50 Years Ago – January 1972

50 years Ago – January, 1972

By Jim Ignasher

January, 1972

     22-year-old Army Sergeant N. Bruce Hanson of Esmond was recuperating from serious wounds he received from a land mine explosion while serving in Vietnam. He’d been in the army for five years, and was due to come home on February 4th when the incident happened.

Army Major Frederic Parker of Greenville was serving in the Army Corps of Engineers, and had just completed a tour of duty in Vietnam.

The Smithfield School Committee approved the purchase of fifty band uniforms for the high school band, at a cost of $123.00 each.

The Smithfield High School presented a fashion show. The first half featured clothing outfits made by girls in their home economics class, and the second half was a presentation of winter fashions from the Outlet Department Store.

On January 8, Miss Cindy Johnson of Greenville, a sophomore at Smithfield High School, won the “Make it yourself with Wool” Junior Regional Contest held in Albany, New York. She’d entered wearing a wool tweed paint-suit that she’d made herself. She would go on to compete in the national competition to be held in Phoenix, Arizona.

January, 1972

An additional three-and- a-half miles of Route 295, from Rt. 146 to Douglas Pike, was opened for travel by the state. The 5.7 mile stretch from Douglas Pike to Hartford Avenue in Johnston was scheduled to open in the summer of 1973.

A brand new Chevrolet Nova was offered for sale by the Scuncio Chevrolet dealership that once stood where the Stop & Shop is today. The price, $2,318.

The Smithfield DPW, which by the way was established in 1928, auctioned off the first piece of equipment ever purchased by the department, a 1928 Caterpillar tractor with an attached double-wing snow plow. The vehicle had been named “Nelly Belle”, and besides serving as a snow plow, it was also used in road grading.

A story relating to the tractor tells how one winter it was used to open Whipple Avenue, which was covered in deep snow, so that an expectant mother could get to the hospital.

The machine was considered to have historic value, and there was a discussion about giving it to the historical society, but this was prior to the society obtaining the Smith-Appleby property and with no place to store it, the tractor went to a private party.

If one went to the Apple Valley Cinema they might have seen “Straw Dogs”, a thriller starring Dustin Hoffman and Susan George, or “Friends”, a foreign teenage romance film, or “Shaft”, a New York City Police drama starring Richard Roundtree.

The NASA space probe Mariner 9, began mapping the surface of the planet Mars for the first time. Meanwhile, President Richard Nixon announced that the United States would begin development of a Space Shuttle program.

In other scientific news, Hewlett-Packard introduced the first scientific electronic hand-held calculator, the HP-35. This was the first calculator of its kind that could go beyond simple addition, subtraction, and multiplication and was capable of doing logarithms, trigonometry, and other exponential math. Prior to this, mathematicians used “slide rulers”. Remember them? The cost was $395.00, which according to Internet conversion tables, translates to about $2,500 today.

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