The Block Island Times

In Case You Haven't Heard

By Fran Migliaccio | Feb 15, 2013
Photo by: Dorrie and Jim Fiorato Dorrie and Jim Fiorato's cat, Rudy, enjoying life in the front yard.

About town

Holy Groundhog, there are 1,006 island residents this year! A new high, I believe. Congrats to Mark Vaillancourt for guessing the winning number.

Block Island has been blessed with many fine teachers who have had children of their own in our school. Some are of similar age, and we all knew the day would come when they would want to retire. And here it is, and we are so sorry to learn that second grade teacher Barby Michel and art teacher Teri McCombe are retiring. Thank you both for your many years as dedicated and influential teachers, and what else can we say except we wish you both much happiness in your retirement!

Thank you, Tom Conant, for your coverage of the Hurricanes Varsity and Junior Varsity Boys Games, and thank you, Grace O’Neill, for your story on the Hurricanes Varsity Girls Game. I couldn’t make any games this time around, but thoroughly enjoyed reading the lively accounts and visualizing the players. Kudos to all team members — the games were obviously very well-played against tough opposition!


Congratulations to Sarah and Jonas Szabo on the birth of their daughter, Charlotte Kathleen Szabo, born February 5, and weighing in at nine pounds, six ounces. She joins older brother Thomas in this generation of the Szabo family. Proud grandparents are Kathy and Joe Szabo, and Penny and Dennis Riordan.

Congratulations to Lauren and Steven Filippi on the birth of their first child, Landon Steven Filippi. Landon was born January 27, weighing 6.5 pounds. His grandparents are Frank and Marianne Quintero, of Lincoln, R.I., and Marion Filippi of Lincoln and Block Island.

Much-deserved congratulations to all the hard-working Block Island students who made the Dean’s List for the fall semester at the University of Rhode Island. They are: Elaine Trujillo, Kody Nicastro, Lindsay Tretheway and Irina Scurtu.

Hats off to seventh grader Anthony Almonte for sending a letter to President Obama, enclosing a portrait that he did of the President, writing chattily about Block Island and lobbying for art in schools. Anthony’s direct appeal garnered a letter and White House packet of items from the President, and let us hope the words on the importance of art in schools resonates in Washington and elsewhere.

Block Island everywhere

Diana Soorikian, a summer resident of the Dickens Farm area, invites any and all readers who happen to be in New York City to an art exhibition that she will be having February 23 to March 10 at the Westbeth Gallery, 55 Bethune Street at Washington Street. There will be a reception on Saturday, February 23, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. She welcomes all, and says she will be exhibiting recent large scale figurative oils as well as drawings and smaller works. For further information, call 201-947-5074.

Colonial music scholar and musician David Hildebrand, who became part of Block Island’s 350th anniversary celebrations last year, would like to return to Block Island to do a concert next fall, as he is in the process of filling out a solo tour to the Boston area. Connie LaRue and I are out of the 350th anniversary business, but if any other group or entity on Block Island would like to sponsor a truly fine concert of Colonial music, played in costume on period instruments, contact David at, or call him at 410-544-6149 or 410-852-3476. Based in Maryland, David and his wife, Ginger, performed a concert at the Harbor Church last year, as well as an informal concert aboard the Mystic Whaler while she was docked in New Harbor.

David’s engagements in Boston will include a lecture at the USS Constitution Museum on October 2 and a school program and evening concert at Old Sturbridge Village October 3. He may also do a teacher workshop for the American Antiquarian Society. He will be New England, he said, from September 29 through October 6.

We were concerned to read about the blizzard that walloped Block Island and apparently all the rest of the Northeast, stopped ferries, closed banks and businesses, and knocked out electrical power. Having heard no dire news firsthand, we are assuming and hoping that all back home have now been dug out and are warm and dry.

We escaped the storm this time around, having weathered many others in decades past. In the foothills of the Andes, where we find ourselves, the temperature is 51- to 71-degrees Fahrenheit every day of the year. Interestingly, the high altitude slows food preparation, sometimes dramatically, for baking and stovetop cooking, making meals a bit of an adventure every day.

Farewell to a friend

Dorrie and Jim Fiorato said good-bye to their beloved cat, Rudy, on February 7. Rudy was a glorious cat indeed, and Dorrie and Jim’s words capture his spirit. They wrote, to and for Rudy:

Our Block Island Spirit, 1995-2013

Our beloved family member, fabulous hunter and dearest friend

Who loved and appreciated his family, friends and Block Island fully and unconditionally, who welcomed all into his world. We already miss you so much but promise to always hold you close in our hearts. Thank you Lynn, for sharing him with us.

We hope your next life is filled with hugs, clams, scallops and shrimp.

With much love,

Dorrie and Jim

We heard there was a great story about Dorrie and Jim’s “inheritance” of Rudy, so enquired, and received this account from Jim:

“Lynn Fletcher lived in our house prior to our purchase of it from Cindy Geer in February 2000. Lynn had gotten Rudy from the B.I. Volunteers for Animals a few years earlier. Rudy was originally found at the Oar as a young wild cat. When Lynn moved out, Rudy went with her but kept returning to our house. Lynn came back and picked him up several times. During our house renovations in the spring of 2000, Rudy adopted us. I was reluctant as I had been a dog person but was quickly won over by Rudy’s charm. Dorrie loved him immediately. Lynn had named him Rudy after Rudolf Valentino, as he was such a ladies’ man. When we rented the house in the summer he would stay with the renters. They loved him and used to write about him in our rental log. Many sent us wonderful pictures of him joining their seafood meals in the back yard. Rudy would be seated with them at the table enjoying raw and cooked seafood. We are so fortunate that he allowed us to live with him for the past 13 years.”

Trivia tease

Block Island Trivia author Robert Ellis Smith poses a new trivia question: “How long has New Shoreham had a Town Manager?”

In our last column, Bob challenged readers with, “Who wrote this?” —

“Well I’m on the Downeaster “Alexa”

And I’m cruising through Block Island Sound

I have charted a course to the Vineyard

But tonight I am Nantucket bound.”

Our first response was from Simon Gasner, age 9, a third grade student at the Block Island School, who answered correctly, “Billy Joel.” Billy Joel resonates with everyone, perhaps especially those associated with Block Island, and quite a few other readers came up with the correct response: Doug Gilpin, Sue Cotter, Joe Wiedenmayer, Paul Caval, Webb Moore, Rich Payne, Tom McCrohan, Mike Boulden, Thomas Durkin, Patrick E. Callahan and Janice Burley. Many remarked that it was a great song, one of their favorites, and Sue Cotter sent a link to the original video. Thank you, Sue, I watched it with great pleasure and here it is in case others would like to relive that moment in music:

As some responders remarked, the Alexa was Billy Joel’s fishing boat, named for his daughter, and it used to come to Block Island. Specifically, Billy Joel used to bring it to the Block Island Boat Basin dock. One fall day, when he had come to Block Island just for a bit of quiet time, he and my late husband, Rally, struck up a conversation as they usually did when Billy was ashore. Billy expressed an interest in looking at Beane Point, then up for government auction; apparently he had received a mailing about it. We all got into my Jeep Cherokee and drove to within walking distance of the point, then walked in the rest of the way. Joel, married to Christie Brinkley at the time, said, “Oh, this would be really nice for Christie and her horses. And she has guinea hens, too.” He seemed quite interested, and gave us his phone number, in case we heard any more information about it or wanted to contact him “for any reason,” he told us.

About a year later, in August, a woman arrived in the Boat Basin store and demanded to see the manager. Rally, General Manager of the marina, was called, and came down from his office. Downstairs in the store was a tiny woman who declared, “My son Billy said that if I ever came to Block Island you would take good care of me, and I’m here for a wedding at the Spring House. I’m Billy Joel’s mother, and I wanted to meet you!” Mrs. Joel was with a friend, and the four of us spent the better part of the afternoon in a little drive around the island, showing some of the sights to the ladies, neither of whom had ever been here. It was around the time Billy Joel was to have done a concert with Elton John, and Mrs. Joel remarked on how sorry Billy was that he had had to back out because of laryngitis.

I still have pictures that we took at the Southeast Light but do not have access to them at the moment; they will have to wait for a future issue.

Of cakes and candles

A belated very happy birthday to lovely Lydia Mott, who turned 21 on February 8.

Happy birthdays to: Lillian Martin, Meghan Mitchell and Becky Ballard, February 16 (the date on this paper!); Barbara MacDougall, February 17; Pam Hinthorn, February 18; Joanne Hutchins and Lou Marsella, February 20; Nancy Walker Greenaway, February 23; Becca Holloway, February 25; Marilyn Bogdanffy and Mon Dickionson, February 26; Betty Gann and Jessica Willi, February 27; Gabby Hobe, February 28; Barby Michel, Abra Savoie, David Roosa and Charles Beck, March 2.

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

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