Archive for December 2013

Map of Camp Yawgoog, 1967   Leave a comment

Map of Camp Yawgoog from 1967.

Map of Camp Yawgoog from 1967.

Portions of the movie Moonrise Kingdom, the events of which took place in September 1965, were filmed here. The style of this map is very similar to the style of the map used in the movie.

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Posted December 23, 2013 by stuffiex in Facts & Folklore, History

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Pep Song for Rhode Island   Leave a comment

by Mildred Harris

[With an obvious debt to Flanders and Swann, “Song of Patriotic Prejudice,” from At The Drop of Another Hat.]

Rhode Island? Rhode Island? Rhode Island is where?
Look in New England; it should be right there.
It’s neighbors are huge and prosperous as well.
But Rhode Island has chickens and it’s easier to spell.

Rhode Island is tiny; Rhode Island is small.
Rhode Island’s the littlest State of them all!

It’s proud to be known as State Number Thirteen
From 1790 and all in between.
It flies a State Flag of blue, gold and white.
With “Hope” as its motto, it’s future looks bright.

Rhode Island is tiny; Rhode Island is small.
Rhode Island’s the littlest State of them all!

You can pedal across from the East to the West.
Or walk North to South, whichever is best.
The Ocean State’s beaches draw tourists in droves,
Water sports, sunning and fishing in coves.

Rhode Island is tiny, Rhode Island is small.
Rhode Island’s the littlest State of them all!

Rhode Island is pretty; it’s summers are nice.
Sometimes in winter it’s covered in ice.
The chickens are red and delicious to eat.
And if you like quahogs, you’re in for a treat.

Rhode Island is tiny, Rhode Island is small.
Rhode Island’s the littlest State of them all!

You’ve heard about Newport and nothing much more?
There’s Providence—thrice!—and a whole lot of shore.
Central Falls, Cranston, Woonsocket are three,
Warwick, Pawtucket—and a red maple tree.

Rhode Island is tiny, Rhode Island is small.
Rhode Island’s the State that I like best of all!

Mildred Harris describes herself as a “foreign* admirer of The Littlest State of Them All,” (*as in ‘from one of the other (larger) States’).”

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Posted December 16, 2013 by stuffiex in Cultural Brouhaha, Facts & Folklore

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Big Rooster   Leave a comment

New digs at Antonelli's, November 2013.

New digs at Antonelli’s, November 2013.

Big wings, big thighs, big breasts, oh my!
Antonelli’s Poultry Company, 62 De Pasquale Avenue, Providence
(401) 421-8739

Nothing calls attention to your business better than a freakishly large fiberglass animal.

This fantastic fowl originally graced the sidewalk in front of Sollitto’s Liquor Mart at 905 Narragansett Boulevard beginning around 1969, when, at the suggestion of his brother, Domenic Sollitto bought it at an auction for $200.

It was stolen at least twice, once in the early 1970s by a Brown University fraternity that employed a pickup truck to make off with the bird, and once in the late 1990s by less-resourceful Johnson & Wales students who tried to drag it away on foot. The Brown students reportedly got caught because a postman saw them muscling the ungainly 150-pound cock into their dorm, and reported the sighting to Sollitto. The safe return of the rooster was brokered by the dean of students a few weeks later. Supposedly a case of bourbon was suggested as ransom, but whether that was the dean’s idea or the students’, we don’t know. The J&W kids didn’t do nearly as well. They were spotted by patrons of a nearby bar who gave chase as the students humped the statue down Indiana Avenue. Thinking only of their own interests, the kids dropped the chicken, leaving a minor crack in its skin. As a result of these shenanigans, the bird was subsequently brought inside the store each night to remove the temptation to larceny.

Sollitto's flag-waving message, photographed August 2, 2003.

Sollitto’s flag-waving message, August 2003.

The rooster became a booster for belligerent American patriotism sometime after 911, with the painted admonition, “USA, LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT.” Prior to that, it bore the harmlessly capitalistic and far less jingoistic “SPIRITS LOW, SEE SOLLITTO.”

The rooster was featured in a Zippy the Pinhead cartoon on May 30, 2006, which poked fun at the idea of a barnyard fowl spouting outdated messages of narrow-minded patriotism. Zippy pointed out that chickens are more closely identified with cutting and running than with stolid, staightbacked, clear-eyed dedication to cause, and the rooster agreed that “Cutting and running [is] the new patriotism!” Maybe the punchline hit home for Sollitto, because a year or two later the bird had been rendered messageless.

Sollitto’s closed in 2013 and the rooster was sold to Antonelli’s Poultry on Federal Hill, marking a sharp shift in the bird’s promotional career. The connection between fresh poultry products and an eight-foot clucker are obvious in retrospect, and forty-four years of shilling for booze are easily swept under the henhouse, especially with the aid of a fiberglass restoration and spiffy new paint job by Bob Connell of Nick’s Auto Body

Wright's big rooster, photographed November 6, 2004.

Wright’s big rooster, November 2004.

A second giant rooster once stood in a prominent spot at Wright’s Farm Restaurant in Burrillville. A comparison of photos shows that Sollitto’s and Wright’s roosters appear to have hatched from the very same clutch of fiberglass eggs. If not brothers, they are at least close cousins. Wright’s rooster can still be seen, but it’s somewhat hidden on the roof of a shed at the back of the restaurant complex.

Are two big roosters enough for the Biggest Little? No, there was a third that used to hang out at Kiddie Land at Rocky Point Park in Warwick. It was purchased at auction by Chris Gasbarro of Gasbarro Liquors who, in 2007, donated it the Tomorrow Fund, which refurbished it and auctioned it off at their annual fundraiser on November 3, 2007. Its whereabouts are currently unknown.

All three roosters were likely manufactured by International Fiberglass of Venice, California, in the 1960s. According to Wikipedia, “boatbuilder Steve Dashew established International Fiberglass in 1963 by purchasing and renaming Bob Prewitt’s workshop, Prewitt Fiberglass. The oversized fiberglass men, women and dinosaurs began as a sideline. Increases in costs to deliver the lightweight but oversized figures proved problematic and business declined with the 1973 oil crisis. International Fiberglass was sold and closed permanently in 1976. The moulds for the figures, originally worth thousands of dollars each, were not retained and are now lost.”

Sollitto's questionable color scheme, photographed January 26, 2008.

Sollitto’s questionable color scheme, January 2008.

You may well wonder, given their residence in Rhode Island, if these statues are of the famed Rhode Island Red breed of chicken. They are not. In fact, try as we might to find a picture online of a living rooster with a white body and a red tail, we came up empty handed. Perhaps, and this is just a guess, the paint scheme for both roosters was informed by depictions of the Warner Brothers cartoon character Foghorn Leghorn. The 2008 version of the rooster at Sollitto’s bore a green wattle and legs. You can’t tell us that ever occurs in nature. In any case, these fiberglass roosters are found all over the country, and given that they’ve probably been painted many times since their manufacture, they share remarkably similar color schemes. See Debra Jane Seltzer’s page of Giant Roosters, Chickens and Turkeys for more compare and contrast fun.


Cost: Free

Time required: Allow one minute to gawk, more if you’re shopping for dinner

Hours: During business hours

Finding it: From Route 95 take exit 21 to Atwells Avenue. Go under the pinecone arch and turn right onto Dean Street. Turn left onto Spruce Street. Park. Antonelli’s is located in De Pasquale Plaza, a small pedestrian plaza on the left.

Other Big Things in Rhode Island

  • Big Blue Bug
  • Big Coffee Mug
  • Big Handtruck
  • Big Ice Cream Cone, Lakewood Ice Cream, 140-152 Chambly Avenue, Warwick
  • Big Milk Can
  • Big Paint Can, True Value Hardware, Route 44, Greenville, Smithfield
  • Big Rosary Beads, Jesus Savior Church, 509 Broadway, Newport

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Grave of Pookie   2 comments

She was a grand old girl, aged 77 in dog years.

She was a grand old girl, aged 77 in dog years.

Lucky dog.
837 Wapping Road, Portsmouth

“If there are no dogs in Heaven,
then when I die I want to go where they went.”
—Will Rogers

Ambrose Burnside. Stephen Hopkins. Richard Morris Hunt. Sissieretta Jones. Ida Lewis. H.P. Lovecraft. Metacomet. Elizabeth Alden Pabodie. Raymond Patriarca. Claiborne Pell. Matthew Perry. Oliver Hazard Perry. Anthony Quinn. Sunny von Bulow. Roger Williams.

You should know these names. They’re all famous, or were in their day. And to varying degrees, their fame shines on beyond their deaths. Apart from their notoriety they all have something else in common: whether they were politicians, actors, writers, singers, mob bosses, generals, Pilgrim offspring, architects, lighthouse keepers, Indian chiefs, or religious leaders—one and all, their mortal remains enrich the soil of Rhode Island.

And let it not be said that “royalty” shuns Rhode Island as a fitting place for eternal rest, for Pookie Windsor also sleeps her everlasting sleep beneath the comforting dirt blankets of the Ocean State.

You say you’ve never heard of her majesty, Pookie Windsor? Well, let me fill you in.

This photo, from Edward the Uncrowned King by Christopher Hibbert (1972), is captioned "The summer of 1934... Wallis Simpson and Pookie," but that can't be correct. Either the dog is Slipper, or the date is wrong.

This photo, from Edward the Uncrowned King by Christopher Hibbert (1972), is captioned “The summer of 1934… Wallis Simpson and Pookie,” but that can’t be correct. Either the dog is Slipper, or the date is wrong. Photo by Edward Windsor.

Pookie was the pet of the former King Edward VIII of England and his paramour, American divorcee Wallis Simpson—the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. The couple began collecting dogs in 1934, and they brought them everywhere they went. Armchair psychologists speculate the dogs served as surrogate children, as the Windsors never had any human children of their own.

For the first several years of their marriage cairn terriers were the Windsor’s breed of choice. The first was a male brindled gray named Slipper, a present from Edward to Wallis at Christmas, 1934. Never properly house broken, Slipper was given the nickname Mr. Loo. Sadly, he was fatally bitten by a viper in Cande, France, in April 1937. Pookie, a cream colored female cairn terrier from Austria was added to the family next, followed by Detto, another male brindled gray, and Prisie (short for Surprise), a female brindled cream, both born in England. In the early 1950s the Windsors phased out terriers and switched to pugs.

Cairn terriers are so-named because they were used in the Scottish highlands to keep down vermin. The small, agile dogs were adept at searching cairns (man-made stone piles) and other tight spaces for rats and other rodents.

"Detto, Prisie and Pookie play with the Duke in the Hall. One of Detto's legs was broken recently when a taxi ran over him." From "Life Goes Calling on the Duke and Duchess of Windsor," Life Magazine, July 10, 1939.

“Detto, Prisie and Pookie play with the Duke in the Hall. One of Detto’s legs was broken recently when a taxi ran over him.” From “Life Goes Calling on the Duke and Duchess of Windsor,” Life Magazine, July 10, 1939. Photo by William Vandivert.

None of the couple’s pets were ever completely house trained, and servants were kept busy cleaning up after them. Anne Sebba, in her book That Woman: The Life of Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor, reported an example of how the dogs were spoiled and indulged: They “were often literally spoon-fed from silver bowls by the Duke or Duchess meals that had been especially prepared for them.”

And from The Duchess of Windsor: The Uncommon Life of Wallis Simpson by Greg King:

Wallis could not stand wrinkles in her bed… Once the bed was made, a plastic sheet was spread atop the satin eiderdown so that the pugs could climb onto the bed with Wallis; there she would feed them the hand-baked dog biscuits prepared fresh each day by her chef. Usually the pugs slept on the bed with her, although the Duke’s favorite might disappear through the boudoir to his own spot at the foot of his master’s bed.

It was an embarrassment to the Royal Family for a former monarch to be married to a twice-divorced woman, so the Duke and Duchess were essentially exiled from England. They lived for the most part in France, but traveled extensively, Newport being one of their frequent stops.

The Newport Daily News reported on one of their Newport visits in its society pages on September 17, 1943:

The Duke and Duchess of Windsor, here for a weekend visit with friends, made their only public appearance today when the former King Edward VIII took a special review of Naval Training Station personnel at the Station at 11 o’clock this morning.

The Training Station display, which was marked by a large turnout, was highlight of a series of private entertainments that have been under way since the arrival of the Duke and Duchess late Saturday afternoon from Boston, to be house guests of Mrs. Duncan Douglas at ‘Cairngorm Lodge’ on Bellevue Avenue.

The Duke and Duchess, according to present plans, will leave Tuesday for Providence, where they take a train for stops in New York and Washington before he returns to his post as governor general in Nassau. Tonight they will be dinner guests of Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt at ‘Beaulieu.’

Another Newport visit was noted in the Milwaukee Journal‘s society pages on August 5, 1945:

The event of the season was the arrival of the former king of England and the woman he loves, the duke and the duchess of Windsor. Aside from the formal dinners and dances in the evenings, the duke and his attractive duchess are having an informal holiday. He plays golf every day at the country club and she strolls on the avenue, shopping or walking along the cliffs and stopping in at Bailey’s Beach.

They probably will sail for England Aug. 6. Already many of their belongings have been shipped ahead. Conservative Newport citizens say they will be glad to see them go. For them the Windsors seem not to belong and royalty be darned.

Admittedly, anyone not born in Newport is a carpetbagger and remains an outsider until at least a quarter century of rather rugged residence.

A third visit was detailed in the pages of Newport Daily News the weekend of November 26, 1947. The Windors once more indulged in round after round of luncheons, teas, and dinners, including Thanksgiving dinner at Fairholme, the Newport mansion of their friends, the Robert R. Youngs.

It must have been on one of these visits in 1952 (unfortunately, not reported) that Pookie, by then almost sixteen years old, died. The Windsors decided to inter the pup at one of New England’s first pet cemeteries, located at Potts Canine Country Boarding Kennel in Portsmouth. The first burial took place there in 1938, and as of 1991 it was estimated that more that one thousand beloved companions had been laid to rest on the property. Only a relative handful of these are marked, Pookie’s grave being one.

It’s not known if the Windsors were visiting Newport at the time of Pookie’s death, or were merely in the area, or were passing through. We heard rumors that the pooch passed away while on a “cruise.” Also, that the Windsors visited the grave at least once in later years.

Pookie’s simple white marble stone is about midway along the front wall of the property.

AUGUST 16TH, 1936
APRIL 12TH, 1952

Pookie died just around the time that the Windsors switched their canine loyalties from cairn terriers to pugs. But that’s just a coincidence, right?

Be that as it may, Edward passed away in 1972 and Wallis followed in 1986. They are buried together in the Royal Burial Ground at Frogmore, Berkshire, England, a somewhat grander resting place than Pookie’s quiet country plot in the colonies.

The property at 837 Wapping Road in 2005, and again in 2013.

The property at 837 Wapping Road in 2005, and again in 2013.

Potts Canine Country Boarding Kennel became Bow Wow Villa when it merged with a pet grooming salon called Bow Wow House in the 1970s. The grooming business then spun back off in the late 1980s, becoming Perry’s Plush Pooch at another location. The Bow Wow Villa property was purchased by the Newport National Golf Club, and leased to K9 Instincts Dog Training and Kennel. Then in the early 2010s K9 Instincts moved to another location, leaving the property abandoned and overgrown. As of late 2013, the golf course’s plans for the property are unknown.

Slipper's grave. Date, source, unknown.

Slipper’s grave. Date, source, unknown.

Pookie’s is not the only Windsor dog grave left in the world. Slipper was buried, probably, near the Cande, France, chateau where he died, as evidenced by an undated photo. The remains of Prisie (1938-1949) reside at Chateau de la Croë, a villa on the French Riviera that the Windsors once leased. And several of the couple’s pugs are buried on the grounds of Le Moulin de la Tuilerie, in Gif-sur-Yvette, Essonne, France, although the grave markers (somewhat worse for neglect) have been moved to a corner by a garden fence. Le Moulin (The Mill) was purchased by the Windsors in 1952, and is now a sort of upscale vacation rental.


Cost: free

Time required: allow 10 minutes for silent contemplation of the fleeting nature of canine existence.

Remember, this is a cemetery. Please be respectful.

Finding it: from Route 195 take exit 8 in Fall River, Massachusetts, to Route 24 toward Tiverton. Travel about nine miles and take the exit toward Middletown/Newport Beaches, merging onto Turnpike Avenue. After 7/10ths of a mile bear right onto Route 138 south (East Main Road). Go 3.5 miles and turn left onto Sandy Point Avenue, then turn right on Wapping Road. Go 1.6 miles to #837. Pookie’s grave is next to the stone wall beside the road.

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