Connecticut author Martin Podskoch has authored books about the Civilian Conservation Corps camps in Rhode Island and other locations, plus travel guides for all of the cities and towns in Connecticut and the Adirondack region.
Now, he has turned his attention to the 39 cities and towns in Rhode Island, recruiting local volunteers to write about their community’s history and interesting places to visit.
“It doesn’t matter what age people are or what means of transportation people use to get there,” the 77-year-old author of “Rhode Island 39 Club” said. “The whole idea is to get people to see the many beautiful places in their state.”
This unique book provides Rhode Island residents and visitors with a literal “passport and guide to exploring Rhode Island” – one that comes with a special reward if they visit all 39 cities and towns.
Those “members” of the Rhode Island 39 Club who have visited all of the Ocean State’s cities and towns and had their book signed and stamped in each one by anyone in the town will be honored with the Rhody Red Award patch at an annual dinner. The patch is named, of course, for Rhode Island’s state bird, a breed that originated in Little Compton.
The attractive new hardcover travel book has 104 pages and 110 photos and maps divided into five county chapters.
“An enticing feature of this travel guide is that it is also a passport to unfamiliar places where the traveler presents the guide to someone in each town to be signed or stamped as evidence of the visit,” said Christian McBurney, a Rhode Island historian, in the book’s foreword.
Podskoch is no stranger to Rhode Island, having camped at Point Judith State Campground, Watchaug Pond and Burlingame as a youth. He has lectured at many Rhode Island libraries and historical societies.
The Warwick section of the book features photos of Rocky Point, Warwick Cove and Goddard Park.
Written by Potowomut resident Paul Alexander, it relays many interesting facts such as Warwick’s 40 miles of tidal coastline, 200 restaurants, Gaspee Days, and views of Narragansett Bay.
The Cranston section was written by Sandra Moyer, president of the Cranston Historical Society, with photos of Governor Sprague mansion and the Dhamagosnaram Buddhist Temple. (I’ve lived in Cranston for over 50 years, and I was unfamiliar with the temple.)
Like Warwick, some of my favorite restaurants are listed. Of course, Twin Oaks is there.
Moyer reminded me that in 2006, Cranston was named as the best place to live in Rhode Island by Money Magazine.
Pawtuxet Village and Rhodes on the Pawtuxet, along with Garden City are mentioned as places to visit.
The Johnston Historical Society takes credit for the section on Johnston. Photos of the Clemence-Irons House, Hipses Rock and the historical society’s headquarters at the Elijah Angell house grace the pages.
We are reminded that agriculture has long been a key to Johnston’s economy, and many farms still actively exist, such as Salisbury and Pezza farms. The 1,000-acre Snake Den State Park includes miles of walking trails, historic quarries and a working farm.
“Rhode Island 39 Club” is unlike most travel books. It gives you a feeling for each community and what it has to offer, whether it is a good restaurant, an historical site, or a look at the past and present.
Podskoch has written seven books in all. “Rhode Island 39 Club” follows a successful approach he has taken to volumes focuses on other states and regions, including “Connecticut 169 Club” and “Adirondack 102 Club.” Readers who complete those journeys get patches, too – the Leatherman patch for visiting all of Connecticut’s 169 cities and towns, for example, and the “Vagabond” patch for people who make it to all 102 communities in the Adirondack region.
The concept, according to Podskoch, grew out of a 1950s magazine article by Arthur W. Peach – and a subsequently formed “club” – focused on visiting all of Vermont’s 251 cities and towns.
“The whole thing,” he said, “is to make sure people visit and talk to people and not just drive through.”
Work on “Rhode Island 39 Club” began in December 2020, Podskoch said, after he published “Rhode Island Conservation Corps Camps: History, Memories & Legacy of the CCC.” The CCC, part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal program, was active in the 1930s and early 1940s.
According to a media release about “Rhode Island 39 Club,” Podskoch worked with “45 writers in all walks of life: librarians, historians, historical society members, free-lance writers, public officials, college professors, town citizens, and Chamber of Commerce officers.”
The book, which has a list price of $29.95, is available at local book and gift stores, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or by mail: Marty Podskoch, 43 O’Neill Lane, East Hampton, CT 06424. (Include applicable sales tax and $4 for shipping.)
To learn more about “Rhode Island 39 Club,” Podskoch and his other books, visit martinpodskoch.com.