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Al Bruno’s Smithfield remembered — The Esmond Market

By Laurence J. Sasso, Jr.

This is the eighteenth article in an occasional series about Smithfield locations that have either been forgotten by time or are no longer remembered for what they once represented. The locations are selected from a list compiled by former Smithfield Building Official Al Bruno. A profile of Mr. Bruno, now 87, was originally featured in the January, 2017 edition of The Smithfield Times. The first installment of this series ran in February 2017.

In Al Bruno’s youth Esmond Street did not go all the way to Route 44. It ended at the intersection with Dean Avenue and Old County and Sebille Roads.

Now one of Smithfield’s most heavily traveled residential intersections, the area was also much used in Mr. Bruno’s younger days.

“It was always a busy corner, even before they put the road through. To get to Putnam Pike (Rte. 44) you had to take Sebille Road and wend your way along the pond. It came out right about where the Rte. 295 overpass is located today,” he explains.

Nevertheless, the corner, where the East Smithfield Library, formerly the Dorothy P.T. Dame School, sits had plenty of traffic. That’s probably why George MacDonald operated the Esmond Market there.

“It’s where I went as a kid to get my hard candy and potato chips and such to have with my lunch at school across the street,” Mr. Bruno remembers.

“They had everything. There was always a pile of people in there,” he adds. “For quite awhile they were the only store in the area that carried meats. Mr. MacDonald lived right across the way on the corner of Sebille Road where it meets Dean Avenue and the present day extension of Esmond Street. He was always around. They seemed to be open all the time.”

In time, though, the store changed hands. William Demaine, a WWI veteran, operated a market there for a considerable length of time.

Ron Scopelliti, an Esmond native who still lives nearby, recalls that in the 1970s, when he was a student at the Dame School, a Mr. Coombs ran the market. Like Mr. Bruno decades before, Scopelliti frequented the market to satisfy his sweet tooth.

“There was a huge candy counter, and when school let out we all poured in there to buy our candy,” Scopelliti says. He also mentions that Coombs was a stone carver, and he used the back room to carve and store his works.

In recent years the building has been put to different uses with a variety of tenants. Among them were a consignment shop and a fruit store. For a number of years, a barbershop with a succession of different barbers has occupied one end of the structure, the part where the stone carvings were kept,

Today, the occupants are a barbershop, J’s Last Minute Cuts, and a window replacement business, The Window Source.