2009-01-08 / The Walrus Says

The Walrus Says

By Jim Munro

The query about Westall's brought replies from ice cream lovers and more stories about the telephone company.

Shirley Hull said that Westall's was where Chopmist Charlie's is today. She related that when you went to the barber shop in the Hunt Block to get your Dutch haircut, the barber, Pete, would give you a nickle to buy ice cream at Westall's. She added that there was a small building where fireworks were sold between Westall's and the old post office.

Lenore MacLeish, who now lives in Philadelphia and grew up on the island and still thinks of it as home, wrote, "In my childhood days in Jamestown, Westall's Ice Cream Shop was on the north side of Narragansett Avenue between the telephone office and the post office. One day my mother picked up the phone and gave the operator the number of Wharton Shipyard. The operator said, 'Mrs. MacLeish, are you trying to call Charlie Wharton?' My mother said she was and the operator said, 'He just drove up the street towards the post office. When I see him driving back, I'll give him enough time to get to the shipyard and then I'll put you through.' The post offi ce was where it is now located at what we used to call Four Corners back in the day, and it was, obviously, before dial phones."

Patty Vandal remembers Westall's and wrote, "Another telephone operator's story. My mother called my father at his offi ce at school. The operator said, 'He's not there, Mrs. Miller. I just saw him drive by.' You've got to love a small town."

Jim Pemantell wrote, "Westall's was where Chopmist Charlie's is and they also had a store in North Kingstown that was in the area of where the parking lot is south of Heffie's. Both had the best ice cream around. And, next door to Westall's in Jamestown there was a very small building that sold, believe it or not, fireworks."

Laurie Sheehan said, "I can remember using the phone after school and the operator saying, 'Does your mom know you're on the phone, because I think she is still at work.' Not much you could get away with back then."

And, from Mary Webster, "Westall's ice cream was in the building now called Chopmist Charlie's. It was a one-story bulding then. It also was the location of the Islander restaurant. When it was Westall's, I remember that there was a large square grate in the floor in front of the counter with the cash register. The grate served two purposes: it dispursed hot air from the furnace, and, it caught change that people dropped, but could not retrieve. I suspect it was taken up once a year for cleaning at the end of the heating season and for collecting the loose change.

"The former location of Baker's Pharmacy (now home of The Chemical Company) was a small grocery store owned by Mr. Pinto and his two sons. The Pinto store had previously been located on the corner of Green Lane and Narragansett across from the Narragansett Cafe. This store location was later occupied by Mr. Santos who moved his grocery store from Southwest Avenue. Mr. Pinto had tubs of penny candy by the door below the cash register. One would stock up on candy there and take it across the street to the Bomes Theater where admission to the Saturday matinee double feature was 25 cents."

Thanks, guys!

There was also a Westall's on The Point in Newport. They were all owned by Jamestowner Charles Westall and going to one of his places was a special treat. My favorite was orange ice.

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Mary Webster asks, "Where was Mr. Barker's homemade sausage sold?"

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........I'll tell the world I love you....

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Congratulations to islander John Stanford and former Jamestowner Mark Munro on the discovery of the 125-foot sailing bark Trajan that sank outside Newport Harbor in 1867. The two wreck divers and maritime historians found the remains of the ship in 30 feet of water.

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Several Jamestowners were named to Southern Rhode Island Newspapers Fall Sports All-Area Teams: Ryan Morris and Brian McDevitt, football; Meghan Greene, Victoria Dolce and Hannah Farrelly, field hockey; and Julie Maguire who was named field hockey coach of the year, all at North Kingstown High School.

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Well, it was a long time coming, but the Ocean State is finally number one nationally. The New York Times reports that in a survey of state house reporters nationwide, Rhode Island was voted tops in government corruption followed by Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Delaware.

But, as the paper points out, there are other means of measuring wrong doing. In a Department of Justice tally covering the last decade, our state drops to 49th in the number of guilty officials. Leading the list is Florida but there is no adjustment in the study for population so the larger states will pile up the numbers.

In a survey of convictions per million residents per year, Rhode Island rates 34th. The District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands top this one.

So, after all is said and done, our number one ranking is pretty shaky. But, let's enjoy the limelight, number one is number one and it's better than always being compared in size to some other state's county.

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A Snapple cap moment: The first sport to be filmed was boxing in 1894.

*** Stay true!

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