Stagger Lee and Dicky Cee

By Bruce Mastracchio

We came of age in the 1950s. Most of our crowd were either 13 or 14 when a dark-haired, swivel-hipped, guitar-playing young man from Tupelo, Mississippi, came before us in all his gyrating, soul-singing glory. Elvis had arrived just in the nick of time. For music, and for us.

A movie came out called Rock Around the Clock, with Bill Haley and the Comets.

Rock n’ roll was born. It was revolutionary and exciting, but disgusting to adults. We were there for its birth. For us, it was a wonderful time.

The girls got into it first. My two sisters, Karen and Gail, and their two “sisters” Elaine and Linda, were the best at the new dance steps and, as they used to practice at our house, I was often brought in as a “partner.”

It was thus I started to learn the intricate steps of the new rock n’ roll dance, the jitterbug.

I actually practiced a lot, with a broom, and basically became the first boy in our crowd to do the fancy steps and moves of this new dance craze that was sweeping the country.

Father Joe, with help from some of the parish men, had already built a teen center in place at a renovated horse barn just behind the old Our Lady of Mercy Church on Main Street. It had a big, shiny, new dance floor and a jukebox. We were in like Flynn! We would get the jukebox going and practice our moves all over the floor.

Soon, Benny, Joey, Vinny and the other guys were coming to our sessions and learning how to dance the new dances.

Besides the jitterbug, we soon had the Stroll, the Mashed Potato, the Pony and the Twist added to our repertoire.

We also found it was a good way to pick up girls. Guys who could dance were in demand. They were also in short supply, so they had their pick of the “chicks.”

Not long after that there came a show on television that would change our teenage lives forever. A young disc jockey by the name of Dick Clark started a show in Philadelphia called American Bandstand.

Shortly after we would know it on a more intimate basis, and for a lot of teens, especially the girls, it would become a daily religious experience. For some of us, we would meet it up close and personal. We would never be the same again.

The night was clear
And the moon was yellow
And the leaves came tumbling down
I was standing on the corner
When I heard my bulldog bark
He was barkin’ at the two men who were gamblin’
In the dark
It was Stagger Lee and Billy
Two men who gambled late
Stagger Lee threw seven
Billy swore that he threw eight

I will remember that song forever. Good old Stagger Lee set up another life-changing experience for me. Here is why.

A couple of years after we had started in with that new rock n’ roll dance craze, Father Joe decided to have a money-raising dance for the CYO at the fairly new Our Lady of Mercy School auditorium. He also announced that he would hold some dance contests, and that the winners would get a week in Philadelphia and appear on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand television show.

It was exciting just thinking about it.

I could see no way that my sister Karen wouldn’t win. She was paired up with Joey M., Linda paired up with Benny, and Elaine was my partner.

The song we got to dance to was “Stagger Lee,” sung by Lloyd Price. Elaine and I had practiced a routine that we could do with our eyes closed. Fifty years later, we could still do that dance. We wowed the judges that night, and at the end, Karen and Joe, Linda and Benny, and Elaine and I had all won our way for the trip to American Bandstand!

The trip came the next spring. We all piled into Father Joe’s station wagon for the trip to Philly.

It was exciting. We got there on a weekend and did the obligatory sightseeing. We saw the Liberty Bell, crack and all; Freedom Hall; a statue of Ben Franklin; the Main Line, and a host of other sights. There was no Rocky statue back then, so naturally we didn’t see that.

Monday morning came fast. We got down to the studio and there were three lines of kids already in place. One was for guests to the show, like us. One for kids who were just trying to get in for that day, and one for the “regulars,” the semi-stars of the show who were there day in and day out and who had become national celebrities in their own right.

As we looked over, though, we were startled by an unbelievable sight. The “regulars” were putting on lipstick and powder! Not just the girls, but the boys, also! We boys were shocked! We had never seen such a thing. Though we later learned that the makeup made them look better for the TV cameras, it made little difference. It would color our perception of American Bandstand forever.

We also found out you didn’t need all that makeup to stand out.

We were representing the Our Lady of Mercy CYO and we were scheduled to give Dick Clark an award right there on national television! Imagine that. Regular kids from little old EG, the greatest little town in the center of the greatest little state, in the greatest country in the world, right up there on the national stage for the whole country to see! It was going to be “outstanding” as they used to say in the Corps.

But, we hadn’t counted on Elaine – forever to be known as the infatuated swooner and traitor – but I rush myself.

We had watched American Bandstand religiously, especially the girls. The guys didn’t watch it as much because it came on in the afternoon when we were at practice. But, we did get to see it occasionally, and we were impressed.

However, once we entered this American shrine, things were not what they had seemed.

Basketball bleachers were on the left. The dance floor, which looked huge on TV, was quite small. The records, on the wall, behind Dick Clark’s podium, had writing and scratches on them. There were three cameras to the right side by side with a red line in front of them. On the fourth side was a curtain.

On top of that, the Philly kids were not friendly and, once the music started, there was an all-out rush to get in front of the cameras. Pushing, shoving, kicking were all part of it. We guys almost got into a couple of fights and Benny was even trying to get a rumble started with some of the regulars after the show. Unreal!

But, there is a sidebar to this story. My mother, God rest her soul, wanted to see her kids on TV. She worked in Providence as a telephone operator. Somehow, she got her boss to let her off a bit early so she could see her kids on national TV, but the only place with a TV was a nearby bar. My mother didn’t smoke or drink.

So here she goes. A 47-year-old woman, into a bar. She orders a soda and sweetly asks the bartender if he would put American Bandstand on the TV so she could watch her kids dancing up a storm in front of a national audience.

She repeated that action all week.

She later told us that we could be seen no matter where we were because we were taller than most of the kids on the show. We didn’t know that as we kicked and clawed to get ourselves seen by America.

Now back to the “swooner.” On the third day we were scheduled to present our CYO Award to Dick Clark. We got to the lines with the plaque and were excited for a lot of reasons. It was Elaine’s birthday, so besides getting the spotlight as we presented Dick Clark with our award, Elaine and I would be in the “Spotlight Dance.” Just she and her partner, alone on the stage in front of the whole world.

Guess who her partner was? Me! I was excited!

But as someone once said, “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.”

“The best laid plans of mice and men, do oft go astray.” Either way, I didn’t know it, but I was doomed.

Elaine was so overcome with excitement and emotion that she passed out in the line. They had to call the rescue squad and cart her off to the hospital.

In the excitement, the plaque was put down as we tended to Elaine. In the confusion, it got lost.

The remaining five of us entered the show, but, besides concern, we were also uncertain as to what was going to happen. We did manage to get word to Dick Clark about Elaine and the plaque. Then we settled down to have as good a time as possible, under the circumstances.

Lo and behold, midway through the show, Elaine returned from the hospital. She had just been overcome by excitement, was calmed down and was fine.

Then Dick Clark announced that he had received a plaque from a CYO group in Rhode Island and he held up “our” plaque and thanked the group that had brought it.

Apparently, one of the AB crew had picked the plaque up outside and brought it to Mr. Clark. The cameras were supposed to have panned us, seeing as we didn’t get “our moment in the sun,” but apparently they missed us on the pan.

Then Dick announced that one of the Rhode Island group had a birthday and he called Elaine down. He gave her a brief interview and then asked her who she would like to dance with in the “Birthday Spotlight.” I was starting to make my way down to the floor when she said, “I want to dance with Dennis.”

I was stunned! We had worked so hard to be here. It was going to be our moment to shine in the national spotlight – two kids from EG – and she picked one of the “regulars,” her secret heartthrob, one of those rouge-wearing, lip-stick smacking, midget dweebs from the show! We were all stunned.

The music started and she got her spot on national TV. She and Dennis. I will never forgive her for that.

But, like all things, this too passed. All in all we had a good time. I think it was the first time any of us had ever stayed in a hotel. Though the AB studio was a bit of a letdown, it taught us a lesson that things are not always what they seem. Dick Clark was, though. He was every bit as advertised, witty and funny with personal charisma. We thought he would go far and he did, though he fell victim to his stardom and had a facelift that didn’t fit.

I learned a lot on that trip. It was a good time and a good learning experience. Though I knew that I would always remember that trip, once I got back to EG, I never watched American Bandstand again. Not once. Not ever.

Of course, life goes on. I am older and right now can barely walk, nevermind dance. If I can’t get back to it, it will be something I will miss. Music and dance have always been a big part of my life. Music is my life, not my livelihood, and sometimes I have to dance to keep from crying.

But, as I always have, I will adjust, like I always have – no matter what – and the tunes will continue to reverberate through my head.

Stagger Lee told Billy, “I can’t let you go with that. You have won all my money and my brand new Stetson hat.”

Stagger Lee went home, and he got his .44 …

He said, “I am going to the barroom just to pay that debt I owe.”

Go Stagger Lee!

“Stagger Lee,” said Billy, “Oh, please don’t take my life. I’ve got three hungry children and a very sickly wife.”

Stagger Lee shot Billy, oh he shot that poor boy so hard, ‘til the bullet went through Billy and it broke the bartender’s glass.

And now I dance into the sunset, with love. Hope you enjoyed this story. As I typed it out I had Channel 924 on the TV, the Solid Gold Oldies channel.

The tunes were all there while I typed to keep from crying. And the last song they played was “Stagger Lee.”


Bruce Mastracchio weaves experiences of his youth into gold and EG News is privileged to run his pieces on an occasional basis. If you like what you read, search Bruce’s name using the magnifying glass search icon in the top right corner of the website. You will find plenty of amazing tales from “the greatest little town in the center of the greatest little state, in the greatest country in the world.”

Springtime and Baseball!

A few ballplayers from the OLM team, circa 1954.

By Bruce Mastracchio

A big part of growing up in old East Greenwich – we played baseball a lot. Not as much as we played basketball, which we played year round, but a lot more than football, which we reserved for the fall (except for Muckleball).

As soon as Spring sprung we were outside for baseball. We played regular baseball. We played special games like stickball, streetball, stoop ball, hit the bat, rotation and relievio.

We made our own balls of paper and tape and played in small, backyard ‘parks’ where a 90 foot “smash” could be a home run. Some of us played it in garages, where hitting a hung up garbage can cover was a double and our bats were broomsticks and axe handles.

The main point is that we played. Each neighborhood had its team, and, thanks to Butch, who was a real organizer, we formed the Dedford League.

This trip down The Lane is dedicated to those teams, both “Above and Below the Hill,” the ScallopTown Raiders, Marlborough Street Marauders, South Marlborough Crusaders, Dedford Street Lions, Rector Street Jack Rabbits and the Hamilton Rip Shirts. And, of course, to Butch (Raymond ” Butch ” Moffitt), for all his work.


I can’t remember a day of my youth when I was not involved in some game, either with other like-minded guys, or working on skills against the barn behind my home. After school, on weekends, on vacations. If you drove around EG back then you’d see a bunch of kids on at least one, and maybe all, of the fields in town engaged in some form of athletic activity.

The author tags out an opponent.

NO adults. NO real organization. It was the late ‘40s and early ‘50s. Little League did not reach us until 1953.

Without adults it was a heck of a lot of fun. One neighborhood would challenge another, set up a date, time and place, and the game was on.

ScallopTown played their games on a cinder field next to the lumber yard. It is a site for boat storage now, right across from the EG Yacht Club. Dedford Street used the Quaker Lot, which now serves a parking lot for the EG School Department. The Rip Shirts used Proulx Field on Route 2 (complete with cow flop bases). Marlborough Street used Eldredge, The Crusaders used OLM Field and the Jack Rabbits used Academy Field.

Though it was loose knit, we took our games seriously. Then Butch came on the scene. Slightly older than the rest of us, he captained the Dedford Street bunch to which I belonged. We were a Spanky and Our Gang conglomeration, which did a lot of Spanky-type activities together.

Author Bruce Mastracchio’s Little League picture at age 12, when he played for the Volunteers, sponsored by the EG Fire District.

Butch, with his myriad of ideas, brought some order to the loose-knit league. He was sought of the precursor to Little League. He had us get matching sweatshirts, which with the use of markers, crayons and paint, were transformed into Dedford Street Lion uniforms.

He drew up schedules and made cardboard scoreboards. He kept statistics. He arranged games with other neighborhoods. He coached and assigned us to our positions. He kept league standings.

Butch was a manager, promoter, statistician and player all rolled into one.

I suppose, if they had let him, he would have reported our scores to the newspaper. He may have even tried that, but, of course, they were really not interested in our kid games. (Funny though, a few years later, our Little League games were well covered complete with 8×10 glossy pictures pasted up in store windows in town).

It was a Charlie Brown existence before that bald-head ever set foot on the scene. We even had girls on our teams, in baseball anyway. I guess, you could say, we got a jump on women’s lib.

For our Dedford Lions, home park was The Quaker Lot. Left field had a wire fence and was quite a poke, maybe 370 feet or more. Right field was bounded by a stone wall, and was a short stroke of 180 feet or so, which prompted many of us, and our opponents, to bat left-handed so that we might launch one “outta there”!

We played game after game, and, if we weren’t going against another team, we split up and played against ourselves. If we didn’t have enough players we would play Rotation or Rollo or Hit the Bat.

There was nothing we wouldn’t try and in those lazy, hazy times the days were long and our lives seemed like they were going to last forever (I constantly use the saying, which I coined of, “28 hour days and 8 day weeks”).

If we only knew!

As the Whittakers once said, “Nostalgia is like an anesthetic; you experience NO pain, only a beautiful haze. When you grow older, what matters is not the way it was, BUT the way you remember it ! “

Another great tag out.

Remember, old friend, our kid games? How we whiled away the hours with World Series baseball, in your garage on Duke Street? The can cover was a double, and you were always the hated Yankees, while I, the Red Sox, who played from 1920 to 1958, all on the same team.

The pitcher had to duck behind a plywood screen, or lose his head when Mantle or Williams “tagged” one for a homer.

OUR Louisville Slugger was an axe handle pilfered from a father’s work truck, and we played by the hour, never really settling which team was best, though we were always sure which one really was, deep in the tabernacles of our soul.

Remember how people passing by would laugh at us in our bliss, or, maybe even smile, but have their memories jogged back to other years, another time, when they were us!

Writer’s Note: There you have it. Another tale from “Old EG,” the place of those 28 hour days and 8 day weeks! How we wish we could have them back. Please, pretty please. I would not trade one of those days for 10 days of the present or ALL the tea in China (can you even say that now?).

So to all of you out there who experienced, or know, or understand. May God bless you all and may you have your dreams. With all the love I can muster and In the Spirit of Crazy Horse (you have to read the book).

(Photographs courtesy of the author.)

 

Our Father Who Art In EG

The original Our Lady of Mercy church was on Main Street.

By Bruce Mastracchio

Growing up Catholic is quite an experience at any rate. I make fun of my Episcopal friends and friends of other religious persuasions, along with my Catholic experiences, but, when you really study it, growing up on the knee of Mother Church is an experience beyond experiences. If she gets you before age seven, she has you for life. Even if you quit going to Mass it seems that something from those Catechism days pops up in your life again and again.

Most Catholics who have varying opinions of this experience, do, though, have one thing in common. They usually hold a mental picture, or a real one, of their favorite priest. Usually it is someone like Bing Crosby in “Going My Way” or Spencer Tracy in “Boys Town.”

Recently, though, the Church and its priests have come under attack and the memories of current day Catholics and some from parishes with a darker side in their past, may not be so good. They should have let priests marry and that would have gone part way to solving some of the problems. That subject gave root to one of my greatest lines and will be revisited later in this piece.

We were lucky in East Greenwich in those mockingbird years of the mid-fifties. We had Father Joe and The Barn!

Neither will ever be forgotten, even though they are now gone from our midst, but not our minds or memories. They will always have an apartment there to be visited from time to time. The visits will always be good.

This column is dedicated to The Barn Gang: To Lu and Flute, Deacon and Bubba Joe, Big Hop & Lil’ Hop, Young Gun and Bird and especially to Karen & Gail, Linda, Elaine, Claire and Sandy, so that they may never forget. . . . 

Father Joe came on the scene in 1955. He was your not so typical, typical Irish-Catholic priest, stepping in at over 6 feet and 260 lbs. He was imposing, to say the least, and had an impact immediately, if not sooner. He got our attention and he got it fast. He also gave us memories. Memories that still last.

There are all kinds of priests. In those days, it seemed, most of them were content to do their jobs. Some were overly religious. Some were more like regular guys. Some were teetotalers. Some liked their booze, uh, holy wine. And some were bean counters. Most stuck to the dogma of our religion, and those bothered me the most. They would stick by the book. Even when the book was wrong.

In general, they were all looked at as stern, unbending, and not really in touch with the people. Especially, the pastors.

When Father Joe came on the scene all that changed. He touched our lives, and us, in more ways then one. But, NO, not THAT one!

He was a People’s Priest, the likes of which we have not seen since.

The Mass became his particular vehicle. We had never seen a priest stop in the middle of the mystical Latin service and threaten parishioners who were trying to leave Mass early so they could get a head start on the coffee and donuts down at the local cafe, or get early tee time at their country club.

He also left the pulpit and roamed the aisles giving us the gospel, or what for, or whatever, or whatever was needed. A little of that old, good-time, roll up your sleeves religion.

He seemed to be everywhere. He showed up at people’s houses to visit the sick, or just visit, or maybe to sample some of Mom’s coffee and apple pie. He came to the ball games and even played softball in the local town league. He went to wakes and funerals and dinners. You might look up from reading a magazine at the local variety store, and he’s be standing there. He was everywhere. That magazine had better have been about sports or Norman Rockwell or else!

It was awesome as kids to watch him play softball, He played for OLM in the local league. To some of the parishioners, this was sacrilegious. But we kids loved it. We had never seen a Catholic priest play softball before, and this guy not only played, he knocked the stuffing out of the ball.

Ironically, many of his home runs landed across the street outside the ballpark and ended up in the Protestant cemetery. One time, in winning a bet from us kids, he  got down on his knees at the Little League Park and knocked balls over the flagpole.

Sort of ” praying home runs ” so to speak.

He was a hands on priest, even if that meant putting hands on Deacon and TabCat, who had the audacity (and stupidity) to get into a fistfight during the middle of our CYO meeting one Monday evening.

He rolled up his sleeves and gave us a practical look at religion. One we have never seen, before or since. Whether it was a physical lesson, like the one Deacon and TabCat got, or a practical one in the form of a lecture, or just an old fashioned talk, Father Joe usually got the job done and in a way that stuck in your mind, your soul or your body!

“Don’t get the Big Guy mad” sort of became our password.

Yet, we knew he cared. In more ways than one. Today, when priests go on vacation, be it normal or the “collars off” type, they usually go alone, with another priest or with family, or maybe someone else. When Father Joe went, he took us!

He had a farmhouse at his disposal in New Hampshire near Echo Lake. He would fill his station wagon with gas and food, and then with the altar boys, basketball team or the baseball team. Then off we’d go for a week of fun at a place that was like our own private camp.

As I said the farm was near Echo Lake, The Flume, The Tramway and the Old Man in the Mountain at Franconia Notch. We had a ball and those trips made an indelible impression on many a boy, most of whom had never been out of East Greenwich, never mind Rhode Island.

We had apple fights, milked cows, dared one another to touch the electric fence, swam in freezing cold lakes, met the tenants, who were Hungarian Freedom Fighters who had stared down and shot at the Russians, and at night rolled up in our blankets and sleeping bags filled with a day of adventure and happenings. We slept well and hard.

We lived more of this life that we had come to know and love. It was idyllic. It was fulfilling. It opened our eyes to other ways.

One time Father Joe took six of us down to Philadelphia to appear on American Bandstand with Dick Clark. We had won dance contests at the church-sponsored dance and the trip was our prize. It was his treat to us for winning. We saw things that, once again, were new to us. Guys putting on rouge and lipstick so they would look better on TV. How different the real thing was to what we saw on TV. Grafitti on the records you saw behind Dick Clark’s podium on the show. The smallness of the set.

But, we were up close and personal with Dick Clark. We danced our time away. We had a hell of a time, thanks to a heaven of a priest.

Still, the best thing Father Joe gave us, aside from the present of himself and his time, was The Barn!

It was just an old horse barn located behind OLM when that church was on Main Street. If it were here today it would be approximately where Back to Basics is.

Word had it that the local teenagers needed a place to go in East G. A place to occupy them and keep them off the streets.

Father Joe had an idea and he got John and Jerry and Joe and a bunch of the male parishioners to turn that idea into a reality. The men donated time, tools and physical effort and they made a priest’s vision come to life!

For us it was our own magical, mystical, mystery show.

What had once been an old horse and buggy barn got converted, just like water to wine, from a dusty, cluttered, unused edifice into The Barn, a monument in our memory

What had once been an old horse and buggy barn got converted, just like water to wine, from a dusty, cluttered, unused edifice into The Barn, a monument in our memory!

After the workmen were done with it (all volunteer labor), it held a dance floor with jukebox, a card playing area, a ping pong room, a pool room, a games room and a TV room. Outside there were two basketball courts, one full court and the other half court.

When Father Joe put his mind to it, he got ‘er done, as they say today. A lot of equipment was donated. After all, who could refuse a priest? Especially one, who stood 6 feet and 260 pounds. No one! Kind of like a religious Godfather, if you get my drift.

He made them an offer they couldn’t refuse. And, they didn’t!

He was not Bing Crosby (a dark figure in real life) or Spencer Tracy, or Barry Fitzgerald, but he was a lot more real. We never wailed that plaintive cry, especially the one I heard from my own kids that there was “nothing to do in East Greenwich. It’s so boring!”

We had a lot to do and a place to do it in! If the streets, the cove, the woods or the farm didn’t provide us with diversions, there was always The Barn!

Father Joe left EG in 1962. He, like others, eventually left the priesthood (their loss). He married and is living happily somewhere on the planet. As a priest he knew all the answers (as a marriage counselor). Now he is finding out the questions. He gave me cause to use two of my best, and in one case, prophetic lines:

He wanted me to be a priest. I answered, “Father, if they let priests marry, I’ll be a priest tomorrow.” (Uttered  in 1959.)

On asking me about marriage I told him: “Father, when you were 33 you knew all the answers. Now you don’t even know the questions.” Of course, he loved me for my wit and wisdom. He, and the church, should have listened.

The Barn burned down in 1961. One of the guys bunked school, snuck into the Barn and fell asleep in the TV lounge with a cigarette burning “tween his fingers.”

He survived. The Barn did not.

It was never rebuilt.

Now it only exists in those corners of our mind that are reserved for good memories, good times and good friends. Trips down shadowy mental hallways to those bright spots that bring us joy and pleasure.

Even that is better than never having it at all.

I do hope, good friends, that this tale has helped you to open that doorway that opens on that hallway, that leads to the corners of your mind when the times were good, as were your friends.

With Much Love and In the Spirit of Crazy Horse,

Bruce

This Was the Town That Made America Famous, Part 2

By Bruce Mastracchio

Adolph, one of the firefighters who got blown out of the Dunn house.

This is the second part of a two-part article about the East Greenwich Fire District back when it was a volunteer organization. You can find Part 1 here.

Another group of Charlie’s great photos were taken at a fire up on Kenyon Avenue near Division, where an explosion on the scene injured five firemen, including Fritz Johnson, an inductee into the EG Athletic Hall of Fame. It was a heat explosion. Gases built up inside the house and when the firefighter broke through the door the release of pressure blew all five men down the stairs of the Dunn House onto Kenyon Avenue. The only thing that saved them from being severely burned was the fact that they were wearing all their equipment and Scott air packs. They were burned in all unprotected areas and a couple spent some time in the hospital.

Remember, these men weren’t doing this for pay. They were all volunteers. They all felt it was their duty and that they were doing their community a service. That service could have cost them their lives.

Fritz laid out.

EG had a reputation as one of the most finely trained volunteer groups anywhere, and, under the direction of Chief Fred Miller (you can read about him here), they took pride in their ability to fight fires and answer any rescue call for help. They did it in a professional way and found satisfaction in the doing. Most, I guess, never gave a lot of consideration to the danger, or, if they did, they hid it well. The service opened up a window on a lot of pain and suffering but, outwardly at least, most firefighters appeared unaffected.

Of course, there were other perks, too, of being a volunteer. Most got a uniform and got to march in the local parades. Musters and Firemen’s Olympic-type competitions were fun get togethers where firefighting skills, competition and camaraderie were the bonding and binding things of young men. You also got to travel to places like Goffstown, N.H.; Newburyport, Mass.; and Marblehead and a lot of other small New England towns to compete in the musters and carnival.

It gave you a chance to compare, contrast and compete for bragging rights. At least for a year. Many times EGVFD was the best with their pumper and the big boys pumping could send that stream “a ways” down the paper.

This edition of Rems ( Reminiscences ) was dedicated to all those devoted men of my youth. To Chief Miller, one of the most selfless men I ever knew, and Don and Frank, George and Jim, Leigh and Bill. To Joe and Dick, Harry, Bob, Elmer and Lawson. To all those firefighters who made Station One such a special place to be.

And, mostly to my father, Gaeton, gone 61 years now, the best fire truck driver ever. Perhaps, this Rems will stir up the past a little for you all. The ghosts, the stories, the memories.

The Past … “and something’s burning somewhere. Does anybody care?”

Writer’s Note: I have some pictures that go with this story and some others that were in EG Magazine. You old Townies would be interested in them. If I can get ahold of some of Charlie Booth’s gory ones, I will send them along. As soon as I get my wife to reeducate me on using the scanner I will get them out to you. I am sure you will like them.

With as much love as I can muster for you all AND In the Spirit of Crazy Horse….

To read Part 1, click here.

This Was the Town That Made America Famous, Part 1

By Bruce Mastracchio   

Yes, this was the Town that made America famous; the local Fire Department stocked with short-haired Volunteers, and on Saturday night when they showed movies, the lawyer and the youngest teens saw their dreams on the movie screen, BUT something’s burning somewhere. Does anybody care?
– Harry Chapin

It was back in that more innocent time I like to write about. Before accruing Washingtons and Lincolns and Grants became more of an agenda than paying attention to your fellow man.

The local Fire Department was stocked with short-haired volunteers, me and my buds among them. On hearing that song by Harry Chapin, I thought he might have had East Greenwich in mind when he wrote it.

The EG firemen marching down Division street during a parade.

Volunteer activity was heavy in those days and gave that group an elitist feeling. A good feeling. A different feeling. It hasn’t been felt in a long time. Getting paid for doing something doesn’t make something good necessarily.

For whatever the reason, many EG boys joined the EGFD at the age of 15 in the Juniors program. Some joined to help others. To do a good turn. Some joined for the excitement and adventure. Some had a goal of making firefighting an occupation. Maybe a combination of all of those reasons. Back then being an EGFD volunteer meant something.

In the early days the station on Main Street was unmanned. Calls came into the local telephone operator (my mother was one as were two of my aunts). She would then press a button that would activate the siren. The horn came later.

Volunteers would either rush to the station, or call the operator and she would give them the location of the fire. If a firefighter worked for a local business, or, was a Junior fireman going to school, he was allowed to leave to fight the fire under an agreement worked out between the business community, the school and the fire department.

Later on a system was developed that allowed the siren signal to go off followed by a series of blasts on a horn placed on the roof of Station 1 on Main Street, that gave the approximate location of the fire. Every firefighter had a book to refer to. Some had the system memorized. If the first blast was solitary it meant the fire was above Main Street. Two initial blasts meant below Main. Three was for Cowesett. Four was Frenchtown. Five for Potowomut.

For instance, 2-1-2-6 was a fire at the Italian-American Club on Duke Street. 1-2-4-2 was Eldredge School. 3-1-1 was Spencer Avenue. 4-1-1-2 was The Grange in Frenchtown. 5-2-2-1 was Rocky Hill School. On top of that there were special signals such as 2, which was the test blast every day a noon (Sundays at 1 p.m.); 4-4 was fresh water drowning; 5-5 meant a riot; 6-3 was Goddard Park; 7 was an out-of-district drowning.

The young volunteers took pride in their position, especially if it meant they got out of school to go fight a big brush fire. This happened a few times, both during the days of the old East Greenwich Academy and when EG High School was on Cedar Avenue (where Cole Middle School is now). Of course, being a Junior also meant a lot of training under the watchful and critical eyes of the older men, in particular George King and Joe Lawrence. They could be tough on you.

Some of the more memorable fires were the Pig Farm fire, which was lit by a man who murdered a whole family (read about the Dusza-Reynolds case here); the Main Street fire at Odd Fellows Hall; the Efco Manufacturing fire; the Benny’s fire (read about that here); the Bleachery fire; a couple of shanty town fires and plenty of woods fires. Of course, the older guys could go on for hours about their “fights,” but the above mentioned are ones that stick in my mind the most.

Being near Quonset Point, and in the path of leave and liberty weekends for the young sailors and marines stationed there, meant a lot of late night and weekend rescue calls. In those days there were a lot of accidents, some horrific, and as young teenagers we were exposed to blood, gore and death that some people had to go to war to see. Crushed cars, battered and bloody servicemen, even, one time, a headless Navy guy hit by a train – these were fairly routine sights for boys serving as volunteers for the EGFD. One time we even got to assist when Mr. King (who died in 2015 at age 92) delivered a baby. On a couple of other occasions we had to dive under water at Goddard and Sandy Point to recover drowning victims.

Almost every one of these escapades was captured on film and a journey through Charlie Booth’s photo album would be an eye opener to a lot of people. Mr. Booth was the unofficial-official photographer for the EGFD and he was always on hand. To me his photos deserved an award. They were on-the-scene records of fires, accidents, rescues, drownings and the like. No one who has seen them can ever forget his shots of the four North Kingstown football players who were chasing their girlfriends and got hit by a train at the Cowesett crossing (one of the reasons for the bridge you see there today).

It should be mandatory viewing for every prom going teenager. I used to use them when I taught school in California, Massachusetts and Rhode Island to show how a little “fooling around,” and a second’s wrong decision, can lead to death and destruction.

End of Part One. In Part Two, Bruce will talk about the Dunn Fire and Musters and thank the men who made EGFD the best volunteer company in the state.

 

EG Athletes Who Have Gone on to College Sports, Dec. 2017 Edition

EGHS alum Brandon Eckles is in his senior year playing basketball for Springfield College.

Editor’s Note: If you know someone who is competing for a college team who is either an EGHS graduate or an EG resident and would like them to be included in future columns, please contact Chris Cobain, Athletic Director at EGHS (398-1562 or ccobain@egsd.net) or email  Bruce Mastracchio at thebrooker23@yahoo.com.

Sam Atkins – Sophomore at Rhode Island College. Plays second base for the baseball team. As a freshman he played in 12 games. Started in five. He had a .923 fielding percentage.

Jackson Cronin – Freshman at George Washington University runs distance for cross country and track teams. In X-C, Cronin had a best of 19:16.71 in 6K at the William & Mary Invitational. Posted an 8K time of 26:19 at the George Mason Invitational. Ran a 32:20.80 10K at NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional.

Tommy Sommers – Sophomore at American University. Also runs X-C, indoor and outdoor track. In X-C had a best of 16:39.40 in 5000M. Indoors he ran a 1500M 4:13.63; a 3000M time of 8:44.37. Outdoors he did the 3000M in 8:44.82 for a fourth place finish at the Maryland Invitational, and also had 5000M time of 15:35.42 and 10K time of 31:47.32.

Graham Chapski – Bentley Junior ran a mile best of 4:22.26 in the Terrier Invite. At Greater Boston Track Club Invitational, he clocked a 1000M score of 2:36.30 for a second place finish. Ran a 3000M time of 8:48.62 at Northeast 10 Indoor Championships and ran a 1500 in 4:04.38 at the Stonehill Skyhawk Invitational.

Kaley McMullen – A junior at Fairfield University, McMullen walked on to the field hockey team and has started to make her mark. Last year as a sophomore she played in all 21 games, starting 15. Had 3 goals and 4 assists and was named an MAAC ALL ACADEMIC.

Matt Sylvia – Freshman wide receiver at Salve Regina, appeared in 3 games this year for the Seahawks.

Eleanor Fulghum – Sophomore at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., is a member of the Crusader tennis team.

Courtney McMullen – A freshman, also at COHC, is on the Crusader field hockey team.

Laura Cooper – Sophomore at Bowdoin, another EGHS graduate of the field hockey program, is up in Maine on the Polar Bears squad.

Brooke Fennel – Is at URI and a member of the tennis squad representing the URI Blue and White.

Aleksandra Drljaca – A member of tennis team at Connecticut College, she plays for the Lady Camel netters.

Peri Sheinen – A freshman at Brown, she is waiting for season to start so she can make her mark on the courts for the Lady Bears.

Margaret McCaffrey – Junior at Rhode Island College runs all three seasons for the Anchorwomen. She posted a best time this fall with a 20:13.63 run at The Little East Championships.

Isabella Gentil – A freshman at the University of Miami in Florida, Gentil is a member of the Green & Orange track team, where she will be competing in the sprints.

Brandon Eckles – A Springfield College senior, Eckles has had quite a nice run playing basketball for The Pride. As freshman he played in 26 games averaging 4.6 points and 3.4 rebounds with a best of 18 points and 9 rebounds in a win against Vassar. Sophomore year he started 19 of 25 games averaging 7.0 points and 3.8 rebounds a game, with a career best of 20 points versus Western New England. As a junior, Brandon started 15 of 27 games averaging 22 minutes per game. Again he averaged 7 points a contest and pulled down 4.9 boards. His senior season just started, and through two games he is averaging 10 points per outing and 5 rebounds. The 6’7”, 235 lb. Eckles is majoring in communications and sports journalism.

Murder in a Small Town – The Dusza-Reynolds Story, Part 2

By Bruce Mastracchio

(Find the Part 1 of this story here.)

The Pawtuxet Valley Daily Times, Aug. 31,  headline screamed out:

REYNOLDS PLEADS GUILTY TO FIVE MURDER COUNTS!
CONFESSED SLAYER OF DUSZA FAMILY  AWAITING MENTAL TESTS AT CRANSTON PRISON !

Edwin Reynolds, 27, confessed slayer of a family of five (again no mention of unborn baby), today languished in a Providence County jail cell under special guard awaiting the arrival of alienists, who will conduct mental tests.

The emotionless father of three, whose estranged wife described him as a guy “who wouldn’t even kill a chicken,” pleaded guilty to five counts of murder.  He was arraigned before district court judge James W. Leighton, in the council chamber of the East Greenwich Town Hall (since razed for a parking lot) on Main Street.

He maintained an icy nonchalance as he stood charged with the slaying of his former friend, his friend’s wife and their three children.

The judge ordered a plea of innocent given as he held the rubber plant worker for a Grand Jury hearing Oct. 23. Reynolds confessed that he beat Dusza to death and then used a chair, axe, rope, silk stocking, necktie and his hands to take the lives of the rest of the family after he learned that Mrs. Dusza told her husband of the affair she was having with Reynolds.

Then, to cover up his crime, he saturated the home, where he was a boarder, with gasoline and turned it into a funeral pyre. HIs capture came when his collie dog led police to his hiding place in a Quonset hut.

His estranged wife, Betty Reynolds, 28, expressed a wish that he never “be turned loose on society again.” She wanted him dead to her children so they would never know the horrible thing their father did.

She said she would stick by her husband to a point  but it was also learned she was making plans to move out of East Greenwich to another community.

Still later:  DRAMA PACKED COURTROOM EPISODE LASTS 8  MINUTES !

While a curious, but restless crowd gathered around the entrance to the Town Hall (I was there just one week shy of my 8th birthday). As I said I remember my Grandmother Ucci being particularly agitated. My house was down the alley just the other side of the police shed behind the Town Hall. There was a door in one of the stalls that opened up on my backyard.  Reynolds stood there, flanked by two police officers, one local, one a state trooper and was brought in to be arraigned on five counts of murder.

In the drama packed courtroom the episode lasted 8 minutes with police and news reporters as witnesses as Judge Leighton read five warrants charging Reynolds with murder. Reynolds pleaded guilty to each count.

When the legal proceedings were complete, Judge Leighton left the courtroom, and cameramen were given time to take pictures of Reynolds standing at the rail flanked by the two police officers. He was still wearing the soiled white T-shirt and dungarees he had on when captured. He calmly leaned against the rail and stared as flashbulbs popped from all corners of the small room. He made no comment and kept the same dead-pan expression throughout the proceedings.

Before he was taken out, police went out and moved the agitated crowd back enough to give a wide path from the courthouse to the waiting cars. Waiting to take the mass murderer to prison to await trial. When Reynolds appeared the crowd shook fists and yelled at him. As he was put into the car the crowd broke and surged around the vehicles.  Some to get a peak, and some to scream their thoughts at the killer at least one more time.

Edwin Reynolds was given a life sentence  but just a year or so ago, he either died, or was released from prison.

He was 92 years old.

Writer’s note: Interesting things I learned from this story were:

1. The fact that the baby’s death was not noted as another person killed by Reynolds as today it would have been included and he would have been charged with 6 murders.

2. The newspapers back then were a third again wider than today’s paper.

3. Though the headlines were big and multiple this was not spread all over the front page.

4. The reporting was succinct, factual and not sensationalized.

5. I always thought it was Dooser and could never keep straight which was the murderer and which was the family.

Hope you enjoyed the trip back to August 1950.

 

 

Murder in a Small Town – The Dusza-Reynolds Story, Part 1

The Dusza family is buried in the East Greenwich Cemetery on First Avenue.

 Editor’s Note: This is a true story.

“I was 8 years old and running with a dime in my hand. To the drugstore to pick up the paper for my old man.”   – Bruce Springsteen 

I was almost 8 years old when it happened. I remember some scenes vividly. My grandmother in the crowd clenched fist in the air and screaming as they brought in the suspect. The crowd acting almost like a lynch mob.

But on Tuesday, Aug. 29, 1950, none of that was known just yet. The Providence Journal headline yelled: “Five Known Dead In East Greenwich” (funny thing – one of the dead, the wife, was pregnant, but they didn’t include the baby as someone who died, even after the fact. It would be different today.) “Sixth Feared Lost; 3 Victims Are Children! Blaze Puts Phone Out Of Action, Delaying Alarm In Lonely Section!”

My father responded along with a host of volunteers from the East Greenwich Fire District to the call on Carr’s Pond Road. He had his camera and filmed the goings on at the “pig farm,” as it was called. I still have the film somewhere though most of what you see are shadows and fire.

The firemen recovered five bodies: Fred Dusza, 39, his pregnant wife, Beatrice, 31, and their three children, Beatrice, 11; Kathryn, 8; and Gail, 3 1/2. Missing in the count was the body of the boarder, Edward Reynolds, 27. 

There was evidence that the fire started in the cellar, then quickly spread through the 2-story, 7-room house that Dusza had built himself. When a neighbor discovered it, the house was already an inferno. Just after 4 a.m., the light from the Dusza phone came on at the switchboard in the Greenwich exchange, but the operator got no response. The whole party-line phone system in the area was shorted out.

Another neighbor drove the 4 miles into town and raised the alarm. When the firemen got there the house was pretty much in ruins. Catholic priest Father Metsy was there to give last rites, as was Dr. Taggart, serving as medical examiner, and Police Chief Charles Johnson, all observing the firemen work under the direction of Captain Herbert Wilson.

The fire appeared to have started under strange circumstance because Leon Gendron, father of Mrs. Dusza, said the house had no heat or cooking fire. 

Mr. Dusza was a hard-luck soul, who had lost an eye in one accident, fingers from his hand in another, had at least other two accidents, and had lost his piggery (farm) in another town to bankruptcy. And his house was once struck by lightning.

The first body was found at 8 a.m. Subsequently the firemen found four more. Despite intensive searching, the volunteers could not find the body of the itinerant boarder, Edwin Reynolds, 27, who was staying with the Dusza family and doing odd jobs there so he could be close to his estranged wife and children, who lived just up the road from the Dusza pig farm.

It was then that questions started to surface.

End Part One

– Bruce Mastracchio

Avenger College Notes: September 2017 Edition

East Greenwich High School Athletic Director Chris Cobain is not only happy with the recent success of the athletic program at EGHS (he was named AD of the Year last year), but he is also happy with the fact that athletes from the school are going on to play in college.

Some of those who have gone on and are participating on the college playing fields are:

Lauren Swanson at Northeastern University, who has a personal best in the weight throw at 53’9.75″; in the hammer at 166’2″. She is 6th All Time at NU in the Hammer and 9th All Time in the Indoor Weight throw. She also notched the highest Freshman finish at the 2016 Colonial Athletic Association Championships.

Summer Murray at Clarion University in Pennsylvania, who had an Indoor career best in the weight throw at the Mount Union Invitational with a toss of 13.72 meters. Ms. Murray also throws in the outdoor season shining in the shot put, hammer and discus.

Tommy Sommers, who runs three seasons at American University in D.C. In Cross Country he had a season’s best of 16:39.4 in the 5000 m at the DCYC Invitational. Indoors he ran a 4:13.33 at the Navy Invite, took a 5th in the mile at the Father Diamond Meet, and a 4th in the 3000 at the Last Chance Meet with a time of 8:44.37. Outdoors his top performance was a 4th at the Maryland Invitational.

Britt Estes enters his Senior year at Brown as a member of that school’s football team. He is a kicker and punter, who saw action last year and hopes to contribute this fall. He also led the JV gridders in scoring.

Matt Sylvia is a freshman wide receiver candidate for the potent Salve Regina Seahawks. Word is the former Avenger standout may garner some playing time in his initial year at the Newport school.

Katie Swanson is a member of the Union College lacrosse team. The former Avenger star is looking to make a contribution in her second year for the Dutchmen stickers.

Courtney McMullen is on the Field Hockey roster at The College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass. The former Avenger star and Ucci Award winner is looking to duplicate the success of her sister Kaley.

Kaley McMullen, daughter of EGHS coach Deb McMullen, walked on at Fairfield University in Connecticut and appeared in all 21 games in 2016, starting 15. She scored three goals and had four assists.

Jackson Cronin, another Ucci Award winner, is starting his Freshman year at George Washington University in the D.C. area. Like Sommer he most likely will be running cross country, indoor and outdoor track.

Graham Chapski – Bentley University senior in cross country and track. Part of Falcon’s top five. Fifth among BU runners at NCAA Division II Regionals, with a 26.23.4 times. Personal best was a 26:20.7 for year. Helped set a record in 4×800 relay at 2016 New Englands as unit went 7:40. 52. Graham ran all three seasons for the Falcons, cross country, indoor track and outdoor track.

John Hare – Haverford College fencing freshman, Hare had a best 19-3 record at the Vassar Invitational. Went 12-0 during the MACFA weekend tournament, and was 11-3 as the “Fords sabre squad won the MACFA title. He finished 2nd in the individual competition.

Eric Lauro – A senior, is a member of the Union College football team.

Margaret McCaffreyA sophomore at RIC is a member of both the cross country and track teams. She ran a 20:49.0 at the Pop Crowell Invitational and a 20:13.63 at the Little East X-C Championships.

Sarah Basler – Another EG runner on the Rhode Island College roster, Sarah, a freshman, clocked a best of 23:11.84 at the UMass-Dartmouth Invitational. Mr. Cobain encourages anyone who has a relative or friend performing at the next level to contact him at (401) 398-1562 or email thebrooker23@yahoo.com, and give the student’s name, college and sport being played.

Mr. Cobain encourages anyone who has a relative or friend performing at the next level to contact him at (401) 398-1562 or email thebrooker23@yahoo.com, and give the student’s name, college and sport being played.

– Bruce Mastracchio

Muckleball in the Mud

https://mmafootball.files.wordpress.comBy Bruce Mastracchio

Growing up in East Greenwich, as I have said numerous times, was a unique experience. Three separate and distinct areas of town: a shore and cove, a Main Street, and farmlands made it different from almost anything else I have encountered. I have been in all 50 states, and talked to a lot of people so I think I have some cred in saying so. The experiences could have been had by almost anybody, but not quite like those we experienced here.

As kids here just about every day was taken up with sports. On vacations we left the house at 7 in the morning and played and romped ‘til suppertime, then went back out again for more games or whatever adventure or plan popped up.

Most of us dreamed of playing for the Avengers, the Crimson & White of EGHS. We wouldn’t think of going elsewhere to play. Hometown born and hometown bred, most of us were. Not everyone, some still left town for the Catholic high schools, but even some of them came back.

Our training grounds were the fields and streets of EG. We played tackle football in the street, a good preparation for what was to come (another story for later).

Another earlier prep for football was a game called MuckleBall, which was indigenous (to the best of my knowledge) to Eldredge Elementary School.

A while back I introduced a version of this game to the kids in a private school where I worked. I gave them the history of it, and, of course, a little story. Not sure if they understood, but it will reach them down in the depths, eventually, just like it reaches everybody else.

So, today, in this version, I will talk about MuckleBall, and Eldredge, and the game and let you translate it anyway you want. To how you played your version or not, or whatever.

Remember, you only get to dance here for a short time, so always live in the present, and look to the future. But, don’t forget the past, especially the good times. You can learn a lot from the past, and the good memories always make me smile, especially when I am dancing my way across the mountains of the moon. It is good to smile. I have to smile, and dance, just to keep from crying.

Muckleball was a  game that was peculiar to Eldredge School and field. It was kind of like a “King of the Hill” football, and I’ve never seen or heard of it being played elsewhere, though I suppose it was. Of course, now, I have introduced it in a few other climes.

We had our own sandlot football teams. Later it was junior high school football (they wouldn’t let me play – too small), and then, of course, the ultimate for us town kids, who grew up living and dying with the legend and lore of this town.

The realization of our dream. Donning the Crimson and White and playing for the East Greenwich High School Avengers, E>G> or Grenitch as we called it.

But, muckleball was played before that. It was a training ground, so to speak, to see what you were made of. It was only played at Eldredge during our younger years and was played before school or at noontime  recess, which lasted an hour in those days. An hour really being an hour, not 45 or 50 minutes as they say today.

The rules were simple – one ball and 20 or 30 screaming kids. One kid gets the ball. Everyone else tries to muckle him. That translates to tackle him. Pulverize him. Crush him. Make him give up the ball. Once “muckled,” the ballcarrier had one or two choices. He could get up again and give it another try. Or, he could toss the ball to another victim, and give him a chance to get creamed.

For the ballcarrier the strategy was simple. If you were fast you turned on the jets and motored out of harm’s way. Of course, if you were fast enough to outrun everybody then your would hear cries of “chicken” in your ears and your only recourse would be to reverse course and run back at the pack of boys chasing you, who were just waiting to get a shot at you to knock the snot out of you.

Again if you were muckled you could get up again and keep the ball, or toss it to some other unfortunate. You could be tackled in a numerous number of ways. Some boys would hit you with a regular tackle with shoulder and arms around the waist or legs and drag you down.

Some might hit you with a “billy goat” bump to take you off your feet and others would just jump in the air and wrap you with a flying headlock to hurl you viciously to the ground.

Most  times if you were the victim of a single tackle, it wasn’t so bad. But, when a slew of boys hit you at once, it could hurt, and even result in injury. They would pig-pile you to the ground and the boys coming up behind would jump on the pile crushing those underneath.

The best players were usually the best athletes. Mick was among the best I ever saw, along with Pini and Fats. Of course, Mick was full grown in the sixth grade and he just crushed you when he ran into you. Fats was a crusher too, while Pini combined speed, quickness and toughness all in one, and could run away from you, around you, or through you, sometimes all at once. He was only 5’2” tall but started varsity in all three sports as a freshman and, not just played, but starred. Muckleball never got him. High school sports couldn’t stop him either. Grades did though. As big as Mick was he was hurt though most of his high school career. Fats never played. But others from that Muckleball Field went on to don the Crimson and do quite well.

I never saw Ducky play muckleball, but based on what I saw of him on the gridiron, I think he might have done all right. Muckleball was just a test along the road of life as you might say. One of the “rites of passage” for us EG kids. Most of us used it as a proving ground, and tough as it was it never hurt as much as tackle football on the asphalt street at Tar Ucci’s Memorial Stadium. We all wanted to prove we were tough enough to play for the Avengers. EG was the smallest school in the state, with only 90 boys at the time and, in my day,we went up against bigger schools like Cranston HS (not East), which came out with 107 players dressed to our 33. We tied them, but beat bigger schools like Woonsocket, Barrington, South Kingstown and North Kingstown, who were two and three times bigger than we were. We reveled in playing for our hometown team and as kids we couldn’t wait for that to happen.

It’s funny, I’ve been to a lot of places. Kids today don’t seem to have the same feeling for sports that we had. We knew the high school players and what they had accomplished. We knew the legends of the past, semi-pro too. We wanted to be in their shoes one day. They played the high school games at Eldredge Field, too, right where we played our muckleball games.

They walked over from the Academy and we walked with them. I used to collect all the player’s capes and pile them over me  like I was a manager, and thus, walk through the gates without having to pay.

We reveled in their season. Their ups and downs. The rivalries. We looked forward to the Columbus Day and Thanksgiving Day games. It took on special meaning when we got to high school and played North Kingstown, our bigger rival from right down the road.

We owned them, even though they were a bigger school, and have owned them over the years. Since 1958, I don’t think they’ve won more than 10 times. We just expected to win and then go home and enjoy our Thanksgiving Day dinner. We relished enjoying our turkey dinner and spoiling theirs.

There was no doubt about it. Sure, the games were tough, but we’d had our training in muckleball and street tackle, and what could be tougher than that? When you’ve taken on the world how could a few paltry Skippers from NK stop you. That’s how we felt. That’s why we won.

Since those muckleball games and high school games, many fields have known my sound.Thanksgiving has been spent in California, Georgia, Florida, Massachusetts and Nevada (and now back in Rhode Island). But the time frames still bring back memories of Eldredge, the high school games and muckleball.

MuckleBall in the mud. In March. What could be better than that?

This story is dedicated to all of the “old gang.” To those who played muckleball, street tackle and ever donned the Crimson & White for old EG High, and put it on the line on those crisp, fall, Saturday afternoons, and especially, on Thanksgiving Day in November.

GOOOOOOOO, GRENITCH ” as Dave Baker’s Mother used to say.

Bonus:

Stand up and cheer     
Stand up and Cheer for
East Greenwich High School
For today
we may
Crimson & White
Above the rest          
Above the rest
Oh give a cheer
OUR BOYS
are fighting
For they are bound to win the fray
We’ve got
THE TEAM!     
RAH RAH
We’ve got  
THE STEAM!   
RAH RAH
For it’s East Greenwich High School’s Day!!!


Bruce Mastracchio grew up in East Greenwich and had the pleasure of growing up among these colorful characters and even knowing more than a few of them. They made life interesting.