The Block Island Times

In Case You Haven't Heard

By Fran Migliaccio | Aug 13, 2012

Not to miss

The annual St. Andrew Family Picnic takes place Sunday, August 12, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m at St. Andrew Parish Center on Spring Street. All are welcome to come and eat all you can of the cookout while enjoying music, clowns, children’s games and the drama of a $5,000 raffle for gold ticket holders. Meal price is adults $10, children $5 (under 8 free).

Billy Stubbs Night, Tuesday, August 28, 5 to 8 p.m. at Smugglers Cove, is an important benefit fundraiser for Tom Wilkinson. Tom, a gentleman and a true friend to all, was for 25 years a year-round island resident, working most of that time for the Abrams/Draper family businesses, beginning with a job at the Hotel Manisses 22 years ago. Funds are now needed to help with the costs of his treatments for multiple myeloma, the bone marrow cancer with which Tom was diagnosed in March. Tom is a charter member and former treasurer of the Block Island Lions Club, and it is fitting that the Lions are now spearheading the August 28 fundraiser. The evening will feature live piano entertainment by Marc Scortino, aka Billy Stubbs for the evening, with light food, tacos and pitchers of beer. There will also be a silent auction and a 50/50 raffle. Admission to the event is $20, and raffle tickets are also $20 each. Tickets can be purchased at the Chamber of Commerce office or from Steve McQueeny (466-5067); Adrian Mitchell (466-2385); or Ray Torrey (466-5691).

The 9th Annual Great Toy Boat Race, an annual benefit for the Early Learning Center, takes place Saturday, August 18, 10:45 at the bridge on Ocean Avenue. Come and back your favorite yacht, and enjoy the thrill of the regatta!

A new book by Robert Ellis Smith, author of “Block Island Trivia,” is “The Magnetism of Islands,” available in a Kindle edition. Smith begins by attributing his fascination with islands to his first job at age 16 on Block Island at The Narragansett Hotel. After discussing the quirks of island life here during that first stay, he branches into a discussion of island life the world over, as depicted by authors as diverse as Aldous Huxley, Jonathan Swift, Shakespeare, John Fowles, Herman Melville, Robert Louis Stevenson, James Michener, William Golding and others who have written journals, tales and novels about islands in all ages. Some of Smith’s conclusions? That islands are places of sensuality, that they are cosmopolitan though isolated by water, and that they are ecologically fragile, with animal and human populations that tend to be vulnerable and trusting. As he points out, “Hardly anyone visits an island without wanting to change it in some way to make it closer to perfection.”

A tease

Speaking of Bob Smith, he has been coming up with a few new trivia questions. He said that he wrote one he liked, but neglected to mark down the answer! Luckily, a friend helped him remember it. Bob promises the answer for our next column. Here’s the question:

“It goes straight north, then west, then north again for a distance of more than a mile. It has more than 500 legs at one time. It consumes a lot of water. What is it?”

About town

As I sat on the bench in front of the Block Island Boat Basin store last weekend with Rick Batchelder, Rick hailed a passing friend who came over and started chatting with us. It was Joe Loughborough, originally of Hampshire, England, and the owner of a shipyard in Portsmouth, R.I. Joe is a classic boat enthusiast, owns a 60-foot Lawley built in 1918, and stays at Payne’s Dock when he visits the island. My ears perked up, for Connie LaRue is a Lawley by birth, and her great-great grandfather built the shipyard where that boat was built. Connie later figured it must have been her grandfather who built it. Anyway, I was able to put Connie in touch with Joe and his wife, and Ms. Lawley LaRue reported that they had an absolutely grand time swapping stories about Lawley boats and family. She looks forward to their next visit, sometime in the fall.

I wandered over to Payne’s myself a day later to see the classic Lawley first-hand, and afterward enjoyed lunch at the Burger Bar. It’s a welcoming waterside haven and a fine spot to find friends, of both boating and landlubber ilk. The day I was there, good friend Bill Dunleavy was presiding with his niece, Sara Dunleavy Berge, who also writes for the monthly summer editions of this newspaper.

At the end of this month, August 27 and 28, watch for the tall masts and show of sail at Payne’s Dock as the American Schooner Association holds its first Block Island Rendezvous. The two-day event, held in celebration of the association’s 40th anniversary, will feature about a dozen boats of 42 feet to 118 feet in length. Organizer Paul Gray fell in love with Block Island last summer when he visited, and with the help of Capt. John and Pat Eginton, owners of the Mystic Whaler, he was able to contact other schooner owners and arrange to have the rally here. Participants will enjoy a lobster dinner and sea shanty concert aboard Mystic Whaler, followed by shanty singing. The privately owned boats will not be open to the public. For further information about the event, see

It was nice to meet, at the recent American Legion Family Picnic, Wynn Jacobson, the 17-year-old grandson of Dana Raphael and Howard Jacobson. Wynn, a student from Los Angeles, is active in California Boys State, an offshoot of the American Legion. A national program held in all the states, American Legion Boys State is a selective, participatory educational program of government instruction for high school students, in which the students become part of the operation of local, county and state government. The American Legion Auxiliary sponsors a separate, similar program for young women called Girls State.

Solviken stories

Liisa Holm writes, “While we were on Block Island this year, my husband, David, painted an oar of the Solviken and gave it to the Oar to hang up.” She included a picture of David holding the painted oar, and added a bit of Solviken family history:

“Sometime in the 1950s or early 60s, two Swedish immigrant sisters, Sara Lundberg and Gertrude Forsberg, purchased the Solviken. Sara Lundberg was my husband’s uncle’s mother. The Lundbergs had a restaurant at the Solviken and also a rooming house in the early years.

“They had emigrated from Sweden in the 1920s, and resided in the Worcester, Massachusetts area most of their lives. They also owned and operated the Kaffe Stuga in Sudbury, Mass. From the early seventies to the mid-eighties, my husband spent most summers on the island. We have been coming to the island for the past twenty years as a family. The Solviken has a special place in all of our hearts. We are hopeful that the property will be preserved and enjoyed for years to come.”

In answer to my further inquiry as to the spelling of the property’s name, Liisa wrote, “The house is spelled Solviken, meaning “Sun Inlet” or “Sun Bay.”

She added a family footnote: “During the holidays, my sister in-law still uses the china plates and serving dishes that were used at the restaurant. About ten years ago we found a box of the original blue-rimmed china plates at a consignment store on the island. We bought them and gave them to her. We continue to use them at every holiday.”

Block Island back home

Parker and Jane Black have come full circle with a return to the island, this time as year round residents. Parker and Jane and kids were fixtures on the island in the 70s and 80s, working at Transue’s Block Island Marina, and Parker was Block Island’s first summertime harbor master in New Harbor back in the day. After a move to Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo for 20 years and then coming half-back to Lake Norman, N.C., for the last 14 years, Parker and Jane are now retired and living with son and daughter-in-law, Capt. Bill and Sue Black. Their daughter Stevi Black Spell is in Naples, Florida and son Chris is in Seattle. Stevi, who supplied this information, added, “We all look forward to much family time on the island as Parker and Jane enjoy retirement in the most beautiful place on earth!”

Block Island everywhere

Sven Risom recently brought a group of 15 people from Fishers Island to Block Island on a boat that put in at the Block Island Boat Basin on August 1. The group enjoyed a tour of the island with Sven and Kim Gaffett, then met at The 1661 Inn and continued on with site visits to the Island Free Library, the school, and various other places of interest. They departed for Fishers Island at 1:30, and Sven hopes to bring groups of people from other New England islands to these shores to foster, first-hand, some island-to-island exchanges of information.

Former Ecumenical Choir director and Washington Trust manager Diane Bean, who has shared a house with her sister Judy in Wakefield for some years now, is on the move again. Given this information second-hand, we checked in with Diane for facts. Her response: “Yes, Judy and I are closing on a home in Dover, Delaware, on Sept 7. I don’t know exactly when we’ll be moving, as some things need doing before the moving van gets unpacked.

“Delaware is in an interesting situation — it’s the southernmost area for northern trees, and the northernmost area for southern trees such as cypress. Most of the eastern coast is protected in national reserves. There is no state sales tax on most items. Delaware is kinder to retired folks and retirement income.

“I will miss South County, and I will miss the Block Island community. It is sad to think of being so far away from Block Island but we’re excited about this new adventure.”


On Sunday, July 29, Teodora (Teddie) Popova Papa was admitted to the Rhode Island Bar by Justice Maureen McKenna Goldberg of the Rhode Island Supreme Court, in a ceremony held at Aldo’s Restaurant. “This is one of the happiest occasions at which I’ve officiated in Rhode Island, welcoming this fine attorney as a member of the Bar in Rhode Island,” said a beaming Justice Goldberg, adding, “She is the first attorney I’ve admitted who is also a member of the Bar in Bulgaria” (Ms. Papa’s native country).

Attorney Amy Dodge Murray of the State Attorney General’s office, a close personal friend of the Leone and Papa families, “Respectfully moved the court admit Teodora Papa to be a member of the Bar in Rhode Island,” whereupon Justice Goldberg administered the oath of office.

In attendance were many proud family members and friends, including Teddie’s husband Stephen Papa and their daughter Sophia, parents Petia and Kiril Popova, mother- and father-in-law Anna and Stephen Papa, Leone family matriarch Maria Leone, and as many of the extended Leone family as could attend. The administration of the oath was celebrated with a buffet luncheon at the Papas’ family restaurant.

Two Block Island Boat Basin employees and one Boat Basin alumna completed the Block Island Triathlon last Saturday, which was a beastly hot day, too hot for moving around at all. The super-determined athletes are: Peter Lensing, who finished 37th overall with a time of one hour, 22 minutes. “The swim was the easiest,” he said, no surprise, for Peter is a competitor in collegiate swimming; Justin Lewis, who finished 79th overall; and first-timer Kristin Lehman Browne, who finished in two hours. “I was trying not to be last, so I shattered my goal!” she said. Kristin and her husband, Rob Browne, met when both were working at the Boat Basin in the l990s.

A very happy wedding anniversary to Ann and George Henault, who were married 45 years ago on August 12.

Happy anniversary to Barbara MacMullan and Henry duPont, on August 26.

Of cakes and candles

Pam Heydon, a homeowner off Corn Neck Road and long time summer resident, will realize her 77th birthday on 16 August. There will be raucous celebration with friends from Wilton, Connecticut.

A very special happy birthday to Gene Rankin, who looks more youthful than ever as he turns 90 on August 17.

Happy birthdays also to: Gavin Smith, who turns 13 August 11 (the date on this paper!); Cheryle Gagnon and Marja Lang, August 12; Danny Lewis and Herman Hassinger, August 13; Fred Nelson and Bill Dunleavy, August 17; Aldo Leone (the younger), August 18; Richard Weisbroat and Megan Hennessy, August 21; William “Hutch” Hutchins, August 23.

Let us know what’s happening! Visiting relatives, special occasions, updates on friends near and far, projects… Deadline is Tuesday morning, and Fran can be reached at 466-2892 or



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