#AtoZ Stay Home! Wear a Mask! “O” is for OAK LAWN


It seemed appropriate this year to feature a theme that kept me close to home, so I give you my A to Z within the small acreage that is Rhode Island. I tried to be creative (you’ll see!) but I hope you learn something about Little Rhody, too. Whether you’ve lived here all your life, grew up within the boundaries, or have never set foot on one of our many beaches, come along for a virtual tour.

Photo by Martha Reynolds
Photo by Martha Reynolds

Oak Lawn (sometimes written as Oaklawn) is a community within the city of Cranston, and the reason I posted a photo of the church above is because this place, this church is where the oldest May Breakfast is held each year. Like the traditional May Day celebrations, an ancient festival to mark the beginning of spring, the May Breakfast is traditionally held on the first day of May. Is this a Rhode Island thing? Do you have May Breakfasts in your state?

The first May Breakfast was held in 1867, back when the Oak Lawn church was the Old Quaker Meeting House. Same spot, but it was known then as Searle’s Corner. On Thursday, May 1, 1879, fifty cents would get you hot biscuits, meats, clam cakes, and tea and coffee. These days, May Breakfasts are held across the state, not always on May 1, and usually as fundraisers. Sometimes they’re all-you-can-eat affairs. During these days of Covid-19, the traditional gatherings are put on hold, but hopefully in 2022 they’ll be back.

Across the street, the Oak Lawn Public Library has been in existence since 1889.

“It is desired that the library shall become a depository of national and local history, a supplement to the public school, and establish special departments for the use of the farmer, gardener, mechanic, student of natural history, etc.”

Photo(s) Friday


I’m standing at the corner of Seven Mile Road and Scituate Avenue, in what is called the village of Hope, Rhode Island. Well, I’m not standing in the middle of the road, because, although it’s not Route 95, sometimes the cars do fly past. When I face one way, I see this:

photo M. Reynolds
photo M. Reynolds

photo M. Reynolds
photo M. Reynolds

This is the brand-new St. Mary and St. Mena Coptic Orthodox Church of Rhode Island. It’s big and it has a gold dome that gleams in the sun and is visible from a distance.

When I turn and face the other way, I see this:

photo M. Reynolds
photo M. Reynolds

photo M. Reynolds
photo M. Reynolds

And this is part of Cloverdale Farm. There are cows grazing in the fields outside the frame of this photograph. There’s a little article about Cloverdale, and its cows, here. It’s a good story, and worth your time. Cloverdale is old, but hanging on. It’s what Scituate, Hope, and western Cranston were all about for a long time. And now Cloverdale has a new neighbor: a bright white church with a shiny gold dome, in a state that was founded on the premise of religious tolerance.

The Other Way Home


Today I met my friend Lori at a restaurant called Luigi’s – actually, we ate in the deli area, where you order at the counter.  Luigi’s is just one of many, many  Italian restaurants in Rhode Island, and Johnston certainly has its share.  The restaurant is situated on Atwood Avenue (State Route 5), where Hartford Avenue (US Route 6) intersects, and is next to the Johnston Town Hall – a busy, very congested area that exemplifies urban sprawl.

So when Lori and I finished lunch and said our goodbyes, the easiest way for me to get home would have been to take either Hartford or Atwood to the Route 295 onramp and get on the highway (about a 15-20 minute drive home).  But I hate driving on the highway! Maybe it reminds me too much of going to my former job, or maybe I just hate to have to “keep up” with the RI drivers who think a 55 MPH speed limit sign really means 75 MPH.  Instead, I took the long way home – the other way.  Heading out of Johnston and into western Cranston, I drove on Scituate Avenue, past Confreda’s. The Confreda family has farmed in Rhode Island since 1922, and holds its traditions dearly, trying to preserve the “family farm feeling” and give their customers quality, locally-grown produce.  There are still farms on Scituate Avenue, although the McMansions seem to encroach more and more each time I come back.

From Scituate Avenue, I turned left onto scenic Seven Mile Road, with the big meadow and row upon row of day lilies on the right, the lovingly-restored White Rail Farm, past Henry’s Tree Farm, where families will begin arriving in early October to tag this year’s Christmas tree, into the village of Fiskeville, with the little cemetery next to the Tabernacle Baptist Church (“Bell ringing for worship at 9:25”).  This part of town is old and somewhat run-down, with some yards well-kept and others gone to seed. 

From Fiskeville, I drove parallel to the Pawtuxet River, past the old Harris Mill and into the village of Phenix. At Phenix Square, I stopped at the red light and looked at the tiny brown house on the corner – what is now William’s Barber Stylist used to be the Earl R. Handy Insurance Agency, the business my grandfather built after he left the Centreville Bank.  This area, just a couple of miles from our home, was the place where my mother grew up, and I think of her often when I travel these roads.  This way home provided me with more comforting memories than any highway ever could.