50 Years Ago – January, 1966

Originally published in the Smithfield Times – January, 2016

by Jim Ignasher

Jan1966On January 4, Private Russell E. Carlton, USMC, son of Mrs. and Mrs. Luther J. Carlton of Capron Road, in Stillwater, graduated from basic training at Paris Island, South Carolina, and was slated for advanced training in North Carolina. 

U.S. Marine Private First Class Hawkins W. Hibbs Jr. of Continental Road in Greenville was meritoriously promoted to his rank after graduating basic training and named “outstanding recruit” of his platoon. 

2nd Lieutenant Robert H. Higginbotham Jr., USMC, of Cider Lane, Greenville, completed Officers Candidate School at Quantico, Virginia.   

On January 12, President Lyndon Johnson announced that the U.S. would remain in South Vietnam.  Six days later 8,000 more troops arrived in the area.

Smithfield resident and Rhode Island state trooper, William P. Tocco Jr., was promoted to sergeant. 

On January 8 the Gerogiaville Fire Company held its annual installation banquet at the Georgiaville fire station on Farnum Pike.  Milton Corey was installed as chief, Fred Andrews as deputy chief, Don Brown as captain, Ronald Paterson as rescue squad captain, and Edward Horton as lieutenant.   

The Greenville Grange held its monthly meeting in the grange hall that once stood in the vicinity of the present-day Greenville Post Office.  Eighty members attended.

The St. Peter’s Club met at the St. Aloysius Home on Austin Avenue to hear Brother Michael Roper, head of the religious department at Bishop Hendricken High School, present his lecture on “The Ecumenical Council and its Accomplishments.”   

It was reported that the new Smithfield High School on Pleasant View Avenue was nearing completion.   When the building was finished, it would mean that Smithfield youths no longer had to attend high school in other towns.

The Smithfield Lions Club established a scholarship fund to be given to a student of the new high school’s first graduating class.  The student had yet to be chosen.

On January 11 the Smithfield Junior High Parent Teachers Association, (PTA) met to hear guest speaker Vito DiCampo, assistant professor of mathematics at Worcester State College give his talk titled “Why The New Math?”

“New Math” was a drastic change in the way mathematics was taught in public schools all across America. The concept was unpopular with students, teachers, and parents alike, and was later abandoned.   

On January 12, a new television series, Batman, starring Adam West and Bert Ward was aired for the first time on ABC.  The series ran until March of 1968. 

Trivia question: How many villains appeared in the Batman TV series?

Answer: 37.   (I got the answer wrong too.) 

Some villains such as “The Puzzler” (The who?) played by Maurice Evans, only appeared once or twice.

If one wanted to see a move, they might have considered The Ghost And Mr. Chicken, a comedy released later in the month starring Don Knotts as a timid small-town newspaper reporter who gets his big break when he has to spend the night in a haunted house where a murder-suicide took place twenty years earlier.  And thus the hi-jinx begin.

On January 13 it was announced that a large parcel of farm land at Routes 44 and 5, had been sold for development. The property contained open fields, stone walls, a large barn, and the once famous Thomas Paine Tavern, built in 1790, all of which was to be leveled in the name of progress.   

Route 295 (Referred to by some at the time as “Rhode Island’s 128”) was still in the planning stages, and it was said that the highway would pass close to the new shopping center. 

There were many who wanted to see the historic tavern saved, one being a Georgiaville woman who wrote a letter to the editor of The Observer  which said in part, ”New homes and new businesses are essential to the growth and prosperity of our town, but must the aesthetic be sacrificed for the economic?”

A lady from Harmony wrote in part, “The Paine Tavern could be made into a point of pride for Smithfield (as could the Myra Appleby house near Stillwater, and historic old bank building in Greenville).”

Unfortunately the tavern wasn’t saved, and today the Apple Valley Mall stands in its place. However, the Appleby House is now a museum, and the former bank building in Greenville is still undergoing restoration.

Six members of Cub Scout Pack 4 of Greenville were awarded their wolf badges and silver-arrow emblems at the pack’s monthly meeting.  The scouts included Jeff Kirkwood, Mark Boker, Robert Oliver, David Pryce, Mike Laferriere, and James Boyle.  

Seven members of the Junior Naval Reserve Cadets of America attached to cadet ship Falcon in Smithfield received marksmanship awards for attaining high scores with .22 caliber rifles at the Smithfield Sportsmen’s Club.  Those cadets were Don Sargent, Dennis Dickerson, Joe Tino, James Zinno, William Whiteside, Bryant Strauss, and Allan Manderville.  

Even today, a 1957 Studebaker Champion in good running condition doesn’t fetch much money. (Less than $5,000 according to some car-sale websites.)  This might explain the 1966 for sale ad listed by a resident of Hattie Avenue in Greenville who described his 1957 Studebaker Champion as “cheap transportation” – only $95.

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