and teaching and writing family history. Florence Archambault, of Newport, is 84 years young and well-known for her community volunteerism and teaching and writing family history. Several weeks ago an item in the "Political Scene" column in The Providence Journal caught my eye. It stated that Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse had joined together with other colleagues in New England (namely, Maine Sens. Angus King and Susan Collins), to announce the Senate’s approval of a bill designating Sept. 25, 2015, as “National Lobster Day.”

The day “recognizes the historic and economic importance of the lobster industry to Rhode Island and other states, and invites lobster lovers to mark their culinary calendars for the last Friday in September.”

It got me thinking about my lifelong relationship with lobsters. When I was in grammar school and probably about 10 or 11 years old, my mother would drive over to a lobster company in Revere, Mass., where, for 50 cents, she would buy large brown paper bags full of lobster bodies. We would sit at the kitchen table and clean them for lobster salad sandwiches. Tedious, but rewarding and inexpensive. To this day, the only part of a lobster I don’t eat is the shell.

When my husband, Tom, and I were engaged, he visited me during the summer in Casco Bay, Maine, where lobster was 40 cents a pound. It was there that he ate it for the first time. When I said I thought he didn’t like lobster, he said, “Well, I guess I do. I never had it before.” Thus began 55 years of being the chief cook and lobster pot washer for our family.

In the mid-60s when we were stationed at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the only lobster we could get were rock lobster tails—not the same as Maine lobster, but a passable substitute. In the mid-70s my daughter was the salad girl at Bailey’s Beach, where one of her jobs was to clean the lobsters and make the lobster salad rolls. One day she came home with an ice cream container filled with roe. I sat on the patio with a plate full of lemons and pigged out. That same daughter became engaged to an offshore fisherman. Later in their marriage, he built and ran his own lobster boat; each year on our anniversary I would find his gift of a bucket of lobsters in the back hall.

My other daughter and sonin law now have lobster pots in Newport Harbor. When they invite friends and family for lobster dinner, I get to go home with the leftovers. Instead of the salad my mother made, I make the most delicious lobster cakes using my crab cake recipe.

Funny, but once again, almost 70 years after cleaning lobster bodies with Mum, I am again engaged in that tedious but rewarding task. What comes around goes around?

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