New Year greetings dear readers and kind friends and welcome back for our first Front Porch visit of 2021. Let me begin with my New Year wishes for you, dear readers, along with warmest thanks for being a member of the Front Porch family. I want you to know how deeply I appreciate your loyalty, and your support of your hometown newspaper. In an era when daily newspapers are disappearing, it is comforting — and empowering — to know we live in a community that values its own. Please known how much we value you!
So, now that we've said goodbye to 2020, and good riddance to a year full of strange surprises, let's welcome a year we hope will be full of ... hope. I wish you a happy, healthy New Year (heavy emphasis on healthy!) dear readers, one filled with wisdom, love, happiness, friends, common sense and joy. And, since we begin this New Year with the pandemic still with us, I'd like to wish you all an abundance of creativity, patience, ingenuity, courage, kindness and compassion. With so many people still suffering, sick, lonely and in need, let's see what we can do to help our friends and neighbors make it through the next few months, what do you think? All suggestions welcome! I know we had been sharing suggestions before Christmas, inspired by the "Find the Joy, Then Spread It," movement, which we can continue to do. All suggestions for how best to brighten the lives of others during a pandemic are welcome!
How about we begin by solving a mystery? During the holiday, I received an email from a fellow named "Dan from North Smithfield" who had a question. "So what happened to an iconic and mysterious brand of mayonnaise bearing a Westerly address?" he asked. "I went to McQuade's which used to be a reliable supplier, gone, no further info. I went to two Big Ys in the area, none. I come from northern RI, Stop and Shop used to carry it as a Rhode Island product until this year, gone, no info. Same with Brigido’s, a local market who stopped carrying it about 10 years ago.
It’s been used by our families for three generations up here, no substitutes matched it. I myself had used it for 60 years. An old article in your paper around 2015 commented on the mysterious nature of the origin with no tax address listed in Westerly, no FDA label, no online account, an un-named rep who supplied it to the stores. It would be a great story as to its demise. It was a prominent brand in all of Eastern Connecticut also. If you’re not interested in following up on this, please let me know so I can contact RI Monthly to see if they’re interested," he wrote.
Nothing like a good challenge, I say! I did begin a little research in the Sun archives and I came upon a column written by former Sun editor David Tranchida, who, in an October 2017 "Loose Ends" column called "Putting ‘neighbor’ back into neighborhood," wrote about a group of "like-minded folks living in the Moss Farm neighborhood, also known as the Mechanic Street Historic District," who "got to meet one another and discuss what they had all been thinking — let’s meet the other people we see walking their dogs, exercising and strolling with infants outside our largely well-kept homes."
The impetus for the gathering, he said, "came from Ayo Bryant of Palmer Street and Janis Mink of William Street," who, "In a nod to some of the more interesting historical attributes of the area ... gave away a jar of Seidner’s Mayonnaise as a raffle prize. Seidner, who produced the local favorite from a plant in Westerly near the railroad station, lived on Moss Street. The brand still exists and is available at McQuades, but the ownership is murky. The label, however, says the mayo is still produced using "Otto Seidner’s original 1920 recipe.”
Now, here's a fun related fact. Our current editor, Corey Fyke, grew up in the Seidner house on Moss Street, and Front Porch friends Dale ("King Cocktail") and Jill DeGroff, own it today. But as far as the mystery of the missing mayonnaise, I am coming up short. Anyone have any more information I can send to Dan in Smithfield?
A quick mention, before I say farewell for the week. Just before Christmas, when I sent a farewell to my friend Sam Cofone (who founded Sandy's Fruit Company with his brother, the late Mickey Cofone) and best wishes on his retirement from Sandy's Fine Food Emporium, I forgot to mention his daughter, Susan, so now I will! Thanks Jim Liguori (who is a nephew of Sam's) for the reminder!
If you haven't already done so, make sure to visit the Chorus of Westerly website so you can find out how to enjoy "Twelve Days of Twelfth Night," a celebration with a new virtual item released each day "with a Twelfth Night twist" through Jan 10.
So again, Happy New Year, dear readers, and remember please, to keep your social distances, mask up, wash your hands, stay safe, be kind, and ciao bella!