50 Years Ago – December, 1968

50 Years Ago – December, 1968

By Jim Ignasher

 

December, 1968

     This month denotes the 50th anniversary of a tragedy. On December 10, 1968, Smithfield police officer Norman G. Vezina was dispatched to Indian Run Trail for a report of a 5-year-old boy who had fallen through the ice of the Spragueville Reservoir. The youth’s name was Kenneth Firby, and when Vezina arrived he saw the boy struggling in the frigid water. Without hesitation, the officer went to aid the child, but unfortunately both were lost.

     Officer Vezina was promoted to the rank of sergeant posthumously.  

     Airman 1st Class Robert J. Mitchell of Greenville was home on a 30-day furlough after serving a year-and-a-half in Vietnam.

     Navy Lieutenant (j.g.) Andrew H. Aitken, Jr., of Greenville was also home on leave.

     Air Force Sergeant Robert G. Browne of Greenville was stationed in Thailand.

     The Smithfield squadron of the Civil Air Patrol awarded cadets Dennis Duhaime and Mike Hennessey the Curry Award after successful completion of training.

     Cadet Master Sergeants Linda Fornaro and Richard Larkin were promoted to Warrant Officers.

     Cadet Lieutenant Lynette Blackmore was promoted to Captain, and Cadet Captains Rosalie Verin and Paula Blackmore to Majors.

     On December 7 a Christmas dinner and theatrical program was held at the Greenville Grange Hall titled, “The Lighting of the Candles”. The event was open to the public.

     That same evening the Smithfield High School Drama Club held it first theatrical production for the 1968-69 Season with its presentation of the play “Dracula”.

     Cast members included Kevin Fallon as Dracula, with Kurt Anderson, Kathy Kelly, David de Pasquale, Susan Dearmin, Mark Beaudion, Deborah Imbruglio, and Karen Kapanakis, in supporting lead roles.

     The club had been rehearsing since the beginning of the school year.

     A fire safety tip that appeared in a local newspaper of the day advised all homeowners to keep “an ashtray in every room”, and to empty them often. It went on to explain how many fires in the home are accidentally started by careless holiday guests. Yes kids, there was a time when smoking cigarettes indoors at people’s homes was not only acceptable, it was also permissible to light a pipe or a cigar.

    Among the “Christmas specials” to be had at a local clothing store were turtle neck shirts for men, and “wool checkered” bell bottom pants for both sexes. In 1968 there was a word for these clothing styles – “groovy”.    

December, 1968

     Another store was advertising Polaroid “Swinger” cameras for $17.93 – regularly $23.95. For those too young to remember, the “Swingers” offered an “instamatic” finished photograph within sixty-seconds. The picture quality was generally poor, but it was considered quite the innovation in its time, and perfect to using to capture those special moments, or for giving as a gift for the holidays.

     The Providence Gas Company was advertising a free ham or turkey with every new gas stove purchased before Christmas. Price – $214.00

     On December 15 the annual tree lighting ceremony took place on the Greenville Common sponsored by the Apple Blossom Garden Club. Mrs. Everett Fernald, Jr., served as Chairwoman, and Senator F. Monroe Allen turned the switch that lit the tree.  

   Mr. Robert Reall of Greenville was appointed Campaign Director of Smithfield for the 1969 March of Dimes charity fundraising campaign.

     The Emblem Club of Smithfield, and the Cranford Club of Greenville, joined together to bring a Christmas celebration to the patients at Zambarano Hospital in Burrillville.

     On December 22, Santa took time out of his busy schedule to come to Smithfield, but on this occasion he wasn’t using reindeer to remain airborne. Instead, he landed at Anna McCabe School in a helicopter! The event was sponsored by the Smithfield Town Council, the Greenville and Georgiaville volunteer fire companies, and the Smithfield Jaycees. (Don’t you wish they still did stuff like this today?)

     On December 23, Scuncio Chevrolet opened for business and remained so for more than twenty years. The large auto dealership once stood where the Stop & Shop supermarket is located today.

 

 

 

 

50 Years Ago – April, 1968

50 Years Ago – April, 1968

 

     Long before the advent of cable companies, satellite dishes, and hi-definition smart TVs, people adjusted the “rabbit ear” antennas on the top of their television sets to obtain the clearest picture. However, to get the highest quality reception one usually had to install a large aluminum roof antenna – something that has virtually disappeared from the American landscape, yet there are still a few to be found.

     If you can remember roof antennas, then you can likely recall that there were once stores that sold nothing but TVs and stereos. The proprietors stood behind their products, and even made “house calls” to repair them when a vacuum tube failed. (A vacuum what?)

     In April of 1968, one local TV dealer advertised that he would install a roof antenna on any cape or ranch style house for the low price of $89.88. This was $30 less than his normal price of $119.95.

     USMC Corporal Paul Battey of Greenville was home on leave after serving twelve months at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

     Stephen G. Lariviere, USN, of Georgaiville was home on leave after serving eight months in Iceland.

     Carl Peterson of Greenville, was home on leave before reporting for duty in Vietnam.

   On April 6, the Apple Valley Barbershop Chorus performed at the Smithfield High School.  

     At the weekly meeting of the Smithfield Civil Air Patrol Squadron, six cadets were singled out for recognition.

     Master Sergeant Gail Young was named Miss R.I. Civil Air Patrol of 1968, and received a trophy.

     Captain Paula Blackmore was selected to attend an Aerospace Orientation course at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama.

     Captain Rosalie Varin and 1st Lieutenant Lynette Blackmore were selected for Cadet Leadership School at Stead Air Force Base in Nevada.  

     Staff Sergeant Richard Larkin was selected to attend Advanced Jet Familiarization School, and Technical Sergeant Linda Fornaro was chosen to represent Rhode Island in the Girls Regional Exchange Program.

     Charles Greska was appointed the new Squadron Commander, thus succeeding Captain Edward Laurendeau, founder of the Smithfield Squadron, who was promoted to oversee regional communications.

     The C.A.P. squadron met every Friday night at the Esmond Recreational Hall on Esmond St.  

     On April 13, a town-wide litter cleanup was held. Volunteers met at the Town Hall in Georgiaville, and in the parking lot of the First National supermarket in Greenville. (Where Ace Hardware stands today.) The event was sponsored by the Smithfield Conservation Commission. Volunteers included local residents, members of Georgiaville and Greenville scout troops, and town officials.

     On April 19, Georgiaville Boy Scout Troop 1 held a family night dinner at the St. Michaels Church parish hall. The troop gave a first-aid demonstration and showed home movies of previous camp-outs. Several scouts received promotions. Bradley Boisvert was elevated to 1st class scout; David Loxson, Timothy Whitecross, George Courtot, and Donald Courtot were elevated to star scout; and Thomas Schwartz, Gregory Shepard, and Darly James were elevated to life scout.      

     April 20 marked opening day for fishing season. In the weeks leading up to that date, the R. I. Department of Natural Resources had stocked rivers and ponds with 46,000 trout.  

     If one was considering a swimming pool for the upcoming summer, one local retailer was offering a 16 by 32 foot in-ground pool, including filter, diving board, and one underwater light, for $2,195, if the order was placed before May 15.    

     At their April 22 meeting held at the Club 44 on Putnam Pike, the Smithfield Lions Club elected new officers. Robert Coyne: President. James Murphy: First Vice President. Stanley Lange: Second V.P. Gilbert Butterfield: Third V.P. Alfred Roy: Treasurer. Kenneth Jessop: Secretary. Alton Harris: Lion Tamer. Dr. John Pascone: Tail Twister.

     One local car dealership was offering a new 1968 Javelin, which was a sporty muscle car produced by American Motors Corp. designed to compete with the Ford Mustang.

     Other cars offered included a “fully-loaded” 1967 Ford Thunderbird for $3,475; a 1967 Mercury Cougar for $2,490; and a 1967 Pontiac Firebird for $2,795. By a show of hands, how many car enthusiasts would love to own one of these today?

     On April 25 it was announced that the tennis courts at the high school were once again open after being vandalized yet again. The culprits were still at large, and would likely be in their mid-60s today.

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