“A far-way place close to Connecticut:” What Block Island was and remains

In 1967, a travel writer visited Block Island. The writer worked for The Providence Journal, and like all reporters in the United States at the time, saw his nation divided on many social and cultural fronts. Newspaper reporters had their hands full in the summer of 1967 as civil unrest exploded across the nation’s major urban centers. In June, race riots engulfed Boston, Buffalo, and Tampa. In July, neighborhoods in Chicago, Detroit, and Newarkburst into flames. Over the summer of 1967 more than 150 riots transpired in American streets. Television screens across the nation revealed nightly, all-too-familiar scenes. Billowing smoke pouring into the skies above major cities and National Guard troops rushed in, attempting to restore order. This is the complicated context for this travel writer’s 1967 visit to Block Island that makes his take on our community so special. He wrote, “The hotel we stayed at bore hand-lettered instructions on the door, telling the off-season visitor how to get in in case it was locked.”These nuggets of wisdom are the result of a small volunteer army this community had in the 20th century. Armed with nothing more than a pair of scissors and a keen eye for

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