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The Christmas Tale of Two Town Trees

Musings about life by the sea.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

“I feel the influence of the season beaming into my soul from the happy looks around me,” said historian Washington Irving. “Surely happiness is reflective, like the light of heaven; and every countenance bright with smiles, and glowing with innocent enjoyment, is a mirror transmitting to others the rays of a supreme and everlasting benevolence.”

Last week, we took a wrong turn on the way to the .

Driving along Highland Road in front of the , I happened to glance down Middle Avenue and spotted four men decorating a tree in the town gazebo.

When a yellow school bus pulled up in front of the library, and the members of the Marching Band disembarked, I was sure I was in the right place.

My husband turned down the street and backed uphill into a parking space.

Grabbing my camera, I started walking downhill, while taking photos of the white Victorian gazebo on a patch of grass in the middle of the road. Behind the structure the Sakonnet shimmered in the late afternoon twilight.

The men noticed me and said hello, and I introduced myself as the Patch reporter on assignment. That’s when they told me I was photographing the wrong town tree. But I soon learned that I had stumbled upon a story just as interesting to tell.

The gentlemen – Greg Jones, Wayne Karzenski, Geoff Prior, and Eduardo Rodriguez – are members of the Tiverton Yacht Club, who had volunteered to decorate the tree.

It seems these seafaring men are also landlubbers.

Founded in 1945, the family-oriented Tiverton Yacht Club hugs the shores of the Sakonnet River at 58 Riverside Drive.

They told me that this patch of ground in the 1890s was the site of a community well, the water supply for the houses situated around it, and a gazebo was built atop it.

But over the passing decades the structure fell into disrepair, and they decided to make a new one.

“It had no real foundation and started to fall over,” said Jones, commodore of the yacht club. “We basically took it all apart, put down a proper foundation and rebuilt it.”

Working alongside the club members were town officials, businesses and concerned townspeople, who volunteered their labor, donated construction materials and funds.

“Police Chief Tom Blakey helped to get the roof up,” said Jones. “Peter Corr of supplied materials and a lot of labor.”

Their combined workmanship produced a beautiful new town building that will become a landmark for future generations.

And now at Christmastime, these volunteers keep right on giving.

On the first weekend of December, the club members were busy decorating the town tree, donated by Larry Hayden of Hill Top Tree Farm. It was also obvious that they were enjoying each other’s company.

The lights sparkled in the dimming light.

“And it was always said of him that he knew how to keep Christmas well…” wrote Charles Dickens. “May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless us, Every One!”

On behalf of all of us, thank you Tiverton Yacht Club. You know how to keep Christmas well.

ABOUT SEA, SKY & SPIRIT: Drawing from the many seasonal faces of Fogland, Linda Andrade Rodrigues paints vignettes about nature and spirituality.

Father Paul Boardman December 13, 2011 at 03:07 PM
Dear Linda, Thanks once again for taking me on a woderful visit down memory lane. Middle Road was part of my paper route many moons ago. My dear friend Rocky Cloutier lived there. He passed a year ago last Friday at 70. That June I visited him and prayed over him, anointed him with oil and we hugged then on my way. Rocky called me as I was on my way passin his huge Peterbuilt and said, "I always feel so good when we are together. Rocky was a friend for life. How I miss the days we would go to his house for Campbel's soup for lunch from Fort Barton. As Bob Hope used to say, Linda, Thanks for the memories. God's richest blessings to you and yours this season of Jesus' birth. Father Paul Boardman+ "PJ"
oldandtired December 13, 2011 at 03:45 PM
Thanks to these gentleman. The gazebo is part of Tiverton's history and it is nice to see it maintained.

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