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From The Heart of a Carpetbagger

Do you remember Chicken City and the best JoJos ever? Carm takes a walk down memory lane as a young adult on Aquidneck Island.

My Facebook newsfeed was recently sprinkled with statuses that featured, “If you grew up in (insert community of origin here) share some memories”. 

Frankly, I felt left out.

Although I believe that when I say, ”there’s no place like home” I am referring to my beloved Middletown, I am reminded that I did not grow up here.  It is my home of adoption. I am what true Islanders refer to as a “carpetbagger.”

I transplanted here after attending college. Yes, I am a Salve girl, and pretty darned proud of it! 

To this day, I do believe that when my parents dropped me off on Aquidneck Island those so many years ago, they knew that I would never return home to Connecticut. And they, of course, were right.

All of this being said, I hate feeling left out. So I will share some memories of my own from Aquidneck Island.

I remember Chicken City and the best JoJo potatoes anywhere. I still thank Bruce Long for that culinary experience whenever I can.

I remember when Salve Regina University was Salve Regina College and tours of the campus included the ghost stories that I promise you were made up as I went along. I gave many of those tours with my friends and the script we were asked to follow was a little dry. We spiced it up a little. Okay a lot. But our groups were always mesmerized and the incoming college kids would still sign up and arrive for move-in day. No harm no foul. I hope.

I remember the America's Cup sailing races. I won the calendar lottery when the last set of races hosted in Newport took place during my college sophomore year in 1983. The streets were jamming with people from all over creation, sailing enthusiasts, celebrities and, of course, we young college kids soaking it all in. The actual races were icing on the cake back then.

I remember stopping at in Newport for the best overstuffed sandwiches ever created, wrapped in foil and thrown into a paper bag.  We’d grab a drink, of many different varieties I’m afraid, and head to Breton Point. Our favorite pastime – watching the seagulls try to fly against the wind. Oh, what a simple youth we had. We’d leave the troubles of impending adulthood behind and laugh our heads off as these scavenger birds got nowhere fast. A metaphorical experience I suppose.

I remember dancing our butts off at Maximillian’s Dance Club directly over Sully’s Pub. Sully’s was the first to make it fashionable to leave your peanut shells on the floor and Disco was alive and well and thumping through the ceiling up above at Max’s. Oh how I miss the 80’s!

I remember when Mr. North with Anthony Edward, Amistad with Steven Spielberg, and True Lies with the now notorious Arnold Schwarzenegger were filmed here. I saw them all and was fascinated by the process and the fact that for a short time, my home was their home. Yes, we were starstruck and happy to admit it.

I remember the Starcase Cinemas right here in Middletown and Gus, the always affable manager, who seemed to be there ALL of the time ready to greet you and wish you an enjoyable movie experience. We would make sure to get to the theatre a little early to have time to chat and still make the opening credits.

Lastly, I remember the playing of the "National Anthem" before every movie presentation in any movie house on the Island. I recall being so surprised when I went to my first movie at the Jane Pickens theatre.

It was a showing of "An Officer and A Gentleman." When the National Anthem came on, I thought for sure it had something to do with the theme of the movie. But as time went on, I came to understand that it played for every movie.

To this day, I don’t know why it aired back then but I must say, I miss the practice and wish it would return.

So there you have it folks.

Maybe I wasn’t born here, but even now for my little town of Middletown, there is still no place like home.

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