2013-11-28 / Opinion

It’s Not Me, Right?

How do you get to BJ’s from Newport? Turn right at Chicken City and go about a half-mile. It’s on the right. What is it with Aquidneck Islanders? Can nobody give directions referencing businesses that are in operation now, as opposed to years gone by? Having been in the area for 12 years, I’ve become accustomed to directions given via the long-gone Chicken City at the intersection of East Main and West Main. I also know where “the old Sears used to be” on East Main and that “The Market” was on Memorial Avenue. I frequented The Market and still wax nostalgic about their deli sandwiches, but I have let it go as an alternative to GPS. For “real” islanders, though, these venerated landmarks are the go-to method of navigating on land, and sea – boaters still navigate via the long-gone Brenton Reef light station. I thought I had all the requisite “virtual” landmarks down, but heard a new one the other day. “Go past the Rusty Bucket” and then take a left. Huh? Apparently, the Rusty Bucket was a restaurant on Lower Thames. My guess is that it closed some time during the Nixon presidency. I’m thinking about starting a new business – making and selling “alternative” maps of the island, ones that identify all the mystery locations that leave island newcomers, not to mention tourists, on quests for places that no longer exist. Early in the morning, when a blanket of fog hovers over Aquidneck Island, one can imagine it taking on a Brigadoon-like quality, with all the old, established landmarks becoming visible for just a few seconds. You can almost see that big bucket of chicken looming in the mist now, can’t you? Joan Johnson-Freese is a college professor, writer, blogger, and commenter on life.

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