Calamari, fake fields... don’t get me started

Calamari, fake fields... don’t get me started


I’m on a rant again so if you don’t want to read any more of this you’ve been warned. I concede I’m old and crotchety but I just can’t shut up about some of the dumb things that keep happening.

I wish legislators would quit pushing calamari as the state appetizer. The Jonnycake is an early Rhode Island dish and was here long before squid became popular. Besides, it runs rings around something with arms. And don’t go accusing me of being biased. I had a Yankee grandmother and an Italian one, too. The whole thing is plain silly.

Why are we even talking about stripping funds from nonprofit organizations which benefit the many and talking about spending millions for fake grass, which benefits the few, in the same breath? With the hope of not beating a dead horse I must agree that the Senior Center is more than deserving of financial help from the town. We are all interested in providing education for the growing youngsters who will one day manage our town, but they haven’t arrived yet and now is the hour and the opportunity to provide support to the people who have, in turn, supported the growth of our town — and, in many cases, all of their lives. Although I do not attend programs at the center, I have friends and relatives who do. So you can’t say I’m feathering my own nest.

In case you haven’t heard, the first phase of a trial to determine the right of public access to Misquamicut Beach got underway before Judge Brian Stern in Kent County Superior Court the first of the month and involved expert witness testimony and submission of technical data on the issue of whether the original five owners of Misquamicut Beach offered to dedicate the beach to the public in 1909 by the recording of a subdivision plan. Next month the court may begin a second phase — considering testimony on whether the public has accepted the offer of dedication through decades of public use and town recognition. Some property owners on Atlantic Avenue contest that the beach is public. Hmmm.

I’ve always been told access to the beach via rights of way was created initially for farmers so they could collect seaweed to fertilize their crops. I remember using a right of way with my children in the ’60s to reach the shore. Nobody ever challenged us. But we had sense enough to respect property that didn’t belong to us. We didn’t sit in front of anybody’s cottage, leave garbage, play loud music or act in an obnoxious manner.

I was so happy to hear from my friend Marie Nigrelli who forwarded photos she received from her brother Jackie Falcone, who lives in St. Petersburg, Fla. A woman on the beach there makes and sells pocketbooks (or tote bags) from colorful cement bags and crochets handbags with strips from brightly patterned plastic bags which she decorates with flowers and equips with bamboo handles ... talk about ingenuity. Thanks, Jackie!

I was tickled to learn (when I finally woke up) the studios of radio WBLQ 88.1 and 1230 are now located behind Perks & Corks at 58B High St. The new digs, overlooking the mighty Pawcatuck, are easily accessible and as always, Chris Dipaola, president/general manager, welcomes folks who visit with his usual bonhomie. Way to go, Chris!

We still don’t know what made former Speaker of the House Gordon Fox abdicate the speaker’s throne so fast it’s still smoking — leaving him to join recently busted and disgraced corrupt Dems in Rhode Island — but I noticed readers of the far-away Washington Post weren’t shy about noting the shenanigans in the March 29 newspaper. One of them commented, “Fox is the target of several criminal investigations by the U.S. Attorney General’s office, FBI, IRS and State Police. Mum’s the word so far on the nature of the alleged criminal activity involved.” Of course, as you all know, he’s innocent until proven guilty.

On the other hand, when Republican Buddy Cianci was in a whole swamp of trouble you never stopped hearing about it. Wonder where those “investigative” reporters are now?

And speaking of investigating, when I wanted to know why the flags were flying near the war monument on Grove and Granite streets recently, I called Town Hall and the library but nobody knew anything about it. Finally, there was a big picture in the paper. Seems the Westerly Flag Committee celebrated spring by installing the flags. I respect the Flag Committee for doing a (mostly thankless) job that needs to be done and paying respect to Old Glory and war veterans, but I’m still shaking my head.

Charlestown resident Enoch MacDonough had a point when he expressed dissatisfaction with Westerly town agencies in his April 3 letter to the Sun editor. It appears his complaints have validity. While it is true that volunteers are generous when it comes to serving the town without pay (except for the Town Council) it is also true these same volunteers have, in most instances, very limited knowledge or experience in the fields they are dealing with.

I was happy for the feedback on my column last week about local post offices. Margaret Saunders Barclay, president of the Babcock-Smith House Docents, reminded me Benjamin Franklin and Joshua Babcock were personal friends who enjoyed fishing at Noyes Rock in Weekapaug. It was Franklin who appointed Dr. Babcock the first Westerly postmaster and framed papers addressed to that post office are on display in the Keeping Room at the Babcock-Smith House Museum.

Ed Fazio, a docent and member of the Westerly Historical Society Board of Directors, explained Joshua became the first postmaster before the American Revolution, so he was a Colonial postmaster. Franklin was the first Colonial Postmaster General who later became the U.S. Postmaster General.

You all know the town spends a lot of money to encourage the summer tourist trade and while I’m not squawking about that (this time) I get as irritated as the next guy when the roads and stores are clogged with visitors (some of whom aren’t very polite) but you have to give credit where credit is due. The influx boosts the local economy and it’s due largely to the efforts of Westerly Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Lisa Konicki, her staff, and her band of devoted volunteers. She richly deserves a salute. Lisa not only knows her job — but she knows it well and does it better than anybody I’ve known.

Things haven’t changed on Potter Hill. The water is still running down the road from an unfinished subdivision, the state is still sweeping away the dirt that is washed onto the road and a very steep driveway that doesn’t meet code goes unchallenged by the town. I think I’m living on the wrong Hill.

Happy Spring, you guys.

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

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