It looked like the world was coming to an end yesterday at the Rhode Island Country Club in Barrington, where the sky and ocean turned a dozen different shades between blasts of sunshine and whirling dervish clouds whipping through like the Tasmanian Devil. Splintered rays turned the fairways leprechaun green until thunderstorms flooded them to the point where you needed an oar, not a pitching wedge. Lightning came from seemingly everywhere, flung like party favors from Norse Gods on a bender. Black clouds pounded the course with golf ball-sized hail. Then it was done, and the site of the CVS Caremark Charity Classic - known to all Rhode Islanders as "Brad and Billy's tourney" for its founders, childhood friends and PGA pros Brad Faxon and Billy Andrade - shimmered in streaks of blue, green and gold.
Left Coast golfer Paul Goydos, inexperienced with New England weather, looked shaken, saying, "We don't have that in California." (True. You only have earthquakes, mudslides and wildfires the size of Rhode Island.) But the weather was an afterthought for the decade-old event that has brought the likes of Arnold Palmer and Gary Player to the bandbox Donald Ross course in Barrington. The tournament has raised more than $10 million for children's charities in Rhode Island and southern Massachusetts.
Andrade, from Bristol, and Faxon, from Barrington, have been around the world, but they've never really left. They're with us, whether walking outside to pick up the morning ProJo, cheering for the Red Sox, Celtics, Patriots and Bruins, complaining about the road construction on I-95, or ending a long, hot day on the course with a cold 'Gansett. As global ambassadors for Little Rhody, they have no peer. (Apologies to James Woods, G.I. Joe, the Farrelly brothers and Mr. Potato Head.)
Monday, June 23, 2008
Those bright orange-red "crosswalk flags" haven't worked. Nor have the crosswalks themselves, painted in large white stripes, big enough for a squash court. Signs urging drivers to yield to foot traffic? Who drives slow enough to read them? In the village of Wakefield, don't bother trying to walk across Main Street. Too many cars trying to break the sound barrier. Too many drivers too busy talking on their cell phones to notice what's in front of them. Too many people who don't want to be inconvenienced into obeying the law if it means having to put their foot on the brake and wait five seconds for anyone. Town officials even had to install an extra traffic light where the bike path crosses the road, to save cyclists from getting killed. You'd have better luck as a squirrel chasing a nut from the northbound to the southbound lanes of I-95 than you would making the trip from All That Matters to Brickley's Ice Cream shop. One day last week I stood at the crosswalk near Town Meats and the Wakefield Fish Market and counted how many cars wouldn't let me pass: 17. Finally a guy in a Jeep rolled to a stop. The car coming from the other direction was going to blow through anyway, but its driver made the last-second decision to come to a screeching, rubber-scorching halt a few feet away from me. Jeep Guy rolled down his window and yelled out: "They'd just as soon kill ya." Sit on a bench and watch for a half-hour. You'll see these asphalt cowboys who don't stop for people with canes, in wheelchairs, on crutches. Forget the village stroll. Main Street's gone NASCAR.