TOUR THE SHELL PENDANT MYSTERY
On the Road to Surf House
Tour Newport with Betty & David § Tour Providence with Betty & David
The photos are from the Library of Congress website.
Downcity, Carmen Maiocco
NOTES (And what's real/what's not)
Newport Then and Now, John T. Hopf
All Aboard: The History of Mass Transportation in Rhode
Island, Scott Molloy, Ph.D.
The Great American Candy Bar Book, Ray Broekel
St. Nicholas magazine, 1927-1928
I Hear America Talking and Listening to America, Stuart Berg
"Kit" or "Kitty" seemed such a popular nickname for a girl
in the books written in the first 20 years of the 20th
century that I used it for Betty's younger cousin
("Augusta," her middle name, also seemed to be immensely
popular). Priscilla is named after Cilla
Lapham in Johnny Tremain, one of my favorite books. Aurelia
is from Rebecca Randall's (Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm)
mother. Most of the other names just seemed to "pop up" as
necessary: Slocum is the town in Rhode Island where my best
friend used to live (she lent her married name to Dick for a
surname), Fantonini is the name of the Italian company that
makes manger figurines at Christmastime.
And Artie Dale's pseudonym makes sense when you figure out
who he actually is. <g>
To this day you can spot an eastern Massachusetts native
by the use of the word "tonic." What Kit of course fails to
mention is that Rhode Islanders have a vocabulary all of
their own, including "grinder" for a hero/submarine/hoagie
sandwich, "bubbler" for water fountain, "gravy" for tomato
sauce, and "cabinet" for a frappe, otherwise known in the
rest of the country as a milkshake. (I tell my Southern
husband a milkshake has milk, flavoring, and thickener; when
you add ice cream it's a frappe, but he insists that's
The Newport/Portsmouth Excursion bus is of my own design,
although one could certainly have existed. I patterned its
look on the buses of the time photographed in the RI
transportation book. The "bloomers" ran out to some of the
beach locations until the mid-thirties.
Shamrock Cliff may have had a different name in 1928. It
has since changed names when I left RI for Georgia in 1984.
The Reef did exist on Brenton Point back in 1928; the
Budlongs later abandoned it and ideas to restore it were
waived when vandals gutted the structure, then set it afire
during the early 60s. Brenton Point is now a state park,
although the once pristine view has been "augmented" (read
"defaced") by a horrible piece of modern sculpture; the
gatehouse still exists as a park center/restroom facility
and the tumbledown stables are surrounded by "do not enter"
tapesI usually sneak in there anyway when I can, to
imagine their former glory.
The Newport Casino and the shops next to it, 100+ years
old, still exist and are in use today. Bath Avenue is now
Memorial Drive and the bathing facility Betty saw is gone
(probably destroyed by the Hurricane of '38). A newer
I'm afraid Middletown for me was just a place to pass
through from Newport on the way to Portsmouth and thence to
Bristol, so Surf House, the town square, and anything else
mentioned there is merely an invention.
Like Clare Roberts, my mom was a stickler that the house
should be clean and the beds made before I could do anything
else, or before we could go out. (If a burglar broke in Mom
would have been embarrassed by a dirty house.) So I'll
announce proudly that Betty's bed-making record is my own.
Mom was as strict as Clare; not a wrinkle was allowed, under
or on top, and the pillows did have to be plumped perfectly.
I finally got the task down to 1 minute 48 seconds, but the
job wasn't always pristine and usually got me glared at when
George Burns and Gracie Allen were indeed on the
vaudeville circuit in 1928, although Burns' biography Gracie
indicates they spent much of the year performing in London.
Still, the Majestic was formerly a vaudeville house and they
could have performed there...
Atlanta Radio Theatre Company regular listeners will
recognize the two gentlemen on the porch of Grady's store.
As Betty surmised, they exist everywhere. Grady's name
is a tip of the hat to both my second/fifth grade teacher
and Cleary's, the dry-goods store in Cranston.
I wanted Betty to have the pleasure of going over the
Mt. Hope Bridge, but alas, it wasn't built until 1930 and I
refused to fudge. So she had a nice slow ferry ride instead.
Incidentally, the Bristol Fourth of July "fete" was 215
years old this year; the oldest Independence Day parade in
the United States.
Liggitt's soda fountain and Child's were both gone by the
1960sa pity; both sounded like great places to eat. The
Port Arthur (later Ming Garden), the Shepard's Tea Room, and
the Waldorf Cafeteria survived until the early 70s. I
remember and miss all of them.
A city councilman named Edward Bodington lived a street
away from us when I was very small. One summer night he had a block
party for everyone in the neighborhood. I recall nothing about the food or
who was there, but I do remember the Japanese lanterns strung everywhere.
They made it a magical nightand popped out here for Betty's magical
night that goes terribly awry.
The Shell Pendant Mystery is ©2002 by Linda M. Young
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