Howard’s Day Old Clams was founded by Howard Ebenezer Coulée b. 4/1/1923, d. 4/13/2013. Howard left this life on April 13, 2013. With the Boston area riveted to the news accounts of the 2013 Boston Marathon, Howard told friends, “this would be a good day to return that defective pressure cooker” (1). At the IKEA store in Stoughton, Massachusetts, Howard tragically choked on a handful of Swedish fish. Onlookers were unable to understand his cries of “Hjälp mig, Hjälp mig”. (2)
Howard attended Mount Saint Charles Academy in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. He was known as a gregarious lad and enjoyed pitching pennies with his classmates and one Father Ignatius. After being discovered with a special weighted penny that vastly improved his penny pitching win percentage, and the discovery of over 200,000 pennies in a flour sack under his bunk, Father Ignatius was heard to say, “Fuck the little bastard. Show him the door and let him be God’s problem”. In 1932, at nine years old, he left Woonsocket to pursue a career as child mime with the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus.
Young Howard returned to Woonsocket under somewhat confusing circumstances. Mr. Horatio Zip, Woonsocket’s longest serving postmaster (1931-1966), and the founder of the Zip Code, stated in his memoirs, published posthumously, “A strange wooden crate arrived on the 7:42 train from New Haven on March 27, 1938. The crate, which bore the markings of customs agencies from many exotic lands, was labeled ‘c/o Wombschnocket (sic), RI Postmaster’. We immediately began the procurement process to obtain the proper implements needed to open this sort of package. We went out on a bit of a limb here as well, simultaneously requesting the Postmaster General of the United States of America grant us the authority to use these tools, even before we had them! That’s the sort of rebels we were in those days. On May 5, 1938, these ‘tools’ arrived on the 7:43 New Haven Special. Later that afternoon, using tools completely foreign to us, and for which we had received neither formal training nor certification, my staff, at great personal risk, gave it ‘the old college try’ and deployed these ‘pryse bars’ and ‘mallets’ on the very sturdy crate. Despite our lack of adequate training, we eventually managed to remove a portion of the crate and discovered a naked and very malnourished Howard E. Coulée, suffering from what we believed was a severe case of either beriberi or the clap. It should also be noted that this package arrived postage due, and several attempts to collect the $12.72 owed the government of the United States of America from Mr. Coulée have been ignored at the time of this writing. (3)”
Once young Howard had recovered from beriberi and/or the clap, he re-entered the Woonsocket social scene. He was a much sought after suitor, possessing a slender yet fit build, pleasant facial features, a beautiful head of hair, and an enormous penis (4). His paramours included the daughters of Woonsocket’s elite.
In August of 1941, at the behest of her father, Mr Charles Napoleon Bouvier, Howard married his first of several wives, Miss Penelope Anne Bouvier, of the Cranston Bouviers. On New Year’s Day, 1942, Penelope gave birth to a healthy baby boy. At 9 pounds, 13 ounces, baby Harold retains the title of the largest premature baby ever delivered (5).
Howard avoided the draft during WW II due to, “mental instability”, presenting a document from a “Dr Haywood Coulée” stating in part, “It is my medical opinion that this young man is nuttier than a fruitcake” (6). To date, no record of a Dr Haywood Coulée has been found in the Rhode State Department of Health archives.
With all able bodied men supporting the war effort, and war-time rationing in effect, Howard recognized a business opportunity providing seafood to supplement the protein needs of his community.
Howard purchased a 14’ skiff with the intention of becoming a commercial fisherman. However, during a trial run on Barney’s Pond in Saylesville, RI (41.8990° N, 71.4184° W), Howard experienced a severe bout of seasickness. The boat became unstable as a result of Howard’s uncontrollable heaving and eventually sunk. Although Howard was unable to swim, the boat sank in less than 3 feet of water and Howard was able to walk to shore.
Unable to gather fresh shellfish, Howard then founded Howard’s Day Old Clams on July 3, 1942, and began collecting excess clams from area seafood shops and restaurants, pioneering what is now known as the “second harvest” movement.
In August of 1942, Howard purchased his first motor vehicle, allowing him to set aside the push cart he had been using to collect unsold clams and to expand his collection area. Although gasoline rationing was in effect, Howard successfully petitioned the US Office of Price Administration, arguing his business was critical to the war effort, and obtained a waiver from gasoline restrictions.
The vehicle he found was perfect for the task, a low mileage 1927 Studebaker hearse. In addition to his daily “second harvest” rounds, Howard also used the vehicle as a livery service, shuttling prominent figures in the Rhode Island waste management industry and their special guests to and from Atlantic City, NJ (7).
Howard’s mother, Mrs Ethel Coulée (née Bouvier), guaranteed Howard’s loan of $363 for the Studebaker from the Woonsocket Bank and Trust of Cumberland, pledging her property at 102 Logee Street, a building commonly known as “Ethel’s House of Ill Repute” as collateral. Records indicate the loan was never paid and the building at 102 Logee Street was eventually sold at a Sheriff’s sale in 1949.
On June 2, 1944, an article in the “Religion” section of “The Woonsocket Call” suggested Howard’s Day Old Clams may be responsible for a wide spread outbreak among Woonsocketans of “the drizzling shits” (8). The story was quickly overcome by the news of the D-Day invasion on June 6 of that year.
The domestic demand for suspect seafood rapidly diminished in the post war period, as the availability of more appealing protein sources returned to pre-war levels. Howard’s turned to international trade and organized crime (9). Daily collections of second harvest shellfish were largely rerouted to third world markets and pet food manufacturers.
Howard’s son, Harold was among the Woonsocket Henry Barnard School’s first graduating class, receiving his certification in food safety in 1966. Upon graduation, Henry found work at the Providence County Department of Health, and became a facilities inspector. Father and son remained estranged until Howard’s death in 2013.
In the early 1960s, following a failed attempt to market freeze-dried, vacuum packaged clam essence to NASA as a primary source of nourishment for the Mercury program astronauts and eventually losing out to General Foods’ “Tang”, Howard joined the underground Rhode Island Folk music scene.
Howard appeared in such popular nightspots as “The Pickled Clam”, “The Bitter Clam”, “The Purple Clam”, and “Kettle of Clams”. Howard could be found on stage almost any night after 2am at one of these hot spots, singing traditional New England songs such as, “The Ipswich Blues” or “Tie Me Quahogs Down, Mate”.
Howard was also revered for his poetry. Largely improvised, the only known transcript of Howard’s poetry was recorded on the back of an A&P receipt by Mrs Rebecca Smith-Jones (nee Williams), and published in the locally famous counter culture tabloid, “Folk You” (10).
It’s a clam man
It only costs a clam man
Cook it in a pan man
If you’re a pussy
Swallow it whole man
Raw and full of sand man
Choke it down man
Unless you’re a pussy
Meet me outside man
I got what you need man
Some day old clams man
‘Cause your not a pussy
In “The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test”, writer Tom Wolfe documents the journey of LSD guru Ken Kesey and his band of “Merry Pranksters”, who aboard their repurposed school bus, “Further”, attempted to spread their vision of peace, love, and drug-addled mindlessness from west to east, across the USA. Wolfe’s account of the journey largely tells a joyous story of beautiful and peace-loving young people who desired nothing more than to spread their love and joy across America.
But one particularly sour part of their story involves the Merry Prankster’s attempted meeting with Dr Timothy Leary at his home in Millbrook, New York. Having traversed the continental US in this 1939 International Harvester school bus to meet the fabled Leary, Kesey and the Merry Pranksters were all but turned away at the gate. Dr Leary was unavailable due to the “flu”. However an analysis of the historic data suggests that Howard’s Day Old Clams was the primary supplier of shellfish to the Millbrook Estate, and that Dr Leary in fact, was suffering from “the drizzling shits”.
In later years, Howard insisted he was among the thousands that attended the Woodstock Music and Art Fair at Max Yasgur’s dairy farm in Bethel, New York August 15-18, 1969. The data supporting Howard’s claim is difficult to prove. While clams were indeed sold by some food vendors, and health workers did report multiple cases of “the drizzling shits”, matching the profile of the outbreak in Woonsocket in 1944, there is little other evidence to substantiate Howard’s claim.
Much like 80% of people between the ages of 14 and 44 who lived in the Mid Atlantic and New England States in 1969, Howard’s claim of attending the Woodstock festival fails under a minimal amount of scrutiny. Primarily, records from the US Bureau of Prisons, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, suggest Howard was incarcerated in at the Federal Correctional Institute, Allenwood, PA from July 1966 through October, 1969, having pled guilty to charges of buggery, where he worked in the prison’s food service department. BOP records indicate Howard was released after serving 26 months of his 40 year sentence, “for the well being of the GENPOP” (general prison population). As is a common theme in Howard’s life story, in August of 1969 the staff and prisoners of BOP Allenwood were ravaged by what was reported at the time as “the drizzling shits”.
In 1972, Howard re-emerged serving as the national campaign manager for George McGovern’s failed presidential bid. Following McGovern’s defeat, Howard refocused his efforts on the day old clam business. Creating a set of non disclosure and waiver documents that have to this day stood up to multiple legal challenges, Howard began shipping day old clams internationally, avoiding traditional energy inefficient refrigeration requirements.
Advertising extensively in such national publications as “Boys Life”, Howard’s mail order business took off. In 1991, Howard’s began taking phone orders at the now eponymous phone number 401.400.2096. Anyone who grew up watching television in the 1990s certainly remembers that Howard’s jingle, often heard on late night TV, “For the best value in day old clams, call Howard at 401.400.2096. Heavens they’re inexpensive”.
After Howard’s death in 2013, the company’s major shareholders, The International Union of Shuckers, The Greater Providence Waste Management Consortium, and The Diocese of Providence, along with Howard’s hundreds of creditors, collectively agreed to pass operational control of the company to the Jesuit Brothers of Ignatius, Cranston, RI parish.
Under the Brother’s stewardship’ Howard’s gross receipts have skyrocketed, while the supply of day old clams has diminished (11).
By 2015, Howard’s had moved its primary sales and marketing activities to the World Wide Web. Although the phone number, 401.409.2096 remains active, the majority of Howard’s sales now come through the website howardsdayoldclams.com (12).
Always a patron of the arts, in 2022, Howard’s began sponsoring Stacye and Steve’s CringeFest, a multimedia organization dedicated to proactively seeking out and viewing the absolute most uncomfortable movies so you don’t have to at sscringefest.com.
1 From an interview with Barnard Ciprofloxacin, Proprietor, Barney’s Suds Shack, Woonsocket, RI, May 2021
2 “Holy Shit! Speak English!” Woonsocket Call, April 17th, Op Ed section
3 “Lick Me, My Life Peddling Stamps”, Howard Zip, 1967, Unpublished
4 From interviews with Mrs Eunice Moonclavey and Mrs Edna Pistubby, residents of the Central Falls Home for Elderly Women of Ill Repute and the collective diaries of the Cloistered Sisters of Mary Magdalen, Lincoln, RI
5 “Holy Shit! That Had to Hurt!”, Woonsocket Call, January 2, 1942
6 From the redacted notes and minutes of the Providence County Draft Board, Volume 1, September, 1940 - December, 1950, retrieved May 5, 2022, National Archives of the United States of America
7 “Suspected Mob Boss and Unknown Woman Buried Alive in Clam Shells”, The Providence Journal, August 28, 1949
8 “Holy Shit!, Mystery Illness Strikes Attendees at St. Bonaventure Pic-Nic”, Woonsocket Call, June 2, 1944
9 “Beware the Clam Man”, The Mobsters, Monsters, and Thugs Podcast, Season 9, Episode 42
10 “What is This Shit? A Collection of Local ‘Poetry’”, Becky Williams, Folk You, November 22, 1963
11 Is there really a Jesuit Money Laundering Scheme?’ The Madeline
Murray O’Hare Journal of Disbelief, November, 2022
12 “Pedophilia Investigation Uncovers Links to Organized Crime”, The Manila Times, May 21, 2021