Wireless in Rhode Island ***
Diane and I heard that there was a monument dedicated to the inventor of the wireless telegraph, Guglielmo Marconi, in Roger Williams Park, so off we went to find it. I was especially interested since we had visited The Marconi Museum in Chatham Massachusetts; a fascinating place to learn about the beginning of wireless and the use of Morse code.
The Rhode Island monument to Marconi is an eighteen-foot shaft of granite nestled in a copse of trees on a knoll off Frederick Greene Boulevard, about one hundred yards south of Providence’s Carr Street.
A handsome and fitting testimonial to the Nobel Prize winner, it sat overlooking a tranquil pond. Its beauty and power were striking. At the Providence Public Library, I found stories of its inception in a 1953 Providence Journal.
Work for the monument started before WW II in 1937. It was halted when the United States broke off diplomatic relations with Italy at the start of the war. Completed granite pieces were stored in Westerly and Providence.
A committee of undeterred citizens … Walter F. Fitzpatrick, Oresto DiSaia, Frank Rao and Mrs. Alice Thompson, with advice from Luigi Scala and broadcaster Antonio Pace, moved forward after the war to get the Roger Williams site approved.
The monument was dedicated on October 26, 1953 with Marconi’s proud daughter, Degna Paresce, the guest of honor. “I am honored and pleased,” she said while standing at the foot of the monument. A host of other state and religious dignitaries were present, one of whom, Bishop McVinney, expressed the hope that Marconi’s invention would be used for the good of mankind. Senators Pastore and Green said it was fitting for the monument to be in Roger Williams Park as both men, Guglielmo Marconi and Roger Williams, were described as pioneers. Marvelous.
Guess what! There is another Marconi monument in Johnston, RI. Diane and I found it at the corner of Atwood and Plainfield Streets in the Knightsville section, not far from St. Rocco’s Church. It stands unrecognized and lonely under nearby traffic lights at a busy intersection. Only a few seemed interested when Diane was taking pictures. This monument was dedicated in 2001 and Marconi’s youngest daughter, Elettra, was in attendance.
I wonder what Marconi would think today if he saw where the wireless world has come. I thought about the Bishop’s comment … used for the good of mankind. May we continue to hope.
As you all know and have heard me say at my presentations, “I believe it is good to remember and record the past. It is good to recognize those who have contributed. It is good to acknowledge genius. It is good to erect lasting monuments.”
Guglielmo Marconi, a humble and kind man, typified the “spirit of the good heart and genius for work.” If you are in Roger Williams Park or nearby Cranston, find the Marconi monuments. Pause for a moment to appreciate his genius. Applaud those who acknowledged his accomplishments in perpetuity.
** In GoLocalProv, July 15,2019