It has five counties and 21 lighthouses, the Tennis Hall of Fame is found within its relatively close borders where one might also find the more fortunate of its citizenry only needing to drive an hour from their permanent residence to their Newport beach house.
It is “Little Rhody,” the Ocean State, and one of its proudest citizens, Roberta Mudge Humble, a professor of English, was in town to tell the members and guests of the Downtown Little Rock Rotary Club, what the Natural State, as well as the other 48, have in common, or not, with her Rhode Island. Here are a few.
Alaska’s capital, Juneau, is the only state capital only accessible by boat or plane. They have one of the lowest population densities. Rhode Island has one of the highest population densities. 425 Rhode Islands can fit within Alaska’s borders.
Arkansas is the birthplace of the world’s largest retailer, founded in 1962. Before that, in 1953 in Rhode Island, Martin and Irwin Chase created Ann & Hope, America’s first self-service discount department store chain.
Connecticut has Yale and was the state that issued the first car insurance. Rhode Island has Brown and was the first state to jail a speeder, a second time offender who was flying down the road at 20 mph.
Idaho is the childhood home of Philo T. Farnsworth, the inventor of television. It is also the home to the annual “Spud Day,” a festival that includes a tug of war over a pit of mashed potatoes. Rhode Island is home to Mr. Potato Head, created by Hasbro, and the first toy to ever be advertised on TV.
Louisiana, known for Mardi Gras and Cajun food, has a law on the books that states that biting someone with natural teeth is simple assault, but that biting someone with false teeth is aggravated assault. Rhode Island is famous for Italian food. The village of Foster Rhode Island has a law still on the books that says if the dentist pulls the wrong tooth from your head, he has to have that same tooth pulled from his head by the village blacksmith.
Massachusetts is the birthplace of basketball and home to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Frank Keaney was a native of Boston and attended Cambridge Latin School, graduating in 1906. He coached at Rhode Island State College (now the University of Rhode Island) from 1920 to 1948 and taught a style of basketball using a fast-breaking offense and a full-court defense. In his 28 years at Rhode Island, Keaney never had a losing season. In 1939, Keaney’s Rams became the first college team to score more than 50 points per game.
Minnesota, home to Spam and the first Better Business Bureau, boasts the largest indoor shopping mall in the nation, the Mall of America, which is the size of 78 football fields. Rhode Island has the oldest enclosed shopping mall in the country, the Arcade, in Providence.
New York and Rhode Island have the longest ever, pro baseball game played. The Pawtucket Red Sox won the game in 33-innings against the Rochester Red Wings. The game started on April 18, 1981. Play was suspended at 4:07 a.m. at the end of the 32nd inning.
The game did not resume again until June 23 when the Red Wings returned to Pawtucket. Only one inning was needed, with the PawSox winning 3–2 in the bottom of the 33rd when first baseman Dave Koza drove in second baseman Marty Barrett with a bases loaded single off Cliff Speck. Major League Baseball Hall of Famers Cal Ripken, Jr. and Wade Boggs played in the game.
North Carolina is the home of Krispy Kreme Donuts, in Winston Salem. Rhode Island has the most donut shops per capita.
There are many more, but I’ll let you digest these for now.