Thu, 08/09/2018 - 9:15pm

A great swim

To the Editor:

A record 110 swimmers, ranging in age from 10 to 72, turned out for the fourth annual Great Salt Pond Swim, held on Saturday, July 28. The famous Block Island fog also decided to make an appearance, rolling in from the east, across Block Island Sound to the Great Salt Pond. Visibility was poor, with the swim buoys disappearing from sight, along with the Coast Guard Station. Certainly this would not top the weather situation we had last year, with winds blowing in from the northeast, or so we thought. What to do? There was only one option, wait patiently for the fog to lift or just disappear. The decision was made to wait 15 minutes for the start, and fortunately at that point the buoys were coming back into sight. As the first swimmers hit the water, miraculously, the fog seemed to disappear into thin air, and for the remainder of the swim we were fortunate to have great weather. 

Without all the paddle boarders led by Jeffrey Smith, and the boats organized by Sven Risom, this event would not be possible, since the safety of our swimmers is our primary concern. In addition to our waterfront patrols, this event would not even exist without the incredible generosity of our sponsors, swimmers, and volunteers. Their support makes it possible to protect the Great Salt Pond, by keeping it clean, healthy, and protecting the sea life in the Pond.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank our sponsors: Valenti Motors; Lathrop Insurance; Beachcomber; The Block Island Sports Shop (that supplied our great swim caps); Aldo’s Italian Restaurant (that supplied the delicious pizza for all our swimmers and volunteers); Ocean Adventures; Pond and Beyond Kayak; and The Block Island Club. A very special thanks goes out to our major sponsor for this event, Sullivan Sotheby’s International Realty, a company that makes this event a reality!  Also our volunteers:  Jeffrey Smith and crew; all the Block Island Club volunteers; Mike Tripp, Jack Boehm, Betsy Pyne; Lonni Todd; David Roosa; Sven Risom; Cindy Pappas; Bob Greenlee; Bruce Johnson; Carl Kaufmann; Tricia Foley; Webb Moore; Priscilla and David Shepherd; Dan Barker; Jan Wruck; John Raynor; and Tina Wileikis.

A special thanks to Steve Land, Mike Shea, and Rob Brown for helping us out with this event.

And of course, a huge thank you to our swimmers, all 110 of you, and we hope to see all of you again, and some of your friends next year, on July 27, 2019 for the Great Salt Pond Swim 5! What better way to experience the Pond, than to swim in it! 

Cheryl Moore

For the Committee for the Great Salt Pond


Do you want to quit?

To the Editor:

Re: “Quitting time!” was published in The Block Island Times as part of its Summer Health Series on Saturday, Aug. 4.

Smoking is a bad habit that many would like to kick. For years, I thought about quitting this nasty habit, but didn’t have the drive to make an attempt. I was a three- (yes, three) pack-a-day smoker and my husband tried to get me to quit with no luck!

Well, after much thought I decided to give it a try. Raising four kids, I didn’t have time to keep track of the number of cigarettes I smoked each day, so I came up with this plan. It worked for me and it has been more than 50 years since I snuffed out my last cigarette.

I would get up in the morning and have my first cigarette and do nothing but smoke it until it was gone. When the urge struck again, I would put it off until I thought I would go nuts, then I would sit down and do nothing but smoke that cigarette. I wouldn’t talk on the phone, have a cup of coffee, or do anything else while I had that smoke. This is the way my bad habit went — for about six weeks.

I got down to one (yes, one) cigarette a day, and that was after my kids were in bed and I could sit down and have that smoke uninterrupted. My last pack of cigarettes lasted 20 days.

I haven’t picked up a smoke since then!

Verna Littlefield

Old Town Road


A good man

To the Editor:

My path crossed often with Robert Ellis Smith, who died recently.

At the age of 16, in 1961, I reported for my first job as a dishwasher at The Spring House and Bob was the first person I met. He was kind and considerate and helped put me at ease.

A decade later, I accepted a job with a newsletter publisher in Washington, DC. At the first meeting of the local association group, I was delighted to discover Bob sitting across the table from me. He shared the news that Nancy Lewis of Block Island and an “alumna” of the Mott Hotels (The Narragansett Inn and The Spring House) lived in the DC area and she and her husband also published a newsletter. He opined that it must have been something in the soup we ate when we all worked together.

In 1985 my wife and I moved to Rhode Island to found our own newsletter publishing company. Shortly thereafter, Bob called to say he was contemplating a similar move, something he did soon thereafter. We lived in the same neighborhood in Providence, often bumping into each other and having conversations about the field of publishing and the island we both loved. 

Soon after Betty and I bought The Block Island Times, Bob successfully ran for Town Council and I saw him through yet another lens as a political figure. I cannot say that Bob and I always shared the same view, but I knew him well enough to know that he came to his positions out of principle and conviction. There was never an ounce of self-interest in anything he ever did.

Bob’s exemplary career was detailed in his recent obituary. It spoke of a life well lived and of a man who relentlessly pursued the values of justice and the rule of law.

It documented a person who had the courage to fight for racial justice in the south in the early 1960s. It understated the enormous contribution he made in time and talent to advance conservation on Block Island.

I admired him and his former wife Katherine Ritter Smith greatly when several years ago they openly shared that their son Gregor had died on the island from a drug overdose. It took courage and was a gift to the community.

Robert Ellis Smith made an enormous difference on our island and in the greater world beyond — pretty good for a kid who started his career as a bellhop on Block Island.

Fraser Lang

Warren, R.I.