Throwin’ a clam shell was a measure both of skill and of strength.
Skill was involved in making it skip, and the more often the better, either on ‘cam water or on gentle waves. But it took just as much talent to properly throw one for distance as it did to cause it to bounce on a smooth surface. Unless it was released at precisely the right angle it would catch the wind and either bend or fade to one side or the other.
In fact, the latter became a feat in and of itself as we would “chunk ‘em” into the face of gale force winds. Then we would watch intently as they boomeranged back over our heads into the sound, or onto the beach, depending on which way the wind was blowing. We sometimes used scallops for this, but since they were so comparatively light they were much less exciting than the heavier shells.
Nevertheless, the ultimate skill was one of strength and that was most clearly displayed by throwing clam shells long and far. As much as lifting weights or climbing a rope, throwin’ a shell into the far horizon, so far that eyes were squinting to see the splash, was an ultimate test of strength.
It was against this backdrop that my oldest brother, Ralph, listened closely one morning in his Sunday School class. His teacher was explaining to his pupils that God was not just kind and merciful, but was also wise and powerful. To make his lesson both more interesting and more relevant, the instructor offered examples to illustrate the points he was making. When he got to teaching about power the teacher explained that God was not merely supremely strong, He was “omnipotent,” and could could lift or handle anything that the minds of his young students could ever imagine.
Reflecting on what he was being taught, Ralph determined to make an inquiry, the anwer to which he hoped would put the matter in a cpntext that even he could understand. He raised his hand to get the treacher's attention and waited until he got the required nod of approval. Then in thoughtful reverence for the subject being considered, he stood and posed what he assumed to be the one question that could put everything he had learned in a full perspective.
“Does that mean he could he throw a clam shell all the way to the lighthouse?”