Jill Calderone is looking to hold a neighborhood reunion for a section of Warwick that was swept away by the Great Hurricane of 1938.
Seventy-five years have past since that storm and Calderone not only vividly recalls the hurricane, but also the fond memories of the community along Seashore Road known as Grant Station.
Seashore Road is still visible on plat maps, but the shoreline properties, which are also on the maps, are underwater.
Calderone, whose maiden name is Martino, is looking to reach as many of the families who once had summer cottages there as she can.
“There used to be a little building with the sign ‘Grant Station,’” said Calderone. “It was the last stop on tracks and used to have open air trolley cars to go to Rocky Point and Providence.” There were about 20 cottages along the stretch of shoreline.
When the hurricane hit, Calderone was in Providence working at Roger Jewelry, which at the time was located on Westminster Street. It wasn’t until after the ’38 hurricane that the hurricane barrier was built, so the city was fully exposed to the storm surge driven by winds thought to top 170 miles per hour that pushed up Narragansett Bay.
“By the time we were able to get the good jewelry out of the windows, the water was really high and the chemicals that were in the water were very dangerous,” said Calderone. “We formed a human chain to get out, the current was so strong I couldn’t do it alone. The credit manager went first and we all held hands, the water was up to my neck.”
From there the group treaded through water to get to the Alice Building and stayed there all night and could hear glass being broken the following morning from looters. Following the hurricane, Calderone said everyone needed to get vaccinations due to the exposure of the contaminated water.
She then learned what became of the family cottage and others in the area. They were swept out into the bay or lifted and deposited inland.
Some Longmeadow and Highland Beach homeowners who were not directly on the shoreline rebuilt, only to have their homes destroyed by another hurricane.
Jill’s husband Bill Calderone, who was a resident of Rocky Beach, was in San Diego at the time in the Marine Corps.
“I got a telegram from the Red Cross and it said, ‘Dear Son, we are all okay,’” said Calderone.
But despite the harsh memories of the hurricane, the fond memories of Grant Station are the driving force for this reunion.
“Such a nice community, we had a lot of professional people out of that area,” said Calderone. “This was a private water supply, we had our own sheriff and treasurer; we even cleaned our own beach.”
Calderone recalls picking wild raspberries and eating them. At night, they would walk to the bowling alley and could hear the musicians playing banjos in boats with lanterns to light their way.
“We would walk to Rocky Point when it was low tide; some nights we would have to cut through the pasture and get chased by the bulls,” she said.
Calderone hopes to collect original photographs of Grant Station and the homes in the area in order to put together the reunion for this upcoming spring.
Among the families Caldarone is trying to reach are, Taylor, Lionelli, Dipitrillo, McGovern, O’ Boyle, Guglieimi, Dichiara, Dipippo, Sollitio, Spadetti, Azzarone, Masso, Amicarelli, Grande, Giordano and Dimaio.
“This is what this is all about, a story about Grant Station, as it used to be,” said Calderone.
Calderone hasn’t set a date and location for the reunion until she gets an idea of how many people might be coming. She urges those with connections to Grant Station to call her at 944-1881.