Watchemocket Square Day 2012
If there was any doubt that the founders of Watchemoket Square Day should be holding a second annual celebration, that doubt was quickly dispelled by the waving, smiling crowds at the parade and throughout the day. People who had grown up in the area, or those who still live there, and curiosity seekers mixed in the streets and at the venues open from the St. Mary’s Church bazaar down to the EP Yacht Club.
‘DEE’S PLACE’, a well established business, occupies one of the original buildings remaining at Watchemocket Square
Gordon Hubbard Photo
Restaurants featured specials, Hot Rides ran a car show and the East Providence Historical Society ran tours of the “Big Dig” 195 area. Dave Kelleher took crowds of 20-25 people on each tour and the compliments were many about how interesting that area was and how little one thinks about what happened when the highway barreled through in the heydays of highway construction in the 1950’s.
EPHS in general, hung out in the sanctuary in St. Mary’s where a dairy display of all the dairies in East Providence in the early 1900’s was featured. Did you know that Watchemoket alone had 20 dairies? Now, not all of these were full fledged businesses like Munroe Dairy, but you could walk around the corner to Mercer or Vincent avenues and buy a .06 cent quart of milk. With the wonderful contribution from Munroe Dairy of a mechanical udder, toy milk truck and advertising displays, our attraction was completed by first hand memories recounted by members Andy Valerio, Ginny Berwick (White Rock farm /Kents) George Amaral (John Amaral Dairy) and an amazing video taken in the 30’s by Adrith Andrade’s relative of the Melo bottling end of the Amaral business.
Sometimes, events get rolling so well that they seem to push themselves along and that’s what happened when the City Clerk offered display space at City Hall for WSD activities. The eye -catching display remained up through October and spurred interest in the EPHS self guided tours and the culminating talk at St. Mary’s by industrial historian and chair of the EP Historic District Committee, Ned Connors. Ned’s focus was on what led to the building of the highway with great visuals of the 39 World’s Fair and its simulated “highway ride” and the infectious attitude that highways would open the whole area to greater prosperity and trade.
Who wouldn’t want a highway through town! While investigating the Big Dig at State Archives and the RIDOT, Ned found superb photos from the Washington Bridge Commission (1920’s) and detailed papers for the taking of properties to be moved or demolished along the route. Some of those, Horton’s dairy barn for one, were removed and others such as the Andrade home on Freeborn were moved. Much more digging will be necessary to determine whether all those buildings ended up as landfill or are still here in disguised form – 55 and 85 School Street?
But there is even more residue from the WSD events as it was decided to freshen up the dairy exhibit and bring it back to Hunt House with a gala open house Sunday, Dec. 9th from 1:00-3:30pm. In further collaboration with Munroe Dairy, you can make fresh butter to go on fresh Rumford Baking Powder biscuits and muffins and those members who lived in dairy families will be on hand to take you back to those days. You can also help us identify the locations of all the dairies in town by adding your knowledge to our dairy map. And as if this were not enough – the March 2013 pot luck supper will feature the closing of the dairy exhibit with a roundtable discussion of the dairy industry in town. Now, that’s what we call getting mileage out of 195!
Many members turned out to work the day or just come and show their support by taking the tour and staying to talk to people about the Society. Others contributed to the dairy exhibit, the City Hall display or the house tour information. A very heartfelt thanks go to the following:
Dave Kelleher – tour guide par excellence
Nancy Moore – tour, exhibits co-ordination
Maggie Dooley – greeter, City Hall display
Dot Thornley – greeter, photographer, go’fer
Bob Tewksbury – greeter, go’fer
Miriam Kenney – greeter
Andy Valerio – greeter, dairy contributor
Jesse and Elizabeth Albright – greeters
Pat Henry – greeter
Keith Gonsalves – greeter
Reinhard Wohlgemuth – tech support
Ned Connors – tour, October meeting
Ginny Berwick, Nancy and Earl,Jr. – greeters, dairy contributors
George Amaral – dairy contributor
Adrith Andrade – contributor – tour and Mota dairy DVD
Claudia Pimental – St Mary’s support/tech
Wendy and Gordon Hubbard – WSD committee
Laura McNamera – press, City Hall display
Dee and Chris Amaral – City Hall display, coffee
Ken Andrade – City Hall display
Lindsay Mitchell – dairy display, City Hall display (Munroe)
Kim Casci – City Clerk – City Hall display
Orlando Andreoni – City Hall display
Mayor Bruce Rogers – City Hall display
Pat Hanner – Planning – tour
Ernest Germani – Engineering – maps for tour
Sarah Frey – Assessors office – tour
Dave Silva – tour banners