50 Years Ago – July, 1972

50 years Ago – July, 1972

By Jim Ignasher



     U. S. Air Force Corporal William E. Edwards was promoted to the rank of sergeant while serving as an electronics specialist with the Aero Space Defense Command in Colorado.

     Kenneth M Chisolm of Greenville completed Air Force Reserve Officer Training School in South Carolina.

     At a carnival sponsored by the Smithfield Jaycees held at Waterman’s Field in Greenville, famous motorcycle performer Joe Boudreau rode the “Wall of Death” in a custom-build motordrome. The motordrome was only 24 feet in diameter, and Joe would ride the inner walls on an Indian motorcycle, accelerating to speeds sufficient to allow him to ride the walls with centrifugal force. It was said that while doing so he experienced 4.5 G’s, meaning four-and-a-half the pull of gravity. Spectators were allowed to view the action from a small railing at the top of the motrodrome, only inches for the performance.

     On July 12, a backyard carnival was held by Jeanne Pelletier. She was assisted by her mother, as well as Cheryl, Steven, and Kevin Dionne, Cheryl Pelletier, and Mrs. Blanche Desautels. The event raised eighty dollars which was donated to the Ladd School.   

July, 1972

      It was announced that popular radio show host Fred Grady of Greenville would be taking a position with station WRLM 93-3 FM beginning July 17. Fred’s show was known for playing relaxing swing music.

     The Smithfield Fire Department responded to a house fire on Farnum Pike. The residents were not home at the time and the house, although damaged, was saved. There were no injuries.

     Dutchland Farms, once located on Pleasant View Avenue, was selling a gallon of milk for 99 cents. Today a gallon of milk costs the same as a gallon of gas.   

July, 1972

      In “space race” news; The crew of the Apollo 15 moon mission was reprimanded when it was learned that 400 stamped envelopes had been smuggled aboard and carried to the moon and back at the request of foreign stamp dealer.

     NASA probe, Pioneer 10, became the first man-made object to successfully navigate its way through the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. The probe reached Jupiter the following year.

     Soviet space probe Venera 8 successfully landed on the planet Venus and transmitted data for as period of time before extreme temperatures caused it to malfunction.

     On July 19, the Smithfield Neighborhood Association for Progress held their monthly meeting.   

July, 1972

     On July 23, the Smithfield Police Association met to vote to change the department’s uniform shirts from white to blue. Meanwhile, progress was being made on the construction of the new police station.

     The group, “Stop I-84 Inc.” was still campaigning to halt construction of the proposed superhighway I-84, which was to connect Hartford to Providence. The project was opposed by numerous residents both in Connecticut and Rhode Island.

     A local car dealership was offering the following cars for sale: a 1968 Lincoln Continental for $1,695; a 1969 Oldsmobile Toronado for $2,395; and a 1970 Buick La Sabre for $2,595. Each vehicle was equipped with air condition and AM-FM radio, two things that were “options” in 1972.

     Councilors working for the Smithfield Summer Recreation Program performed “The Wizard of Oz.”

     The Cranford Club of Greenville entertained patients at Zambarano Hospital in Burrillville.

     On July 26, acrobats from a small traveling circus entertained hundreds at Burgess Field in Greenville. The event was sponsored by the Smithfield recreation Department.

     Mrs. Carolyn Simmons was appointed as the new head librarian at the Greenville Public Library.

     Glocester held its 45th Annual Ancients and Horribles Parade.

Silas Smith House, Smithfield, R. I.

     These photos were taken by Steve Tudino of Smithfield in the early 1970s when the Smithfield portion of Interstate 295 was under construction.  The photos depict property at 206 Farnum Pike which today is at the intersection of Farnum Pike and Rt. 295 south.  

     According to the book “Historical and Architectural Resources of Smithfield, Rhode Island” published by the Rhode Island Historical Preservation Commission in 1992, (page 47), this property dates to the early 19th century and is believed to have been originally owned by Silas Smith.    

Click on images to enlarge.


looking north


Greenville, R. I. Mural – 2022


Click on images to enlarge.

     Painted by artist Sandy McDonald in June of 2022.

     The work was commissioned by Tom Winfield, owner of the building.  It depicts dogs that he currently owns, as well as three that passed away.  The rainbow signifies the rainbow bridge that shows the way to Heaven.   

Estate of Lydia Sayles, Smithfield, R. I. – 1848

     The following documents pertain to the estate of Lydia Sayles of Smithfield, Rhode Island.  They were donated in June of 2022 by Joseph Morneault.

Click on images to enlarge. 

     Mary Sayles, Born Dec. 10, 1787 

     Lydia Sayles, Born October 30, 1789

     Adele Sayles, Born Dec. 15, 1791

     Amey Sayles, Born Sept. 19, 1793

     Levina Sayles, Born Aug. 19, 1795  

Vintage Rhode Island Forest Service Patches

     These rare patches were worn by forest rangers and “forest fire patrolmen” during the 1950s and early 1960s.   It is believed that the patch that reads “Forest Service” was worn before the one that reads “Division of Forests”.   

Click on images to enlarge.

50 Years Ago – June, 1972

     On June 4, members of Cub Scout Pack 3 of Greenville, sponsored by St. Philip’s Church, held a picnic at Waterman Lake. Cub scouts Christopher Manocchia and Thomas Phillips won the fly fishing derby.

     In Smithfield police news, a ground breaking ceremony was held to begin construction of the town’s new police station. Officials present included Senator Claiborne Pell, Chief Arthur Gould, Deputy Chief James McVey, S. Burton and Mary Mowry who donated the land, Town Council President Allan Schwartz, Councilman John Emin, and Building Committee Chairman Orlando Spinella.

    The department held a training school open to all Smithfield officers, as well as officers from Glocester and members of the Bryant College Security Patrol. Each attendee received a certificate at completion.

     Officers Robert LaChapelle and Saverio E. Serapiglia were promoted to the rank of Sergeant. Sgt. Serapiglia was also named to the newly created position of Inspector, and put in charge of the department’s detective division.

     Wayne Saco was appointed a probationary officer to the department.

     State officials warned residents living along Slack’s Pond that a bacterial disease that could be passed to humans was killing off fish. It was advised that any dead fish along the shoreline should be removed using shovels or rakes, and not be handled with bare hands.

     Gloria Thomas, Barbara Stamp, Cynthia Martone, and Sally Butterfield, of the Apple Valley Junior Women’s Club, planted shrubbery around the Greenville Grange Hall.

     On June 11 the Georgiaville Fire Company held a firemen’s memorial ceremony honoring deceased members.

     Beverly Dobson was presented with an award by the Smithfield Jaycees. The award recognized any Smithfield resident who’d provided an outstanding service to the community. Beverly was honored for her dedication and hard work with the Smithfield Historical Society.

     A local car dealership advertised a 1964 Ford thunderbird convertible for a mere $595. A quick check of the Internet indicates that the same car today, depending on condition, is selling between thirty and forty thousand dollars.

     The Hearthside Ladies Bowling League held a banquet at the Alpine Country Club in Cranston, and over 500 people attended.

     If one went to the Apple Valley Cinema they may have seen “The French Connection”, the story of two NYPD detectives tracking an international drug ring; or “Skyjacked”, a move about a hijacked airliner. Or perhaps “Klute” a crime thriller involving a prostitute and a police detective, and “The Last Picture Show”, a coming of age movie set in the 1950s.

     High School Junior Ellen Provonsil was crowned Smithfield Junior Prom Queen by class president Jim Lawson. Members of the queen’s court included Karen Henriksen, Susan Winsor, Brenda Cardente, Kathy Marzilli, Sharon McDermott, and Debra Cerroni.

     Smithfield School Superintendent John K. Boyle was elected president of the Rhode Island Association of School Superintendents. He’d served as Superintendent since 1963.

     It was announced that an indoor tennis facility would be erected off Church Street in Greenville at an estimated cost of $250,000.

     Heidi Allen, Polly Parsakian, Kathy Arruda, and Kathy Abbatematteo, of the Smithfield High School Girls Relay Team won the Rhode Island Interscholastic Track Championship.

     Track team member June Bissel set a new state record for the high jump.

     A National “Smokey Bear Poster Contest” was held, and Maureen Gustafson, age 8, sponsored by the Apple Blossom Garden Club, won first prize. She was awarded a large Smokey Bear teddy bear.

     As a suggested Father’s Day gift, one local business was offering a portable transistor radio that could receive AM/FM transmissions, as well as police and weather broadcasts. Regularly $39.95, marked down to $24.95.


50 Years Ago – May, 1972

50 Years Ago – May, 1972

     Army Sergeant Gabriele V. Pate was serving with the 243rd Engineer Battalion in the Rhode Island Army National Guard.

     Navy petty officer 3/c David R. Young of Greenville was serving aboard the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Intrepid.

     Sergeant Alan R. Colwell of Greenville was serving as an aircraft maintenance specialist.

Navy Seaman George H. Young, Jr., was serving aboard the destroyer escort U.S.S. Harold E. Holt.

     Richard Rudis, a senior at Smithfield High School, was accepted to the United States Merchant Marine Academy. Of the 17,000 applicants, only 250 were accepted; and only two from Rhode Island.

     Sergeant James H. McVey of the Smithfield Police Department was promoted to the rank of deputy chief after the recent death of Deputy Chief J. Lester Tobin. At the time of his promotion, McVey had been on the force for twenty-two years.

     Three new members of the Smithfield Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol took orientation flights in a Cessna 160 airplane from North Central Airport. The youths were: Henry Gombeyski, Norman Gage, and Henry LaChapelle, all of Farnum Heights.

     The Smithfield VFW Post 6663 elected new officers. James E. Lyle was elected post commander; Americo Rossi, Jr., senior vice commander; Leroy Hilton, junior vice commander; James Cummings, quartermaster; J. Leo Keefe, chaplain; Fred C. J. Miller, surgeon; Peter Mancini, adjutant post advocate; and Edward Sagatis, trustee.

     On May 5 the town posted its proposed budget for the upcoming 1972-73 fiscal year which included $1,663,000 for the school department, $295,848 for the police department, and $264,191 for the fire department.

     On the evening of the town financial meeting, a “mobile emergency room” ambulance was parked in front of the high school for voters to inspect. It looked like a mobile home, and could serve as a field hospital in times of disaster. The Greenville Fire Department wanted it to replace an aging rescue truck that was purchased n 1957. The cost was $29,000, which was about the cost of a modest home in those days. The voters approved the purchase.

     David F. Culton of Greenville became Senior Warden of the Nestell Lodge No. 37, of the A. F. & A. M. in Providence. He was also serving with the Rhode Island Air Guard.

     On May 7th the Greenville Public Library held an art show. Two local participating artists were Mrs. Mary Jane Spardello, and Mr. Alexis W. Krupka.

     In Bryant College news, the scuba diving club cleaned the bottoms of the ponds on campus.

     The “Country Comfort”, a bar/café located on the campus officially opened. Among drinks offered was apple cider from Jaswell Farms.

     The Bryant Indians baseball team posted its upcoming season.

     On the weekend of May 12-13, the campus held its annual “Spring Weekend”, during which a young singer named Linda Ronstadt gave a concert to raise money for cancer research. Tickets to see the concert were one dollar.

     If one went to the Apple valley Cinema, the y might have seen “Dirty Harry”, a police drama starring Clint Eastwood. Or perhaps, “Blindman”, starring Ringo Starr and Tony Anthony. A western about a blind gunfighter who sets out to rescue kidnapped mail-order brides. Then there was “Puppet on a Chain”, a British thriller known for its eight minute boat chase, and “Silent Running”, an apocalyptic science fiction film.

     On May 19, the Smithfield Junior High Drama Club presented the play, “It’s Great To be Crazy”, a comedy about a family that is erroneously informed that their ancestors included the likes of Jack-the-Ripper, Bluebeard the pirate, and other assorted famous criminals.

     On May 20, the Dorothy P. T. Dame School in Esmond held its annual PTA officers installation dinner at the Greenville Inn. Installed as president was Alice Downes; vice president, Ann Lembo; recording secretary Anthony Ciotola, Treasurer, Virginia Stedman; and corresponding secretary, Eva Bonitati.

     It was also on May 20 that the Smithfield Recreation Department sponsored an eleven mile bicycle race that began and ended at the high school. Contestants were divided by age categories and trophies were awarded to the winners.

     On the night of May 20, the Smithfield Police Department held its annual policeman’s ball.

     Miss Kendrall Bliven of Ashaway, R. I. was crowned Apple Blossom Queen at the annual Apple Blossom Festival, sponsored by the Rhode Island Fruit Growers Association, and the Rhode Island Grange.

     The Apple Valley Junior Women’s Club elected new officers. Elected president was Sally Butterfield; vice president; Gloria Thomas; recording secretary, Flora Simeone, Treasurer, Simone Carbone; and corresponding secretary, Judy Hoskins.


50 Years Ago – February, 1972

50 Years Ago – February, 1972   

February, 1972

     Navy Seaman George Gilmore of Greenville was serving aboard the U.S.S. Milwaukee taking part in training exercises off the coast of Maine.

     Marine Corporal Patricia E. Darby of Esmond was serving at a military air station in El Toro, California.

     Carl Ackroyd of Esmond was promoted to Airman First Class in the United States Air Force. He was serving with the 87th Fighter Interceptor Squadron.

     On February 3 snow began falling in the country of Iran, which over the next six days accumulated in some areas to the incredible depth of 26 feet! The weight of the snow collapsed buildings, and when it was over an estimated 4,000 people had perished.

     On February 5 the Ecology Club at Gallagher Junior High School sponsored a paper recycling drive. Residents were asked to drop off tied bundles of newspapers and magazines.   

February, 1972

   It was also announced that on April 8th a recycling center for glass and paper would open behind “Rocco’s Corner” at Rt. 44 and Rt. 5. It would be operated by the organization known as “Ecology Action of Smithfield”. The group also petitioned the Town Council to designate the Week of April 15-22 “Smithfield Ecology Week”.

     On February 12 the first annual antique show and sale was held that the Greenville Grange Hall which was once located on Austin Avenue.

     It was also on this date that a Valentines Day dance was held at the Elks Lodge.

     In February of 1972 Connecticut began a state lottery, and advertisements in Rhode Island newspapers stated where lottery tickets could be purchased in Connecticut towns bordering Rhode Island. A spokesman from the Rhode Island Attorney General’s Office announced that while it was not illegal to purchase the tickets, or to collect any winnings, it was illegal to possess such tickets within Rhode Island borders. A first offense could lead to one year in jail and up to a $500 fine. This also included tickets of the New Hampshire State Lottery and the Irish Sweepstakes. Rhode Island didn’t institute its own lottery until 1976.   

February, 1972

      Local business were advertising gifts for Valentines Day. A bottle of “Max Factor” spray mist cologne could be had for $1.75. A “skinny dip special” included a bottle of cologne and perfumed talcum powder for $1.99, and a bottle of “Emorauder, L’Aimant, or “Arpege” perfumes were $3.00 each.

     A 20 oz. bottle of mouth wash, if one felt it was necessary, was just eighty-eight cents.

     On February 19 an “Icicle Ball” was held at the Elks Lodge on Farnum Pike to raise funds for the newly appointed “Smithfield Ice Rink Committee”, which was charged with generating interest for the construction of an ice rink in town.

     It was also on this date that the sit-com television show “All in The Family” first aired.

     The Cranford Club of Greenville entertained patients at Zambarano Hospital. Mary Flynn, Agnes Jorden, Mildred Morin, Edith McDermott, Ida Suppicich, Jeanette Fournier, and Viola Glasheen organized the event.   

February, 1972

    A proposal was put before the Smithfield Town Council to develop the former Latham Farm situated between Farnum Pike and Log Road into Wionkehiege Valley Estates. The original proposal included condominium and commercial properties, walking trails, and a nine-hole golf course. However, public opposition to certain aspects of the project led to a significantly scaled down version of the plan.

     The Federal Communications Commission enacted new rules for cable television. Each cable network now had to have at least twenty channels.

     Smithfield received a $237,600 grant from the state Economic Development Administration for construction of a new police station. As such, the taxpayers only had to pay $59,400 to complete the project.   

February, 1972

    Snow mobiles were becoming more popular by the early 1970s and based on photos and an article which appeared in The Observer, there was a group of enthusiasts in Greenville known as “The Easy Sliders” that wore a custom-made round patch on their snowsuits. If anyone happens to have one of these patches, would you please e-mail an image of it to the Smithfield Times?

     Finally, last month it was mentioned in this column that in January of 1972, the town had auctioned the D.P.W.’s first piece of mechanized equipment, a 1928 Caterpillar tractor which had been named “Nelly Belle”. It has since been learned that the tractor still exists, and has been fully restored and maintained by the Adler family of Greenville.

50 Years Ago – April, 1972

50 Years Ago – April, 1972

     Navy Seaman Apprentice Robert L. Phelan, Jr., of Greenville, had just graduated recruit training.

     Marine Lance Corporal Leo F. Nadeau of Lime Rock Road was serving with the 1st Marine Air Wing in Okinawa.

    Civil Air Patrol C/Major Lynette D. Blackmore of Georgiaville was honored for her outstanding work and dedication to the Rhode Island Civil Air Patrol.

     On April 7th the Smithfield High School drama and theatre arts class presented the play, “Revolution”, billed as a “modern multi-media drama” covering topics of the day. The cast included Michael Averill, Nancy Cabral, James Conlon, Joanne DeCurtis, Mark Denerley, Duncan Eagleson, Joyce Fioire, Edward Gatta, Gerry Grace, John Kelly, Kathy Lowry, Glenn Rose, Nancy Emma, and Edward Spader.

     On April 9th official ground breaking ceremonies for the Smithfield Boys Club on Deerfield Drive took place.

     Smithfield Cub Scout Pack 44, Den 10, visited the Elmbrook Nursing Home to deliver gifts to the residents. Those participating included Patrick Drummond, Domenic Burns, Michael Daniels, John Walsh, Timothy Boyles, Steven Hagapopian, Joseph Foster, William Nannie, Frank Girard, and Den Mother Norma McMaugh, and Assistant den Mother Louise Walsh.

     On April 12th, new officers of the Apple Blossom Garden Club were installed at a dinner held at the Club 44 on Putnam Pike. The new officers included Betty Paliy as president, Carmel Lancia as vice president, Kathy Talbot as corresponding secretary, July Lawton as secretary, and Ruth Lebeck as member at large.

     On April 13th the popular TV sit-com, “My Three Sons” aired its 380th and final episode. The show had been on the air since 1960.

     On April 15th the Apple Valley Chorus presented “Parade of Harmony” at the Smithfield High School auditorium. Additional talent included “The Four Statesmen”, the “international champion quartet of 1967”, “The Yankee Traders”, and comic relief from “The Top Hats”.

     The new Smithfield Recycling Center officially opened at the southwest corner of Commerce Street and Lark Industrial Drive in Greenville. The project was brought about by the efforts of the group Ecology Action For Smithfield.

     New members of the Smithfield Elks Emblem Club were installed. The new officers included Mary Hill as president, Mary Schiffman as past president, Helen Mowry as 1st vice president, Mildred Campbell 2nd vice president, Ruth Mowry as treasurer, Claudette Cunningham as finance secretary, Mary Shaw as recording secretary, Rose Centofanti as corresponding secretary, Genevieve Calouri as historian, Joan Kohler as historian, Stella Kornacki as chaplain, Mildred Johnson as 1st trustee, Beverly Moreau as 2nd trustee, Doris Torti as 3rd trustee, Evelyn Newman as marshall, Carmella Amitrano as assistant marshall, Doreen Collins as guard, and Doris Coyne as organist.

     On April 21 Apollo 16 astronauts John W. Young and Charles Duke, became the 9th and 10th men to walk on the moon.

     On April 25th The Village Butcher Shop announced its grand opening at 977 Greenville Avenue in Greenville.

     Despite having opened in September of 1971, a three-day official dedication celebration of Bryant College took place from April 28 – 30. The public was invited to take tours of the campus. Part of the tour included the recently renovated and restored Captain Joseph Mowry House which once stood about where the dome of the campus Unistructure is today. The house was moved to a location along the former John Mowry Road where it stands today.

     It was also on April 25th that the Polaroid Corporation announced its new SX-70 “instamatic” camera that would spit out a color photo which would develop itself within sixty seconds. In a day before digital cameras this was considered amazing for the time.

50 Years Ago – March, 1972

50 Years Ago – March, 1972

     U. S. Air Force Staff Sergeant Norman R. Leveille of Greenville was serving as a communications specialist in Turkey after completing a tour of duty in Vietnam.

     Brian Douglas Straus of Esmond enlisted in the navy’s “Three Year Airman Program”, and was the first in Rhode Island to do so.

     Air Force pilot 1st Lieutenant Bernard J. Ferro III of Esmond was serving with the 516th Tactical Aircraft Wing. He and his crew were recognized for their outstanding performance during operational training missions held from January to June of 1972.

     Airman Richard L. LaChance of Greenville completed basic training, and was assigned to Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas for specialized training.

     Army National Guard Master Sergeants Ralph Corbesero, Jr., and Nicholas P. Gerardi, along with Sergeant’s First Class John L. Foline, and Frank A. Grace, and Staff Sergeant Brendon M. Byone, stationed at the guard depot on Washington Highway, received ten and twenty year service awards.

     On March 2nd, NASA launched the Pioneer 10 space probe which had a plaque attached bearing a message to any alien civilization that might encounter it. In 1983 it became the first man-made object to leave our solar system. It continued transmitting data to Earth until January of 2003.

     On March 3rd, 2.24 inches of rain drenched the area causing the Woonasquatucket River to overflow its banks and cause extensive flooding in Georgiaville and Esmond.

     The Smithfield Boys Club held its annual dinner dance and presented Thomas Black, Albert Octeau, Alonzo Thurber, Senator F. Monroe Allen, and John Ford with exceptional service awards for their work with the organization.

     Gulliver’s Lounge on Farnum Pike advertised St. Patrick’s Day specials which included green beer, Irish whiskey, corned beef sandwiches, and music by the “Smilin’ Faces”, said to be “Far-in folk with a lot of funk.”

     Greenville Cub Scouts Pack 3 held its annual Blue and Gold Dinner at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Pascoag, and Smithfield Pack 43 Cub Scouts held theirs at Wright’s Farm.

     Doreen Marinaccio, age 15, of Georgiaville, won first place in the “Mid-Winter Skating Championships” held in Warwick. She’d competed in the “Freshman Freestyle Event”.

     The Smithfield Lions Club installed two new members; Kaj Andreasson, and Dr. Ronald Hall.

     Bill’s Appliance Inc., once located at 258 Putnam Pike, posted a unique advertisement that read in part, “Wanted, 50 old washers, dead or alive”. Basically he was offering trade in value towards a new Maytag washing machine. The ad went on to state, “Oldest Maytag washer brought in receives bonus trade in rewards on any Maytag of your choice.”

     A local Chevrolet dealership was advertising new 1972 model cars. One could own a Monte Carlo for $3,295, an Impala for $3,195, a Camero for $2,850, and a Nova for $2,395.

     If one were more economy minded a Volkswagon dealership was offering Beetles for $2,057.

     On March 21st the Greenville Senior Sunshiners held a meeting in the Fellowship Hall of the Greenville Baptist Church. The meeting was opened by the group’s president Mrs. Elizabeth Spencer, and the chaplain, Mrs. Edith Knushke, led the group with a prayer.

     On March 23rd, David F. Culton of Greenville became Senior Warden of the Nestell Lodge No. 37, of the A. F. & A. M. in Providence. He was also serving with the Rhode Island Air Guard.

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