Those who know me best know full well that the one thing that weighs heavier on me than anything else is the injustices that have rained down upon the Native Peoples of America in general, and those in Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts in particular, for the more than four centuries since the first Anglo/European explorers and settlers set foot upon New England soils.
Driving by the little end-gabled one-story house at 772 Fletcher Road, you’d never imagine what an important part the little cottage played in the history of the area.
I guess Wickford is one of the few places where someone would describe a home that is more than one century old as a “new” house. But that certainly is the case here in “Ye Olde Quaint & Historic” as the vast majority of the buildings in the village proper were already around for quite some time in 1911, when Sea View Trolley motorman Walter L. Rose had a new home built for his family on the corner of Phillips and Champlain (later renamed Elam St.) Streets.
Back in the late 1800s, getting a reliable weather forecast was not much more than a dream to the average resident of “our fair town.” Beyond the “Old Farmer’s Almanac,” there just wasn’t any way for a farmer or a sailor to have much of a clue about what Mother Nature had to offer.
The recent sale of a parcel of land on the shore of Silver Spring Pond out of the hands of a Cranston family member has gotten me a bit melancholy these days. I guess melancholy is a common feeling for all of us in the lost year that is 2020, but this is different. It’s personal, and it’s all about a long-gone Cranston family couple Pardon and Abby Cranston.
The death last week of 96-year-old Dr. Bodhan Kuzma has got me reminiscing. You see, Dr. Kuzma, who had his office at 181 West Main Street, diagonally across the street from the Cranston Funeral Home, my childhood home, was the first doctor I can remember.
With the political season upon us, and elections at the national, state and local levels up for grabs, I thought it might be interesting to take a look back in time. You know what they say, “All politics are local,” and frankly things that happen at that “local” level generally have the greatest impact upon regular folks like you and me. So what was going on at the local level back at the beginnings of our fair town? Who was in charge and what were the vital issues of the day?
This week’s column continues with the political theme we began last week. The takeaway here is that the 21st century does not have the market cornered on political controversy.
Out on the edge of Slocum, a stone’s throw from Exeter on the North Kingstown end of Liberty Road, sits a charming center-chimneyed farmhouse which is shown in the accompanying photograph. Although seemingly unassuming, it played a part in one of the most dramatic episodes in Rhode Island history.
As irrational as it sounds, it just seemed to me like Irving Sheldon would always be here. He was just about the first local history expert to reach out to me about a quarter of a century ago when I began my personal journey through the history of our fair town. Then, and always, he was kind and generous with his time. He loved Saunderstown as if it were a person, a member of his family, and he enjoyed chatting about it, reminiscing about it, immensely.
As a way of honoring the memory of one of Wickford’s finest, Katherine Wheeler, owner of the Grateful Heart store, let’s take a close look at the place she called home for decades.
I expect that during the fall and early winter of 1938, Leonard Joslin’s temper would flare each and every time someone mentioned the construction of the new railroad underpass at Wickford Junction. Not that Joslin had anything against the railroad, mind you. He had worked for years as a railroad bridge supervisor and left the employ of the railroad in good graces.
I guess it’s been over the last 40 years or so that a certain phenomenon has seemingly snuck its way into the medical profession. Why, I remember back when I was a boy most doctors seemed to be just doctors.
We have taken a look, piecemeal, in a number of past columns over the years at the events that brought about the construction of the massive fabric mill along the banks of the Shewatuck River in Lafayette. Now that I see that the 92-foot-tall chimney there, is coming dawn after nearly a century and a half of braving the elements, I thought we ought to examine this place more closely.
Over the years, we have examined a number of old church buildings that have been repurposed, giving them a new life after they no longer can be of service to their congregations. We’ve seen churches that have become homes, senior housing complexes and even a warehouse. But today we will be taking a gander at a building that was a Church, not once, but twice, not to mention a laundry and a popular dentist’s office.
It’s just a sad fact of life that as you get older, you are faced with the reality that your friends and acquaintances are getting older too; the fragile nature of our mortality suddenly becomes real as this occurs with more frequency.
We live at a time of growing choices regarding food substitutes. But how good are these new products when compared with the old staples? Think of margarine versus butter. Or more recently plant-based meats versus the real McCoy? Was William Shakespeare right when he wrote, “A substitute shines brightly as a King, until a King be by”?
Nothing can be more heart-wrenching than the sudden death of a loved one. The visualization of a wrench tightening on the heart is apt. It can feel that way and the physical harm done from such intense pressure is not good for your health.
Every once in a while, Rhode Islanders who pay close attention to the birds at their feeders have a particularly exciting winter season. That’s when birds that typically spend the whole winter in Canada and northern New England don’t have enough of their favorite foods available, and they head south in large numbers to feast on the seeds we provide.