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Looking For Leprechauns – Do They Really Exist? By Jim Ignasher

I recently came across a short news story from 1909 that was presented as fact in several reputable newspapers about a man who encountered a Leprechaun. “A real live Leprechaun,” the article began, “one of the little folk, is reported to have made his appearance at Newport, Tipperary, where people are credulous. A well-known resident of the district whilst on his way home with a cart of peat, was startled at the appearance of a diminutive man. He was dressed in tightly-fitting pants, coat of brown, white shoes, grey stockings, and a brown cap set off by a red tassel.” Unfortunately for the unnamed man, the Leprechaun vanished into thin air the moment he took his eyes off the little creature. Five years later another story made the rounds about a peasant boy who was able to determine where a Leprechaun had buried his pot of gold in a field of ragwort. After tying a red ribbon around the particular weed in question he went off to find a shovel. When he returned a short time later, he

found every ragwort plant in the entire field adorned with a red ribbon! Leprechauns have been a part of Irish folklore for centuries, and there have been those who’ve claimed to have encountered one, but do they really exist? While some will answer with an immediate “no”, others are more contemplative, and offer a definite “maybe”. And still others insist that they’re real, and not to be trifled with. In any case, tales about Leprechauns seem to be as common as clover. Historically speaking, there are two theories as to how the word “Leprechaun” came into being. One holds that it’s de-

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rived from “leath brogan” which translates to “shoemaker”. (Leprechauns are said to be expert cobblers.) The second states that it derives from the word “luchorpan” which means “small body”. While the origin of the word may be open to debate, other “facts” are not. For example, Leprechauns usually try to avoid human contact, for if captured, they’re obligated to grant three wishes, or surrender their stash of gold in order to gain their freedom. Thus they prefer to live in secluded woodlands, hollow trees, caves, or underground dens. Yet capturing one isn’t as easy as one might think, for if they can get their opponent to avert their eyes, even for a second, they have the power to disappear. Traditionally, Leprechauns have been universally male,

despite modern illustrations to the contrary. Today’s illustrators generally portray Leprechauns wearing green coats and trousers with a green derby or top hat. However, 19th century depictions of Leprechauns often show them wearing red or brown coats with conical headgear. Folklore tells that Leprechauns can be cunning and mischievous, but generous to anyone who shows them kindness. One folktale relates how a nobleman gave a tired Leprechaun a ride on his horse, and when he returned to his castle found it filled with gold! It’s interesting to note that Ireland isn’t the only place with small supernatural beings woven into folklore. Native Americans of New England have tales of the Pukwudgie, little men who live in the woods with

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the ability to suddenly disappear. In Scandinavia there are stories of trolls, and Iceland has the 13 Yule Lads who come down from the mountains at Christmas. European folklore talks of elves; Asia has the Yaksha, Africa the Aziza, and South America the Alux. And one can’t forget to mention other folklore relating to goblins, sprites, pixies, fairies, nymphs, etc. These global folktales may have cultural differences, but they also share certain similarities. With this in mind one could ask, could such beings actually exist, or have existed at one time? Despite living in the digital age, photos and surveillance camera images of Leprechauns seem to be lacking, but I did find one website with a live-view “Leprechaun web-cam” placed in a rural area reputed to be inhabited by Leprechauns. All one has to do is sit and stare at the same image for hours and hope a Leprechaun ambles by. Other websites offer instructions for building a “Leprechaun trap”. However, if one bothers a Leprechaun in the town of Carlingford, Ireland, they’re likely to be arrested, for Carlingford has officially granted legal protection to a group of 236 Leprechauns said to be living in a hiking area known as the Sliabh Foy Loop. And for a nominal fee, tourists can view an “authentic” and fully furnished “Leprechaun cave”. Yet perhaps one doesn’t have to travel to Ireland to spy a Leprechaun. In March of 2006, just before St. Patrick’s

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Day, a Leprechaun was allegedly sighted resting in a tree in the Crichton neighborhood of Mobile, Alabama. As word spread, dozens of people descended on the location prompting someone to call the media. A news team was dispatched, and even though they were unable to film the actual Leprechaun, they reported the story anyway, and it, as they say, went “viral”. Theories ranged from a man dressed in a Leprechaun suit to a trick of light. And despite the fact that the “Leprechaun” hasn’t been seen since, it’s said that the story still gets a lot of “hits” on Youtube especially around St. Patrick’s Day. And in Portland, Oregon, there’s a place known as Mill Ends Park which is alleged to be home to Leprechauns. The park was the brain child of journalist Dick Fagan who took it upon himself to plant some flowers in a hole which had been dug for a light pole that the city was planning to erect. Fagan wrote a column for the Oregon Journal called “Mill Ends”. In it, he began incorporating stories about the spot in his writings, some of which included one Patrick O’Toole, the leader of a Leprechaun community living there. The public loved it. The light pole was never installed, and the spot became an official city park. So, do Leprechauns exist? I have no idea, but it’s fun to speculate. Happy St. Patrick’s Day.


A&W of Smithfield Celebrates Centennial Anniversary with Year-Long Specials

By Paul Lonardo

Drive-thru restaurants abound, but a drive-in restaurant is a bit of a relic these days, a throwback to the past. Most people may not even be familiar with this dining concept. At A&W in Smithfield your car is the table, and the waitresses come outside to serve you right at your window. This novelty restaurant located at 460 Putnam Pike, first opened in 1950, and is known as the longest running drive-in restaurant with car hop service in the state. If you’ve never eaten there before, you’re in for something extra special this season. “Turn Lights on For Service” is all you need to do to begin to enjoy all that A&W in Smithfield has in store for its customers in 2019. The history of A&W Restaurants goes back even further than its Rhode Island inception, a full one hundred years to be exact. It all started shortly after American entrepreneur Roy W. Allen purchased a recipe from a man who claimed to have perfected a mix for root beer. Not long after, on a sunny June day in 1919, Allen set up a small stand in Lodi, California where he sold the refreshment during a parade celebrating the return of World War I veterans. So the very first mugs of root beer were sold to returning soldiers for five cents. During that era, Prohibition helped the sale of all soft drinks across the United States, and Allen found great success with his root beer stand. The drink gained the name “A&W

Root Beer” when Frank Wright, an employee joined Allen as a partner. Allen and Wright became A&W, and in 1923 they opened their first drive-in restaurant in Sacramento. Over time, Allen expanded and franchised his drive-in restaurants. Today, there are locations all around the country and throughout the world, each serving a typical fast-food menu that includes hamburgers, french fries, hot dogs, and other items. The root beer is still made fresh today, just as is was back in 1919, with ingredients like real cane sugar and a

proprietary blend of herbs, bark and spices. It’s still caffeine free and served in one of A&W’s famous “frosty mugs,” those thick-handled glasses that are kept in the freezer before being filled with the signature taste of frothy A&W Root Beer. A&W in Smithfield will begin frosting their mugs to be-

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gin the new season on March 9, and Stephanie Mosca, who has been the restaurant’s owner-operator since 1995, is excited about the franchise’s 100-year anniversary and the year-long celebration that will observed with a variety of special offers, customer-appreciation giveaways and fun activities. On the 100th day of the season, June 17, they will be giving a free float to the first hundred customers, and a big anniversary party will take place on June 19, which is believed to be the date that Roy Allen opened up his first A&W stand in 1919. “There will be raffles and all sorts of games,” Stephanie says. “Rooty, The Great Root Bear, A&W’s mascot, will be there. It’s going to be a lot of fun.” There will be a monthly drawing, and every customer will be able to enter to win a variety of commemorative merchandise and prizes. The monthly winner will spin a prize wheel to determine the gift they will receive. “We’re also going to have another promotion called Float It Forward,” Stephanie says. “Every month we will pick some local group or organization and allow them to come to the restaurant at a certain time and day to receive a free float. It’s a great way to give back to the community and show appreciation for their customers, especially during this anniversary season.” Each year A&W puts out a new collector’s mug, and this year there will be a special golden mug to commemorate the 100th anniversary, and customers who purchase one will have a chance at uncovering a random golden ticket, à la Willy Wonka’s Golden Ticket, which would entitle the recipient to one free float every week throughout the season. Also, one Thursday each month they will be sponsoring what is being called Thursday Throwback, and on these days the restaurant will pick an item on their menu and they will reduce the price to what it cost Smithfield customers back in 1960, when A&W of Smithfield first opened. For example, a 14 oz. Root Beer was just 10 cents, while a hot dog set you back 20 cents, and you had to plunk down a quarter for a hamburger.

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Of course, all the regular annual events at A&W of Smithfield will all be observed, such as the popular Cruise Night every Tuesday, which will begin in April. The Tuesday Cruise is the longest running single site weekly cruise, and is hosted by local radio personality Cruisin Bruce Palmer. This event routinely attracts an average of 100 classic show cars. It’s something to see. Bike Night on Thursdays, will also begin in April. A&W’s commitment to our troops remains just as strong today as it was 100 years ago. “We are celebrating our partnership with DAV (Disabled American Veterans) on National Root Beer Float Day, which is August 6th every year,” Stephanie says. “We give away Root Beer Floats and collect donations for Disabled American Veterans each year.” So this season help A&W of Smithfield celebrate its 100year anniversary and take advantage of all the specials in the nostalgic setting of Rhode Island’s oldest drive-in restaurant with car hop service. If you haven’t been there before you are in for a real treat. Enjoy their famous Root Beer Float or try one of their signature burgers, like the Original Bacon Cheeseburger, invented by A&W. It’s an experience you won’t get anywhere else. A&W of Smithfield will be open beginning March 9, 11am - 8pm daily with expanded hours in the summer, 11am - 11 pm. To keep up on all this season’s promotions visit

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Inside the Brown Bag By Peg Brown

The Shared Experiences March—the third month—we all know the aphorisms: “March comes in like a lion, and goes out like a lamb, “or “March is mad as a hare” (referring to let’s just say aggressive mating habits of animals during spring). We also know that the month is synonymous with green beer, zeppoles, too much basketball, and has the dubious designation as the longest month without a school vacation in sight. With these topics available for comment, why would I choose to write a column that you might think more appropriate for Memorial Day or Veteran’s Day, or just about any other time of the year? A recent personal health challenge gave me an unusual amount of time to catch up on my favorite PBS series. Among those programs was an in depth look at the life and career of Bob Hope. The documentary, which included comments from friends, colleagues and family members, was an honest portrayal of the man’s accomplishments and indiscretions, his generosity and human flaws, and a reaffirmation of the decades long commitment he had to bringing a touch of home to the United States military forces stationed abroad--beginning in World War II and extending through the Korean, Gulf, Afghanistan and Iraq wars and conflicts. What was most riveting in the film clips of his many visits to these combat areas, were the black and white images of the faces of very young men (and later women), teenagers in many cases, laughing-- and crying amid the chaos and carnage of their lives as soldiers. While the venues and uniforms changed over the decades, the faces of their common shared experience, whatever the conflict, were always the same—young, hopeful, afraid—a common bond across the years with those who themselves had experienced the loneliness and fear of war. The program led me to search out family documents that I had been intending to review, record and preserve, but had never found the right moment to undertake what I perceived to be would become an all- consuming project. Amongst a pile of fragile letters, dated between 1905 and 1928, written on unlined paper, now yellowed and stained with age, was a three page note in pencil, dated November 16, 1918. It begins with the salutation, “Dear Sister.” The family archive is largely a collection of correspondence between Lottie An-


gevine and her brother Frank, who served in Europe during World War I. I’d like to say that these letters had been lovingly preserved by the family. However, truthfully, they had resided unceremoniously at the bottom of a box that by chance missed the dumpster a number of times. The Bob Hope special had sent me in search of confirmation that the shared experiences of those who experienced similar trials and emotions formed a unique bond among those who never actually met, but who could, at any time, share a bond with one another through a moment spent in like circumstances. Let me share an excerpt from this 1918 letter: “Well the War is History and History is the past. The guns roar no longer and the ------ (a commonly know bombing plane) no longer flies overhead, ready to spray you with machine gun fire and bombs—and every night we sleep in the same French man’s house and eat our meals off a table. I can’t realize it yet, but they say it’s true and we are just outside Le Mans which was captured by this division a few hours before the Armistice was signed. I won’t write much about that now for I will be telling you about it while you cook up big feeds and fill my pipe with Edgeworth’s tobacco –yes, the smell will be foul…I am too excited to write much now but the news was great. The civil population crowded into the streets and cheered and cried for (days?) and they brought flags and…threw bottles of wine and champagne and gave it to us and did everything

March 2019

they could to please us as the long job is done and it was a hard one. If everything goes well, I will be home in early spring so I will close for now hoping this finds you well as it leaves me. Frank” But my message is not just about shared experiences during war, but the links we have to others through everyday contacts. If you will indulge an aging former teacher of English, no one, in my opinion, expressed this more clearly than the late 19th century poet, Walt Whitman. In his poem, “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry,” the lone narrator focuses on his surroundings, most importantly on the passengers who are seeing the same landscape, feeling the same waves, and hearing the pounding of the engines. It occurs to him that all those commuters traveling on the ferry now, in the past and in the future share commonalties—that “shared experiences can unite people across different historical eras,” and that “all humans are connected across time and space.” And, not to get too literary, his choice of the word “crossing” (a present participle), implies time continuous, with no beginning or end for having shared experiences during the mundane routines of everyday life—or, more eloquently put “the narrative thread that connects all human beings.” (Gundersen, K. 16 August 2014). What by now probably seems to you, the reader, a very disorganized article, I come back to the beginning. We have all shared space with individuals during the many moments of our life—most of them strangers traveling, shopping, vacationing, working, being entertained in some venue, or just sitting next to you in the bar. For that second, minute, hour or day, you have a shared experience that connects you to all others that have walked the same path. My recent hospitalization, almost two weeks, in shared space, with rotating room-mates, changes in shifts, and in the echoing silence of the beeping hospital sounds at night, reminded me that we are all in some way linked—all we must do is tell our story and listen.

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Author’s notes: • The Armistice was signed by Germany and the Allies at the 11th hour, of the 11th day of the 11th month—November 11, 1918—at Compiegme, France. The Treaty of Versailles, not signed by all parties until June 28, 1919, went into effect on January 11, 1920. • 38 million soldiers were killed, wounded or went missing during the War. Total deaths for the US were 116,516; 201,002 additional US troops were wounded; and a total of 4,734,991 US troops served. Keep in mind, the US did not enter the war until April 6, 1917, and did not begin landing in France until June 26, 1917. • PS. Luke is wishing he wasn’t having a “shared experience” with other crazy owners who force their pets into the costume of the month!

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“Slow Down and Move Over!” A Tower’s Battle Cry By Harry Anderson

Scott, the third generation of the Knox family to manage the garage business, had summoned his drivers to meet with a visitor who would be coming to collect their stories. Six of the fleet of Knox’s eleven tow trucks filled the lot of the garage located in woodland on Gleaner Chapel Road in North Scituate, midway between Routes 6 and 101. The six burly men, bundled up against a stiff February wind, crammed into the tiny office along with Scott and his visitor. For the next two hours these innately taciturn men took turns in telling their stories that, collectively, revealed the danger, the humor, the humanitarianism of a tow truck driver. Scott held up a tablet to get L-R: Matthew Coburn, Jacob Hopkins Roderick Stieg, Kenny Enos things going. “Each guy has one of and Michael Russillo; Top row: Scott Knox and Steve Fitts these, and they’re never without it, twenty-four hours a day. Calls come in from AAA and the po- up in Foster and the front end of his car plowed into the Mt. lice at any time . . . on average 55 times a day. Accidents, car Vernon church.” breakdowns, or what have you happen around the clock, and Scott intervened and said that for some reason on Monwe have to be ready to go. And you have no idea what you’ll be days calls really ramp up. “But Thursday and Friday nights are seeing because every call is unique. No two days are alike. And the ugliest because that’s when there are a lot of DUI’s on the you gotta deal with it.” roads. But overall, 75% of the time we fix the problem and get That introduction spawned a flow of recollections. “Re- the driver going again. And what a great feeling that is!” member when a call came in to change a flat on 295? It turned “Sure is. A lot of people give us a tip later. Sometimes it’s out to be 22 blow-outs! There was a big pot hole on the inter- not money. For example, there was this hunter who phoned state, and cars were hitting it left and right.” AAA on his cell, asking for a tow. God, he was way into the “Yeah, and how about that afternoon on Route 146 in woods and my cable – all hundred feet of it – couldn’t reach his Lincoln when I had to jump onto the hood of a car to escape broken down pickup. I attached a piece of chain and a rope to getting hit by some idiot who was barreling right at me?” it and just barely got to his bumper. After I pulled him out of “You’re lucky. Three years ago, remember?, I got creamed the woods, the guy gave me five pounds of venison.” by a drunk and ended up in the ER with a fractured skull.” “Hey, how about the guy who gave me a couple of VIP “The worst happened a year ago just before Christmas. tickets to a Celtics game?’ There were four fatalities in the space of a couple of days. The “Someone gave me a hundred dollar gift certificate to one I went to still gives me nightmares. When I was backing up Dunkin’ Donuts.” the wrecker, I saw fluid coming out of the banged up car and “One time for a tip I got a box full of mouse traps. Honest! thought it was a puddle of gasoline. I was afraid of a fire. But it The driver was an exterminator.” wasn’t gasoline. It was blood! The driver was still in the car.” “I can top that. After I jump started an old lady’s beat up “How about a couple of years back when the cops called us car – she must have been a cat lover because there were cats all to pull a car out of a church? Yup, someone veered off the road over her yard – she tipped me with a bag of cat food.”


March 2019

“But get this. A lady was so grateful that she named a dog after me.” Scott again intervened to make known another aspect of the towing business that perhaps many people do not see. “We never abandon anyone. Like the family whose car broke down over at the Chowder Shack on 101. We couldn’t fix the problem and had to tow it to the garage, and we ended up squeezing the mother and father and two kids into the cab of the wrecker and driving them home to Bristol. But that’s nothing. Once – and I’m not making this up – I took a family home all the way to Jackson, Maine, from here in Scituate and came back the same day. No, we abandon no one. And I think all you guys would agree with me. Don’t you sometimes feel like a bartender? I mean, how someone who gets in the truck with you will vent and you just listen? Makes him feel better.” When added up, these six men have 90 years of experience among them. In turn each of them explained why they have stuck with a job that is fraught with peril. Over and over they repeated the same thing: helping someone in trouble gives us a lot of satisfaction. Even the youngest who can’t shake off the trauma of a fractured skull and continues to undergo counseling sticks with the job. Scott put it this way: “Sure, you sacrifice your life for other people. But when you go out to help them, you realize how much you’re needed. That keeps you going. And there’s something else. We guys, we’re like a family. Get this, each of my

eleven wreckers puts 55,000 miles on the odometer per year. That’s a lot of time on the road! And we’re in this together, sometimes sleeping in the wrecker so that we’ll be ready to respond to a call immediately.” “Look,” he said, “here’s a plaque AAA gave us. It says, TO KNOX’S GARAGE – 2018 SERVICE PROVIDER OF EXCELLENCE. And in this magazine is a list of New England’s top twelve roadside assistance providers, and right there is us.” Behind him as he left, the visitor heard someone shout, “Do us a favor? Tell the public this when they see us helping someone on the highway: ‘Please slow down and move over!’ We have wives and kids, too.”


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Hard work, not luck of the Irish, will bring Providence man full circle this St. Patrick’s Day By Brittni Henderson

Patrick Griffin came a long way from his hometown in Althone County Westmeath, Ireland to Providence in the early 1990’s. He stumbled upon an abandoned bar on Smith Street and decided to create a hub for Irish culture in Rhode Island— now known as Patrick’s Pub. Around the same time, the city’s St. Patrick’s Day parade had lapsed for a few years, so with the help of some friends and family, he revived the centuries-old tradition. With the help of the parade committee, Griffin has brought the parade to Smith Hill, rain or shine, for over 25 years. This year, the parade is on as scheduled—March 9th to be exact. The date is important as to not interfere with the parades of neighboring communities. For years, the first Saturday of March has belonged to Pawtucket. Providence comes next as long as there is one more weekend before March 17th. This year, the Newport parade falls on March 16th. There are over 100 groups marching in the city’s procession this year, a number that has grown steadily since Griffin’s inaugural year. As Parade Committee President, Griffin is ecstatic that so many community members, organizations, and individuals will be participating this year. As usual, the day kicks off with a 5K-road race, which leads directly into the noontime start of the parade. This year’s Grand Marshal is Michael Kelly and the Deputy Grand Marshal is Michael Dillon. The year of the “Mikes,” joked Griffin. These two gentlemen were chosen for their positions for their Irish heritage, support for the community, and


most importantly their positive involvement in the successful growth of Providence. The Grand Marshal chooses where the funds raised at the preliminary dinner will be donated, and this year it is the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church food pantry. Since the early 1990’s, Griffin says that the committee has raised over $50,000 for the Providence community. It is very important to him to ensure that the parade isn’t only about Ireland, but instead the cultures coming together to celebrate together. There is also approximately 1,500 lbs of corned beef ready to be consumed. The excitement is looming! After the parade comes to a close, the fun usually continues until the sunsets on March 17th. This year, Griffin has the great honor of being the Honorary Grand Marshall of the parade in his hometown of Althone for St. Patrick’s Day. Griffin and about 30 others from Rhode Island and Massachusetts will be marching with the American Division of the parade. This is the first time Griffin was named Grand Marshal in his hometown, and although he will miss the holiday with his Providence crew, he is overjoyed to be able to revisit his hometown in such a memorable way. The road closures for the Providence St. Patrick’s Day parade will begin around 10 am on March 9th. Parking will be available on side streets and there will be shuttles bringing parade goers from the State House to the parade route throughout the day. For more information on the parade, visit

March 2019

This Tax Season, Consider the Financial Impact of Alzheimer’s As Tax Day approaches, families and individuals across the country are taking a closer look at their finances. During this time, The Alzheimer’s Association is encouraging families to proactively plan for the financial impact of Alzheimer’s and dementia – the most expensive disease in the country. An estimated 5.5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s, including 1 in 10 age 65 and older, according to the 2017 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report. By age 85, those living with the disease jumps to 1 in 3. The costs associated with Alzheimer’s can be staggering for families, with average outof-pocket costs for health care and long-term care services not covered by Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance exceeding $10,000 annually. On average, people live with Alzheimer’s 4-8 years after a diagnosis and many for longer. Disease-related costs can jeopardize a family’s financial security and many families and caregivers make enormous personal and financial sacrifices. A 2016 Alzheimer’s Association report found that nearly half (48 percent) of care contributors must cut back on their own expenses – including basic necessities like food, transportation and medical care – to afford dementia-related care, while others must draw from their own savings or retirement funds. Making plans in advance can help ease the burden on loved ones. The Alzheimer’s Association recommends the following tips to plan for the future:

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• Look at retirement planning as a time to think about how to prepare for the need for long-term medical care. After an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, your options may be more limited. • Conduct an inventory of your financial resources (savings, insurance, retirement benefits, government assistance, VA benefits, etc.). A financial planner or elder care attorney can help with this. • Enhance your understanding of the role and limitations of Medicare, Medicaid and other insurance options. A 2016 Alzheimer’s Association report found that nearly 2 out of three people incorrectly believe that Medicare helps pay for nursing home care, or were unsure whether it did.

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Local Woman Shares her Story of Surviving Pediatric Stroke at this Year’s Go Red For Women Luncheon By Paul Lonardo The 2019 Southern New England Go Red For Women Luncheon took place on February 14 at the Rhode Island Convention Center and was attended by hundreds of women. It was no coincidence that Valentine’s Day was chosen, as Go Red For Women, celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, is The American Heart Association’s signature women’s initiative, a comprehensive platform designed to raise awareness about heart disease and stroke in women. The program was made possible with the support of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Rhode Island, which made a generous contribution to the American Heart Association in the name of Heart2Heart Survivors. Other local sponsors included Lifespan Corporation, Fidelity Investments, and CVS, the national sponsor of the Go Red For Women Luncheon. The harsh reality is that cardiovascular diseases, which includes stroke, remain the nation’s leading health threats to women. In fact, heart disease takes the lives of more women than all forms of cancer combined, with heart disease and stroke claiming 1 in 3 women. The good news is that these diseases are 80% preventable with education and lifestyle changes. To treat, beat and prevent heart disease and stroke, women should understand family health history as well as their key personal health numbers (which include blood pressure, cholesterol, weight/body mass index) to help determine risk and make healthy behavior changes, which include a healthy diet and exercise. Cumberland’s Jamie Coyle, who was one of three contributors in the 2019 Class ofHeart2Heart Storytellers at this year’s Go Red For Women Luncheon, had no way of knowing she was at any risk in 2008 when she suffered a stroke. She was just twelve years old at the time. Jamie was healthy and an exceptional youth hockey player, and was playing in a hockey game when the incident occurred. Her stroke was precipitated by a debilitating headache that brought her to her knees. A moment later, while she was lying on the ground and unable to move, no one could have imagined that she had suffered a stroke. Stories like Jamie’s are the reason Go Red for Women Luncheons are organized. As well as raising awareness, these events


also raise critically-needed funds to support research and education initiatives which saves lives. Go Red For Women has clearly made considerable progress toward its goal of raising awareness among women that heart disease is their greatest health threat. According to the American Heart Association, before Go Red For Women was established, only 30 percent of women recognized this sobering fact. Today, nearly 56 percent of women recognize this – that’s a 90 percent increase in awareness and over 670,000 lives saved. However, there is more work to be done. Jamie still comes across people who are shocked to learn that she suffered a stroke at such a young age. This is what motivates her. “Ever since I had my stroke, I wanted to raise awareness about pediatric stroke,” Jamie says. “In the beginning, it was hard to talk about. I was self-conscious about it and embarrassed, but I know how much good can come from talking about it.” Pediatric stroke is considered rare, affecting 6 of every 100,000 children from birth to age 18. For Jamie, her stroke was just over ten years ago, and she wants people to know that it can happen to anyone at any time. “I’m going to stay involved with the American Heart Association because the most important thing is raising awareness and letting people know that it can happen at any age,” she says. “Hopefully I will have an opportunity in the future to be involved in more events like this, and do more public speaking. I think that’s what I was meant to do.” Jamie has created an Instagram account called Stroke Survivors Never Quit. “It’s all about people sharing their stories, in their own words, to motivate and inspire other,” Jamie says. Her book, THE LUCKIEST GIRL IN THE WORLD, an autobiographical account of how her stroke at age twelve impacted her life, is available in electronic and print format on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. To learn more visit and to donate by phone call 1-800-AHA-USA1

March 2019

The Chief’s Corner By Robert W. Seltzer, BSEE, EFO, MPA, Smithfield Fire Dept. Chief Do you have a medical emergency or not? It can sometimes be difficult to determine if a situation requires emergency care. Generally speaking, it is always better to err on the side of caution and go to a hospital if you think there is a possibility of a medical emergency. Some examples of medical emergencies are: • Chest pain accompanied by sweating, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, radiating pain that moves to the arm or neck, dizziness, or feeling that your heart is beating irregularly or too fast • Choking • Fainting • Broken or displaced bones • Swallowing poison • Burns • Suddenly not being able to walk, speak, or move a portion of your body • Shortness of breath or difficulty in breathing • Bleeding that will not stop (including nosebleeds) • Loss of consciousness

If you are fairly certain that symptoms are not life-threatening, you can always try calling your family doctor for advice, or visiting an urgent care center in lieu of a hospital. If you think your situation requires emergency care, you should always call 911. If you are unable to call 911 yourself, try to find someone to call on your behalf. If you are speaking with a 911 operator, remember to breath calmly and evenly, and explain your situation as clearly as you can. They are there to help you, but they also have to be able to understand what is going on. Once you contact 911, your call will be transferred to our fire department dispatch office. The dispatcher will ask a few questions such as what the problem is, the correct address, and any other information pertinent to your emergency. Fire apparatus, emergency medical apparatus, or both will then respond to your aid to assist with your medical emergency.

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Two Smithfield Boy Scouts Earn Eagle Scouts Rank By Paul Lonardo The Boy Scouts of America is one of the largest youth organizations in the United States. Founded in 1910, today there are more than 2.4 million youth participants and nearly one million adult volunteers. The mission of the Boy Scouts is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling Scouting values such as trustworthiness, good citizenship, and outdoors skills. Of all the Boy Scout ranks, Eagle Scouts hold the highest regard. Becoming an Eagle Scout is no easy path, and there are many requirements to be met before the honor is bestowed upon a candidate. Becoming an Eagle Scout means that a young man has proven himself to be an individual who embodies the characteristics that makes Scouting so special, and has been with the Boy Scouts of America for a significant period of time, progressing through the various ranks and satisfying all the rank requirements, represented by the earning of various merit badges. Only five percent of Boy Scouts ever achieve the rank of Eagle Scout. Troop 1 Georgiaville has recently promoted not one, but two boys to the rank of Eagle Scout. John G. Fontaine, Jr. and Bryce A. Moroni are both seniors at Smithfield High School, and have been participating in scouting since they were in first grade together. One of the things that makes this story so special is that they have been friends as well as scouts for so long. Their troop is small, led by Scoutmaster Peter Wood, who is an Eagle Scout himself, so although this is an individual achievement it is shared by everyone. The Eagle Scout rank must be achieved before the age of eighteen, and both these boys have a younger brother in the troop, both of whom are working toward becoming Eagle Scouts themselves. It is certainly a family affair, as John’s father, himself an Eagle Scout, is the Boy Scout Committee Chairman, while Bryce’s mother is a committee member, both volunteering a great deal of time to the troop as a whole.

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Bryce always enjoyed being outside camping. When he was young it was just about being fun, but as he got older he appreciated the skills that he learned and developed in scouting. He realized that most kids his age didn’t know how to do the things he did, and it gave him a great sense of pride. “Even something like changing a tire,” Bryce says, “in Boy Scouts an Automotive Maintenance Merit Badge taught us everything we needed to know about a car and basic repair work.” For John, becoming an Eagle was very important. “I’ve always had the intention of becoming an Eagle Scout since my father was an Eagle Scout before me,” John says. “And I just wanted to be like him a lot of ways because he’s a fantastic person.” In the last few of years, John admits that to achieve his goal he had to work on his ranks with a bit more focus, but it was all worth it. And while he enjoys the satisfaction of this accomplishment, and sense of relief that it is behind him now, he does not look at his reaching the Eagle Scout ranking as marking the end of the scouting program for him. “I plan to continue to help out with my scout troop in the future,” John says. “No doubt about it.” Bryce feels the same way. With a younger brother in the same grade with John’s brother, he wants to stay involved. “I want to help preserve the heritage and culture that has been passed down for over a hundred years,” Bryce says. “I believe both of us are very thankful for what we learned in the Scouts, and we definitely want to do our part to pay it forward and make sure that younger boys get that experience, as well.” Bryce and John completed their board of review earlier this year, and have already officially earned the Eagle rank, but there will be an actual ceremony, when they will be having their Court of Honor and given their Eagle Scout badge, which takes place on Friday, March 29 at the St. Michael’s Church Parish Hall at 7pm. For Bryce Moroni and John Fontaine, two new Eagle

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Scouts from Smithfield, they are just beginning their adult life, and we wish them luck. There is a lot of uncertainty in the world today, but it is a fact that the benefits bestowed upon young people who earn the rank of Eagle Scout is considerable. College admissions officers recognize this award and consider it in their decisions. Being an Eagle Scout won’t make up for poor grades, but it will give a boy an advantage. Many employment recruiters look for Eagle Scout on a resume, as employers seek the very traits that an Eagle possesses. And every branch of the U.S. Military allows Eagle Scouts to enter at a higher rank and pay grade than people who aren’t Eagle Scouts. Boy Scouts, however, don’t earn their Eagle Scout rank for accolades and benefits. They do it because they are living the Scout Law every day. To learn more about scouting or how to join the Boy Scouts visit: www.

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Senior Scene By Paul V. Palange First impressions are frequently accurate, and if that is the case when it comes to a recent telephone interview I conducted, then Gov. Gina M. Raimondo and her team made a solid choice by selecting Rose Amoros Jones as director of the state Division of Elderly Affairs (DEA). I talked to Jones soon after her appointment was announced, and the enthusiasm in the 41-year-old’s voice was off the charts as she talked about some of the objectives for her new role, which she was scheduled to start late last month. One of her top priorities is reducing food insecurity among senior citizens. The only meal some seniors have each day is delivered by Meals on Wheels, Jones said. Common sense tells me that fails to meet any agency’s nutrition guidelines, which means there are many Ocean State seniors who are nutritionally compromised. What’s the result? My guess is a host of physical and cognitive health problems.

Another priority is expanding the eligibility for home and community care programs for people age 65 and older that are not eligible for Medicaid. Jones wants to see the income criteria increased from 200 percent to 250 percent above the federal poverty level – a change she termed critical to service more vulnerable seniors. In addition, Jones wants to see reimbursement pay rates increased for direct support and home care professionals so there are enough trained and certified providers to staff agencies that care for seniors and persons with physical and developmental disabilities. Furthermore, Jones is advocating for increased funding for transportation services that seniors and the disabled rely on to do errands and see doctors, dentists and other medical and personal care professionals. Jones said Gov. Raimondo’s proposed fiscal 2020 budget

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addresses those priorities. Specifically, the spending package provides funding for transportation programs that serve older adults; expands home care and community care programs; and invests in the direct-support work force. The budget also has provisions to make the DEA an independent office within the Executive Office of Health and Human Services. Such autonomy, according to Jones and other officials, should increase the effectiveness of the division as well as its ability to respond to the needs of target populations. Jones, who earned a bachelor’s degree in organizational communications from Providence College and a master of business administration degree in international relations from Salve Regina University in Newport, succeeds Charlie Fogarty, who retired as DEA director last year, and she said she will continue the momentum generated during his tenure. In her announcement of Jones’ appointment, Raimondo said: “Rose has been a valued member of my team since day one. She’s led major efforts from launching Let’s Talk Mental Health to erase the stigma around mental illness and addiction to partnering with the community to improve supports for older Rhode Islanders. She’s emerged as a trusted advocate for our seniors and has continued to advance sound policies that move our state forward. Rose will lead DEA with distinction and care.” Jones, a native Rhode Islander who lives in North Providence with her husband and four children, has more than 20 years of experience in policy development and public affairs and has served in key leadership roles within the Raimondo administration. She led the Division of Policy and Public Affairs at the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, where she helped shape the governor’s agenda for older adults and Rhode Islanders with disabilities. In the announcement from the governor’s office about her appointment, Jones stated: “I’m honored Governor Raimondo has selected me to lead elderly affairs and advocate for older Rhode Islanders. Within the next decade, one in four Rhode Islanders will be 65 or older. Our elders, those who nurtured and provided for us, deserve an opportunity to age with dignity and to know their needs will be met. Under the governor’s leadership and with many partners, we continue to make important investments that benefit seniors, with an eye toward promoting choice and community. The work is not done. And I look forward to joining with my colleagues in government and our business and community partners to ensure Rhode Island is a great place to grow up and grow old.” As Rhode Island’s designated state unit on aging, DEA provides an array of services and supports that help seniors and adults with disabilities thrive. Among the division’s offerings are home and community-care programs, adult protective services, the Aging & Disability Resource Center and the long-

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term care ombudsman. Jones’ father was older when she was born, so she bonded with him and his buddies while they told stories and solved the problems of the world over coffee; she volunteered at long-term care facilities; and she gained familiarity with the direct services sector before her mom succumbed to Alzheimer’s disease. Those experiences contributed significantly to her decision to “raise” her hand to be selected as the person to “improve the system” for seniors and adults with disabilities. “It’s important to me,” she said. That’s a good start.



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The Town Clerk’s Office By Ron Scopelliti

Walking through “In September,” the front door at Aquilante says, “they’ll Smithfield Town Hall, start picking up a lot the first office you’re with vital statistics – a likely to see is one of lot of birth certificates the building’s busiest because parents are en– the Town Clerk’s Ofrolling the kids in kinfice. According to the dergarten.” department website, And when winter the office has six major comes, there are more divisions: Town Coundeaths to record, parcil Records, Land Reticularly in the elderly cords Registry, Board population. of Canvassers, Registry In between, there of Vital Statistics, Proare constant clerical bate Court, and Busitasks, such as sending ness Licenses. out license renewals, Putting it in those preparing ads for the terms makes it sound annual Budget Hearcold and impersonal, ing and Financial Town but when you walk Meeting. On top of into the office you realthat, there are monthTown Clerk Carol Aquilante ize what it really is. It’s ly sessions of Probate a place that lends order to our political system, as well as our Court and Municipal Court to deal with. business and land dealings. And more than that, it’s a place “The months roll around pretty quickly,” she says. that touches residents’ lives at their most significant moments Aquilante says one of the most common reasons people – birth, marriage, and death. come into the office is to request information under the Free Town Clerk Carol Aquilante has been with the town for dom of Information Act (FOIA). 32 years, and has seen her share of changes in the office. The “FOIA,” she says. “That’s huge. A lot of local residents new computer system they’re using for land evidence records, want to know about different projects in town. They want for instance, is a far cry from the record-keeping techniques the documents; they want the backup information – whether that prevailed when she started. they’re for or against a project.” “When I was hired on,” she recalls, “I had to take a pen- Last year’s budget listed 103 FOIA requests from the premanship test and a typing test. vious year. Carol says that in 2018 the number diminished “When you brought a deed in, we had to hand-write it slightly to 78. The new computer system used for land eviinto the receiving books.” dence records will eventually be used to help process FOIA re Working along with Aquilante are three full-time employ- quests. They’ll also begin using the system for a new licensing ees, a part-time employee who works 21 hours a week on per- program, a new probate program, and a new municipal court mits, and a part-timer who works under the “75-day rule,” program. filling in when needed, covering vacations and stepping in The activity level in the office picks up even more every during busy periods. two years when elections roll around. She says that there’s a cyclical aspect to the work at the “Next year’s going to be a very busy year,” Aquilante says. office, and that people have different reasons for coming into “People think it’s far away, but it’s not far away for us, because the office based on the time of year. In February, for instance, we’re going to be gearing up for the election.” people will start coming in for marriage licenses. Preparation for the election is already underway, in a sense,


March 2019

because Aquilante and her staff have to keep track of legislation that could affect their procedures. “There’s a lot of proposed legislation that we have to keep an eye on,” she says, “and if that happens there are going to be a lot of changes in elections next year.” There were a number of changes made for the 2018 elections that she credits for making the process run more smoothly than in the past. The 2020 election will not only be more challenging because it’s a presidential year, but because it’s a year when people will be asked to vote on changes to the Town Charter. Review of the charter will start this year, so revisions can go on the 2020 ballot. During the last charter revision year (2014) there were eight questions on the ballot, but the number of questions has gone as high as 32. As they try to keep up with election changes and charter revisions, they’re also trying to keep up with state legislation in other areas. “There are ordinance amendments that have to be made this year, due to state legislation that passed last year,” Aquliante notes. “Because of that we have to change the ordinances to match the state legislation.” As much as Aquilante and her staff try to keep up with changes, there’s one thing they try to keep from changing – the town’s paper records, stored in the walk-in vault adjacent to their work area. The records of the vault date back to 1871. Older records

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are kept at City Hall in Central Falls, which was part of Smithfield until the 1871 division of the town. “One of my titles is ‘Keeper of the Records,’ so I always like to keep the vault in tip-top shape,” Aquilante says. Each year she has several of the book bindings restored as they wear out from decades of use. The older, more sensitive records in Smithfield are kept in a humidity-controlled annex vault to keep them from deteriorating. Election ballots are also kept in the annex vault for a prescribed two-year period, until they’re destroyed to make room for the next election. Visits to the vault aren’t as necessary as they used to be, because the office’s website offers access to land records dating back to 1962. It also offers a number of downloadable forms, and a wide variety of information on the multitude of services provided by the office. As comprehensive as the website is, Aquilante says she wants people to feel welcome to visit the office. “It’s nice to have a rapport with the people in town so that they feel that they can come in,” she says. “The town clerk that I worked with years ago, Flora Simeone, would say anybody that comes to this office, no matter who they are, what political party they are – they’re all treated the same,” she says. “I like the idea that we have a good relationship with the people in town.” RESIDENTIAL


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Kelsie’s Korner MARCH’S MUSIC AND MADNESS By Kelsie Crough Today, the town teeters on the cliff ’s edge of winter, eagerly anticipating the plummet into spring and summer. Students in Smithfield High School have been long awaiting this monumental point of the year as it marks the shift from wintertime and mid semester blues to spring time excitement. Needless to say, the winter season brought on a lot of anticipation and now we have reached our climax. In the first few weeks alone, there are events that not only students but the entire town will not want to miss. For one, as always, the annual school production is slated to premiere the second weekend of March (8th, 9th, and 10th) on Friday and Saturday night as well as Sunday afternoon. This year’s production is a long awaited Disney classic, The Little Mermaid, that is sure to be fun for the entire family with the right mix of drama, comedy, music, and nostalgia. However, if theater isn’t your thing, you’ll be happy to hear that the boys basketball team is expected to make it into the playoffs after battling successfully through the season. These games will go on as long as we win so don’t be afraid to show your support--win or lose, there is nothing like the feeling of Sentinel pride.


Speaking of Sentinel pride, did you know about the annual spirit week held mid-March? This week inspires students to indulge in school spirit during the regular school day by having multiple themed days leading up to Green and Gold day on Friday. Opposite to Homecoming week, this spirit week leads up to the long-anticipated game for our unified basketball team. This team gathers students of all skill levels and ability to participate in a fun-filled sport of basketball and supports inclusivity in our community. This is the peak of Sentinel pride for all students, feeling like a connected and inclusive community. Whatever your interest, be it sports, theater, or just all around school spirit, Smithfield High School has it all. The month of March transforms this small high school into a hub of excitement. So, come and support our teams and music department by attending these highly anticipated events and becoming part of our little world, little community. Don’t miss out on the chance to be a Sentinel for a day, to feel the pride in our vast array of young talent as a town. You’ll regret missing out on something that special.

March 2019

The GREAT Blizzard of ’78 By John J. Tassoni, Jr. February 6th marked the 41st anniversary of the Blizzard of 1978, one of the worst winter storms to sweep the region. It all started so innocently. Snow started falling in the morning and continued through the next day and evening, at a rate of one to two inches an hour. Accumulations ranged from 30 to 40 inches, depending on location within the state. The storm also brought near-hurricane strength, 60 mph wind gusts, that piled the snow in enormous drifts, some reaching up to 25 feet high. Visibility was zero. Hundreds of commuters were trapped in their cars on the interstates and had to be rescued. The state was paralyzed. No one expected that a forecast of “snow, heavy at times,” would yield such massive amounts in such a short timeframe. Schools and businesses were forced to close for a week or more so that state officials could figure out a snow removal plan, and how to keep people safe. Heat, water, food and electricity were at a premium for a few days. As devastating as the impact had on travel and sustenance, the Blizzard of ’78 had a uniquely unifying affect. People came out of their houses to survey the damage and check on neighbors. They shared food, blankets, and shovels with each other. And they talked and socialized. The internet or digital technology had not yet been invented, so communication was mainly word of mouth. Driving was banned, so everyone walked, or skied, to the closest grocery, convenience or drug store. Children played outside in the snow. They built snowmen or forts with each other, and went sledding on roads and hills that would nor-

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mally be off-limits. They had fun! And when shoveling was possible, everyone in the neighborhood pitched in to help dig out. It was camaraderie in its finest hour. That kind of camaraderie of 41 years ago is all but gone these days, losing its way in an aloof world of advanced technology and social media that has served to isolate as much as connect. Storm warnings today call for a panic run of milk and bread, instead of opportunities to gather and share. Wouldn’t it be nice to put the phones down, shut off the computers, pull the plug on video games, and go back to the fellowship and sociability of 1978? Twenty foot snow drifts optional, of course.

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Foundations: Smithfield’s Erik Deneault and Family Embody the Concept of Giving from the Heart By Mike D’Abate Inspirational author H. Jackson Brown, Jr. was once quoted as saying “Remember that the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more.” For Smithfield High School alumnus Erik Deneault and his family, that ‘giving’ spirit makes them one of the happiest and most-beloved families in Rhode Island. It has also helped to bring joy and added comfort to so many families in need. Some might call them ‘heroes.’ However, this family would be the first to advise that the real heroes are those whom they gladly help. The Deneaults are motivated neither by fame, nor prestige. Rather, they find a sense of accomplishL-R:The Light Foundation’s Matt Light and Bobby Loffredo with Boston Bruins Alumni ment in assisting those in need. It is Rick ‘Nifty’ Middleton and Little Heroes chair Erik Deneault. Photo: The Light Foundation a practice to which Erik, and his wife Dawn, have dedicated their life’s work. In 2010, Erik and Dawn established The Little Heroes Fund; an RI Non-Prof- For the past several years, the Little Heroes Fund has it, inspired by their daughter Danica. Under the Deneault’s worked closely with the Light Foundation, a philanthropic direction, Little Heroes tirelessly offers support to the Special foundation founded by New England Patriots Hall of Fame Needs Community. They offer assistance in securing walk- lineman, Matt Light. Much like the Deneaults, Matt and ers, wheelchairs and physical therapy tools for special needs his wife Susie have an unending passion for giving from the children throughout the New England region. Recently, the heart. Since its inception in 2001, the Light Foundation has Little Heroes Fund raised over $4000 to construct a wheel- raised more than $5 million for various programs and inichair ramp for a family in need of providing mobility assis- tiatives. While Little Heroes and the Light Foundation have tance to their special needs child. This is only one of the often collaborated on many successful fund-raising efforts, several instances where the Fund has provided assistance with the most well-known of these is the annual Light Foundation constructing adaptive handicapped-accessible home modifi- Bruins Alumni Charity Hockey Game. The Light Foundation (often in conjunction with Little Heroes) sponsor a team cations. of avid and excited hockey players who have earned a spot on the team by fundraising for the event. With the proceeds goA C C O U N T I N G A N D TA X S E R V I C E S ing to charity, the team skates against Boston Bruins legends in a fun exhibition game at Providence College’s Schneider RAY L. CURTIS, CPA Arena. Over 45 Years Experience As a member of the media, I had the privilege of covering last year’s game. In doing so, I was able to share an experience INDIVIDUAL & BUSINESS RETURNS that still resonates vividly with me to this today. During the BOOKKEEPING • QUICKBOOKS & ACCOUNTING game’s intermission, Light and Deneault visited a young lady ASSISTANCE named Jenna Stoddard. Jenna was there enjoying the game with her mom, Kim. She currently lives with a condition (c) 401.479.6353 (o) 401.349.5976 called Chromosome 19 Deletion Disorder, which affects both Smithfield, RI 02917 physical and mental development. Accompanied by A Wish


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Come True Inc., Light presented this courageous young lady with the news that the organization would be providing her with a home customization, designed to help to ease some of the burdens of her condition. Jenna received a custom-made therapeutic jacuzzi, home safety modifications, and personalized toys (with which Jenna may play) ensuring both her fun and safety. Through the collaborative efforts of these three great organizations, Jenna will enjoy a better quality of life. The smiles on everyone’s faces told the story. Wishes were granted and dreams came true. That is the ultimate win-win. Erik will be the first to admit that he has taken several queues from Matt Light, when it comes to philanthropy. The Little Heroes Fund has even worked alongside the Light Foundation to draft and introduce legislation designed to help the children of RI and MA. However, his philanthropic nature is still strongly rooted in his ties to his alma mater, Smithfield High School. A member of the Sentinels Class of 1997, Deneault recently teamed with the Light Foundation and the SHS Honor Society to sponsor a canned goods/peanut butter drive on Friday, February 1, 2019. On this Friday prior to Super Bowl LIII (which would result in the New England Patriots capturing their sixth title in a 13-3 victory over the Los Angeles Rams), students were able to wear their Patriots pride, in exchange for a charitable donation of a food item. In addition, The Light Foundation provided jerseys, and other team-related memorabilia available for raffle. When all was said and done, the event raised more than double the initially-estimated amount of funds and food items. It is moments like these in which the Deneaults take their greatest pride. Although he is reticent to accept accolades, it should be noted that Erik provided the inspiration for the event’s success. Less than two weeks prior, Deneault addressed 49 Smithfield High seniors, who had been inducted into the National Honor Society. On January 23, Deneault delivered an inspirational speech, which centered around the importance of service. Members of the Sentinels senior class cited Deneault’s motivational advice as a key point of inspiration to help make the Peanut Butter Drive as successful as possible. Once again, Little Heroes and the Light Foundation had delivered on their promise. Most importantly, they continue to set an example for the next generation of philanthropic young people, eager to continue the practice of giving from the heart. To learn more about The Little Heroes Fund, visit: www.

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The Light Foundation will once again partner with the Boston Bruins Alumni for their fifth-annual Charity Hockey Game in 2019. The game will be held on Saturday, March 23, from 6:00pm-9:00pm at Providence College’s Schneider Arena. For ticket information, as well as more information about The Light Foundation, visit:

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IMHO Games without frontiers By Ron Scopelliti It was the night before the Super Bowl, and I was completely preoccupied thinking about the game. When I say “the game,” though, I’m not referring to the Super Bowl. I’m talking about hnefatafl. Earlier that day I’d stumbled upon an “Atlas Obscura” article about hnefatafl, a board game that was apparently popular among Vikings. So popular, in fact, that many hnefatafl boards and pieces have been discovered in Viking burials. On the one hand, the game didn’t look all that interesting. A board full of squares with pawn-like pieces, except for one that represents a king. As games go, it’s probably not going to be up there with the “Elder Scrolls” series. On the other hand, I immediately wanted to play it. I not only started looking up web sites about the history and rules of the game, I also spent an inordinate amount of time watching YouTube videos of hnefatafl tournaments. Though it was interesting trying to decipher the strategy

in the videos, I was haunted by a recurring thought – “What if I die from a sudden, unexpected heart attack? Do I really want my lifeless body discovered in front of a Lenovo laptop running a playlist of hnefatafl videos?” It makes no sense for me to learn this game, particularly since there are probably very few potential opponents in the area for me to play against. If I want to learn a game where I move feudal pieces across a grid of squares, I should probably look into a game called “chess,” which I’m told is quite popular. But no. I had to become obsessed with hnefatafl. Why? I think the main reason is because I’d never heard of it before. One of my favorite feelings is finding something that I didn’t know about. Few things give me more comfort than being reminded of the infinite number of things that are still available for me to learn about. When I was a kid, I remember looking at a globe, and being horribly disappointed that all the continents had been discovered, and there were none left

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March 2019

for me to discover. But later on, I learned the joy of personal discoveries – finding stuff that’s new to me, even if everybody else already knows about it. I still remember the night I discovered the Internet, and spent hours using a text-based browser read reports from a Japanese university’s physics department, just because I could. And I remember discovering Blue Oyster Cult’s “Imaginos” album, which has such an elaborate backstory that it wouldn’t surprise me to find some hidden reference to hnefatafl if I dug deep enough. In addition to the thrill of discovery, finding out about hnefatafl makes me feel more in touch with the world, and connected to its history. And I’ve always had a fascination with the Viking era, and the Norse legends. As a Tolkien fan, I’m fascinated by the roots of his stories in Norse mythology, which has also inspired so many other works. You can’t help but see the connections between Odin and Gandalf, between Loki and the Joker, between Norse runes and Dana Andrews… maybe that last one’s not so easy to see. I’m not sure if I would have made a good Viking. Though I’d love the exploration involved in their lifestyle, there are other aspects I find less appealing. For instance, I’ve only been seasick once in my life, but it made enough of an impression that I would have been reluctant to take a small wooden boat out to the North Sea. I would have limited my Viking journeys to rivers, possibly inspiring a future cruise line. I probably wouldn’t be good with the violence, either. And any pillaging I did would most likely be minimal. I’d be the Viking who was known for getting breakfast at a diner and slipping two packets of Smucker’s jam into my pocket before leaving, then feeling guilty and putting one back. But I think hnefatafl is an aspect of Viking life that I could embrace, so don’t be surprised if you start seeing fliers around town for a new hnefatafl league. Who knows? As the state continues to expand the allowable forms of gambling, maybe I can even turn it into a business. And when it comes time to play, contestants will have to prove their Viking nature by anteing up some plunder. The buy-in is one packet of jam – mixed fruit or better to open.

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The Insider: Super Bowl LIII leaves Patriots Fans with a ‘Sixth’ Sense of Accomplishment By Mike D’Abate On February 3, 2019, the New England Patriots continued to cement their place in professional sports immortality. With a 13-3 victory over the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII, the Patriots claimed their sixth championship in franchise history. That ties them with the Pittsburgh Steelers at the top of the championship echelon in NFL history. Patriots fans were elated, while the rest of the country was nauseated. It was once again the ‘best of times’ in New England. Just two days later, an estimated 1.5 million fans packed the streets of Boston to congratulate and celebrate with the team during their victory parade. Once again, the envy of sports fandom was directed squarely in the direction of the New England Patriots and their fans. What is the reason, you might ask? It is simple. The ‘hated’ New England Patriots have just delivered another Super Bowl championship to their ‘entitled’ fan base. If you are a Patriots fan, you have heard them all. Some use the term ‘obnoxious.’ Others prefer the moniker ‘fair-weather.’ There is even the dreaded label of ‘bandwagon.’ (…And those are just the ‘family-friendly’ terms for Pats fans). However, the history of New England Patriots’ fandom has not always been one of privilege. Despite the good fortune that has surrounded Foxboro, Massachusetts for the past seventeen years, the history of the Patriots is one that involves defeat as much as victory. Perhaps an understanding of the franchise’s history might make some of the uninformed a bit less likely to opt for hate, as opposed to respect. That could be wishful thinking. However, it will more than adequately explain why the New England Patriots fan base is among the most intensely loyal in all of professional sports. Following the NFL-AFL merger in 1970, the Patriots were a punchline more often than anything else. Despite some fleeting moments of success during the 70s and early 80s, New England was regularly on the receiving end of defeat. The Patriots finally

achieved NFL prominence for the first time in 1985. After a ‘Cinderella-like’ playoff run, New England represented the AFC (American Football Conference) in Super Bowl XX. However, the era of good feelings for Pats fans was about to abruptly end. The Patriots were steamrolled by the Chicago Bears 46–10, in what remains one of the most crushing defeats in Super Bowl history. After a first-round playoff exit in 1986, the team would not see the postseason again for eight more seasons. During the 1990 season, the Patriots went 1–15. They endured three ownership changes over the next 14 years. Losing seasons continued to pile up. Finally, in what would have been the ultimate demoralization of the New England fan base, then-owner, James Orthwein announced that he intended to move the team to his native St. Louis, Missouri in 1992. To say the least, it was not easy to be a Patriots fan. Two years later, the Patriots fortunes began to improve. In 1994, Orthwein sold the team to local businessman, (and current owner) Robert Kraft. With Kraft at the helm, new head coach Bill Parcells ushered in a new culture in Foxboro. In drawing from his winning pedigree during his tenure with the New York Giants, Parcells was able to inject a winning philosophy

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in franchise quarterback Drew Bledsoe and a group of tough, talented players. He led the Patriots to two playoff appearances, including a berth in Super Bowl XXXI. They ultimately lost to the Green Bay Packers by a score of 35–21. After an abrupt and acrimonious departure by Parcells following the Super Bowl loss, the Pats next head coach, Pete Carroll, led them to the playoffs twice. However, each time resulted in an early exit from the postseason. Although the days of embarrassment had passed them by, Patriots fans still found themselves among the back of the pack in the NFL fandom pecking order. Fans of teams like the New York Giants, Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins would often look down on the Patriots as being “JV (Junior-Varsity)” or “bridesmaids.” Even though they had enjoyed some recent success, NFL fans, as a whole, still looked at the Patriots as ‘second-fiddle.’ During the 1990s, Patriots fans often lamented their lack of ability to find team merchandise, even in their home state. The shelves of pro sports shops were often reserved for Boston’s Red Sox, Celtics and Bruins. Being a distant fourth in their own backyard almost certainly insured that they would never find national acclaim. However, anyone in the New England area can tell you that hometown pride runs deep. The desire to cheer on the hometown team was always there beneath the surface. The true Pats fan was just waiting for something to bring it all together. Since the arrival of head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady in 2000, the Patriots have since become one of the most successful teams in NFL history. They have won 16 AFC East titles in 18 seasons. During that span, they have not endured a losing season. The franchise has also set numerous notable records, including most wins in a ten-year period (126, in 2003–2012), an undefeated 16-game regular season in 2007, the longest winning streak consisting of regular season and playoff games in NFL history (a 21-game streak from October 2003 to October 2004.) They have won ten straight division titles from 2009 to 2018. The team owns the record for most Super Bowls reached (nine) and won (six) by a head coach-quarterback tandem. This is an impressive resume, for sure. The triumvirate of Kraft, Belichick and Brady have awoken a fan base that will not fade with a diminishing of the team’s success. The New England area enjoys a rich sports tradition, boasting some of the most loyal fans found anywhere. They are passionate about their teams. Simply put, spend some time in New England. In short order, anyone can see that New England ‘red, white and blue‘ flows through the veins of the self-proclaimed ‘Pats Nation’ fanbase. Here in Smithfield, the ties to the Patriots are still securely bonded. From 1976 to 2002, the Pats conducted Training Camp on the campus of Smithfield’s own Bryant University (at the time, known as Bryant College). It was on the grounds of that picturesque campus that the Patriots built their first Super Bowl Championship team in 2001. Despite moving their Camp

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headquarters to the confines of Foxboro’s Gillette Stadium during that same offseason, Smithfield residents remain some of the most loyal Patriots fans in the New England region. In fact, many of them happily make the trek to Foxboro each Summer to watch the Patriots train for the upcoming season. It is a common occurrence to overhear parents sharing their own stories with their children; regaling them with the details of watching the Pats “when I was your age” at their former “Summer Home.” They impart the wisdom of cherishing these great times, knowing full well how hard it was to be a fan not so long ago. Therefore, when one calls them ‘entitled,’ remember that there are many fans that have previously watched them lose. In fact, they probably saw them lose more often than they saw them win. They have heard their team called the “Patsies” due to ridicule, rather than jealousy. However, they stuck with their team through the bad times. As a result, they have earned their right to enjoy the good times. It might presently be easy to be a Patriots fan, but it has not always been that way. The fans who had suffered before, are now simply enjoying the ride. You can’t blame them. Any other fan would do exactly the same. On behalf of The Smithfield Times, congratulations to the New England Patriots on their sixth Super Bowl championship. We wish them the very best of luck in their pursuit of number seven.

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Payne’s Picks By Sarah Payne MOVIES RELEASE Us – March 22nd - It’s been two years since Jordan Peele’s directo-

MOVIE REVIEW Glass - I felt compelled to write about

rial debut, Get Out. The horror/comedy became an instant classic for its originality and groundbreaking commentary on race. Us is another horror flick, but it’s not necessarily about race, as Peele explained to Hollywood Reporter. “It is instead about something that I feel has become an undeniable truth. And that is the simple fact that we are our own worst enemies,” he said. “I think that monsters and stories about monsters are one of our best ways of getting at deeper truths and facing our fears as a society.” The film centers on a vacationing family terrorized by a family that looks just like them.

Glass after I found out it got only a 37% on Rotten Tomatoes. If you were a fan of M. Night Shyamalan’s prequels Split and Unbreakable, I recommend you give this film a shot. James McAvoy steals the show again as Kevin Wendell Crumb, a man with 23 different personalities. Some critics have called his performance gratuitous, but I found him very entertaining. And you can tell McAvoy really enjoyed getting into character. His impression of a proper middle-aged woman is both hilarious and terrifying. One thing I could hardly wrap my head around is actor Spencer Treat Clark, who plays David Dunn’s (Bruce Willis) son. He was just a kid in Gladiator (2000) and Unbreakable (2000). Now he’s 31!

HBO REVIEW Barry - My husband and I recently started an HBO GO subscription and realized how much great content we’ve been missing out on all these years. One show that instantly drew us in is Barry, a comedy that premiered last year starring Bill Hader as a hitman turned actor. The premise is completely ridiculous and the humor is very dry, which is why I think the show is so great. There’s one scene in the first episode where Bill Hader’s character tries to have a heart to heart with his new theater teacher. I still have residual chuckles just thinking about it. We haven’t made it through the first season yet, but it’s definitely worth a viewing if you’re looking for a lighter show.

NETFLIX REVIEW Last Night - One reason I recently signed up for HBO GO is because of the less-than-impressive movie library on Netflix. It seems most of the content the company pushes these days are its own movies and shows. But one weekend last month I stumbled on Last Night (2010), a film starring Kiera Knightley, Sam Worthington, and Eva Mendes. Am I the only one who has no recollection of this one hitting theaters? It follows a married couple over the course of two nights, the first at a party together and the next night they spend apart while the husband is traveling. While it may be a bit slow-moving for some, I enjoy movies that portray marriage realistically and portray the meaning in small domestic moments. There’s no black and white, good or bad – there’s just two people in a relationship.

MUSIC REVIEW thank u, next by Ariana Grande - I’m a bit ashamed to admit that I’m on a total Ariana Grande kick these days. She backed out of the Grammys because she didn’t feel she could express herself creatively. She was once caught on camera licking a donut and putting it back on a shelf to be sold. Let’s face it – she’s a bit of a princess. But her personal life is fascinating and she makes really fun pop music. Her latest album is no exception. She’s said that she doesn’t want to release music in a traditional, orchestrated way, which is why it’s only been five months since her last release, Sweetener. I like this album better. Some of my favorite songs are “bad idea,” “fake smile,” and “break up with your girlfriend, i’m bored.” That last one is classic princess Ariana in her element.


March 2019

Bea’s Buzz Choose Happy By Bea Lanzi I was feeling a bit stressed last week when I sat at my home computer trying to write the first draft of my March column. It had been a busy day and no matter how hard I tried to focus my thoughts, I just could not stop the random ideas from popping into my mind and distracting me from the task at hand. The more I tried, the more frustrated I became. My head started to hurt. So, I took a break. I got up from my desk, made myself a cup of this new chocolate tea my daughter bought and then sat down, ready to get back to work. I thought the tea would focus my thoughts, but while it was delicious, it did little to help me with my writing task. While I sat savoring that really great chocolatey tea, I glanced over at the small notebook I keep close to my computer to capture my brainstorming. I had selected it because it’s beautiful, with bright orange, blue, yellow and pink flowers and vibrant green trim. I love to look at it. It inspires me. Yet, this time, as I stared at the flowers, I was struck by the words that for some reason, had never really stood out to me before. In the middle of those vibrant flowers, in gold lettering there are two words- Choose Happy. That’s it. Just two words. And, as I looked at them, it was like I was seeing them for the first time. I had never really noticed them even though I had been looking at that notebook forever. But, while I was attracted to the stunning flowers, I had completely overlooked the stunning message. That day, as I sat with my tea, I focused on those two wordsChoose Happy. And I wondered- is it really that simple- can we Choose Happy? There are things we can’t choose. There are certainly situations and events that are beyond our control and choice. And, I fully recognize and accept that. So, I decided to focus on the small, everyday things that we can choose and quickly jotted down some that came to mind. I noted that we can choose the foods we eat, the places we go and the people we travel with. We can choose what we read, watch, write. We can choose the words we speak and the way we speak them. We can choose our thoughts, attitude and perspective and what we focus our energy and our attention on. As I looked at the list in that notebook, it was getting pretty long. So, I decided to do a little experiment. I challenged myself to be more conscious and deliberate with those daily, small choices that are within my control and try to Choose Happy. Starting that night, I kept the image of my stunning notebook in my head and when I was faced with a choice, I visualized those two wordsChoose Happy, surrounded by the elegant flowers. It’s been interesting. One day when faced with a choice of how

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to spend my lunch break, I chose to take a short walk. That made me Happy. Another night, I chose to put aside the stress inducing social media and read a magazine that had been sitting on my nightstand for far too long. That made my Happy. Last weekend, I chose to spend time with friends who lift me up and are positive forces in my life. That make me Happy. When Sofia and I started to go over her college options the other night, I chose to listen more and speak less to understand her perspective. That made her and me Happy. Although it’s only been a few days, I’ve found that, so far, I’ve been weighing daily choices in my head and making a real effort to Choose Happy. And, it seems like these little choices have added up to create a more Happy filled day for me and those I’m interacting with. So, I guess I would say this experiment has prompted some positive change that I am going to try to keep in my routine. I think that, along with the chocolate tea my daughter introduced me to, has definitely made my day more, well, yes, Happy.


Stargazing Orion the Hunter By David Huestis, Historian, Skyscrapers, Inc. As the month of March begins, those of you who are early risers will notice a beautiful sight in the eastern sky before dawn. On the 1st brilliant Venus will be about ten degrees above the horizon. About 15 degrees to the upper right of Venus you’ll see Saturn, and two and a half degrees to the upper right of Saturn be a very thin waning crescent Moon. Twenty degrees farther in the same direction you’ll find bright Jupiter. These astronomical bodies appear along this linear arc because it is the ecliptic (the path of the Sun though our sky and the plane of the solar system). This stunning sky scene will be an excellent photo opportunity, so I encourage anyone to capture it. Everyone with an interest in astronomy probably has a favorite constellation. It may be because of the star pattern’s mythology, its shape in the sky, or for the beautiful objects that reside within its boundaries. While the months of March, April and May are meteorologically spring months, an astronomer can still observe many of the sky’s prominent winter constellations early in the season. What’s more is that the temperatures outside may be more moderate. One of my favorite constellations is the most prominent star pattern in the winter sky—Orion, the mighty hunter. However, on March 1 this large constellation, 26th in size, can easily be found about halfway above the southern horizon after sunset. (See accompanying star map.) Though Orion rises on his side, only when he is due south of our location is he standing upright. With the exception of Ursa Major (the Big Dipper) and Scorpius (the scorpion), Orion is probably the most recognizable of star patterns. He is also the brightest of all the 88 constellations. The mythology of Orion, like many of the older northern hemisphere constellations that date back to the early Greeks and


Romans, is quite extensive. The myth I like the most can easily be visualized in the vault of the heavens. Orion fell in love with Pleione, one of the seven sisters known as the Pleiades. To protect the sisters from Orion’s amorous pursuit Zeus placed them in the sky. Though Orion also attained a position in the sky, Zeus positioned Taurus the bull in the sky between Orion and the Pleiades to further thwart his advances. Taurus is recognized by the V-shaped asterism known as the Hyades, with the red giant star Aldebaran marking the bull’s eye. One can easily observe this confrontation to this day as Orion continues to pursue the Pleiades across the sky while fending off the bull. Before we explore one of the most beautiful celestial objects visible to amateur telescopes (and the determining factor for Orion being one of my favorite constellations), let’s examine some of the major stars that comprise this sky pictogram. The prominent red star Betelgeuse marks Orion’s eastern shoulder (top left, from our perspective) and Bellatrix marks the western one (top right). Betelgeuse, which means “the armpit of the central one,” is a very large red giant star at a distance of 520 light years, measuring in at a conservative 950 solar diameters. It coincidentally resides in a “giant” of a constellation. If you replaced our Sun with Betelgeuse it would extend out to the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Blue-white supergiant Rigel resides 800 light years away and is positioned at Orion’s western heel (bottom right), while Saiph is at the eastern one (bottom left). Rigel, in Arabic, means “the left leg of the giant.” West of Bellatrix is a curved group of eight stars that represents Orion’s shield. Contained within the rectangle formed by Betelgeuse, Bellatrix, Rigel and Saiph is a string of three stars that comprises Orion’s belt. Just below the belt you’ll find Orion’s sword, made up of a small group of stars.

March 2019

The grandeur of Orion resides in the region of his sword. Using binoculars you’ll see a wispy, hazy patch of green light enshrouding the stars. Using a telescope even under low magnification will reveal a greenish tinged nebula of dust and gas, the magnificent Orion Nebula (see photo insert). You’ll be amazed at the intricate swirls of nebulosity, especially on a moon-less night in a dark country sky. This nebula complex lies about 1,400-1,500 light years distant and is about 30 light years across. You’ll also immediately notice four bright stars embedded in the nebulosity. This asterism is called the Trapezium. These four stars are “youngsters” in the universe—only about one million years old. They formed out of some of the gas and dust in the nebula. Approximately 1,000 other stars share a space of about four light years in diameter with the Trapezium stars. That’s crowded real estate!! And more suns will coalesce out of this stellar nursery in the future. No one has described the humbling effect the Orion Nebula has on us amateur astronomers any better than Garrett P. Serviss in his 1901 book “Pleasures of the Telescope.” “Nowhere else in the heavens is the architecture of a nebula so clearly displayed. The work of creation is proceeding within its precincts. There are stars apparently completed, shining like gems just dropped from the hand of the polisher, and around them are masses, eddies, currents, and swirls of nebulous matter yet to be condensed, compacted, and constructed into suns. It is an education in the nebular theory of the universe merely to look

at this spot with a good telescope. If we do not gaze at it long and wistfully, and return to it many times with unflagging interest, we may be certain that there is not the making of an astronomer in us.” Did you or one of your family members receive a telescope for Christmas? If bad weather and cold temperatures kept you from observing during January and February, I would suggest that the Orion Nebula be your first celestial target during early March before Orion disappears from view in evening twilight. Then you can decide for yourself whether or not Serviss’ description still does justice to the magnificence of this nebula today. The Orion Nebula looks absolutely wonderful with some of the larger instruments at the local observatories. Don’t forget that March is a transitional month from winter into spring, and here in Southern New England we can experience a wide range of weather. Be sure to check the respective websites for any cancellation notices and observing schedules before venturing out for a visit. Seagrave Memorial Observatory ( in North Scituate is open every clear Saturday night. Ladd Observatory ( in Providence is open every clear Tuesday night. The Margaret M. Jacoby Observatory at the CCRI Knight Campus in Warwick ( is open every clear Thursday night. Frosty Drew Observatory (www. in Charlestown is open every clear Friday night.

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Some Rhode Island Hidden History Worth Seeing By Jim Ignasher To the casual observer it’s just an old bible, until one learns the story connected to it. It belonged to Private Alfred G. Gardner of the 1st Rhode Island Light Artillery. On July 3, 1863 his unit was engaged in the Battle of Gettysburg when a confederate shell struck the muzzle of the cannon he was manning and exploded. Pvt. William Jones was killed instantly, and Gardner was mortally wounded. As he lay dying, he produced the bible from his pocket and gave it to his sergeant asking that it be returned to his wife, and to tell her that he “died happy”. Gardner had carried the bible with him since leaving home to fight in the Civil War, and in the margins of its pages are numerous handwritten notations of his thoughts and observations while in the service. Gardner was devoutly religious, and as he passed into eternity he shouted his last words, “Glory to God! Hallelujah! Amen! Amen!” The bible is but one of the thousands of Rhode Island related military artifacts on display at the Varnum Armory Museum, located at 6 Main Street in East Greenwich. The unique collection is one of our state’s hidden treasures, with historic items dating from the Revolutionary War to modern times. The museum’s curator and vice president is Patrick Donovan, who for the past six years has maintained, organized, researched, documented, and cataloged the collection. He loves his work, and particularly enjoys relating interesting stories about the artifacts to put them in a historical and human context for the visitor. “Our goal is to celebrate the individual soldier.” Says Mr. Donovan, “We want to show the everyday soldier’s experience, and their ability to endure and perceiver.” To that point he directs one’s attention to a pair of age-yellowed white cotton gloves with dark stains on them. They be-

longed to Private William B. DeBlois of the 1st Rhode Island Detached Militia. On the morning of July 21, 1861, Pvt. DeBlois was wearing the gloves as he cradled the body of his dying lieutenant, Henry A. Prescot, who’d been mortally wounded as he led his men towards Confederate lines at the Battle of Bull Run. Lt. Prescott had been a father figure to his men, and his death was a horrible shock, but the men rallied, and resumed the attack with tears running down their cheeks. Perhaps the rarest item in the collection is a hand painted leather cap worn by Captain-Lieutenant Benajah Carpenter of the Rhode Island United Train of Artillery Militia during the Revolutionary War. Kept inside a sealed glass case, the cap is a national treasure, for no others of its kind are known to exist. The headpiece is shaped like a wave, adorned with an anchor and the words “In God We Hope” which was the unit’s motto. The hat was likely worn at the Siege of Boston and the Battle of Long Island in 1776. The Armory’s collection includes numerous military weapons from all wars. There’s a Revolutionary War musket that one

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March 2019

researcher was able to trace to the America soldier who carried it after it was captured from a British officer. There’s a Civil War cannon, the only one in existence with an original carriage, and a model 1883 Colt hand-cranked Gatling gun – a forerunner to the modern machine gun – that was used by the 1st Rhode Island Machine Gun Battery until the early 1900s. The Gatling gun is the size of a Civil War cannon, and despite its age, it still works! There’s also an impressive assortment of rare items from both World War I & II, including a piece of tail section from a downed Nazi airplane. Besides the weaponry, there are also great examples of vintage uniforms and battle flags. One flag in particular is a Confederate artillery guidon captured by troops of the 4th Rhode Island infantry at the Battle of New Bern on March 14, 1862. On that day Colonel Isaac P. Rodman, commander of the 4th R.I. led a charge against Confederate fortifications without any support from other units. As the troops moved forward, the enemy opened up with cannon and grapeshot which tore through the lines, but didn’t stop the advance. The attack was successful, but many lives on both sides were lost defending and capturing that flag. Another flag worth noting is the Troop L guidon that belonged to the 1st Rhode Island Calvary. On June 17, 1863, it was captured by Confederate Calvary forces led by General Jeb Stuart at the Battle of Middleburg, Virginia. This flag was gra-

ciously returned to Rhode Island in 2008. The medieval-style armory building dates to 1913, and was originally home to “Varnum’s Regiment”, a unit of the state militia. During WWII and afterwards it was used by various units of the Rhode Island National Guard. Today it belongs to the Varnum Continentals, Inc., a private organization dedicated to preserving Rhode Island military history in a non-political way. Mr. Donovan points out that Rhode Island has no state history museum, nor is there a R. I. National Guard museum, so the Varnum Armory Museum tries to collect and preserve state related military artifacts that otherwise would be lost. To that end Donovan frequently checks various auction websites, historical societies, and antique dealerships, hoping to add to the collection. Some items come through private donations, and of course, such donations are always welcome. Some recent acquisitions include a book on military organization published in 1916, and copies of newspaper articles relating to some military aircraft accidents which occurred during WWII and the1950s which will go in the armory’s extensive research library. The museum isn’t open regular hours, but can be seen by appointment, and the large meeting hall on the main floor is available for rent. If you have any items you’d like to donate, or to learn more information, contact Patrick Donovan at Armory@ of 401-884-4110.

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Tech Review: Reviving an old PC with Linux Ubuntu By Ron Scopelliti I was recently given a rather nice old laptop PC. The problem is that its Windows 7 operating system was seriously corrupted, and I didn’t want to reinstall the aging version of Windows, or incur the cost of upgrading the hardware to handle Windows 10. Instead, I went for an option that wouldn’t cost me anything at all – Linux. Linux is a free, open-source operating system for PCs, Macs, and other computers that was first developed in 1991. Since then, a number of developers have taken the basic system, and created their own variations. Popular versions include Ubuntu, Debian, Mint, and Fedora. After reading about the pros and cons of different versions, I chose Ubuntu, due to its ease of installation, and the user-friendly website that walks you through the details of downloading and installing the operating system. Linux Ubuntu offered a number of advantages over my Windows options. In addition to being free, the system requirements are low, so it runs well on older computers. And for a number of technical reasons, as well as the fact that Linux is so much less popular than Windows or iOS, viruses are extremely rare. Once the system is installed, you end up with a graphic user interface that lets you point and click, and drag

and drop, just like you would in Windows, Android, or iOS. The installation process is pretty straightforward, but not something to undertake lightly. In my case, I had no data to lose, but if I was doing this with any of my other computers, I would have made a comprehensive backup of everything on the computer I wanted to save, and anything I might need to reinstall my existing operating system. The process starts by downloading the Ubuntu installation software and storing it on a medium your computer can be booted from – typically a USB flash drive or a CD. While the installation program offers the “dual boot” option to keep your existing operating system, making your computer capable of running from either Ubuntu or Windows, I chose to go all-in, letting it erase Windows and completely replace it with Ubuntu. Even moving as I did with excessive caution, installation took less than two hours from the time I started downloading software to the time the system was up and running. This was, however, preceded by quite a bit of research, to be sure I was making the right decision. The standard installation includes the Libre Office productivity suite which has word processing, spreadsheet, and LINCOLN l NORTH PROVIDENCE l CUMBERLAND SLATERSVILLE l SMITHFIELD

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March 2019

presentation software, the Mozilla Firefox web browser, the Mozilla Thunderbird e-mail client, and a variety of utility applications and solitaire games. It also comes with a built-in firewall to prevent unauthorized users from remotely accessing your computer. Despite Linux’s reputation for virus resistance, I decided to take the extra precaution of downloading and installing an antivirus program called ClamAV, which I’ve been running manually through a single terminal command every few days. I also added the GIMP image processing program, and Scribus page layout software. And so far, none of my software has cost me anything. So far I’ve used the computer for word-processing, web-browsing, light photo-editing, watching Netflix, listening to music, and remotely operating a Raspberry Pi. As of yet, I haven’t run into a glitch and the computer has run been running quicker and more smoothly than my Windows 7 laptop, which has a faster processor. Moreover, I haven’t had to deal with annoying pop-up ads from Norton, asking me to sign on for additional services. Using Ubuntu’s graphic user interface after using Windows or iOS is like going to a another state and finding that things are very much the same as home, except there’s a Hardees instead of a Burger King, and a Hannaford’s instead of a Stop & Shop. Switching over to a Linux system like Ubuntu does have its downsides. Linux systems don’t support as wide a range of soft-

ware as Windows. And they don’t have the “plug-and-play” ease of a Windows or Mac operating system. Installing a printer required a few extra steps, as did installing a Flash plug-in for the web browser. Each instance saw me making a few trips to FAQs and forums, followed by a few line commands in Ubuntu’s terminal window. I’m currently in the midst of a similar process to install “Shadowrun Hong Kong,” one of the few games I own that have a Linux option. If you’re looking for an operating system with a “wizard” to lead you through every process, and if you’re not willing to occasionally open up a terminal window and type in esoteric commands, then a Linux system probably isn’t for you. But, if you’re a little bit adventurous when it comes to computers, and you want an operating system that lets you take more control, and explore territory that other operating systems go out of their way to wall off, Linux Ubuntu may be just the thing for you. Before deciding whether Ubuntu suits your needs, I suggest visiting the Ubuntu forums at, and the help site And look into some other versions of Linux, to see if there’s one that better suits your needs. Also, do some web searches to make sure the software you need is available for your new operating system. I found that even when specific software that I use isn’t available, there are usually suitable substitutes.

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50 Years Ago

March, 1969

By Jim Ignasher Reverend Joseph P. McNamara, the pastor of St. Philip’s Church, was elevated to Monsignor. “Father Mac”, as he was known, had been a priest for 46 years and had served as an Army Chaplin from 1934 to 1946. He came to St. Philip’s after his discharge from the military. — Airman 1st Class Richard Johnson of Greenville left for a year’s duty in Thailand at Nakhon Phanom Air Force Base. Mario Ciotola of Douglas Pike was serving with the U.S. Air Force. PFC Steven M. St. Jean of Stillwater was serving in Vietnam. Marine Corporal Hawkins Hibbs of Greenville was awarded the Good Conduct Medal. Sergeant Richard L. Egan of Greenville was serving in the Air Force with the 351st Strategic Missile Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base. PH2 Joseph F. Green of Esmond was serving with the Naval Reserve Transport Squadron in California. — The Smithfield contingent of the Junior Naval Cadets of America announced some promotions. Dennis Straight, Stephen Valolato, Paul Arella, were promoted to Senior Cadet 2nd class. James Darby and Robert Varr to Senior Cadet 3rd class. William Schaff, Keith Straus, Robert Walker, and Michael Allan, to Cadet 1st class. Dennis Henlin, Gregory Straight, and Steven Neri to Cadet 2nd class. James Bicknell, Richard Cacciola, and Lawrence Preistley to Cadet 3rd class. The promotions were presented by Lt. W. H. Manchester. — Smithfield High School senior Mary Lou Sullivan was awarded the DAR Citizenship Award. Recipients are selected for their qualities of dependability, leadership, service, and patriotism. — Lewis E. Antone of Greenville was selected among Bryant College alumni to be included in the1969 national edition of “Outstanding Young Men of America”. Mr. Antone graduated from Bryant in 1959. — On March 11 the Dorothy Dame School PTA sponsored a B-party at the school to raise funds for the Smithfield Scholarship Program. The featured prize was a food basket donated by the Esmond Mar-


ket, which at that time stood across the street from the school. — The Rhode Island Fruit Growers Association installed new officers at a ceremony held at the Greenville Grange Hall on Austin Avenue. President: George H. Smith. Vice President: Leonard G. Walker. Secretary-Treasurer: Edgar A. Steere. County Agricultural Agent: Howard King. — Edwin Robinson was awarded the Golden Sheaf Award by the Greenville Grange in recognition of his fifty consecutive years of service to the organization. — On March 22, the Sing-a-Long Singers performed at a fund raising concert to benefit the Smithfield Boys Club. Other featured musicians included the Hetu Brothers, “Nicky” Cavas, Armand Regosta, and Smiling Joe Rossi. — On March 19, a spring fashion show sponsored by the Family Store in Greenville was presented in the Fellowship Hall of the Greenville Baptist Church. Among the models who wore the latest fashions were, Jackie Leccese, Mary Ann Panghorn, and Betty Eldredge. Music at the event was provided by the Smithfield High School Chorus. — The Greenville Public Library voted to purchase books on the subject of Oceanography. — On March 29, Smithfield Parents Against Drug Abuse sponsored a fundraising buffet and forum at the high school. All proceeds were to go to the Marathon House in Providence. — The Wionkhiege Valley Farm was offering sleigh rides for as long as the snow lasted.

March 2019

Smithfield Education Foundation Seeks Members By Brittni Henderson Members of the Smithfield Education Foundation are more motivated than ever to reach students in the Smithfield School District in new and exciting ways this year. The foundation works to raise money to provide grants for programs that fall outside of the normal school budget and allow educators the opportunity to bring unique experiences to students across the school system. Foundation President Sandi Brenner shares that she and other board members are determined to provide even more funds for schools this year. Brenner shares that after the tragic passing of former President Doreen Nicholson last summer, the Board felt an even bigger need to enhance the hard work that had been done over the past decade. The foundation is supported by local volunteers and fundraising efforts, and with a bigger goal in mind, more individuals are needed to achieve it. The foundation is hoping to enlist the skills of current Smithfield residents, former students, business owners, and everyone in between. Brenner is excited to see what types of ideas will come from such a mix of talent, and absolutely any type of assistance will be appreciated. Positions are needed as Executive Officers and Board Members. If you’re technologically savvy, the foundation would love to have you on board to assist with social media, web design, and to connect the group with others like it across the area. If event planning is more your style, even if it means you hang a few posters around town, your time will be greatly appreciated. Since 2009, the Foundation has been able to provide grants to teachers that came up with exciting and unique programs for students districtwide. From green screens to drones, ukuleles to indoor games– approximately $30,000 has been granted to enrich the educational experience of Smithfield students. For a grant to be considered by the foundation, the need must be outside of the school budget. After that is determined, the project must be ongoing or something that is utilized by students in an ongoing way. “It is such a joy to work with such dedicated and determined teachers,” Brenner says. “They all have such great ideas and I hope the foundation can provide them with what they need to see the ideas come to fruition.” Those interested in becoming a part of this blossoming organization are asked to reach out to Brenner by Email at The Smithfield Education Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

The Smithfield Times, Inc.


Dara Starring, Fallon Davis and Vanessa Refino at The Thirsty Beaver cheering on Tom Brady!

Laurie and Mark DiPetrillo watched the Superbowl at Laura’s Bar and Grill.

The Smithfield Senior Center held a fun-filled Valentine’s Day Party with the help of Kate McAdam-Prickett and Karen Armstrong (left) on February 14. Photos: Albert Tavakalov


March 2019

Laurel Christensen, Saint Philip School Principal Cynthia Senenko, and Anna Vredenburg. For the second year in a row, two Saint Philip School students have earned placement in the Rhode Island State Spelling Bee by taking top honors in their school and on the diocesan level. Laurel Christensen of Grade 7 and Anna Vredenburg of Grade 8 competed against students from other Rhode Island Catholic schools at the Diocesan Spelling Bee on January 31st. As two of the top three highest ranked spellers, Christensen and Vredenburg now advance to the state competition at Lincoln Middle School on March 16th.

Congratulations to Anthony Miccoli for making the President’s List for the Fall Semester at Merrimack College.

FUREVER HOMES needed If You are interested in adopting one of our dogs, please fill out an application at

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March 2019

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The Smithfield Times March 2019  

The Smithfield Times March 2019