Humans of Cranston: Season two

A look at the everyday people that make our city amazing

By JB Fulbright OneCranston HEZ
Posted 9/13/23

[My family has lived in Cranston] since the early 1900s. ... their surname was Ruggieri and they were among the first families to move into the Knightsville section of Cranston. … my …

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Humans of Cranston: Season two

A look at the everyday people that make our city amazing


[My family has lived in Cranston] since the early 1900s. ... their surname was Ruggieri and they were among the first families to move into the Knightsville section of Cranston. … my great-grandparents spoke [Italian], and my grandparents spoke it a little. A lot of times at the beginning they would speak it around us if they didn’t want us to know what they were talking about, but then I decided when I got to junior high that I wanted to start taking Italian because I wanted to understand more of what they were saying, and so that kind of meant that they weren’t able to hide what they were saying anymore because I started to understand it ... I understood enough that they then had to figure out how to like, tell secrets in another way. So, I took six years of Italian throughout junior high and high school; I was obsessed with everything Italian.

When I was about 14 years old was the first time I saw Roman Holiday – that’s the movie with Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck – and there’s this famous picture of Audrey Hepburn on the Vespa; she just looks like, so happy and carefree and I’m like, “I love that,” and that was kind of when the first little spark came of, “oh, I would just love to have a Vespa,” and it was just always kind of there in the back of my mind, and I never really put much thought into it because I was not a very adventurous person growing up. I was like, very scared of things and shy and would not venture far, and then things kind of changed around 2001 or so; I got out of a really terrible relationship and that was when I started to feel like I wanted to venture out more. So, I said, “okay, it’s time now. I want to go to Italy” ... So, October of 2004, I actually went to Italy. I went by myself, but I went with a tour group, and when I got there, it was amazing. We went all over: Verona, Assisi, Rome, Florence, Venice, San Gimignano, so many places, and it was amazing because I got to use the language that I had learned.

I just started walking around the neighborhood and I came across this old woman who was just sweeping up all the dead flowers in front of her house and she started talking to me ... she was telling me her whole life story and asking me my story, so I was telling her why I was there. She asked if I was with family and I said no, but I’d love to come back with family, and she was so nice. Her daughter came home, and she introduced me to her, and she just reminded me of my family, my grandmother, and she’s like, “you wanna come in for dinner?” And I should’ve done it, but I didn’t because I was on this tour ... at that time I was like, being adventurous but not that adventurous to like, go in a stranger’s house, but it was so nice, and her name was Stella. She was the one big thing that I really hold onto from that trip, and when I decided finally last year, “I really think I want to get a Vespa. I think it’s time, like, I don’t know what I’m waiting for,” I actually named my Vespa after her, so my Vespa is called Stella. … I wanted to honor her specifically with that name.

I was 45 last year when I decided I finally wanted to [get my motorcycle license]. I took a long time kind of wishing that I had done it, and then not actually doing it until I turned 45 because of that fear or that uneasiness or weariness about getting on a motorcycle … But I did it, and after I did it and I got the bike, I feel like it has opened up a lot more of the state to me. I’ve put almost 8,000 miles on it since last June, and most of that has been just going around Rhode Island, and I feel like riding the bike has put me more in tune with nature. Like, when you’re riding in a car, you’re so closed in and cocooned in that like, you don’t feel the wind. You don’t smell the smells. But I’ll tell you, when I’m on that [Vespa] and I’m going through like, the back roads, and if I’m going through a wooded area and I can smell the pine, I can smell the flowers that are in the woods, I can smell the grass that’s just been cut, it just gives you this other connectivity to the world around you and I feel like I’m really thankful that I have now the opportunity to explore the state in a new way. ... I think my only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner. So, my advice to anyone who’s thinking about it is, don’t wait, just go do it, and get out there, because I just think about the thirty years or so … that I [wasn’t] able to do this thing that I absolutely love, and it has brought me so much ease of anxiety, so like, if I’m having a bad day, I get on my bike and just go out for a ride. They call it wind therapy; there’s nothing like it, it’s like you just calm down and you just start soaking it all in and it just makes you feel better, so I highly, highly recommend it.

The second season of this project has been made possible by the Rhode Island Department of Health and the efforts of the OneCranston Health Equity Zone of Comprehensive Community Action, Inc. in partnership with the Cranston Herald and Timothy McFate. The opinions, beliefs, and viewpoints of Humans of Cranston participants do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs, and viewpoints of the aforementioned parties. The presented stories are voluntarily provided, unpaid, and given verbatim except for correcting grammatical errors. 


Want to nominate a Cranston resident to be featured? Email JB at jfulbright@comcap.org.

humans, people, city


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