When my younger brother and I vacationed on Cape Cod some three decades ago, we frequently went for drives “in the country.” At least it wasn’t the Bronx, which was a welcome change of pace. Subsequently, we christened these car rides of ours: “fruitless journeys.” Typically, we had no specific destination in mind—hence the “fruitless” adjective. Sure, we dropped by our favorite antique junk shop on bucolic Route 6A on occasion and, sometimes, stumbled upon a nature trail or a flea market to explore. But mostly, we rather aimlessly drove around the back roads of the Cape with a local music station playing—one, in fact, that continually ran commercials for a nearby culinary institution: Thompson’s Clam Bar in Harwichport. For several summers running, we heard this iconic eatery’s classic radio jingle run over and over and over: “Hey, where you going? I’m going to Thompson’s Clam Bar because that’s where the tastiest clams are. Is the seafood good? The best by far! Let’s go to Thompson’s Clam Bar.”
Despite the Thompson’s Clam Bar jingle becoming—by osmosis—an integral part of our “fruitless journey experience”—and the Cape Cod ambiance as well—we never for a moment considered calling upon it. It just wasn’t our thing back then. Thus, we didn’t seize the day and marry the familiar jingle with a reality bite—a clam or something else fishy from Thompson’s Clam Bar.
While on those "fruitless journeys" of ours, we were definitely saddled with less of life’s baggage. The passage of thirty years almost always amounts to additions and not subtractions in the baggage department. Simpler times, I daresay. It’s funny but very often our “fruitless journey” climaxed when my brother and I got hungry. Pizza, roast beef sandwiches, or take-out fried foods ("Maalox Moments" now) were usually on our plates in those days of yore, not sit-down dining. And let’s just say that Cape Cod pizza is another animal entirely when compared with New York pizza.
But herein lies a life lesson, I suppose: Never pass up an opportunity. Thompson’s Clam Bar on Wychmere Harbor in Harwichport is now a private club. I'm never going to able to sample "the best by far" seafood. The jingle, though, endures as a reminder of what was and what might have been. Shoulda, woulda, coulda gone to Thompson’s Clam Bar. The commercials, too, were ahead of their time, supplying listeners with pre-GPS directions on how to get there. Why didn't we listen and "take Route 28 to the clam bar sign?"