To the Editor:
A few thoughts and observations about Warwick as viewed during a large portion of a century.
- From earlier days and right through WWII, much of the land in Warwick served as dairy farms and truck gardens.
- It was reported that in the 1938 Hurricane the second of two huge wave surges went over the top of telephone poles at the beach in the Longmeadow section of Warwick.
- The Warwick Public Schools served, at its highest level, about 23,000 students in one year. Current student population is around 9,200. While the schools have experienced this significant drop the population of the city has remained just about the same. Clearly Warwick has become an older aged community.
- When the Quonset Naval Air Station closed some years ago there was a persistent rumor that the major airport in RI would move from Warwick to Quonset. Of course this did not happen. Such a shift probably would have made a significant impact in the Warwick of today.
- During WWII men up to 38 years of age were eligible for military draft.
- Immediately after WWII land developers bought up much of the farmland in Warwick and built hundred of small capes and ranch homes that were purchased for the most part by returning “GI’s.” The number of infants and small children skyrocketed. A major planning and building program of elementary schools were done under the outstanding leadership of Charles McKay, then Superintendent of Warwick Schools.
- It was seven weeks before electric power was restored in parts of Warwick after the 1938 hurricane.
- John Chafee of Warwick was a U.S senator and he also served as Secretary of the United States Navy.
- Gorton Junior/Senior High School opened in 1940. It was 1945 before that school beat rival Aldrich Jr. Sr. High School in a football game.
- Most foods were rationed throughout WWII. Gasoline was also rationed with extreme minimum amounts available for civilians.
- The Warwick Beacon became established as a primary source of local news, community activities and extensive reporting of local sports.
- Warwick, along with other communities throughout the state of Rhode Island, elected Warwick’s Philip Noel as our governor.
- Rocky Point has been a great place for family fun – the rides, swimming in the salt-water pool, the Shore Dinner Hall, and now as an open park for all to enjoy the quiet and beautiful landscape as well as the unique view of our Narragansett Bay.
- The need to establish expansion of secondary schools and a Technical Facility in Warwick was accomplished through outstanding leadership of Superintendent of Schools, Domenic DiLuglio.
- During WWII many of our older citizens acted as Civil Defense Officers. Duties included seeing that upper half of auto headlights were taped over (so that no light shone skyward), and checking to be sure all homes had drawn shades at night to minimize night-light.
- When plans were being developed to construct Veterans Memorial High School there was discussion of locating the school on a portion of the approximately 99 acre City Park, which was City owned. It must have been a potentially good option, but of course it never happened.
- On a warm spring day in May 1937, the Principal of the four room (grades 1-4) Bayside School had the youngsters in all four grades go outside and sit in the grass to watch as the German Zeppelin, Hindenburg flew directly over the school at a very low altitude. Later that same day the Hindenburg was destroyed by fire as it ended its cross Atlantic trip. Many lives were lost.
- Warwick is now, and has long been, a great place to live – enjoy the people who live here. Be sure to take full advantage of great locations such as Goddard Park, Rocky Point, Oakland Beach, Conimicut Point and many more. Clyde Bennett
A lifelong Warwick resident, Clyde Bennett had a career in education and is a former superintendent of Warwick Schools. He remains active although he gave up tennis at the age of 90.