Posts Tagged ‘state of rhode island’

This past July I was back in Rhode Island visiting. Of course, I did my usual haunting of cemeteries. I had been wanting to see the monument for John Gordon. John was an immigrant and the last person executed in the state of Rhode Island in 1845. He was Irish and Catholic when it wasn’t a great time to be either. Gordon was secretly buried by his fellow Irishmen in an unmarked grave at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Took a long time but thanks to a Rhode Island politician Rep. Peter Martin and many others he was not only posthumously pardoned for the crime but there was a Mass and dedication of a beautiful monument.

If you are interested in the John Gordon case you can read this past posting of mine.

So I headed over to the cemetery behind St. Mary’s Church to pay my respects.

John Gordon Memorial

John Gordon Memorial

Gordon Memorial

While there I had a good look around the area. Because it once was a place I knew very well. There was the church where my grandfather made his living and where my parents married. The school that my mom and her siblings attended is across the road. Up for sale. The convent by the side of the school is no longer a home for nuns.

I searched the big empty lot where once a huge three storied mansard style house loomed. A house that I visited every weekend because it was where my grandparents lived. It was owned by the parish and the first floor also served as a cafeteria for the St. Mary’s school kids.

A lot of my wonderful childhood memories were created in that two block area. I remember us following my grandfather around in his workshop at the church. He was always whistling and the change in his pants pocket jingled along with his key ring.

It was sad to see empty lots, desperate buildings for sale and things just not as kempt as they once were. Where there is now cracked pavement littered with bits of glass there once was a long sloped driveway that we eagerly scampered up to get to the big heavy door. It seems like yesterday.

This house was a jumble of rooms for kids like us to get lost. Nothing was off limits. Poppy’s desk so we could trace his ashtrays on paper. The extra room where we played dress up with their clothes. A huge laundry room and storage where we explored and hid. And the long hallways where we ran, picked up speed and slid down them in our stockinged feet.

It was the best of times.

Was the sad story of an Irishman that brought me to St. Mary’s that day. But it was the cherished memories of two other Irish immigrants that I loved so very much that made me want to stay. Nana and Poppy, I miss you still.

St. Mary’s Church-Pawtucket, Rhode Island

St. Mary’s-My Grandfather’s workplace

St. Mary’s School. Convent to the right. My grandparents’ home once stood across from the convent to the right.

St. Mary’s School-Pawtucket, Rhode Island

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