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Wednesday, July 07, 2004

We all come from somewhere, although some of us grow up with a greater sense of being 'rooted' than others. I'm rather grateful now that I experienced something other than the bland, ubiquitous suburban mall culture of today. But I'll confess, most of us couldn't wait to get out of the decaying old hardscabble mill town back then..

Pawtucket, RI, may be known to some as the the setting for (part of) Michael Corrente's movie, "Outside Providence" , based on the (much better) book of the same name by Peter Farrelly.

Others will know it as the home of the 'Pawsox' , Boston's AA Farm Team.

A rather florid, 19th century history of Pawtucket here..

Pawtucket's real claim to fame, though, is as a 'mill town'. And not ANY old mill town; nope,let's try the first one in America. The Industrial Revolution hit these shores right here folks, so if you've ever sweated on an assembly line, waiting for that whistle to blow, you can thank us!

It all started with Samuel Slater, an ambitious and unscrupulous apprentice in Milford, England.. Moses Brown, brother of the slave trading benefactor and namesake of Brown University, lured him over here, his photographic mind filled to the brim with trade secrets. He started a mill ( now a museum) on the banks of the beautiful Blackstone River. (one good thing about the industry moving south, and finally overseas: people fish in the Blackstone now, when I was a kid you could practically walk on it..)

More on Slater

The Blackstone is now part of a National Historic Corridor

The superb 'Art in Ruins' site has some of the best images online of the Pawtucket industrial landscape..

I might conclude in saying that, though I only live a few miles away, I rarely go to Pawtucket anymore. Everyone important to me from there dead or dispersed. Yet, the city is vibrant in many new ways. A large Hispanic population that was unheard of 30 years ago. New developments, new malls (ugh!)...someday, I'll 'go home again' and make my peace with it all. Or maybe this post will do it..

Home computers are being called upon to perform many new functions, including the consumption of homework formerly eaten by the dog.
Doug Larsen

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