The Seagull and The New York System (Part 2)
Previously: A scraggly man in a Providence dive bar has waxed poetic about Rhode Island foods…
The glass was empty, and when it was refilled, the scraggly man scratched his four-day beard and continued.
“I had just moved to Providence, and it was the first day of my first job as a cub reporter at The Providence Blowhard. That’s not the paper’s real name, of course. “My editor came in and told me to go to Aquidneck Island and interview a guy who claimed he’d taught a seagull to dig clams.
“Frankly, I was skeptical about this. I thought I would be covering fires, chasing ambulances, or taking notes at city council meetings looking for corruption.
“He told me, ‘It’s a human interest story, so make it interesting. And get a move on, because there’s a hurricane rolling in.’
“In those days you didn’t argue with the boss, so I grabbed my notebook and keys and headed out.
“It was beautiful outside. Blue sky, white puffy clouds, bright sunshine. I didn’t know then about the changeable nature of New England weather. The saying goes, ‘If you don’t like the weather, wait a minute.’
“I hadn’t asked for directions, and I couldn’t find Aquidneck Island on the map, but I figured it was in Rhode Island, which is the smallest state in the Union. It couldn’t be far, so I started driving.
“I ended up in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and maybe even in New Hampshire before I finally figured out that Aquidneck is the island that houses Portsmouth, Middletown, and Newport.
“I turned off the highway and then onto a back road, and then down a dirt road that took me into a woods, at the end of which was a broken down, old shack.
“After knocking, the door opened and out came a guy with a face like a barnacle, all wrinkled and squinty. Don’t know how old he was. Somewhere between a hard thirty-five and a struggling ninety-seven.
“‘I’m Diggah Dan,’ he said in this thick Rhode Island accent. ‘Real name’s Daniel Duggan, but they call me Diggah Dan because that’s how I make my living, digging the clams. And I suppose you’re the news reporter here to see about Cyril?’
“When he saw that I was clueless, he continued, ‘Cyril’s the seagull. Him that I taught how to dig the clams.’
“I nodded and explained, yes, that was why I’d driven four and a half hours from Providence.
“It was his turn to look at me funny. Then he said, ‘Come along,’ and started walking.
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