The occasion for all this clam ingestion was the annual Labor Day party, peopled mostly by members of the local Democratic club. I remember there were lots of kids. We played horseshoes, played on the swings, and ate clams. The adults talked politics and drank beer, whiskey, Martini's and ate clams. Perhaps the clam thing was tied to the Kennedy's and their Hyannis Port vacations where they presumably ate shellfish.
My father actually invented a clam knife with a wooden holder where the unfortunate live clam was placed before being shucked. He never patented it but it came in quite handy. Hot sauce went along with the clams on a half shell.