Foul-smelling clamshell paved road is being removed


As somebody who grew up in the midwest, I hesitate to call anything in RI “farmland”. And if you look at where that spot is located, there are at least 8 properties within a stone’s throw of that address. If your neighbors are close enough that you shouldn’t play loud music out your windows at night, you should use the same care with your stenches.

[quote=“dan_smooth, post:15, topic:102741, full:true”]Don’t move to the country side and then complain about the smells that go with it. [/quote]Ah yes, the all-to-familiar smell of the inland clam.


Missing the stink! Come to San Francisco and put some flower smell in your hair.


I totally agree with that sentiment!

However, since we seem determined to let the affluent destroy the shared commons of the atmosphere with very little restraint, it’s both petty and self-destructive to limit unpleasant smells necessary to our current means of food production more strongly than we are willing to limit deadly poisons that have no strong smell.

And I’m willing to bet that the people complaining loudest about food production smells are those most financially able to move. At least that’s the pattern around here - the city folk who move into West Grove and Avondale want those delicious gourmet mushrooms from Kennett Square, and have no problem with the ag workers and poor Hispanic folk living in the stench, but god forbid the wind should blow that smell onto their gated compounds! Quelle horreur!

Those clamshells were going to stink somewhere. It’s a long-standing American traditional practice to pave roads in the mid-Atlantic coastal states with mollusc shells, we’ve been doing it since the Colonial era.


has no idea.

  • luke (adj.) “tepid” (c. 1200), a word of unknown origin


“I realize now, that after 35 years on this planet, I always assumed “boggle the mind” was related to shaking up the box of letter dice in the game Boggle. Corporate America wins again!”

Looks suspiciously like you’re right:


Linguist here! It’s common for certain words or constructions to fossilize within an idiom. The word dies out in mainstream usage, but remains in the idiom.

To wit, the phrase ‘to wit.’ ‘Witen’ used to be the verb ‘to know,’ with full sets of conjugations. Le Morte D’Arthur especially is full of ‘wot ye well that…’ Pretty much all of the main forms of the verb died out, but ‘to wit’ has hung around, although its meaning has shifted a bit.

re: ‘lukewarm’ in particular, this appears to be what’s happened, with ‘luke’ shown in the Online Etymology Dictionary to have been a more generally-used word for ‘tepid’ or ‘weak,’ with other (sadly) dead words like ‘luke-hot’ and ‘luke-hearted’ being possible.


“The mind boggles” peaked in ~1972, but goes back to the start of the century.


I generally agree with your points, but there is no reason to believe those shells had to stink somewhere.

  1. they could have been properly processed so the shells didn’t stink and the meat waste used for something like pet food.
  2. even landfills generally bury the stuff so they have as little outside odor as possible
  3. properly incinerated (where i live, we incinerate everything, no landfills)

I think this is more about someone trying to save some money by improperly disposing of the waste and someone else trying to save a few bucks by buy improperly processed road fill.


Improved version. Looks like 1980 was wen the transitive version supplanted the intransitive use.


mind-boggling-- first use in English 1955 by Erich Fromm

boggle originally meant "a spooked horse"
the game came out in 1972


[quote=“Yri, post:3, topic:102741”]
are minds the only thing subject to boggling?[/quote]

According to Bertie Wooster, imaginations can boggle, with a sense of “giving up in the face of an insurmountable challenge.”

“One finds it difficult to hazard a conjecture, sir.”
“You mean imagination boggles?”
"Yes, sir."
I inspected my imagination. He was right. It boggled.

“But one can picture the scene.”
“Yes, sir.”
"I mean, imagination doesn’t boggle.”
"No, sir."
And it didn’t. I could see exactly what must have happened.


So “paving the roads with the bones of one’s slaughtered foes” is not an option? AFAF.


Technically I suppose you are right, but pragmatically they did.

My mom grew up in an oystering community, and I spent many happy childhood hours there. My uncle still has an oyster shell lane! - although they are no longer made since industrialization and PCBs destroyed the oyster fishery.

Believe me, the fresh shells stink! Nobody’s found a way for watermen to remove the animal from the shell without leaving some shreds of meat in there, not to mention juices. I suppose such tasks could be automated to avoid stink, leaving tens of thousands of hard workers without jobs, but that seems counterproductive to me.

And no, it’s not normal to bury them, at least where Mom is from. Many shell middens on the East Coast are thousands of years old, they were begun by Native Americans. When I was a kid they were taller than many local buildings, but since the fishery died those heaps have dwindled away as the shells have been used up. They are a bulk commodity resource, for paving and many other uses, not just trash.

Incidentally, some shells are incinerated - but only when there is a use for the fired minerals, because burning them just to get rid of them would drive up the cost of shellfish and make people buy imported ones instead, again putting people out of work locally.

If you want to smell something that makes a shell midden seem relatively mild, visit a town with an old-fashioned paper mill!

If you take out the “improperly” I’ll agree 100%! Repair, Reduce, Recycle, Reuse… the stinks will pass in the fullness of time.


There is a scene in “Highway to Hell” where the characters pass a road-repaving gang. Individuals are protesting the goodness of their intentions while they are marched into the paving machinery.
Cannot find image on the Intertubes, buggrit.


Right you are. I guess I was too specific with my search. Thanks for the correction.


Hmmm, color me intrigued! Is that a movie or a tv series? I can’t seem to find a movie of a vintage that would seem to suit that image - it looks like something out of the 60s or 70s?


“Highway to Hell”. Damn fine movie. I forget quite why VWs were such a target of opprobrium.


I’ve been places paved with concrete containing a high density of mollusk shells, I suspect someone had a vague idea that clamshells made a suitable building material but had no idea how to go about doing it right.

I just hope that dude never decides to make his own leather clothing.


My great-grandfather built a house along the central California coast and used loose, thick clamshells (clean ones with sharp edges rubbed off in a tumbler) in place of a grass yard and otherwise solid driveway. It has a very pleasant feeling on your feet after hot beach sand, and it doesn’t have to be weeded or maintained. It’s 80 years old at this point, still great. It was a popular thing to do in the depression and post depression years in the area, apparently, but they all did it right.


As the comments on the previous post pointed out. Paving things with clam shells is not only common. Its tres chic. Which is weird to me. We only did it cause it was cheaper than paying for a drive way. And most people stopped years ago because its kind of trashy. Now its getting cool again.

This guy did it sort of wrong though. Too many fresh shells in one spot at a time. Shit should have been cleaned first.

Another thing we used to do. Clam shells work just fine as the aggregate in concrete. And they’re cheaper than buying gravel. And more legal than stealing pebbles from a state or federal park.

Sea billies use every part of the clam.