50 Years Ago – December, 1971

50 Years Ago – December, 1971

By Jim Ignasher

December, 1971

Richard M. Verity of Greenville enlisted in the Air Force and was due to leave for basic training.

Marine Corporal David A. Colsante of Greenville was serving with the First Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron in Japan.

Navy Seaman Apprentice Bertrand L. Demuers of Greenville completed basic training.

Airman First-Class Barry S. Black of Georgiaville was serving with the Strategic Air Command.

Signs stating “Welcome to Smithfield” were erected at the town boundaries on main roadways. The signs were sponsored by the Smithfield Jaycees, a local civic organization. The signs denoted Smithfield as “Appleland” and also advised motorists to “drive safely”.

December, 1971

The Smithfield Mental Health Association was holding a fundraiser by offering “scenes of Smithfield prints”, which were suitable for framing. The 11 by 14 inch prints depicted the Town Hall, the Greenville Baptist Church, a view of Stump Pond, and a view from Farnum Heights. The prints were created by artist Joyce baker of Greenville, and were on sale at local retail stores for a dollar each.

A hearing was held on December 8 to discuss what to do about the dangerous traffic pattern at the intersection of Rt. 44 and Austin Avenue. In 1971, cars parked in front of local businesses would have to back out into traffic.

Stephen J. Vallee, 14, of Greenville, was the first to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout in Greenville’s Boy Scout Troop 14. His award ceremony was held in the former Greenville Masonic Temple.

Cub Scout Pack 43 of Greenville entertained residents at the Greenville Manor by singing Christmas carols, serving refreshments, and doling out hand-made gifts.

December, 1971

On December 14, a hearing was held pertaining to the former Lister Worsted Mill in Stillwater. The owner had petitioned the town to convert the century old mill into 80 apartment units which would be FHA financed, and federally subsidized for low income families.

There were those who protested the plan for several reasons, including technicalities in town ordinances, worries of increased traffic, increased school population, and the possibility of well water contamination. In the end, the petition was withdrawn without prejudice, leaving the possibility open for a different plan to be submitted.

History has shown that the mill was never converted into apartments, and was later occupied by a plastics company. It burned down in May of 1984, and today condominiums occupy the land.

On December 16, the former Apple Valley Esso full-service gas station opened for business at the northwest corner of Rt. 44 and Rt. 5. As part of the promotion of the grand opening, customers were offered free gifts, S&H Green Stamps with every purchase, and a free 32 ounce bottle of Coca Cola with every $3 purchase of gas.

Esso later became Exxon. Although a gas station still remains at the same location, the original building is gone.

December, 1971

Another business to open in December of 1971 was “The Flip Side Record Shop” on Greenville Avenue, which advertised, ”records and tapes” (Raise your hand if had vinyl records, cassette, or eight-track tapes.)

Members of the Smithfield Police Department completed a twelve-week training course at the newly established Rhode Island Municipal Police Academy. They were: Brian D. Burke, Mario Ciotola, Edgar L. Williams, Jr., Robert J. Kerwin, and Cyril E. Crawley, Jr. Each went on to have a long and distinguished career with the department.

In other police news, Sharon R. Chere, a real estate agent from Esmond, was appointed as the department’s first woman constable.

On December 19, a tree lighting ceremony took place at the Town Hall, and an elaborate Crèche was displayed on the front lawn. Christmas carols were sung by the Apple Valley Choirs.

It was also on December 19, that CBS aired a made-for-TV-movie called “The Homecoming; A Christmas Story”. It received such high ratings that it was later adapted into a television series known as “The Waltons”.

The Pleasant View IGA in Esmond was selling New York sirloin stake for 98 cents a pound.

Long before cameras came with cell phones, the “Family Economy Store” at the Apple Valley Mall advertised “Blue Dot” flash bulbs – necessary if one wanted their Christmas morning photos to come out. A pack of three was normally $1.49, on special for 69 cents.



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