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Smithfield, RI Weather

50 Years Ago August 1966

By Jim Ignasher

In mid-July 1966, Army Specialist Clifford William Silvia of Esmond came home for a 30-day leave after serving the previous 23 months in Germany. Towards the end of his furlough in August, family and friends held an outing in his honor at Pulaski Park in Glocester, and by the end of the month he’d left Smithfield for deployment to Vietnam with the 25th Medical Battalion.

On July 13, 1967, about a month before his tour of duty in Vietnam was to end, Specialist Silvia was wounded during hostile enemy action, and died in an army hospital four days later. He was 20-years-old.

Among the medals awarded to Specialist Silvia are the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. Few may know that there is a Vietnam memorial dedicated to those from Smithfield who lost their lives in the war located at the intersection of Whipple Road and Route 7.

Another serviceman from Esmond was Air Force Cadet Stephen Shaw Wyman of Prospect Street, who was entering his senior year at the Air Force Academy in Colorado.

Air Force Staff Sergeant Charles D. Dawley of Greenville was serving as a supply inventory specialist in Vietnam.

Airman 2/C Daniel E. Scully of Greenville was serving as a radar technician in Vietnam.

Airman John Smith of Greenville was sent to Lowry Air Force Base for nuclear weapons specialist training.

Air Force Sergeant Walter L. Labrie of Log Road came home for a 30 day leave after serving three-and-a-half years in Japan.

PFC Everett R. Gardner of Brayton Rd. was attached to the 11th Armored Cavalry in Vietnam.

Seaman Recruit William R. McDermott (USNR) of Greenville, completed two weeks of active duty at Great Lakes Naval Training Center.

Airman 1/C Thomas D. Paiva of Esmond was stationed at Tan Sun Nhut Air Force Base serving with the air police.

On August 5 groundbreaking ceremonies were held at the future site of the World Trade Center in New York City. The “Twin Towers” opened in 1973.

Two hundred youngsters participated in the Bluegill Derby, a fishing contest held at Slack’s Pond in Greenville, where 158 of them reportedly caught nearly 1,000 pounds of fish. $300 in prize money was awarded, and organizers said the derby was so successful that they planned to make it an annual event.

Local youths organized a carnival, the proceeds of which went to Muscular Dystrophy research. The carnival, which was held August 11 and 12 on Eisenhower Drive, included refreshments, a vegetable sale, a donated clothing sale, sundry games, a fortune teller, and other activities.

Organizers included; Theodore Faraone, Susan Buddy, Cheryl Winsor, James, Billy, and Glenn Ross, Cathy, Linda, and Anne Zangari, Marlene Dunn, Deborah and Christine Brosseau, George Corrente, Joseph Antonelli, and Richard and Donald Ladouceur.

On August 10 the Department of Treasury announced it would no longer produce the two-dollar bill. However, on August 13, 1976, re-designed two-dollar bills were once again minted as part of our nation’s bicentennial celebration.

On August 17 NASA launched its Pioneer 7 space probe at the sun to collect data relating to Earth’s nearest star. Twenty years later it was still transmitting signals, including information about Haley’s Comet which passed by in 1986.

The annual Water Carnival was held at Georgiaville Beach on the August 19. Activities included a “pirate ship” crewed by Bill Hart, Denise Abbatematteo, Suzanne Boulais, Maureen Tallman, Celine Welch, and Kirk Bryden. Youths dug for “buried treasure” left by the pirates along the beach.

Ann Campbell and Leo Rainville were crowned Water Carnival Queen and King.

A handful of lucky youngsters from the St. Aloysius home on Austin Avenue got to do some real police work while riding along with Smithfield police officer Jim McVey as he chauffeured them in the department’s new patrol car. McVey had given each “junior officer” a list of stolen car license plates and advised them to keep a sharp eye out for them. As luck would have it, they found one parked just off Indian Run Trail – an unoccupied1956 Chevrolet stolen from Glocester the night before.

Officer McVey retired in 1977 as the department’s deputy chief.

On August 24, the science fiction film Fantastic Voyage was released by 20th Century Fox. The plot involved a submarine shrunk to microscopic size and then injected into a man’s bloodstream in order to destroy a life threatening blood clot. Does anyone recall watching this at the old Route 44 Drive in?