The Block Island Times: History’s first draft
“News is only the first rough draft of history.”
— Journalist Alan Barth
Newspapers are not meant to be saved, but we’re often glad that they are. They become, over time, cultural artifacts. What is often more interesting than the big stories are the smaller details, the ads for businesses that are long gone, the prices of things, the first impressions of important events that time either sanctions or disproves.
I have the luxury of sitting a few feet away from the back issues of The Block Island Times from the 1970s and ’80s that were given to us as a gift, and am often tempted away from mundane tasks to thumb through the back issues to reminisce.
We’ve decided to share some of our finds over the next few months by excerpting stories and advertisements that take us all a few decades back in time. We invite you to drop by the office any time to delve deeper.
What I think you will discover is how much has changed as well as how much has stayed the same. — Fraser Lang
From July 8, 1978
Chamber of Commerce Report
The regular monthly meeting of the Chamber of Commerce was held on Tuesday, June 20 at 8 p.m. in the Fire Hall. Normally the monthly meetings are convened the last Tuesday of each month, but this month there was a scheduling mix-up.
Old business discussed included the proposal to have an occasional ferry leave the Island early in the morning and return at night during the winter months so that Islanders might enjoy a full day of shopping on the mainland. The proposal was brought up at a Utilities meeting and a petition has been circulated in its support. Mr. Wronowski, owner of InterState Navigation, has promised to run the shoppers’ ferry on a trial basis during October and another month.
New business chiefly concerned the Information Booth. It was announced that the Booth has been functioning on weekends. How often it functions during the summer depends on the amount of money raised in its behalf. Last summer, it was recalled, Mr. Filippi raised $1700 for the construction and maintenance of the Booth. This summer Gabriel Spaulding is the Booth attendant. It had been suggested at an earlier meeting that a hotline be installed in the New Harbor to the Information Booth, in the Old Harbor. This proposal was researched and found to be too costly. Instead, the Booth’s telephone number will be posted in the New Harbor.
It was announced at the meeting that the Manisses, taking over the Cape Islander’s spot, will be placed on the Point Judith run starting on the Fourth of July weekend.
A Chamber representative said he had asked Mr. Whitman when the roads will be fixed. According to the representative, Mr. Whitman answered that he thought work will begin in August.