50 Years Ago – July, 1971

50 years Ago – July, 1971

July, 1971

     DC/1 Dennis J. Layfield, (United States Coast Guard), of Greenville, completed his service in Vietnam and was assigned to a military recruiting station in Rhode Island.

     Staff Sergeant Benjamin Crossman, Jr., of Greenville, was home for thirty days before his deployment to Vietnam.

     U.S. Air Force Captain Anthony J. Fascitelli, Jr. was serving at Columbus Air Force Base in Mississippi.

     James Coupe of Spragueville was honorably discharged from the U. S. Air Force after serving four years with the Strategic Air Command.

     The 44th annual Ancients and Horribles Parade was held in Glocester.

     Ground was broken for the construction of the Smithfield Boys Club at the bottom of Deerfield Drive. Today the building is occupied by the YMCA.

     The advocacy group, “Citizens for the Preservation of Waterman Lake”, held a meeting at the Lakeshores Community Hall to discuss issuing boat stickers for those authorized to use the lake, weed control, and the possibility of having local police patrol the lake with a boat ten to twelve hours a week.

     In the early 1970s there was a proposal to construct an interstate highway, (I-84), across northwestern Rhode Island to Connecticut. While some were in favor of the idea, others were against it. Locally, a group calling themselves “Stop I-84 Inc.” was established to prevent the highway from being constructed. In July of 1971 the group elected its first officers. History shows the Rhode Island portion of the highway was never built.    

July, 1971

     Members of the charitable organization known as “The Cranford Club” were honored for their volunteer work at Zamborano Hospital in Burrillville. They included: Viola Glasheen, Edith Scully, Hattie Knuschke, Cora Hopkins, Mrs. E. Spenser, Mrs. E. Knuschke, Mrs. A. Jordan, Mrs. M. Flynn, Mrs. M. Petersen, Mrs. M. Emma, and Mrs. I. Suppicich.

     If one went to the Apple Valley Cinema in July, 1971, they would have seen “Klute” a crime drama starring Donald Southerland who plays a detective investigating a missing person’s case; or “Ryans Daughter”, a romantic drama set in England during World War I; or “The Andromeda Strain”, a sci-fi thriller involving a group of scientists trying to stop the spread of an extraterrestrial killer virus.

     On July 15 the “Smithfield Neighborhood Association for Progress” held a meeting at the Esmond Recreation Center.

     On July 19, the south tower of the World Trade Center in New York City reached its maximum height of 1,362 feet making it, and the north tower at 1, 368 feet, the two tallest buildings in the world at the time.

     On July 26 the Apollo 15 moon mission was launched from Cape Kennedy in Florida. The crew consisted of David Scott, Alfred Worden, and James Irwin. Scott and Irwin became the first men in history to drive a motor vehicle, (the lunar rover), on the surface of the moon. Out of safety and necessity, the total distance traveled was only 2.5 miles. The rover still remains on the moon to this day.

     On July 27th a special state election was held to determine if a sewer line extension should be constructed from Cumberland, down Route 116 into Smithfield, and ending at Harris Road. The cost was to be borne by those who would be utilizing the line, and not Smithfield taxpayers.

     People’s Bank was offering a set of six reversible Rhode Island scenic placemats for only $1.99 contingent to opening a savings account with fifty dollars or more.

    On July 31, the Blue Gill Derby, sponsored by the Slacks Reservoir Improvement Association, was held at Slacks Reservoir. The event included fishing, swimming, and a row boat contests with trophies awarded to the winners.

50 Years Age – June, 1971

50 Years Ago – June, 1971

By Jim Ignasher

June, 1971

     Airman Paul R. Sherboken of Brayton Road just completed basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas.

   Navy petty officer 3/c Joseph S. Smith, Jr., of Greenville graduated from radar training school at Great Lakes Naval Air Station.

     On June 1st, the St. Philip’s Rosary Guild held a dinner at the Club 44 where new officers were elected. Mrs. John Higgins became the new president; Mrs. George Hebert, vice president; Mrs. Peter Almon, treasurer; and Mrs. John DeAngelis, secretary.

     Smithfield artist Alexis Krupka of Georgiaville displayed some of his paintings at the Saylesville Library in Lincoln.

     On June 13th the Georgiaville Fire Company held a memorial ceremony honoring fallen firefighters.

     Smithfield’s animal control officer George Kelley was faced with a mystery. He’d found a dog wearing a North Smithfield dog tag that was in the shape of a fire hydrant, and dated 1971. He contacted his North Smithfield counterpart for information about the animal’s owner, and was informed that he’d ordered the hydrant shaped tags, which were made at the ACI, but that they never arrived, and instead North Smithfield was now issuing ones shaped like flowers in case the others should be “found” and misused. The dog was taken to the animal shelter for further investigation.

     New cars advertised by local auto dealerships included a brand new Chevrolet Monte Carlo, with air conditioning, disc brakes, electric clock, full wheel covers, powered by a 350 V-8 engine for $3,699, and a Mercury Comet, “the better small car”, for $2,217.

     Gift ideas advertised for Father’s Day included colognes and after shaves such as English Leather, Old Spice, Brut 33, British Sterling, Black Belt, Jade East, and Tabac Original. One store advertised briar smoking pipes for $5.

     If one went to the Apple Valley Cinema they saw “Promise at Dawn” a pre WWII drama starring Melina Mercourt, or the dark comedy, “Little Murders”, starring Elliot Gould, and Marcia Rodd, set in a crime-ridden New York City neighborhood in the late 1960s. There was also “Little Big Man” a western starring Dustin Hoffman, who played an elderly man recounting the fanciful days of his youth.

     On June 16th a large barn on the farm of Seth Steere (located on Steere Road in Greenville) was lost to fire. It was said the glow of the flames could be seen for miles.

     On June 18th a group of local citizens established a community theatre group known as the Apple Valley Players. The following officers were elected at an installation dinner: Nancy St. Pierre, president; William Johnson, vice president; Donna Nicholson, treasurer; and Grace Gebhart, secretary. Plans were announced for their first production to be performed at Waterman’s Beach Club on July 23-24th. It was to be the first time summer theatre was to be performed in this area.

     The Apple Valley Junior Women’s Club elected new officers. Mrs. William Stamp was elected president; Mrs. Jerome Butterfield, vice president; Mrs. Anthony Simeone, treasurer; Mrs. Lloyd Thomas, corresponding secretary; and Mrs. Paul Levesque, recording secretary.

     The Smithfield Elks Lodge inducted forty-six new members which was the largest induction in the history of the lodge.

     In Smithfield Little League news, the Greenville Hardware Nine defeated the Christansen’s Dairy team of North Providence 6 to 5.

     From June 29th to July 4th the Smithfield Jaycees held a carnival at Waterman’s Lake in an area now occupied by housing. Entertainment included rides, Karate demonstrations, trained dog acts, a pig chasing contest, an egg throwing contest, a watermelon eating contest, and nine parachute jumps from airplanes in which the skydivers landed in the lake, and of course, fireworks.

     A “deluxe stereo system” and two bicycles were raffled.


Curtice – Herrendeen Deed – 1806

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Joseph Whipple Document – 1815

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Esmond Blanket Card – Early 20th Century

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     Printed on thin paper and about the size of a business card,, this item was placed in the boxes that the Esmond blankets were sold in, and was usually disposed of, thereby making them rare today. 


Esmond Mill, Smithfield, R. I., Circa 1935

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Victory Bench – Deerfield Park – Smithfield, R. I.

Installed June 2021, opposite the Wolf Hill WWII Plane Crash Memorial. 

The Gustave Luer House

The Gustave Luer House   

Gustave Luer House
June 23, 2021

     The Gustave Luer House was located on Washington Highway at the foot of John Mowry Road in Smithfield, R. I.  It was burned for training purposes by the fire department in June of 2021. (See photos below.)

     The house was the realization of a dream conceived by a man named Gaustave Luer, who was born on a farm near Brunswick, Germany, in 1888. He came to America in 1911, but had to return to Germany in 1914. While there he was conscripted into the Kaiser’s army and forced to fight in World War I. He saw action at what was known as the “Western Front”, and was shot through the right leg.

     When the war ended he made his way to South America, and eventually returned to the United States in 1922. He later met and married Isle Stoebr, and their union was blessed with two daughters. By 1941 the couple was living in Rhode Island where Gustave found work as a pastry chef at the former Narragansett Hotel in Providence.

     Gustave was now in his early 50s. He’d always dreamed of owning a home in the country, and in 1942 he purchased a parcel of land on Washington Highway in Smithfield. The lot had an abundance rocks and stones, which provided convenient and long lasting building materials.

     And thus Gustave began the long road to making his dream a reality. Originally working by himself, he laboriously moved each stone into place. It wasn’t long before he enlisted the help of a John Corelli, a busboy at the Narragansett Hotel, who agreed to help when he could. At the time, John was a student at Nathaniel Green Junior High in Providence.

     Together Gustave and John worked on the enormous project, an endeavor that would last for the next nine years. During that time John graduated La Salle Academy in 1947 and Providence College in 1952.

     In 1951 Gustave suffered a stroke and lost the use of one arm, but the setback didn’t deter him from his goal. Working with just one arm he carried on, mortaring stones in place.

     By 1953 the house was finally completed at a cost of $12,000, which was a substantial sum of money for the time, but the cost would have been much higher if Gustave and John hadn’t done most of the labor. The house was dubbed, “The House of Yesterday”. When a newspaper reporter asked Gustave about the name he replied, “Well, I couldn’t call it the House of Today, could I?”

     The completed building was something to behold. The main entrance hall contained a massive fire place, and four master rooms, a kitchen, and a bath, occupied the first floor. The second floor contained an apartment which was rented to a family with two children.

     On March 2, 1956, disaster struck as flames ripped through the two story structure. Fire companies from Georgiaville, Greenville, Johnston, and North Providence battled the stubborn fire, and laid 1,500 feet of hose to reach a water source to draw from. When it was over, the second floor was partially destroyed and gutted. Damage was estimated at $50,000, and the cause was determined to be faulty wiring. Fortunately all occupants were able to evacuate safely.

     One can only imagine the disappointment Mr. Luer felt as he watched nine years of his life’s hard work go up in smoke. However history has shown that the house was rebuilt.

     By the spring of 2021 the property had been sold and the house was slated for demolition to make way for modern development.    

     The following photos were taken on June 23, 2021.

Click on images to enlarge.





Mineral Springs, North Providence, R. I.

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Literary Cadet & R. I. Statesman
September 22, 1827

Literary Cadet & R. I. Statesman
July 2, 1828

Raymond Adams Rhode Island State Guard Discharge – 1946

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     To learn more about Raymond Adams, click here: https://smithapplebyhouse.org/senator-raymond-e-adams/

     To learn more about the Rhode Island State guard, click here: https://smithapplebyhouse.org/history-of-the-rhode-island-state-guard/


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