Around the Island

Friday Night Dialogues at the Library: A clammer’s life on Great South Bay

BY MARIE BISHKO

Bayman Steve Kuhn will discuss his life, career, company Clam Power and his book “Hard Work: My Life as a Clammer on the Great South Bay,” at the Library’s next Friday Night Dialogues on Jan. 14 at 7 p.m. over Zoom.

Pre-registration for this program is required and may be done at silibrary.org.

Mr. Kuhn, who lives in Sayville, began his clamming career as a teen. “I was 19 in my second year at Suffolk County Community College and I remember the first day I was out,” he recalled. “I was hooked. It was beautiful.”

It’s been a journey of more than 50 years; he still motors out on his 20-foot Garvey from Brown’s River a couple of times a week. He’s clammed in Bayport, Barrett Beach, Watch Hill, Patchogue, East Islip and Babylon waters. He even had a five-year stint in Staten Island. His book chronicles a lifestyle that’s disappearing.

It was while Mr. Kuhn was attending North Carolina State University as a design major when the idea for a “Clam Power” shirt was first created.

Every summer he would return home and clam to put himself through college. As a way to pay respect to the bay and to capture the turbulent times in the early 1960s  and 1970s, Mr. Kuhn came up with the Clam Power T-shirt. The T-shirt became a success among local clammers and eventually for many people on Long Island.

Now nearly three decades later, Clam Power is making a comeback. Even today people still connect and remember the shirt from the 1970s. What better way, he says, to represent the Great South Bay, the environment and local clam diggers?

He’ll have much more to say about his unique life and his love affair with the bays on Jan. 14.