Leave Columbus alone; make use of West Broad St. School

Leave Columbus alone; make use of West Broad St. School

The Westerly Sun

Today’s catchphrases seem to be “nothing is forever,” and “always is a lie.” I mean, what the hell is going on with Columbus? We learned he discovered America when we were in grade school and now we’re being told he didn’t.

And it isn’t only Columbus. It is everything else we’ve held dear over the decades. For Pete’s sake, give it a rest. You all know I’m half Italian, but that isn’t the only thing that makes me protest the “revelation” that Chris may have been as susceptible to the mores of the time, just as any other man of those days. The bottom line is, he was a voyager who changed the world (for better or worse) wherever he went.

And while I’m yammering, I have something to say about the century-plus West Broad Street School my father went to and I once attended. I think it’s safe to say it will be abandoned. But rather than telling folks it has become “a facility that lacks green space” as well as being “unsafe for people with disabilities,” spit it out. If you have already decided it won’t be used anymore, stop sugarcoating the pill. Don’t use it for a school anymore, but do convert it for recreational use by those needing space for exercise classes, music or dance studies, or a dozen other good purposes.

The school didn’t have anything but a gravel yard when I went there, and we trudged up to the third floor when necessary. I also remember we bought crackers and milk for pennies in the basement during recess times. And guess what? There were a lot of survivors.

I hope you will forgive my ranting and raving, but I am thoroughly disgusted with this nonstop pounding of “political correctness” that is making citizens in this great country willing to hop aboard any bandwagon that passes by like a bunch of sheep.

Revisiting Higgins Pharmacy

Moving on … I was told I forgot someone who was very important to the Higgins Pharmacy story. He is Donny Long, who worked in the medical equipment section. His father, Joe, was the fire chief in Pawcatuck at one time and his brother, Tom, is fire chief there now. His brother, Bobby, is with the Westerly Fire Department and we can’t leave out his sister, Cynthia Perry, whom you all know from the Westerly Public Library. Historian Barbara Mehringer recalled that Donny “fixed everything for everybody.”

I had a delightful note from Pat Fyfe, one of the Victoria family beauties who graced our town.

Pat told me she enjoyed reminiscing about Higgins Pharmacy and, in fact, worked next door to the store for Attorney Howard Crouch for 10 years. “Higgins was my second home. It definitely was a gathering place to meet your friends. Every afternoon between 2 and 3 o’clock, I’d take my 15-minute coffee break (a little longer when the cat was away). That was when I knew my friends, Claire Faulise, Lucille Lamoreau, Bud Brophy (our local mailman), Leo Pupillo or the other policemen on duty across the street in the (police) booth next to Riley’s Café, were there. Those were the days when you could sit at a (Higgins) bar stool and enjoy a cup of java with great friends.”

Remember last week when Ronnie O’Keefe mentioned Bill Higgins’ wonderful warm smile and his black tie? Well, this week I can explain it was certainly for a worthy cause.

Pat told me, “I asked Bill Higgins why he only wore a thin black tie, (and) he said it was a vow he’d made for a prayer that was answered many years ago.

“Anyway Gloria, I think of you and the beautiful ladies in Westerly (her words) that were my mentors and also good friends of my beautiful sister Alice Victoria Quinn.”

Alice was indeed beautiful (a head turner) and a friend, and so were the others she mentioned, including Gloria Lombardo (who operated the Heather House clothing store) Sally Tasca, Kay Sacco and Connie Holland Faulise (who ran the Showcase). Pat said she loved the hats worn by Ann Mearns (Bob’s wife) as much as she did Mary Clancy’s. Mary’s hats were made by her mother, and Pat confessed, “I tried copycatting but never quite made it.”

Pat’s “Glamour Gal” list also included Alice Ann Ferrigno, Martha Morehouse Holland, the LoPresto sisters Charlotte and Gloria, Nancy Cofone Cozzolino and Alice Nardone.

Pat confessed she and fellow worker Rosemarie Cofone Christina had so many laughs and such fun when they worked at radio station WERI in the 1950s and early ’60s “that we (almost) felt guilty taking a paycheck.”

Ocean House Gala

A final gentle reminder that the October Ocean House Gala on Oct. 18 from 6 to 9 p.m. benefits the Humphrey J. Amedeo Jr. scholarship fund, and this year the Westerly Airport Association is celebrating aviation in the 1930s and ’40s. For tickets in advance, call Derek at 401-596-7629. Tickets will also be available at the door.

As we leave you, I’m giving you the answer to the question that makes grown men quake with fear. It’s when they are asked by their wives these three dreaded words: “Am I fat?”

Well, years ago I asked my spouse that very same question. Now, for the first time, I’m revealing his answer, which was ... “No, you are not fat. You are fluffy.”

Gloria Russell has lived in the Westerly-Pawcatuck area all her life and has been a reporter for 45 years. She can be reached at harglo@verizon.net.


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