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Rhody Radio episode transcription has been been made possible by the American Rescue Plan: Humanities Grants for Libraries, which is an initiative of the American Library Association (ALA) made possible with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.


Episode 100: What We Love About Rhode Island

Emily Goodman: [00:00:00] You are listening to Rhody Radio, Rhode Island Library Radio online.


Emily Goodman: In today's episode we're talking about Rhode Island because this is our 100th episode.

Dave Bartos: Whoa.

Lauren Walker: Yay.

Emily Goodman: Incredible.

Dave Bartos: We should probably say who we are.

Emily Goodman: Yes, we should say who we are. Go ahead.

Dave Bartos: All right, so this is Dave. Dave Bartos, the Coordinator of Adult Services at Cranston Public Library.

Lauren Walker: I'm Lauren Walker. I'm the Assistant Director at Coventry Public Library.

Emily Goodman: I'm Emily Goodman. I'm the Adult Services Coordinator at the Office of Library and Information Services. We are your Rhody Radio team.

Dave Bartos: Ooh, yes.

Lauren Walker: So excited that we made it to 100. [chuckles]

Dave Bartos: It's hard to believe we've been doing this for three years.

Lauren Walker: I know.

Emily Goodman: This was just a dream three years ago.

Dave Bartos: Yes.

Emily Goodman: Actually it wasn't really a dream because we didn't know that a month from today, three years ago our libraries would be shutting down, so this is not even on our radar, but then it was.

Lauren Walker: Yes, it was Friday the 13th when we found out that we might have to shut down.

Emily Goodman: For just two weeks.

Dave Bartos: Right.

Emily Goodman: Do you remember that?

Lauren Walker: [laugh] Yes.

Emily Goodman: Felt like the longest two weeks of my life.

Dave Bartos: It wasn't too long after that we started having meetings about what would become Rhody Radio with programming librarians looking for places to keep doing programs even though our buildings were closed down. That's where this all started.

Lauren Walker: Now we're back up and running. I'm glad that three years later working in a library is so much more normal than it was when we first started doing this, but I'm glad that we still have the option to do podcasts and have that as another programming option for all of our listeners.

Dave Bartos: We're not here just to talk [00:02:00] about our reflections on 100 episodes later, but we actually are here to present a clip show keeping with the theme of being a podcast. We've got clips from past producers and guests and we asked them to tell us what they love about Rhode Island and living in this small state up in the northeast.

Lauren Walker: 100th episode celebrating Rhode Island because we're special. Yes, we reached out to past guests, notable Rhode Islanders, other librarians so we have some good tidbits here today of what people love about Rhode Island.

Emily Goodman: We’ve got a pretty impressive lineup, but to kick it off, Dave Bartos, why don't you tell us about what you love about Rhode Island? You're a late Rhode Islander, so what's that like for you?

Dave Bartos: I can tell my whole story. I was born in Ohio, my accent might give me away. Born in Ohio, lived in Mississippi, lived in New Jersey. Now I actually live in Massachusetts, so even when I come to work, I am a daily transplant to Rhode Island, but I do feel like a sense of having found my place, having lived in so many places and just feeling very at home in this small big community here in Rhode Island and getting to know people and then it doesn't take a lot to meet somebody that knows somebody you already know. I really enjoy that close-knit community that I get to be a part of from working here.

My Rhode Island story, my first impression of Rhode Island. When I was a kid, I had a puzzle I would make because I was a nerd. That was the map of the United States and it was one of those puzzles with the big chunky pieces that go in place. Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island are all on one wooden puzzle piece. I always thought about that, that those three things together were smaller than Ohio where I lived, which isn't even that big a state. [00:04:00] It's fun to live and work on one of the bits of that puzzle piece [crosstalk].

Lauren Walker: That's a cute story. [chuckles]

Emily Goodman: Yes. I really appreciate that because I always got frustrated as a Rhode Islander every time I looked at the map that my state was invisible and I had to click on the line that comes out into the Atlantic Ocean and you have to zoom in even to just click on the initials for Rhode Island. I always thought, man, I wish I could live in a state that was large enough that I didn't have to work so hard to find it on a map.

Dave Bartos: Right. They're not sponsoring this episode, but I always think of that Frog and Toad shirt that has an outline of Texas and then there's a tiny Rhode Island inside and it says, "Don't mess with Rhode Island either," and I like that. I always like that T-shirt. I'm going to get one someday. Frog and Toad in Providence, you should sponsor us. [chuckles]

Emily Goodman: And send Dave a shirt.

Dave Bartos: Yes.

Lauren Walker: The upside of online things where you have to select your state is that you can just hit R and we're the only state that starts with R so it goes right to that. Because I'm also originally from Massachusetts and there's not just one M State [chuckles] so there was usually some scrolling involved. Yes, that's the upside of Rhode Island, we're the only R State. It's easy to get to on dropdown menus.

Dave Bartos: Yes. Jumping off of my story, we have some clips from folks who also have a coming from away story or a coming back home to Rhode Island story and so some other ideas of travel and coming back.


Anne: Hi, I'm Anne Conway, Director of the Museum of Work and Culture in Woonsocket. I was born in Quebec City, but Rhode Island has been my home for 40 years. I love Rhode Island because of its cultural diversity and its miles of ocean coastline. In Rhode Island, I can get both a poutine and the freshest [00:06:00] seafood around all in one day. Rhode Island is where I've worked to strengthen connections and cultural exchange between New England and Canada at the Museum of Work and Culture. It's a place for creating new memories and building community. It's a place where my husband and I have raised our family and are now watching our grandchildren grow.

Deb: Hi, my name is Deb Young and I'm the circulation manager at the Coventry Public Library. My favorite thing about Rhode Island is being close to my grandchildren.

Tom: Hi, I am Tom Miller, son of Don Miller, who is approaching his 102nd birthday on February 22nd of this year, 2023. Dad, as a resident of Rhode Island growing up way back in Providence years ago, tell me what this state means to you.

Don: I have been in all the states, but always seemed to think of Rhode Island as our home. We've always ended up at home anyway and I have great memories of growing up in Rhode Island in the province area till I went into the service, but always came home to Rhode Island. I have great memories of sports. I was very interested in playing softball and fortunate enough to be on a team that represented Rhode Island in the National Tournament, and to me was going way out into Detroit and playing a tournament. As young ball players that was quite an experience whether we won or lost.

Tom: Dad, tell me about hockey. I can remember as a kid every Sunday night you'd be putting your tie on and heading off. Tell me about Sunday nights in Providence.

Don: Sunday night was always Rhode Island Reds hockey night. It's true that it was not just get dressed and go to the hockey game. We treated it with some respect, I guess. We did get dressed up to go, but [00:08:00] I think as at that age, we looked at the night out at the famous Rhode Island Auditorium where that was our special hockey hangout. We always had dreams of getting into a higher league, but being from Providence, which is a hockey town, I don't think many of us thought you could get any better than playing for the Round Reds. Hockey was always a part of my life.

I learned to skate when I was really young and in those days to skate, there was always the danger of falling in but we never gave that a thought. We would work up a sweat playing hockey and I can remember taking our jackets off and laying them on where the goal was and when the game was over you couldn't find the right jacket to bring home. [chuckles]

Tom: That's great. Thank you, Don Miller.

Catherine: Hi, this is Catherine, a Reference Librarian formerly from the North Scituate Library. It's hard to explain how I feel about Rhode Island besides it's my home. All the things I hated about it, they were in a way that I wanted to work to change them, and all the things I love about it are integral to who I am. I recently moved away and being away makes me feel connected to the state in ways that I didn't realize when I was still there. Honestly, I didn't even move far and I didn't think it would be any different, but it is.

All my descriptions of what's wrong are silly and petty, things like a year in Western Mass and I still haven't found any decent Chinese takeout, but when I add them all up, I think it's homesickness. When I visit, my brain feels better. I even love the terrible drivers. I'll always come back. I'm the opposite of a snowbird. I'll retire to the ocean state.

Laurie: My name is Laurie Lindeman and I'm with Declutter Pronto. My favorite thing about Rhode Island is that it's the smallest state in the Union. I love being from Rhode Island because not everybody actually [00:10:00] even knows that Rhode Island is a state. That's my favorite thing about Rhode Island.

Taylor: My name's Taylor and I'm the branch librarian at the Oak Lawn Branch Library, part of the Cranston Public Libraries in Cranston, Rhode Island. I'm also the host of our weekly podcast, Downtime, with the Cranston Public Library. My favorite thing about Rhode Island is that it's small. I know that can make it the butt of the jokes a lot of times related to other states, but I think being small can actually have a lot of advantages. It means that you can go to so many varied types of places in such a short amount of time.

You can go to more rural areas like in the northern part of the state, you can go to Providence or other big cities. You can go down to South County and be near the ocean. It all took you less than an hour. I think that's such a wonderful thing that not a lot of people who live in other states can relate to. I have family that lives in Texas, and it's literally a day trip for them to get anywhere near water. They're more likely to go to a lake than to actually be able to go and see the ocean. I think it's wonderful that we can see woods and city and farmland and the ocean all in one place.

Jim: I'm Jim Manchester from the Bristol Shakespeare Reading Group. These are the reasons why I love Rhode Island. There are many things that I love about this state. How it has become a measuring tool for Texas ranches and Alaskan glaciers and California forest fires, but what I love most about Rhode Island is the way the smallest state in the Union has turned its inhabitants into parochial travel-fearing homebodies. For example, if you live on the East Bay as I do, while Providence [00:12:00] is far, East Greenwich is wicked far. South County is too far. Westerly, now that's way too far.

Lauren Walker: My favorite thing about Rhode Island is probably the overall culture of Rhode Island. I love that it's the smallest state and as much as I hate it, I also love correcting people when they don't know that we exist or when they think that we're part of New York because it's like we're this exclusive club that no one else in the country knows about except for us. We have all this great stuff. We have great scenery. We have lots of history, lots of museums, great food. Just a lot of culture in not just Providence but all over the state.

Also so many different things in such a small space. You can have a city like Providence and then you can go out into the country and the northern part of the state or the southern or western part of the state. I just like the variety and I like the the overall culture here and the vibe.

Dave Bartos: Yes. I've been living in Massachusetts for over 10 years and only been working in Rhode Island for the past 4 years, but that whole time, this was always where we came to go see a show at PPAC or to go to the beach. We would go to Captain Wheeler Beach in Narragansett. These have always been our places and it is that closeness and that variety that there's so much here, absolutely.

Lauren Walker: Yes. My little story from my life that I always like to tell people because here in Rhode Island if anyone is listening who is not from Rhode Island, we often get people thinking that we're Long Island in New York. We also coincidentally or not so coincidentally get a lot of New Yorkers here on vacation. [00:14:00] I was on vacation in New Orleans and we were having breakfast and we had to sit at the bar because the restaurant was super crowded and the people next to us asked us where we were from and I said Rhode Island.

Just so everyone knows, I am not a morning person and I had just started drinking my coffee and she was like, "Oh, where in New York are you from?" I was like, "No, we're from Rhode Island." She was just like, "Yes, where in New York?" I was like, "Rhode Island is a state." She was like, "Oh, okay." It's like I'm not a rude person at all and I felt like I was so rude, but I was so annoyed that they-- I think they were from Texas. She didn't even know that Rhode Island existed. This happens all the time. Like I said, as much as we hate it I think we love it a little bit too.

Dave Bartos: Right. The exclusivity of it all. You were talking about that, right?

Lauren Walker: Yes.

Dave Bartos: If you haven't heard of Rhode Island, it's the biggest thing.

Lauren Walker: It is the biggest thing. It's the biggest little thing.

Dave Bartos: Yes.

Lauren Walker: That's our new slogan.

Emily Goodman: I grew up in Little Compton which for anybody who doesn't know is basically Massachusetts in terms of being part of Rhode Island. It is the super secret alternative to the Cape. Everybody loves to go to the Cape for vacation, but Little Compton is just as good, if not better than the Cape. The way that the town doubles in population in the summer certainly is an indication to that.

I remember one summer, we had some people in the library when I was working there who came. They were gushing to me and my co-worker about how wonderful Little Compton was and how they found it one year because everywhere that they were trying to look on the Cape was sold out and so they found a spot in Little Compton and on a whim they came and they were telling us about how they love to tell people not to-- they keep it a secret. They're like, "We don't want [00:16:00] anybody to know because then we won't have anywhere to go."

I remember my co-worker and I afterwards looking at each other and being like, "Yes, but we don't want you to know about it." [laughs] "We know how great it is and this is our town." It was this really funny meta moment of trying to keep this precious secret and then having somebody tell you that they found your secret, but don't worry, they're also keeping it a secret from everybody.


Lauren Walker: In line with what I was saying about the culture, not only is it just this like hipster culture of exclusivity, but like I said, there's so much great history, there's great architecture, there's so much to see here in Rhode Island. We have some clips of people who, that is also their favorite thing about Rhode Island and they love all of the different cultural things that they can do and see and eat here in Rhode Island.


Ray: I'm Ray Rickman, Executive Director of Stages of Freedom. I think you would have to go to New York City to find as many arts and cultural programs in one place. AS220, Trinity Rep, Black Storytellers, PPAC, and 50 wonderful neighborhood programs all over Providence and Woonsocket and Newport, and of course, the mansions of Newport. Oh, let's not forget Stages of Freedom.

Speaker 4: I love Rhode Island because of its architecture. From the colonial houses of Warren to the Roger Williams Casino and the Providence City Hall and the Arcade to the State House and the Superman Building. Our architecture is the best.

Therese What I love about Rhode Island is that we have worked together throughout the COVID pandemic. I am Dr. Therese Zink, a family physician and professor at Brown and the Providence Community Health Center. [00:18:00] In spring 2021, I published COVID Chronicles: How Essential Workers Cope Volume 1. COVID continues to challenge us. Rhode Island has struggled with 500,000 cases to date, and nearly 4,000 people have died.

The good news is that we've injected 3 million doses of vaccine into the arms of Rhode Islanders making us 85% vaccinated, one of the highest rates in the U.S. The mRNA virus mutates and can bypass our vaccines. I've had five vaccines and still caught COVID when I was in the Middle East completing a Fulbright award this fall. Thanks to the vaccines, it was a mild case. Congrats to Rhode Islanders for pulling together. Be sure to get your vaccine. It will likely become an annual event like the flu vaccine.

Zach: I'm Zach, a librarian, poet, and nearly lifelong Rhode Islander. What I love about this state is the way it has reinvented itself. Providence has a dining and cultural scene that rivals any other part of the country. Main streets in places like Wakefield, East Greenwich, and Warren are thriving. Theatrical enterprises all over the state are exploding with fresh, forward-thinking talent. More and more underrepresented groups are sharing their voices and making strides in local and state-level government. None of this was true when I was growing up 50 years ago in Narragansett. Rhode Island is so much more than the ocean state. It's the motion state.

Celeste: Hi, this is Celeste Dyer. I am the director of the Cumberland Public Library. I am your typical Rhode Islander. I was born here and I live one and a half miles from where I grew up. I love that everything I need is within a 20-minute driving distance, except work, which is 35 minutes. I love the variety of restaurants to try interesting foods. I can use the Greenway or Goddard Park or any of the other open spaces to walk my dog.

While I am not a beach [00:20:00] person. It is nice to go in off-months to collect interesting shells and rocks with my grandchildren.

Rhode Island does not have any mountains, but the mountains are only a two-hour drive away, so that's easy too. The Providence Performing Art Center and the Veterans Memorial offer a wide variety of shows, and even though they are in Providence, a place I hate to drive, I still go to be entertained. Of course, I love my library card, which gives me access to over 5 million items statewide and thousands of digital titles. I have lived here all my life, except for a brief stint at school in Pennsylvania. I've raised my children here and my grandchildren live here, family, friends, and everything else I need. What's not to love?

Natalie: Hi, my name is Natalie Coolen and I'm from Warren, Rhode Island. When I think about Rhode Island, there are special nooks and crannies that I hold dear. These are the places I take out-of-town family and friends to boast about Rhode Island's culture. The umbrella factory in Charlestown, Rhode Island is where I take them first. We have lunch in the Small Axe Cafe, and while we're waiting for food, we feed the chickens, emus, and sheep that are on the property. Afterwards, we go in the gift shop and we buy all sorts of things for our loved ones.

Joan: My name is Joan Pratt and I am one of the readers with our Shakespeare Company in Bristol, Rhode Island. Rhode Island has my heart. I grew up a Jersey girl who loved to go down the shore, but now Rhode Island has stolen my heart unto its very core. Our Irish greyhound Ned enjoys the bike path before bed. He crosses his ears when a rabbit appears and makes people smile as they walk their mile and Ned's cross ears to them appears.

So calming to see the sunset over Narraganset Bay. How lucky we are to watch it drop every single day. The citizens are so friendly as they pass us on their way to spend relaxing moments on the shores of our [00:22:00] beautiful bay. Just close your eyes and hear your sighs as the waves calmly speak to your ears. What more can one ask but to sit there and bask in Rhody's aura throughout the years?

Emily Goodman: What I love about Rhode Island, I grew up by the shore, and so it is no surprise that the proximity to the ocean and our vast shoreline in Rhode Island is one of my favorite things. It is very grounding for me to be near water of any kind. Growing up just a couple miles from the Atlantic Ocean, it was never too long before I could stick my toes into the sand and feel the waves slapping at my feet and look out into the vast unending ocean and feel this sense of both belonging in the universe and also the sheer opportunity of things to come.

I imagine how unnerving it probably was for travelers back in the day on their boats to just see ocean around them where I can stand on the beach and see both land and ocean and know that I am home. I think that being able to see the ocean and the beaches is unique. The fact that Shoreline in Rhode Island is public property and it is very much held as anybody's place to be, I think is pretty incredible. I think we've just got so much to offer with our views and the beauty in the state.

Dave Bartos: That speaks to anyone asks, "Why would this smallest state in the Union get to call itself the ocean state?" I think that's the answer is that the ocean and the [00:24:00] access to the ocean belongs to the people of the state, and the state is tied very much to that water access. That makes perfect sense that even though the coastline can't possibly be as long as any other state that has a coastline, it still is an integral part of the state.

I think both the history and then also just you growing up and everybody who lives here now, it's still a part of it. We have a coworker here in Cranston that goes clamming. They have their clamming rakes and they go clamming. As a Rhode Island resident, you're allowed to clam this much clams every year and so we go out and do it and then we go home and make chowder. That's just something you get to do because you're somebody who lives here, which is really cool.

Lauren Walker: That is really cool. I've never been clamming.

Dave Bartos: It sounds fun. I would totally do it. Then you get to eat, which is the best part.

Emily Goodman: It's better than fishing because you can't hurt yourself. I've always been afraid when I go fishing that when I put the stick behind my back, that's not the official terminology of fishing. You can tell how long it's been since I've gone fishing. That I'm going to end up hooking myself from behind. With clamming, you're standing in the sandy mud and just looking for something.

Lauren Walker: I used to live in Newport, so I was really close to the water. I just loved having that access. I could just walk to the beach. That was so nice. Sometimes would just walk down to the beach at night and just sit there and it was so peaceful. Even though the rest of the city, say it was a Friday night or whatever, there would be people at the bars and everything. It was just so peaceful. Just less than a mile away from that because the ocean was right there and the waves would just drown out everything else.

Especially being from Massachusetts, even though a Rhode Islander would think sometimes it's a long drive to get to the beach, I never think it's a long drive because comparatively, driving [00:26:00] 30 or 40 minutes to get to the beach isn't that bad.

Emily Goodman: I will say the best time to go to the beach is either after everybody has gone home and the sun is starting to set. It's still a beautiful time to go swimming in the summer or if you are ambitious, and this is harder to do when like Lauren, you live far away, but when you are a five-minute drive from the beach, it's doable. You wake up before the sunrise so that you are in the water as the sun rises over the horizon. If you can commit to getting up way too early in the morning one time in your life, I would suggest doing it in August. I think it's one of the most lovely times. As long as there's not too much seaweed in the ocean, it's a pretty powerful thing to be in the ocean as the sun rises.

Lauren Walker: I can't confirm that I'll be able to do that, but it does sound lovely.


Emily Goodman: With that in mind, we've got some clips honoring this state's beauty.


Michael: My name's Michael Gerard. I'm an explorer, a writer, and a public speaker. I love Rhode Island's Bay because right outside your doorstep you can delve into this alien world where there are these amazing creatures of all sorts that made it their home. Even to this day, I still see new things that I haven't seen in the bay over my lifetime. Also, I love the fact that in the Bay you can find history going back as far as early colonial period or even before that with the Native Americans who lived in what is Rhode Island today. It's an amazing place with some incredible things waiting to be discovered by the next person exploring deep inside of it.

Tom: Hi, this is Tom Miller. I'm 73 years old. Grew up in Rhode Island as a kid, now live in Massachusetts. [00:28:00] I left the state when I was about 14 years old, went away to school and now I've had a chance to come back to Rhode Island and spend a lot of time with my mom and dad. We drive around the state and I forgot, living in Massachusetts, just how beautiful the state of Rhode Island is.

Also, I'm a former hockey player, thanks to my dad who played professional hockey with the Boston Olympics. As one of six kids, we all got to experience sports in Rhode Island. I look at the tiny state of Rhode Island and the athletes that it's produced especially its rich hockey heritage. It was a great hockey. I am now drawn back to Rhode Island, the state. I grew up in Cranston and just love the state.

Tammy: Hello, my name is Tammy Brown. I am a co-creator of the RI for All video series and a board member for the Woman Project. My favorite thing about Rhode Island is the water, the ocean. We are the ocean state and I can't get enough of it. I love going down to the beaches in the summer, winter, spring, and fall. I love walking down by the seawall in Narraganset or the cliff walk in Newport. Being by the water is my favorite thing.

Ray: This is Ray Edler of the Bristol Shakespeare Readers, and I'm about to share with you a poem entitled, Rhode Island, the Beautiful.

Rhode Island, the beautiful. So beautiful from beach to beach. Rhode Island does provide Seascapes of variety, seen lovely, tied to tide. Not so little Rhody, providing day-to-day gracious ways to interact with land and sea and sky. Passages on east and west, guiding vessels through to islands, bridges, lighthouse beams, and [00:30:00] water clear and blue. Rhode Island, Rhode Island from Newport history past Galilee and South to sea, a fishing industry. Though small in size, one can't deny the history we abound. Blackstone North to Black Isle South, past echoes do resound. From Slater Mill to College Hill down to heart of city while East Bay Traders once sold their wares shame cargo without pity. Founder Roger stemmed that tide. Freedom was his cry. Free to preach, free to speak, and hope for little RI. Golden anchor on our flag does promise hopefully this flag of thought is not for not. We view it nobly. Little Rhody, how large are thy ideas? May all your laws be well thought out, democracy's ideal.

Dave Bartos: That was really great hearing from everybody about what they love about the state. If you'd like to share what you love about the state, you're welcome to share it with us. You can reach us on all the social medias, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, for as long as any of those exist. You can email us, We'd just love to hear what you love about this little state.

Emily Goodman: There's also a link in your show notes where you can tap and send us a voice recording and you may be featured in a future Rhody Radio episode.

Dave Bartos: All right. That's it for our 100th episode. Rhody Radio is proud to be a resident partner of the Rhode Island Center for the Book and is brought to you by library staff and community members all around the ocean state.

Lauren Walker: This episode was made possible in part by a grant from the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, an independent affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. The Rhode Island Council for the Humanities [00:32:00] seeds, supports, and strengthens public history, cultural heritage, civic education, and community engagement by and for all Rhode Islanders.

Emily Goodman: You can find more from Rhody Radio on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. If you enjoyed today's episode, subscribe to Rhody Radio and give us a review on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or wherever you listen to help us reach more Rhode Islanders.

Dave Bartos: Good.

Lauren Walker: Great.

Dave Bartos: Thanks for listening. Bye

Emily Goodman: Bye.

Lauren Walker: Bye.

Dave Bartos: We could leave that in there or not.

Lauren Walker: Yes.



[00:32:40] [END OF AUDIO]

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