Oakland Beach 1 - Joseph Carrolo-“Mr. Oakland Beach “
Many people, male and female, have been responsible for making Oakland Beach one of Warwick’s most notable summer resorts during the early 20th century. The first name, however, on everybody’s list for “Mr. Oakland Beach” is Joseph Carrolo. He had a way of making everyone feel important from a toddler on his first ride on the merry go round to an aging lady or gentlemen looking for a cool place to sit.
In the summer of 1911, Carrolo stood near the D. Russell Brown house at 898 Oakland Beach Avenue and watched the large, happy crowd as they waited for the trolley to come and take them back to Providence. It was getting late in the day and there were still many people on the beach who were reluctant to leave. Carrolo heard the crowd’s laughter and then someone singing. More and more people began to sing and then some began dancing. He knew then that this was the place he had been looking for.
He was already a successful businessman, owning and operating a carousel at Rocky Point during the summer and another at Syracuse, New York in the winter. In time, he owned carousels from Goddard Park and Lake Mishnock to East Providence. The one at Oakland Beach, however, was his favorite.
Joseph Carrolo made Oakland Beach a famous resort for Providence’s working class citizens who couldn’t afford the long ride and high prices of Narragansett Pier or Newport. Carousels, dodge-em cars, “Mardi-gras,” fireworks and thousands of happy people strolling down the Midway in the 1920’s were part of the legacy left by this remarkable entrepreneur. Some still remember how after the carousel and other rides closed for the evening, friends would gather at the Carrolo house to be entertained by their host’s piano playing and singing.
Through the good times of the 1920s, through the Hurricane and the Depression Years, until his death at age 103 in 1981, Joseph Carrolo gave Oakland Beach a wonderful place in Warwick’s history.