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Smithfield, RI Weather

50 Years Ago September 1966

By Jim Ignasher

September is the start of apple harvest season, but in the autumn of 1966 local growers found themselves short of able-bodied apple pickers. A temporary employment office was established at 15 Smith Avenue where those seeking work were urged to apply.

For those who enjoy eating wild mushrooms, a young man by the name of Charles Campbell Jr. discovered a seven pound Iscalavtia Gigantea (A BIG mushroom) growing behind the former Masonic Temple in Greenville.

September is also back to school time. The Smithfield Citizens Scholarship Fund, in their “dollars for scholars” campaign, awarded $800 in grants to two local college bound women, Beverly R. Nemitz, of Greenville, and Rose Marie Rathier of Stillwater. Miss Rathier was going to study history and minor in English, and Miss Nemitz was planning to be a French teacher.

Like 2016, 1966 was an election year, and newspapers were full of names and faces of those hoping to get elected to town and state office. Meanwhile, local organizations held elections of their own.

The Greenville Grange held an installation dinner for its newly elected officers who included: Stephen Steere, elected to the Executive Committee; Joseph P. Connetti, Master; Ernest L. Smith, Overseer; John Cook, Treasurer; JoAnn Atkinson, Chaplain; Ruth L. Smith Lecturer; J. Letser Tobin, Steward; Christopher Cabral, Assistant Steward; and Mildred Paterson, Assistant Steward.

In Georgiaville, the St. Michael’s Ave Maria Guild held its installation dinner at the Admiral Inn. New officers included: Mrs. Jean Fagan, President; Mrs. Rose Farnsworth, Vice President; Mrs. Jean Chasse, Secretary; Mrs. Ann Scott, Treasurer; and Mrs. Ann Baglini, Recording Secretary.

Boy Scout Troop 4 of Greenville elected new patrol leaders. Arrow Patrol Leader, Paul Hiley and Assistant leader, Prescott Williams. Beaver Patrol Leader, Douglas Borst and Assistant leader, Joseph Lowe. Eagle Patrol Leader, John Riley and Assistant Leader Russell Keach. Panther Patrol Leader Mark West and Assistant Leader, Ronald Charnley. And George Leach was elected Senior Patrol Leader.

The American Legion Balfour-Cole Post #64 elected Martin T. Murphy as Post Commander, and Mrs. Anita Payette as President of the Ladies Auxiliary.

On September 20, U.S. Army 1st Lt. James F. Panzarella, 27, of Esmond, was killed on a combat operation in Tay Ninh, South Vietnam while serving as a company commander with the 1st Infantry, 196th Light Infantry Brigade. He’d arrived in Vietnam only five weeks earlier on August 14. Lt. Panzarella came from a large family and had a wife and two sons. His name is on the Vietnam memorial at the intersection of Douglas Pike and Whipple Road.

U. S. Coast Guard Seaman Apprentice Mark McNeily of Greenville received orders for duty aboard the nation’s newest cutter, Active. Commissioned September 1, 1966, the Active is still in use by the Coast Guard today.

Captain Craig Harris of Esmond was assigned to the medical corps at Pope Air Force Base in North Carolina.

U.S. Navy Recruit Philip A. Royer of Esmond completed basic training at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center, and was headed for Aviation Mechanic School.

Airman Terrance M. McCaffrey of Greenville was selected to attend Air Force Radar Operator School.

Airman 2/C Angus Bryant of Spragueville came home on a 30 day leave.

The “Space Race” between The United States and Russia was in full swing by the mid 1960s, and American television began focusing on science fiction related programs. On September 8, the first regular episode of Star Trek (The original TV series) aired on NBC. Ironically, by the end of its first season the show was slated to be cancelled due to low ratings, however it wasn’t, and the starship Enterprise continues its “five year mission” 50 years later. As Mr. Spock would say, “Live long, and prosper.”

There was a time when most automobile tires had rubber inner-tubes just like bicycles, and many a youth of the 1950s and 60s found that discarded inner-tubes made great floatation devices for lounging on the water – and they could usually be had for free at many auto repair stations. However, advancements in “tubeless” technology put an end to that.

One local retailer advertised “4 ply nylon tubeless tires guaranteed to last 30,000 miles”, for $12.88 each, which included free mounting.