NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. — Residents in town will once again have the chance to hear stories from North Kingstown’s past and present from a variety of local videographers and storytellers when Rhode Island PBS re-airs its special “Our Town: North Kingstown” Wednesday night at 9 p.m., part of an 11-hour marathon of “Our Town” specials showcasing what makes each town in the Ocean State unique.
“‘Our Town’ shares the charm and character of Rhode Island’s many towns and villages – particularly the untold stories that capture the essence of local life,” Rhode Island PBS Public Information Coordinator John Chatfield wrote in a press release. “Resident storytellers and filmmakers are invited to choose their own subjects, capturing a town’s unique history and culture from the perspective of those who know it best. Rhode Island PBS offers technical advice and then stitches the stories together in a one-hour film.”
The special, which was made in 2015, features 15 segments on a variety of local landmarks, including The Gilbert Stuart Museum, Smith Castle and Historic Wickford Village, as well as the 2015 Wickford Art Festival, which could come as a welcome sight to local art lovers after the annual tradition had to be canceled this year due to COVID.
The hour-long special also features stories on local businesses and organizations, such as the story of how Paul and Wendy DiBiase started up Great Harvest Bread Co. on Post Road and the process of making bread from scratch in a segment called “Labor of Love,” while “Little Red Schoolhouse” tells the tale of the iconic buildings journey from a community school, including interviews with some former students, to the current home of the North Kingstown Food Pantry and another segment simply titled “North Kingstown Community Chorus” talks to founder and former director Roberta Belanger about the chorus, its history and shows some of their performances.
“‘Our Town: North Kingstown’ got off to such a great start,” producer Margie O’Brien told The Independent in 2015. “People in town were so receptive. Within weeks we had six or seven people lined up with story ideas.”
The episode also features personal stories, including “Old Salt,” a segment about then 92-year-old John Bradley’s experiences restoring an old sailboat while reminiscing about his beloved former vessel “Scottie,” which he proudly owned and sailed from the early ‘70s until 2011 when it was lost in Hurricane Irene. Another segment focused on Alvin Noss, the town’s oldest resident who died this summer at 106, recalling growing up in Slocum and all of the changes that had occurred over the century of his life and “Papa Pilot,” which recalled the stories of several children and grandchildren of the sailors who served at Quonset Point and its importance to the town as a whole.
“The best part of meeting with people in North Kingstown was that they would start telling stories,” O’Brien said in 2015.
“Part fundraiser, part community builder, part documentary film, and part ‘day-in-the-life’ scrapbook, the projects offer a collection of local legends, historical events, and personal memories from the tight-knit communities of Rhode Island,” Chatfield wrote.
The special is one of 11 episodes of the “Our Town” series, and will be the second of three to air on Wednesday, with the marathon picking up again on Thanksgiving playing the eight other episodes starting at 3 p.m. on the hour.
Rhode Island PBS can be found in both SD and HD free over the air at digital 36.1 and channels 8 and 1008 on Cox, 8 and 508 on Verizon FiOS and 8 on Full Channel, while its channel 36 for both DirecTV and Dish Network.
For more information on the “Our Town” series, visit ripbs.org.