2013-07-18 / News

Good stories needed for ferryboat project

By Tim Riel


Archie Clark (left) and his date Kathy Matoes aboard the Jamestown ferryboat in 1968 on the way to the prom on Aquidneck Island. He was joined by Joe Ford and his date Claudia Williams. 
Photo courtesy of archie clark Archie Clark (left) and his date Kathy Matoes aboard the Jamestown ferryboat in 1968 on the way to the prom on Aquidneck Island. He was joined by Joe Ford and his date Claudia Williams. Photo courtesy of archie clark A few more good stories, some pictures of students, and a little bit of film is what organizers of the ferry project need to complete the task they began earlier this year.

Bob Sutton, who spearheaded the project, says he has already conducted more than 40 interviews.

He would like a few more. Sutton is looking for Jamestown residents who took the ferry across the East Passage to high school. The transportation system ran from 1896 to 1969. From his interviews, he wants to create both an audio and video history of student life aboard the ferryboat. Sutton says it’s special because it’s unique to Jamestown.

“I’ve already heard so many good stories, and I know there are more out there,” said Sutton, who is trying to be as flexible as possible with interviews. He has already interviewed residents in their homes, at Town Hall and at the senior center, in the morning, afternoon and night. “It doesn’t matter when or where. We can make arrangements.”

Sutton has set a deadline for Thursday, Aug. 1. He says he already has a boatload of stories for the project, but doesn’t want to miss out on any. That’s why he has extended another invitation to the older generation who may want to reminisce of the ferry days.

Along with the stories, Sutton is also searching for photos and videos of the era. He says photos should be of students on the ferry, walking to the ferry, or walking to school or home after being dropped off.

“I don’t want students sitting in classrooms in Rogers,” he said. “I want the ferry to be part of the pictures.”

As for the video, Sutton can’t be so picky. In the early to mid 20th century, videography wasn’t exactly as its peak, and he understands that. What Sutton is looking for is video – even if just five seconds long – of the ferry leaving or docking, with or without students. He would like some B-roll to incorporate into the video chronicle.

After he finishes the interviews in August, Sutton plans to transcribe the basic information– name, age, school, years – and type up a written account. The stories from the interviews, which Sutton records, will be broken down and put on a flash drive. The library and historical society will have a copy of the audio history for residents to enjoy.

The video phase will begin this fall but is expected to take the longest. He hopes to call back residents with the most exciting stories and let them tell it on camera. The video will be enriched by the videos and pictures he collects.

While the response has been better than expected, Sutton says it hasn’t left him satisfied, only hungry for more. “I want to hear every story,” he said. “It was a very unique time. It’s interesting to a lot of people.”

Anyone who has video or pictures, or wants to schedule an interview, should call Sutton at 423-0910. Since Sutton and his wife manage the Jamestown Community Farm, he said just leave a message because they could be out in the fields.

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