Somewhere Upstairs: Chowder Downstairs

Somewhere Upstairs: Chowder Downstairs

To visit many beach communities in Rhode Island is to get a whiff of clam cakes and chowder, a distinctly different take on hush puppies and … what most other people would consider clam chowder. There’s Point Judith (if you can smell them over the day’s catch on the docks) and Narragansett and a personal favorite, Warwick Neck.

There, the Rocky Point Shore Dinner Hall was my place of employment one summer. Hard labor: kitchen help. Tureen after tureen, bowl after bowl, and then plate after plate of watermelon rinds. (I sliced that watermelon rapid-fire with a machete, a story for another day.) The hardest job of all was serving the takeout window at street level. “Chowder downstairs, boys!” This meant carrying a full, steaming vat of soup down an old cement staircase with no railing. It took two guys. Mike was 6-foot-2. I was not. Keep my handle up or I’d scald myself with splashed soup. Pretty girls worked the window, so we somehow looked forward to this task several times per shift.

This one, we did not: “Batter downstairs, boys!” Same drill, only this vat of clam cake goo weighed 1 million pounds, give or take an ounce.

The smell today still brings me back—to youth, to amusement parks, to the idea that there might be one more growth spurt in me yet. When it hits my nostrils, I know that there will soon be Rhode Island sand between my toes and a breeze in my face that can send 35 years cartwheeling down the beach like a poorly anchored umbrella. I’m back to what once was home.

For this issue, we decided to ask a few of our global nurse researchers to share similar sense memories of places they’ve been that stick with them, or let them know they are “home” (“Sense of Place”). The idea is to share with readers who might never reach those places a feeling of what it is like to be there. We hope you’ll enjoy the results, maybe share your own memories at the address on this page, and enjoy this feature as well as the rest of the Fall/Winter 2017 issue of Johns Hopkins Nursing.

Steve St. Angelo

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