The changing landscape of Rhode Island


Growing up in Rhode Island is without its challenges.  However, there are certain advantages that we can call our own.  We have the distinct honor of having the nickname  “The Ocean State”.  We are a State with bountiful beaches to swim, surf or tan.  The people are diverse.  Rhode Islanders are young, old, black, white,  Portuguese, Italian, Cape-Verdean.  But, one thing is for sure, we love the simple things.  We like to get our coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts, our clam cakes from Iggy’s and our lemonade from Del’s.  However, for every one landmark that we have there are so many more that have perished.

As a child, we all had certain things that became a right of passage.  We would get a paper route, hang out at Newport Creamery and always go to Rocky Point Park in the summers.  This is what we did.  This is what we loved.  As we grew older we would get jobs as busboy’s or dishwashers at the local Roast House or work at the local Almacs Supermarket.  My how times have changed.

Today, the person who delivers the newspaper is in their forty’s and they are throwing it out of their cars.  We use to deliver the paper on our bikes, and we use to slip the paper in between the door and the screen door.  This is to be expected.  Times do change, but if one is old enough they start to pay close attention.  Rhode Island is changing, and with this change business’ are closing.

In addition to getting a paper route and working at the local Almacs, as a child,  going to Church was a need.  We had to dress up for Church.  My mother use to take us to Anderson-Little to get a suit, and Thom McAnn for our shoes.  Clothing that we would wear for years or until we grew out of them, and when we grew out of them we would pass them on to our younger siblings.  My Anderson-Little suit made it through my First Communion and my brother’s First Communion!  My shoes, however, were a totally different story.

Back then everyone knew their neighbors and their neighbors wouldn’t think twice to turn in a kid for skipping school.  Skipping school meant you were in really big trouble.  Back then it wasn’t unheard for a parent to “break out the belt” as a form of punishment, and there was no bathroom big enough to hide from it.  Of course, today that is impossible to do without getting arrested.   Every Milestone, in a person’s life, called for an ice cream cake from Carvel’s.

It’s a fact that as we get older we reflect back to a point in our lives that were enjoyable, and I can say that my childhood was enjoyable.  Rhode Island has seen many landmarks and business’ come and go, and with the rise of unemployment, the high cost of living and poor economy we must pass on to the next generation the lessons that we learned from our generation.  Is it difficult?…perhaps..but the joy of sharing such precious memories with the ones we love will last longer than a brick building or some frosty cake.

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