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Smithfield, RI Weather

50 Years Ago October, 1968

By Jim Ignasher

The first annual Providence County Grange Fair was held Columbus Day weekend at Waterman’s Field at Waterman’s Lake. Attractions included a midway, carnival games, rides, and food concessions.

Opening day was designated “Pawtucket-Blackstone Valley Day”.

Day two was designated “Northern Rhode Island Apple Country Day” during which the Apple Blossom Queen and her court, the Grange prince and princess, the Dairy Queen, and Miss Rhode Island, were all on hand to take part in the crowning of the Providence County Grange Harvest Queen. (That’s a lot of royalty for a fair!).

The day was marked with agricultural events and contests which included calf roping, cattle and sheep shows, and a greased pig chase and greased pole contest.

The third day was designated “Providence County Horse Lovers Day”, and featured a horse show.

Mayors and town officials from all over Providence County attended the event, as well as Rhode Island’s governor.

It was also on Columbus Day weekend that the volunteer fire companies of Smithfield held a parade that went from the high school, down Pleasant View Avenue, and culminated at Greenville Plaza. (Where the hardware store is located today.) The purpose was to celebrate the launch of a year-long fire safety campaign known as “EDITH”, (Exit Drills In The Home).

The program was to assist families in creating escape plans as to how they’d exit their homes in the event of a fire.

The program was implemented by Chief Norman Segee, with assistance from Lieutenant Harold French, and the president of the Smithfield Jaycees, Leon Carney.

When the parade was over, firemen put on fire-fighting and first-aid demonstrations.

Navy gunner’s mate Richard N. Kanea of Greenville returned home after his third tour of duty in Vietnam as a gunner on an assault boat.

Lieutenant Stephen S. Wyman of Esmond was married in the chapel at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado.

On October 11, NASA launched Apollo 7, with the three-man crew of Schirra, Eisele, and Cunningham, aboard. The goal was not to travel to the Moon, but to orbit the earth and test the Lunar Module docking capabilities with the Command Module while broadcasting live television. This was the first time live television had been broadcast from space.

The town dump was once located on Ridge Road at the North Providence town line. By the fall of 1968 it had grown significantly, leading area residents to complain about the smells, frequent fires, and thousands of rats, prompting local officials to look for alternative ways to discard trash. It was reported that from October, 1967, to October, 1968, the town had deposited 10,000 tons of garbage at the dump, and it was projected that by 1990, that amount would double.

The Smithfield Conservation Commission presented the Apple Blossom Garden Club with a citation commending the organization for its town beautification efforts. In recent months the club had landscaped the Greenville Common and the Panzarella-Silvia Vietnam Memorial on Whipple Road at Douglas Pike, and was currently in the process of planting trees and flowers at Greenville Plaza.

The Smithfield Conservation Commission, with support from the Greenville Grange and the Apple Blossom Garden Club, put forth a proposal to turn a section of vacant land at the intersection of Austin Avenue and Putnam Pike into a memorial park honoring all volunteer firemen who’d served in the town of Smithfield. The plan included landscaping, tree planting, a monument, and a parking area. History has shown that the park was never built.

On October 20 the Raymond C. La Perche School was dedicated. Mr. La Perche had served in various leadership capacities within the Smithfield School Department for 41 years before retiring in 1963.

The IGA supermarket in Greenville was offering three pounds of Macintosh apples for 29 cents.

Peoples Bank at the Apple Valley Mall was offering 5% interest on all savings accounts, compounded monthly.