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50 Years Ago July, 1968

By Jim Ignasher

What began as a typical summer day at the beach on Slack’s Reservoir would have ended in tragedy had it not been for the quick actions of two13-year-old girls who’d recently completed a water rescue and life saving class sponsored by the Smithfield Recreation Department. Kristine Brosseau and Susan Winsor were at different points at Slack’s Beach when they noticed a woman struggling in the water about thirty-five feet from shore. Susan was the first to reach her, and kept her head above water until joined by Kristine a few moments later. Suddenly the terrified woman wrapped her legs around Kristine’s waist in a scissor hold, but the girl remembered her training, and briefly took the victim under water with her until she broke free. Kristine then surfaced and got the woman into a cross-chest carry and with Susan’s help began taking her towards shore.

Coincidentally, another water rescue took place around the same time at Georgiaville Beach. In that instance, 17-year-old Susanne Boulais rescued a toddler who’d slipped beneath the water when she got in over her head. Like her Greenville counterparts, Miss Boulais had also taken the water rescue and life saving classes offered by the town.

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The annual July 4th carnival was held at Waterman’s Field on the shore of Waterman’s Lake. (A condominium development now stands where the carnival used to be held.) Up until 1967 the event had been run by the Greenville Fire Department, but by 1968 was being operated by the Smithfield Jaycees.

Entertainment included a Ferris wheel, kiddie rides, food, games of chance, and of course, fireworks.

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The 41st Ancient and Horribles Parade was held in Chepachet. The winning float was called, “Chepachet Laugh-In”, inspired by Rowan and Martin’s popular T.V. show of the day. (By a show of hands, many can recall Goldie Hawn, Jo Anne Whorley, and Artie Johnson doing the “Sock-it-too-me” bit?)

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Airman James P. Coupe of Greenville was promoted to Airman First Class. He was serving with the Strategic Air Command at Ellsworth Air Force base in South Dakota.

Airman William R. Couture of Greenville completed Air Force basic training and would go on for advanced training as a munitions specialist in Amarillo, Texas.

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On July 15, the television soap opera One Life to Live premiered on ABC. The popular show aired for more than forty-three years before coming to an end in 2012.

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On July 18, the semiconductor company Intel was founded.

One local newspaper sponsored a contest in which one could win a complete set of Encyclopedia Britannica encyclopedias. All one needed to do to enter the drawing was to mail in a pre-printed coupon with their name and address.

Those old enough to remember using encyclopedias can attest to the fact that they were expensive, and therefore most of us had to go to a library to find them. In 1968 nobody could have imagined a day when access to the world’s accumulated knowledge could literally be had at one’s fingertips via a Smart Phone.

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Twenty-seven members of the Smithfield Republican Women’s Club held its annual banquet at the Grist Mill Tavern.

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As of this writing, volcanoes in South America and Hawaii continue to erupt and gain news coverage. On July 29, 1968, the Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica, which had been dormant for more than five-hundred years, suddenly erupted, killing 87 people and destroyed three small villages.