The Clam Man
The Clam Man, rather than describing somebody who is shy on
words, was the name of a restaurant in San Felipe and a term used by everyone
in town to describe Pasqual "Cruz" Guerrero, the prime mover behind
its fame and notoriety.
Cruz was a smiling, personable old man who, in appearance, looked like an escapee from the lunatic fringe. In the 70's and 80's, Cruz was often seen with a gunnysack of butter clams slung over his shoulder, calling out his product like a circus hawker, his kind eyes a sharp contrast to his wild hair and desert-profit beard.
The Clam Man's restaurant, which in the portmanteau way of many Mexican businesses, was also his home. It was and still is instantly recognizable to anyone who drives down the main street of town. More than reflecting the rustico influence of small-town Mexico, it voices the profound influence the sea had upon this man's life. Halos of shells and whale-bones wreathed the walkways, windows and entrance to the place. A plethora of signs, splash-painted by hand, announce the virtues of clams to the uninformed. The fulcrum of the claims about clams was what the Clam Man often insisted when he tried to sell you some. "They make you horny." With five daughters and three sons to his credit, who are we to argue?
The Clam Man passed away in 1988, leaving a significant rend in the social fabric of San Felipe. His familiar face and genial disposition have been missed by many --visitors and tourists who hail from all over the globe and who had the privilege of wandering, some only briefly but not forgettably, into the circle of the Clam Man's open friendship.