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    Tracking mystery sidewalk to its end

    Why is April slipping by like it’s greased? I was more than willing to part with winter — give it a shove in fact. But beautiful spring is something I want to hang on to!

    Quite some time ago I had an inquiry from Paula Neidmann (a Cross Street resident) who wanted to know about that little bit of concrete walk near the sign at the corner of Elm and Cross Streets (where God leaves those little messages) that leads to nowhere. Well, to be accurate, it leads into a bunch of bushes.

    Paula was curious about the building that once stood beyond that little walkway. I learned from historian Alma Rhodes that St. Pius Church on Elm Street was built in 1955 so that gave me a starting point because about that time the Catholic church acquired the property in question and the house that stood there was demolished. (I couldn’t nail down the date.) St. Pius church secretary Deb Urso Carey told me the big white rectangular two-story home was purchased from the estate of William D. Hoxsie. Caroline Badowski at the Westerly library reference desk confirmed the address as 41 Elm St.

    I remember it very well as the home of a young pastor, his wife and their baby. But I can’t remember their names and nothing in the information I had perused so far ignited a spark.

    I contacted the “new” Lutheran church — which has been in Ashaway now for about a half century, and the pastor, Joseph E. Mazikas Jr., and his wife get full marks for their help. (More about that later.) My daughter Lea, who is a communicant, brought me the name of longtime parishioner Walter Barton. Mr. Barton generously provided me with the name of the Rev. William Eberle, who served as pastor from 1963 to 1969.

    Pastor Eberle, who now lives in Severna Park, Md., lived at the house when it was a place of worship. During his tenure he and his wife, Elsie, occupied family quarters on the second floor of the Westerly facility while the first floor served as the church.

    They moved to a new parsonage on Juniper Drive in Ashaway and he led the 1967 church dedication service before answering the call to service as a chaplain for the U.S. Army in Vietnam two years later.

    He couldn’t recall offhand who had preceded him as minister of the fledgling Westerly church (It was the Rev. Dr. George J. Meyer) and I set about trying to find some dates and information about those times.

    I canvassed Westerly Town Hall and ah….um….some longtime (make that “older”) residents who I thought might be able to trace the church history. I seemed to be reaching dead ends at every turn. Please don’t tell me I could have found it by doing….or looking….or asking….or …. Well, just don’t tell me.

    It was Pastor Mazikas who went the extra distance to help find what I sorely needed.

    The Mission Board of the Atlantic District of the Evangelical Lutheran Church began its work in Westerly by establishing a preaching station in 1922. Several pastors and several locations later the Elm Street property, once the site of a majestic home and later devoted to worship, bears just a short strip of concrete as a reminder of its existence.

    It was nice to hear from entrepreneur Peter Catalano and his wife, Dana, who arrived at their picturesque Watch Hill digs for the summer about a week or so ago.

    Speaking of Watch Hill, I wonder if you’ve had a chance to see the documentary about the famous landmark that Chaplin Barnes and Betty Jo Cugini Greene created in collaboration. If you missed recent presentations and would like to obtain an available DVD (with bonus material) through the Watch Hill Conservancy, call the Conservancy office at 401-348-6540 or email WatchHillConservancy.org.

    Those of you who are turning to the garden about now won’t want to miss the annual book, bake and plant sale at the Ashaway Library Saturday, May 3. I’m sure many of our local green thumbers will be showing up with lots of healthy, hearty plants for the rest of us. Librarian Heather Field says the sale at the library on Knight Street will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. rain or shine, but the library will be closed for regular business on that day.

    Wheeler Library in North Stonington is holding its sale and bazaar on May 16. I have to tell you my Yankee grandfather, E. A. Smith, came from Madison, Maine, to build what became Wheeler High School and is now the library. He met and married my grandmother, North Stonington belle Edith Kenyon, and settled on Lincoln Avenue in Pawcatuck as a mason contractor.

    Some of you know we printed a limited edition of our book, a 200-page compilation of Reminiscing columns and sold them last year just before Christmas. We couldn’t fill all of the requests for them. I have a list of people who asked for them and we are thinking about reprinting a few more books. If we do, we will hold another sale and signing and we will be glad to accommodate those readers who already have books but were unable to have me sign it because thoughtless me was in the hospital. Let me re-phrase that. I would be happy to sign any of the books we sold at any time. Just let me know. I can be reached at 401-596-7480 to take care of that or to add your name to our book list.

    I guess you know the beloved Ford Mustang just celebrated its 50th birthday. I’m green with jealousy because my friend Everett Watrous has one in his garage. Not only that, the garage is heated. This 1965 model is the Lee Iacocca original with a white body and red interior. Ev changes the battery and the gas regularly and the odometer reads just over 16,000 miles. How great is that!

    Gloria Russell lives in Westerly and is a former longtime reporter for The Sun.



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