50 Years Ago – September, 1972

50 Years Ago – September, 1972

By Jim Ignasher   

September, 1972

     Steven Neri of Tarklin Road enlisted in the United States Army.

     Airman 1/c David Lariviere of Esmond was serving in the U. S. Air Force.

     S/Sgt. Donald C. Shaw of Esmond was serving as a weapons specialist with the U. S. Air Force at Sawyer AFB in Michigan.

     Navy Petty Officer 2/c Joseph F. Greene of Spragueville was training at the Quonset Naval Air station.

     Boy Scout Troop 76 of Greenville, under the leadership of Orlando Spinella, volunteered to take part in cleanup efforts along the banks of the Blackstone River.

     Boy Scout troop 14 of Greenville held their monthly meeting in the Masonic Hall in Greenville.

     The Smithfield Boys Club, (Today known as the Smithfield YMCA) was still under construction, and was reported to be 75% completed.   

September, 1972

     Marilyn Maltais of Esmond was crowned “Beach Queen” at the conclusion of the summer swim program sponsored by the Smithfield recreational Department.

     On September 5, the Smithfield Raiders pre-teen football team beat the Lincoln Falcons 30 – 0.

     In 1972 the East Smithfield Library was housed in the left side of the Esmond Recreational Center. The right side, which had contained bowling alleys was renovated, to provide larger space for the library. Shortly after the renovations were completed, a group of teenaged volunteers helped to move 7,500 books, as well as tables, chairs, shelves, file cabinets, and assorted other items from the left side of the building to the right. The entire process took only two-and-half-days.

     A local auto dealership was attempting to clear out their used car inventory. A 1971 Mercury Capri could be had for $2,195; a ’71 Ford Ranch Wagon for $2,950; a 1970 Plymouth Fury for $1,450; and a 1968 Volkswagon convertible for $1,177.   

September, 1972

     On September 23, the Smithfield Jaycees held a Monte Carlo Night at the Waterman Lake Pavilion, which included gaming tables, roulette wheels, and dice games. Free beer and sandwiches were provided.

     It was also on September 23 that annual “Apple Harvest Outdoor Art Festival” was held at Waterman Field in Greenville, sponsored by an organization known as Art Group ’70.

     Deborah Cimaglio of Greenville won first place in the Burrillville Arts Festival in the teenage oil painting division.

     On September 26, the Rotunda, the translucent dome at the center of the Bryant College Unistructure was dedicated the “Koffler Rotunda” in honor of Sol Koffler, a benefactor to the college. Koffler, a Polish immigrant, came to America and established the luggage company known as American Tourister.

    The residents of the Greenville Manor held a picnic sponsored by the tenants association.   

September, 1972

Old Stone Bank was offering 6% interest on savings accounts.

     The popular long running television shows: The Walton’s, The Bob Newhart Show, The New Price Is Right, and M*A*S*H, made their first network television appearances in September of 1972.

     Hit songs of September 1972 included “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl) by looking Glass; “Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress” by The Hollies; and “Back Stabbers” by The O’Jays.

Days Of Town Sergeants And Constables

The Days of Town Sergeants and Constables

By Jim Ignasher   

Worn By Sayles Williams.

     On the afternoon of June 26, 1855, the battered body of a 22-year-old man was found along the shore of the Blackstone River near the Globe Bridge which in those days connected Smithfield to Woonsocket. Coroner Spencer Mowry examined the body and determined that the man had been murdered. Investigation revealed he was last seen alive on the Smithfield side of the bridge, visiting what could politely be called a “red light district” which existed at the time.

     In 1855, Woonsocket was still a village within the town of Cumberland, and its southern border was denoted by the Blackstone River. Across the river lay the fledgling mill villages of Globe, Bernon, and Hamlet, all (then) located in Smithfield.

    Law enforcement in northern Rhode Island during this era was haphazard at best. Both Woonsocket and Smithfield had police constables who came under the direction of a town sergeant, but theses men didn’t perform police duties in the way we think of officers doing today. They didn’t wear uniforms, and most didn’t even have badges. And they didn’t regularly patrol a beat or answer “calls” the way their modern counterparts do. When it came to pay, some may have received small stipends, but more often than not they were paid from fees collected for serving legal papers and warrants, or for guarding and transporting prisoners to court.

    Constables received their appointments by elected town officials, and their tenure was subject to change with new administrations. There was no training for the job, and forensic science as we know it today was non-existent. Thus when it came to the discovery of the murder victim, determining what happened rested with the Coroner, who impaneled a Jury of Inquest. If this crime was solved, it’s not recorded.

     On March 17, 1730, the newly established town of Smithfield held its first town meeting during which town officials were elected. Uriah Mowry was chosen Town Sergeant, and three constables were appointed. What Smithfield lacked in population at the time it made up for in land, for at the time of incorporation the present day municipalities of North Smithfield, Lincoln, Central Falls, and Woonsocket south of the Blackstone River were all part of Smithfield. Therefore, it seems laughable that keeping the peace was left to only four officers.

     The system of employing town sergeants and constables had been carried over to the colonies from England, and Smithfield retained a constabulary into the 20th century. Smithfield town sergeants were appointed by the town council for one year terms ending in November. Constables were also appointed at that time from a list of names submitted by the town sergeant. The town sergeant also had the authority to temporarily appoint special constables in the event more manpower was needed. These special constables would be paid by the day.

     There were also constables who carried specific titles such as “Special Constable to Prosecute Tramps”, or “Special Constable to Enforce Bird Laws”, each of which were paid fifty dollars per year.

     In 1914 there was an up-tick in crime in the Georgiaville and Esmond neighborhoods prompting residents to petition the town council for night patrolmen. The request was eventually granted, but the constables only patrolled on alternate weekends and were paid a flat rate of $100 a year. Meanwhile, the town sergeant was authorized to regularly patrol Greenville on weekends for $200 per year. This was the first time regular police patrols began in Smithfield.   

Worn prior to 1976

     There was no police headquarters at that time, and any prisoners were lodged in one of two make-shit jails known as bridewells. One bridewell was in Georgiaville and the other in Greenville. Town records show constables were paid extra to guard, feed, and transport prisoners to court. Documentation exists that indicates these bridewells were in use as late as 1937.

     In 1915 Smithfield began to move away from a constable system to an organized police department. Over the next few years more night patrolmen were added, the town sergeant was referred to in council records as “Chief of Police”, and by 1919 officers began wearing uniforms for the first time. By 1922, the Smithfield Police Department consisted of a chief, six regular officers, and twenty-six constables.

     In 1923 the town purchased its first police motorcycle, and Officer Robert E. Tobin became the town’s first motor patrol officer. He was paid one dollar an hour to enforce traffic laws.

     In 1937, the town council passed an extensive police ordinance which outlined duties, pay, and rules and regulations of the police department. At that time Alfred N. Lacroix was appointed Smithfield’s first full-time chief with a yearly salary of $1,450.

     Although the town council had established a police department via ordinance, it wasn’t until 1950 that the Rhode Island General Assembly passed an act which created the full-time and permanent police department we know today.




Pvt. Richard O. Austin, WWII

Private Richard O. Austin, U. S. Army, WWII 


Pvt. Richard O. Austin

     Private Richard Olney Austin was born on December 8, 1919.  He grew up in a large house on Mountaindale Road in the Spragueville section of Smithfield.  The house is still standing today.  

     During World War II he entered the army and was assigned to the 4th Infantry Division as an infantryman with the Amphibious Motor Corps.  He arrived in England on January 26, 1944, where he began training for the D-Day invasion.  It was decided by the army high command that the 4th Infantry Division would spearhead the invasion of Normandy, specifically Utah Beach, which they successfully did on the morning of June 6, 1944.  Once off the beach, 4th Infantry troops moved towards the town of Cherbourg with the intent of driving out the Germans who were occupying the area.  Cherbourg was considered important because it has a deep water port which the allies intended to use for supply ships that would carry additional men and supplies to the war front.  It was during this battle that Pvt. Austin was killed in action on June 9, 1944, just three days after he arrived in France.       

Richard O. Austin’s Grave
Acote’s Cemetery, Chepachet, R. I.

     Pvt. Austin is buried at Acotes Cemetery in Chepachet, R. I., Section K, Lot 599, map 00034.   His army service number was 31172184.  

     Richard Street off Mountaindale Road is named for him.   Pvt. Austin’s name can also be found on the Spragueville WWII Memoiral at the foot of Swan Road and Pleasant View Avenue. 

     Images courtesy of Pvt. Austin’s nephew, Joseph Johnston.

Click on image to enlarge.

Click on image to enlarge.
Newspaper and date unknown.

50 Years Ago – August, 1972

50 Years Ago – August, 1972


August, 1972

Chief Warrant Officer Louis G. Theroux of Esmond retired from the Rhode Island National Guard after many years of service.

     Navy Petty Officer 3/c David R. Young Sr. of Greenville was serving aboard the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Intrepid.

     Members of Boy Scout Troop 14 of Greenville returned from a week of camping at Yawgoo Valley. Members earned various merit badges, and David Vianni and Steven Landi were accepted into the Order of the Arrow.

     On August 5, the annual Bluegill Derby was held at Slacks Reservoir, sponsored by the Slacks Reservoir Improvement Association. The Bluegill is a relatively small fish that feeds on smaller fish and insects, and in large numbers can upset the balance of the lakes ecosystem. The annual derby was held to control the Bluegill population in the reservoir.

     12-year-old Charles Miller of Greenville caught the largest number of fish weighing in at 23.5 pounds.

     Joanne Paquette, age 5, of Greenville, was crowned “Little Miss Bluegill”.

     On August 10, a large meteor passed within 36 miles of the Earth’s surface creating a spectacular sight over the western United States and Canada for one minute and forty seconds as it skipped off the atmosphere and went off into space. The event became known as “The Great Daylight Fireball”.

     If one went to the Apple Valley Cinema in August of 1972, they would have seen “What’s Up Doc?”, a romantic comedy starring Ryan O’Neal and Barbara Streisand; “Play It Again Sam” starring Woody Allen; “Nicholas and Alexandra”, an historical drama set in early 20th century Russia; and “The Godfather”, a crime drama with an all star cast.

     The William Winsor and Dorothy Dame elementary schools held “crazy hat” contests. Winners included Kerry Kerwin, Kathy Puleo, Robert Boyes, Susan Peloquin, and Lisa Sailiene.

     The Roger Williams Park Museum exhibited a life sized replica of the Apollo 15 Lunar Rover, courtesy of NASA.

     The early 1970s was a time when it seemed everyone was riding a bicycle. It was estimated (in 1972) that there were 73 million cyclists in America, and by 1980 the number would top 100 million. As such, the idea of turning defunct railroad track ways into bike paths became popular. Such and idea was once proposed in Smithfield, but it never came to be.

     10-year-old Kathleen Labree of Georgiaville was first runner up in the Little Miss Rhode Island Pageant held in Coventry.

     Eileen Provonsil, 16, of Greenville, was the first runner up in the Miss Teen Rhode Island Pageant.

     The Smithfield Municipal Ice Rink Committee met to discuss the recent submission of bids for bleachers and a score board.

     After a short delay with materials, work was continuing on Smithfield’s new police station.

     A group of Georgiaville youths held a back yard carnival to raise funds for muscular dystrophy. They were: Linda Turgeon, Mark Turgeon, Steven Bagenski, Phillip Butterworth, Diane Davis, Peter Davis, Nancy Fiske, Ann Marie Davies, Brian LeBeau, and Richard Kanarian.

     There was a time when televisions resembled a piece of furniture. An appliance store located on Putnam Pike was advertising Zenith solid-state “Chromacolor” 25-inch televisions, set in oil finished walnut consoles, for $649.95.

     Construction of the new Apple Valley Apartments, located behind the Apple Valley Mall, was vigorously underway with an anticipated completion date set for October. It was advertised that rental units would start as low as $185 per month – no utilities.

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.


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