Smithfield Area Apple Ad – April, 1969

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Smithfield Area Apple Advertisement from April, 1969.

50 Years Ago – April, 1969

50 Years Ago – April, 1969

     USMC Corporal Steven Oliver of Greenville came home after serving 13 months in Vietnam. The occasion of his homecoming was all the more joyous as he met his little brother Antone for the very first time, who was born while Steven was away.    

     Edmond B. Lynch, Jr., of Greenville, was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army, and would be serving with the Chemical Corps.

     SP/4 John L. Fournier, and SP/4 Raymond A, Mimande, both of Smithfield, were among 75 recent graduates of the Rhode Island Army National Guard NCO School.

     Airman Michael A. Costa of Esmond completed basic Air Force recruit training school and was assigned to aircraft maintenance.

     Army Specialist Angela K. Panzarella of Esmond was promoted to SP/4 and was serving with the Signal Corps at Ft. Sherridan, Illinois.

     Airman 1/c Richard M. Johnson of Greenville was serving with the U. S. Air Force in Thailand.  

     Four students from St, Aloysius Home on Austin Avenue received awards for their entries in a ceramics art contest. The winners were Joseph Chartier, Sheilagh Feely, Robert Dumas, and Leo Belmore.     

     Kathy Marzilli, and 8th grade student from Greenville, won a gold key and blue ribbon for her artistic rendering of “A Still Life Done in Chalk” which was entered in the 5th Annual Scholastic Art Exhibit. The exhibit included 16 art categories, as well as 13 photography classifications. Kathy’s entry was sent to New York to compete with finalists from other states.  

     One local contractor was offering to install aluminum siding on homes (Up to 1,000 square feet.) for only $449.   

     The Ford Maverick, a “sub-compact” family vehicle was introduced in April of 1969 to compete with the Volkswagen Beetle, the Chevrolet Vega, and the AMC Gremlin. OK, by a show of hands, how many recall driving one of those?    

     On April 17 a fashion show and penny social was held at Anna McCabe School to raise funds for a class field trip. Door prizes and free gifts were offered.

     The St. Philips Rosary Guild also held its annual Spring Bridge Fashion Show featuring clothing from The Family Store in Greenville. The event was chaired by Mrs. Edwin Leszczyk, and co-chaired by Mrs. Richard Snow. Other committee members included: Mrs. John Higgins, Mrs. Joseph Cullen, Mrs. Peter Mancini, Mrs. Edith Scully, Mrs. George Hebert, Mrs. Francis Beaudry, Mrs. John Kaminski, Mrs. William Walker, Mrs. Roland L’Abbee, Mrs. Gerald Cahoone, Mrs. Thomas Iemma, Mrs. John Grenga, Mrs. Edward Thomas, Mrs. John Driscoll, Mrs. Richard Conti, Mrs. Robert Reall, and Mrs. Joseph Hickey.

     On April 19 the St. Peter’s School on Austin Avenue held an auction and cake sale on the grounds of the St. Aloysius Home. The event was administered by Sister Mary Alexis RSM, Mrs. Michael Hession, and Mrs. George Chasse.

     It was also on April 19 that “The Soundmen”, a comedic-musical group performed at the Smithfield High School. The men were advertised as bringing “a unique brand of comedy and rhythm capable of breaking a lease or starting a riot.”  

     The first concept model of what would one day be the Space Shuttle was unveiled by NASA engineers. The model was made of paper and balsa wood.    

     One local drug store was giving away three Polaroid Land Cameras in a free raffle. No purchase was necessary. For those too young to recall, such cameras offered “instant photographs” in only 60 seconds.

     A “swing-a-long” benefit was held at the Smithfield Boys Club. Young volunteer organizers included Thomas J. Connor, Jr., John Pascone, John Peloquin, Thomas Peloquin, Maria Pascone, Sheila Peloquin, Cheryl Pechie, Elinor Peloquin, Maribeth Coleman, Francis Finn, William Connell, Nicholas Simone, and Kevin Bell.

     For those who recall sitting in traffic jams on Rt. 44 in Centerdale, construction was begun for the Centerdale Bypass which was set to be completed in November of 1969 with the hops of relieving traffic problems.    

50 Years Ago – February, 1969

50 Years Ago – February, 1969 

 

    At the beginning of the month one local paper noted how warm weather had been dominating the region causing little snow accumulation. They shouldn’t have worried, for the weather is always changing, and the end of February brought plenty of snow and cold weather – just in time for spring.   

    On February 2, the newly completed Smithfield Boys Club skating rink was dedicated to the memory of Kenneth Furby and Smithfield Police Sergeant Norman Vezina, who both drowned two months earlier in December. The 17,000 square foot rink was located at the foot of Deerfield Dr. on land leased by the town for 50 years. Amenities included a warming hut, an office area, flood lights for nighttime skating, and electric pumps. The project began on May 13, 1966, and took three-and-a-half years to complete, a feat that was accomplished through the many hours of hard work by local contractors and numerous volunteers. The opening of the rink gave the youths of Smithfield a safe place to skate. Unfortunately, just 24 days later, thoughtless vandals destroyed much of the rink.    

     $500 was donated to the Norman Vezina Fund by the Chubby Square Dance Group of Pawtucket.

     SP/4 Raymond C, Smedberg of Greenville was serving with the U.S. Army in Yokosuka, Japan.

     Sergeant Harvey E. Frank of Greenville was serving with the 3rd Marine Division in South Vietnam.

     Airman 1/c William M. Haddad of Esmond was training at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, with the Air Force Security Police.

     Airman Kenneth T. Parent of Greenville completed basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas.

     Airman 1/c James P. Coupe of Greenville was serving with the U.S. Air Force in Thailand.

     Private Steven M. St. Jean of Georgiaville was stationed at Fort Gordon in Georgia.

     Navy Petty Officer 3/c Richard N. Kanea of Greenville was serving aboard the attack-cargo ship U.S.S. Algol. Prior to this assignment, he’d served two years in Vietnam.

     Brothers Brian and Terrance McCaffrey of Greenville were both serving with the U.S. Air Force, and both were promoted to sergeant.  

     S/Sgt. Benjamin F. Crossman, Jr., of Esmond was serving with the Air Force in Arkansas.

     George Allan of Greenville entered navy recruit training.

     Airman 1/c Mark D. Sullivan of Greenville was serving with the 804th Security Police.

     Army Private Carl A. Bruno of Greenville was awarded the American Spirit Honor Award in Graduation ceremonies held for the 3rd Basic Combat training Class at Fort Dix, N.J.

     On February 8th, the number one pop song was “Build Me Up Buttercup” by The Foundations.

     On February 9, the Boeing 747 “Jumbo Jet” flew for the first time.  

     How many can recall when parents used to have their baby’s first shoes dipped in bronze? One local company that advertised this service stated in their ad, “Your baby’s own shoes “eternalized” in everlasting metal – pickup and delivery”.

     With Valentine’s Day approaching, one local store suggested the gift of perfume. Provocative scents included “Spring Mist”, “Hypnotique”, “Primitive”, “Promesse”, and “Golden Woods”. Only $1.75 per bottle.

     The Smithfield Players presented “Critics Choice”, by a three-act comedy play by Ira Levin, at the Smithfield High School. The plot centered on a newspaper drama critic who is put in a difficult position when his wife becomes a stage actress.

     The drama critic was played by Gene Leveille, and Nancy St. Pierre played his wife.

    On February 18, a “Kiddies Day” was held, sponsored by the Smithfield High School senior class. Cartoons and the movie “The Three Lives of Thomasina” was shown, and refreshments were served.

     If one was looking for a good “pre-owned” car, one local dealership was offering a 1965 Ford Galaxie for $1,195. Andy Griffith fans will recall that Sheriff Taylor and Deputy Fife always drove Ford Galaxie police cars while patrolling the mean streets of Mayberry.     

 

 

50 Years Ago – March, 1969

50 Years Ago – March, 1969

    Reverend Joseph P. McNamara, the pastor of St. Philip’s Church, was elevated to Monsignor. “Father Mac”, as he was known, had been a priest for 46 years and had served as an Army Chaplin from 1934 to 1946. He came to St. Philip’s after his discharge from the military.

     Airman 1st Class Richard Johnson of Greenville left for a year’s duty in Thailand at Nakhon Phanom Air Force Base.

     Mario Ciotola of Douglas Pike was serving with the U.S. Air Force.

     PFC Steven M. St. Jean of Stillwater was serving in Vietnam.

     Marine Corporal Hawkins Hibbs of Greenville was awarded the Good Conduct Medal.

     Sergeant Richard L. Egan of Greenville was serving in the Air Force with the 351st Strategic Missile Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base.

     PH2 Joseph F. Green of Esmond was serving with the Naval Reserve Transport Squadron in California.

     The Smithfield contingent of the Junior Naval Cadets of America announced some promotions.

     Dennis Straight, Stephen Valolato, Paul Arella, were promoted to Senior Cadet 2nd class.

     James Darby and Robert Varr to Senior Cadet 3rd class.

     William Schaff, Keith Straus, Robert Walker, and Michael Allan, to Cadet 1st class.  

     Dennis Henlin, Gregory Straight, and Steven Neri to Cadet 2nd class.

     James Bicknell, Richard Cacciola, and Lawrence Preistley to Cadet 3rd class.

     The promotions were presented by Lt. W. H. Manchester.    

     Smithfield High School senior Mary Lou Sullivan was awarded the DAR Citizenship Award. Recipients are selected for their qualities of dependability, leadership, service, and patriotism.  

     Lewis E. Antone of Greenville was selected among Bryant College alumni to be included in the1969 national edition of “Outstanding Young Men of America”. Mr. Antone graduated from Bryant in 1959.

     On March 11 the Dorothy Dame School PTA sponsored a B-party at the school to raise funds for the Smithfield Scholarship Program. The featured prize was a food basket donated by the Esmond Market, which at that time stood across the street from the school.

     The Rhode Island Fruit Growers Association installed new officers at a ceremony held at the Greenville Grange Hall on Austin Avenue. President: George H. Smith. Vice President: Leonard G. Walker. Secretary-Treasurer: Edgar A. Steere. County Agricultural Agent: Howard King.

     Edwin Robinson was awarded the Golden Sheaf Award by the Greenville Grange in recognition of his fifty consecutive years of service to the organization.    

     On March 22, the Sing-a-Long Singers performed at a fund raising concert to benefit the Smithfield Boys Club. Other featured musicians included the Hetu Brothers, “Nicky” Cavas, Armand Regosta, and Smiling Joe Rossi.

   On March 19, a spring fashion show sponsored by the Family Store in Greenville was presented in the Fellowship Hall of the Greenville Baptist Church. Among the models who wore the latest fashions were, Jackie Leccese, Mary Ann Panghorn, and Betty Eldredge. Music at the event was provided by the Smithfield High School Chorus.  

     The Greenville Public Library voted to purchase books on the subject of Oceanography.  

     On March 29, Smithfield Parents Against Drug Abuse sponsored a fundraising buffet and forum at the high school. All proceeds were to go to the Marathon House in Providence.

     The Wionkhiege Valley Farm was offering sleigh rides for as long as the snow lasted.

Smithfield Union Bank – 1806 Banknotes

Smithfield Union Bank- 1806 Banknotes

Click on images to enlarge.

Images courtesy of Katie Law of the Smithfield Preservation Society

Map of Bryant College – 1980s

Map of Bryant College – 1980s

Click on image to enlarge.

Are There Ghosts In Smithfield’s “Haunted City”?

Originally published in the Smithfield Times magazine, October, 2016

 

Are There Ghosts in Smithfield’s “Haunted City?”

By Jim Ignasher    

One of the 18th century cellar holes in Hanton City.

     I should have known better, but the urge to continue my explorations got the better of me, and I’d ventured too far and stayed too long in the woods. This was more than ten years ago. It was January, it was cold, and the sun had fallen nearly level with the horizon. As darkness closed in around me I was thankful for the coating of snow on the ground which provided enough contrast with the trees to allow me to navigate my way out.

     I’d been exploring Hanton City, Smithfield’s colonial-era “ghost town” located in a thickly wooded area where cellar holes, stone walls, and a cemetery are all that remain of a once thriving settlement. It’s a place steeped in myth and folklore, and has sometimes been called “Haunted City”. As I traipsed back to my truck hoping for the moon to rise I began to wonder about the “haunted” part.  

     The mysterious tales surrounding Hanton City date back to the 1880s when a Providence Journal reporter published the term “Haunted City” in an article he wrote about the area, but made it clear that locals viewed the phrase with “amused contempt”, and no anecdotal ghost stories accompanied the article. Over time the article was forgotten, but the name stuck.  

     By the early 1900s what remained of any Hanton City buildings had fallen to decay, and Mother Nature was well on her way to reclaiming the once open land. As more years passed, hikers and hunters would visit the area and wonder about the cellar holes. Their questions as to who built them and when, as well as what happened to the populace, were answered with rumors and speculation that morphed into folklore that in modern times has been taken as fact.

     This was primarily due to the lack of documentation relating to Hanton City, which, by the way, was never a “city”, but a small farm settlement. Thomas Steere’s book on Smithfield history published in 1881 didn’t mention the settlement, nor was it designated on early maps.   This wasn’t due to any deliberate omission, for the names of some of Hanton City’s residents are mentioned in Steere’s book. It was likely because there was nothing remarkable about the settlement in terms of industry or historical significance. Yet it was this omission that fed the fires of folklore.  

     Hanton City has also been referred to as “Island Woods”, or “Islands in the Woods”, due to the granite hills jutting up from marshy wetlands. The rocky soil isn’t conducive for farming, and in summertime the area is infested with mosquitoes. Thus it wouldn’t have been considered “prime real estate” which begs the question; who settled the area and why? By the 1930s several theories had been put forth ranging from runaway slaves, ex-prison inmates, and Native Americans, to ex-inmates of the town’s poor farm, and AWOL British soldiers hiding out during the American Revolution, all of whom could have reasons for wanting to live in seclusion. However, historical research has proven these theories to be wrong.

     Speculation as to what happened to the inhabitants includes; they were wiped out by a plague or natural disaster, left to serve in the American Revolution, or had their land confiscated for refusing to fight in the revolution. Again, research has disproved these theories.

     Part of that research lies in a Providence Journal article titled “A Buried City”, published October 6, 1889. In it, the reporter interviewed Tom Hanton, 80, and his sister, said to be the last two inhabitants of Hanton City. The article indicated that the community was in its prime by the 1730s, about the time Smithfield was incorporated as a town. The first settlers were three English families of the yeoman class, which put them near the bottom of the social ladder, who arrived around 1676-77, shortly after King Phillip’s War.

     Residents made their living by growing what they could, quarrying stone, tanning leather, and making boots to sell in Providence. There wasn’t much cash money to be had, so many bartered for their needs. For example, Mr. Hanton recalled how at weddings the Justice of the Peace would be paid with a good meal and some rum.

     As to what happened to the population, Mr. Hanton explained, “They had all got poor, and sold out to anybody, and died off.” Of course “poor” had to be a relative term given their circumstances. By the early 1800s mills were springing up along the Blackstone and Woonasquatucket Rivers which could pay regular wages, offer better opportunities, and make products more affordably than those who worked with their hands. Thus it was most likely the Industrial Revolution that led to the demise of Hanton City.

     As the settlement faded away, it became a ghost town of sorts, and by the late 19th century the name Hanton City had morphed into “Haunted City”.

     However, on that long ago January evening I was unaware of much of this information as the black shadows of the trees and rocks assumed ominous shapes while I made haste to exit the darkening woods. Then I heard the call of a nearby coyote, and realized that encountering a ghost might not be my first concern.

     So, is the place haunted? I guess that depends on one’s beliefs and experiences. There are Internet postings and stories in contemporary books (about the supernatural) of people who claim it is, and not all ghostly encounters are said to have happened at night.

     Speaking for myself, I’ve returned to Hanton City dozens of times over the years – in the daytime of course. During those treks I’ve encountered hunters, dirt bikers, photographers, treasure hunters, various wildlife, and fellow explorers, but not a single ghost. I’m not saying ghosts don’t exist. I’m only saying I haven’t seen any in Smithfield’s so-called “Haunted City”. Happy Halloween!

 

 

A Lost Artifact Of Smithfield’s Past Comes Home

Originally published in the Smithfield Times magazine – January, 2019.

A Lost Artifact Of Smithfield’s Past Comes Home

By Jim Ignasher   

 

Katie Law and Robert Leach holding a valued piece of Smithfield history.

     Sometimes rare items of historic interest relating to a particular town can unexpectedly turn up hundreds of miles from their point of origin. A case in point is a large walnut and sterling silver award-plaque which had once been presented to Thomas K. Winsor of Greenville that recently turned up in Florida. Thanks to the efforts of Robert Leach and Katie Law of the Smithfield Historical Preservation Commission, it has been brought home to Smithfield after more than a century-long hiatus.

     The historical significance of the plaque is its connection to Smithfield’s early apple growing industry which earned our town the nickname of “Apple Valley”. Furthermore, it’s a unique, one-of-a-kind item that was commissioned by Rhode Island’s (then) Governor Aram J. Pothier, who served as the state’s 51st and 55th governor until his death in 1928.

     Thomas K. Winsor, (1871 – 1949), was known throughout New England as the undisputed “apple king” among those in the apple growing industry, building a business that distributed apples all across the United States and Europe. His former home, which dates to the 1700s, still stands at 85 Austin Avenue, but the vast orchards that once covered the land behind it are long gone, replaced by private homes. Mr. Winsor is buried in the family cemetery, a picturesque plot located at the corner of Peach Blossom Lane and Macintosh Drive.    

The Governor Pothier Prize awarded to T. K. Winsor in 1911.

     When she gets the opportunity, Katie Law peruses the Internet searching for items relating to town history. Once she found a lottery ticket for the former Greenville Academy dated February, 1812. On another occasion she came across a large box of Smithfield related documents dating to the early 1800s, which included papers relating to slavery. She usually finds such items on auction sites, and is sometimes the highest bidder – other times, unfortunately, she’s not, and a piece of our town’s history goes elsewhere. As a mother of four, her funds are limited. When she buys these items, she’s doing so as a private citizen, and not in her capacity as a member of the Historic Preservation Commission, and therefore uses her own money to do so. No expense is borne by the town.

     So it was when she found the Winsor award-plaque offered for sale by a man in Florida for the sum of $477.00. The price was steep, and definitely out of her price range, but Katie’s not one to give up easily. She contacted Robert Leach about the find. He, like Katie, has a strong interest in preserving local history, and as owner of Leach Orchards, located just up the road from Thomas Winsor’s former residence and orchard, Robert had a special interest in bringing this item back to Smithfield.

     After talking it over with Robert, Katie e-mailed the seller and made an offer which was accepted. The two of them split the cost, and the plaque was returned to Rhode Island. Katie subsequently learned that Mr. Winsor had a winter home in Florida, and that the seller had purchased it at an estate auction.  

     As a point of fact, the seller had attended college in Rhode Island and was therefore somewhat familiar with the Smithfield area, and told Katie that he’d hoped it would somehow make its way back to where it came from.  

     The story behind the plaque dates to 1911, when the New England Fruit Growers Association held a trade exhibition show at the Horticultural Hall in Boston from October 24-29. Part of the show included apple growers throughout New England competing for prizes, one of which was Thomas K. Winsor. Competitors were advised to, “Grow the best fruit you possibly can, pick it carefully, grade it uniformly as to color and size, and pack it attractively. Cleanliness, neatness, and uniformity are factors of prime importance. The finest fruit only is fit for exhibition, and only the best can win premiums.”      

     Some of the once common apple verities entered by growers in the competition won’t be found in supermarkets today. These include: Bellflower, Bethel, Ben Davis, Fallawater, Famuse, Hubbardton, McMahon White, Northern Spy, Pewaukee, Red Canada, Scott Winter, Spitzenburg, Sutton, Tolman Sweet, and Westfield.

     Winsor actually won awards for two categories at the 1911 exhibition. One was a silver cup for the best display of Baldwin apples, presented by Governor Eugene Foss of Massachusetts, and the “Governor Pothier Prize” for the best display of Rhode Island Green, a.k.a. “Greening” apples – a variety first cultivated in Rhode Island in the 1650s, and one not to be confused with the well-known “Granny Smith” apples one sees in stores today.   The present location of the Foss silver cup, by the way, is unknown.  

   The plaque awarded by Governor Pothier has sterling silver custom-cast raised lettering, a state seal, as well as a hand-crafted apple tree which dominates the center. An engraved silver plate under the tree reads, “Awarded to Thomas K. Winsor for the best display of R. I. Green apples at the New England Fruit Show held in Boston, October, 1911.”  

     It was reported that an average of six-thousand visitors went the exhibition each day, making for a well attended show.

     At present, the plaque is in need of a professional cleaning to bring the sterling silver back to its original shinny luster. This has to be done carefully so as not to loose any fine details of the engraving. Once this is done, both Katie and Robert hope to be able to put the plaque on public display.

     Meanwhile, Katie continues to search on line and elsewhere for more “lost” history of Smithfield.    

 

 

 

Rt. 44 at Rt. 5 – 1964

The intersection of Rt. 44 and Rt. 5, looking east up Rt. 44.  The house and barn stood on the site of the present-day Apple Valley Mall.  Click on image to enlarge.

1964

Smithfield Police Traffic Services Vehicle

Smithfield, R. I. Police Traffic Services Vehicle

     Ford Crown Victoria used by the Smithfield Police Department 

to protect road construction sites.   

Click on images to enlarge.

Farnum Pike, Esmond, 2018

Smithfield, Rhode Island
December 11, 2018

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