50 Years Ago – March, 1974

50 Years Ago – March, 1974

By Jim Ignasher

     Elaine J. Cullen of Pleasant View Avenue completed basic training at Lackland Air Force base in Texas.

     The Emblem Club organized a “What America Means To Me” poster contest and members of Cub Scout Pack 44 of Smithfield participated. The winner was 8-year-old Kenneth Brown whose poster depicted uniformed cub scouts of all races.

     If one went to the Apple Valley Cinema in March of ’74, they could have seen Clint Eastwood as Dirty Harry in the police drama, “Magnum Force”; or Steve McQueen in the Devil’s Island prison movie, “Papillion”; Elizabeth Taylor in “Ash Wednesday”, and last but not least, “Chariots of the Gods”, a documentary based on Eric von Daniken’s book of the same name which speculated that ancient astronauts had visited Earth.

     One “Chariots of the Gods” advertisement asked, “Did spacemen visit Earth in ancient times?” followed by “Now we have proof!” This was in a time when governments didn’t acknowledge that UFO’s exist.

     Old Stone Bank was offering free power tools to anyone that took out a loan for $1,500 or more. One could choose between a finishing sander, a hand-held drill, a cordless hedge trimmer, or a jig saw. The interest rate wasn’t stated.

     On March 3, over one-hundred visitors were on hand at the Smith-Appleby House to witness the mortgage signing of the newly acquired building which the historical society planned to restore. On display at the ceremony was the original deed to the house dated March 3, 1725.

     On March 4, Smithfield police detective Hawkins Hibbs, Jr., gave a talk at a meeting of the Maplewoods Women’s Club, a local service organization, about the dangers of illegal drugs and drug addiction.

     On March 7 local cub scouts held a pinewood derby at the Greenville Baptist Church. Thirty-five scouts participated, racing their home-made derby cars along a forty-foot long track. The winners were: Jeffrey Cummings, 1st place; Kevin Dione, 2nd place, and Gene Giancaglini, 3rd place.

     On March 10, Cub Scout Pack 3 of St. Philips Church held their 7th annual Blue and Gold Dinner at the Elks lodge. The guest speaker was Sergeant Charles DeCarlo of the U. S. Army Special Forces, who demonstrated survival equipment used by the military. Among those cub scouts in attendance were: Christopher Manocchia, Alan Priestly, Bernard Hawkins, William Bennett, Michael Carr, Thomas Cullen, John Lusher, John Reynolds, William Dalton, and Raymond Antonelli.

     Maria Detri and Joanne Strain, students at Smithfield High School, raised money for the Easter seals organization by selling “smile Lolli-pops”. The funds were used to help children at the Meeting Street school.

     On March 18, the Apple Valley Junior Women’s Club held a meeting at the Club 44 restaurant. The guest speakers were Mrs. Shirley McCleod, assistant director of the Women’s Club of Rhode Island, and Mrs. Dorothy Palmer, of the Rhode Island Historical Farm.

     On March 20, the Smithfield Golden Agers celebrated their 11th anniversary as a club with a St. Patrick’s Day dinner at the Esmond Recreational Center. The club’s treasurer, Miss Mary Keough, who’d just turned 92, was presented a corsage by the club’s president, Margaret Sanderson,

     On March 24 the public was invited to attend an open house at the Smithfield Boys Club, which is today the YMCA. Free swimming all day was offered in the newly opened Olympic sized pool, with refreshments consisting of free coffee and cookies.

     From March 26 through the 30th, Smithfield High School students presented a play by Gilbert and Sullivan titled, “The Sorcerer”; the light-hearted story about a sorcerer who mixes a love potion that causes the population of a small village to fall in love with the first person they see. The performance was directed by Jane Calderara, a 1972 graduate of Smithfield High.

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 – August, 1971

50 years Ago – August, 1971

By Jim Ignasher   

August 5, 1971

     Navy Petty Officer First Class Albert R. Almon was serving aboard the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Wasp.

     Major Russell W. Turner of Greenville graduated from Command and General Staff school and was stationed in Augusta, Georgia.

     Boy Scout Troops 3 and 64, both of Greenville, spent a week camping at Camp Yawgoog.

     On August 1st, the crew of the Apollo 15 moon mission left a plaque on the surface of the moon honoring the 14 American astronauts and Russian cosmonauts who had lost their lives in the service of their country while working to further space exploration.

     Apollo 15 returned to Earth on the 7th.

     The Circus Wagon Theatre Company arrived at Whipple Field to give a performance of a play called “Shirley, Shirley”, the story of a spoiled brat who leaves the circus and experiences a series of life altering adventures before returning with a new attitude. The play was performed in pantomime from the rear deck of a red, white, and blue, flatbed truck equipped with a trampoline, a small swimming pool, a slide, and a jungle gym. The actors were all theatre majors from the University of Rhode Island. The next scheduled performance was at Burgess Field in Greenville. The troupe was slated to perform at 120 playgrounds throughout the state during the summer.   

August, 1971

     John B. Tessaglia A. I. A. of North Providence, was chosen as the architect to design Smithfield’s new police station on Pleasant View Avenue. The land for the new station was donated by Smithfield residents Burton and Mary Mowry.

     On August 12, the newly constructed Bryant College (now university) campus was nearing completion and getting ready to receive students for the fall semester. A bar which once existed on the campus known as “The Rathskeller” was granted a liquor license by the town.

     Meanwhile the college petitioned the town to abandon that portion of John Mowry Road which crossed the campus. Local residents were split on the issue, as were the police and fire departments, but history has shown the request was granted.

     A muscular dystrophy fund raising carnival was held at 34 Second Street in Esmond, by Meridee Goodwin and Rene Buteau, which raised $56.64 for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

     On August 21, the Balfour – Cole American Legion Post on Pleasant View Avenue held a mortgage burning ceremony. The public was invited and refreshments were served.

     Hit songs heard on the radio in August of ’71 included “You’ve Got A Friend” by James Taylor, “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart?” by the Bee Gees, and “I Feel The Earth Move” by Carole King.  

August, 1971

     On August 25th the Apple Valley Cinema expanded by opening a fourth movie theatre making it the second cinema complex in Rhode Island to contain four theatres. If one went to the movies they might have seen “Plaza Suite”, a comedy by playwright Neil Simon that takes place in New York City’s Plaza Hotel, or “Summer of ‘42”, a coming of age film set in Nantucket during WWII, or “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”, the story of a boy who finds a golden ticket in a chocolate bar and visits Wonka’s candy factory, or “Who Is Harry Kellerman And Why Is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me?”, which was about a music composer trying to track down Kellerman.

     Also on August 25th the Greenville Senior Sunshiners took a one-day trip to New Hampshire.

     On August 28th an “old fashioned” square dance, sponsored by the Citizens for the Preservation of Waterman Lake, was held at the Waterman’s Lake Beach Club.

     t was also on August 28th that a severe thunderstorm blew through the Greenville area knocking down trees and causing power outages.

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