Spoonem's turns 30

By RUDY CHEEKS  |  June 1, 2011

Spoonem's has also been the scene of some unique breakfast meetings. I recall walking in there one Saturday morning a few years back, soon after then-mayor of Cranston Steve Laffey (who grew up in the neighborhood and was a loyal regular at Spoonem's, when he still lived in town) announced that he was planning to challenge incumbent Linc Chafee for the Republican nomination for US Senate. There, at a corner table sat Steve, dining with M. Charles Bakst, the-then political columnist for the Journal. Charlie had his little mini-cassette tape recorder to make sure he captured accurate quotes.

Knowing both of these guys, I strolled over to say hello and tried to figure out what they were talking about, but Charlie wasn't going to clue me in. When the column eventually came out, there was a (to me) blockbuster revelation from Laffey that he thought he was being directed by God to run for the Senate seat. At the time I recall thinking, "Why is it only right-wing Republicans who believe they have a direct line to God while everybody else has to figure it out on their own?"

I still go to Spoonem's as often as I can and love the atmosphere there. It is a warm and welcoming family place with great, thin-as-a-crepe omelets that have the freshest vegetables and cheeses for filling (Joe is a master of the omelet). I wish Spoonem's another 30 years of success.

And one last note: Joe and Pat's son, Michael Cirelli, used to wash dishes there when he was a teenager a number of years after they opened. This is a job I can readily identify with, as I was the original dishwasher at Leo's 35 years ago when I was putting together, with Sport Fisher and Jeff Shore, my then-art project, the band the Young Adults.

Michael hatched his own art project while washing dishes. He his now a celebrated American poet who is also the executive director of Urban Word in New York, a non-profit that works with at-risk kids in the city to enhance their literacy. God bless Spoonem's.


The latest Waltonpalooza is happening this weekend. The invitation sent to partygoers-to-be (slightly edited for print) says it better than I could have:

It was 1988, a long time ago now, and community activist, writer, teacher, and historian Richard Walton's 60th birthday was approaching. A bunch of his Stone Soup friends, Jann Campbell, Joyce Katzberg, Jane Murphy, and Steve Snyder, decided to celebrate that milestone with a party at Richard's place right on Pawtuxet Cove. He agreed but neither needed nor wanted gifts, so it was decided to make it a pot luck to benefit Amos House and the Providence-Niquinohomo Sister City Project.

Not only was it a terrific party but it raised a couple of thousand bucks. Indeed it was so successful that, the next year, Richard decided to hold his 60th Birthday Party, Part II and even more money was raised. Thus a tradition was born. Over the years, about $75,000 has been raised.

Lots of the most interesting people in the area turn up — US senators, a governor, the Warwick mayor, a future Attorney General, lots of state legislators and, even more important, nearly the entire peace and justice community of activists and musicians. Often music breaks out. Deb Brayton (former head of Amos House and, as she once put it, "Myrth York's coatholder") once called it "the best party in the state" — especially if it doesn't rain.

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