PaperBackSwap Blog

The Places Where We Live

Today’s Blog is the 1st of a new feature. We call it The Places Where We Live. Thanks, Cyn C. (Cyn-Sama) for this great idea!


Rhode Island by Cyn C. (Cyn-Sama


You don’t have to be crazy to live here – but it helps!


Over three hundred million people live in the United States.  Just under one million of them call Rhode Island home, yet Rhode Island is represented disproportionately on all reality TV shows.

What is it about this state that makes it so attractive to TV producers?


Everywhere else in the US, there’s six degrees of separation.  In Rhode Island, there’s a degree and a half.

I may not know you, but I went to high school with the girl that your cousin took to his senior prom.

If you think you can get away with something without anyone finding out – fuggeddaboudit!  It’s going to make the local papers, get dissected on talk radio, and you’ll get interviewed for the 5:30 news.  The 6:00 news will be reserved for weather and traffic congestion, so you’ll only be humiliated once a day.

You can fly anywhere in the world, and during your trip, you will meet a displaced Rhode Islander.  You’re waiting on the concourse, and all of a sudden – there’s your fourth grade teacher.  There must be some kind of homing device that they will insert before you leave the state, because it never fails.


Stuffies, gaggers, grinders and cabinets are things you’re supposed to eat – not find on the shelves at the hardware store.

Cabinets are what the rest of the world calls a milk shake.  You take ice cream, flavored syrup and milk, then blend together until creamy.  If you order a milk shake, you’re going to get exactly that.  Flavored milk that’s been shaken until frothy.   You can always get chocolate, strawberry or vanilla, but the favorite flavoring is coffee.  Coffee cabinets, coffee milk.  Give it to them young, and get them hooked.

Then there’s the oddly delicious Awful Awful, found at a local chain.  It’s frozen milk, mixed with flavoring and milk.  Then, blended until smooth and creamy.  Drink three of them, and you get one free.

Of course you’ll also be vomiting up the three that you just drank, but think of the bragging rights you’ll have!

Gaggers (or weiners) are a natural casing sausage, served on a steamed bun, covered in onions, mustard, celery salt, and a secret meat and spice mixture that gets cooked down until it’s almost not recognizable as meat anymore.  If you want one with all the trimmings, it gets ordered ‘all the way’. If you try to order just one, you will get strange looks.  Two is the absolute minimum, and three is standard.

Grinders are to the rest of the world, subs, or hoagies.  You can get them anywhere, but the best place to get them is at the local pizza joint, where they will toast your grinder in the pizza oven.

Stuffies are clam stuffing baked in a clam shell.  Folk artist Jon Campbell describes them as ‘a clam meatloaf in an ashtray’.  They’re a lot more appetizing than they sound.  Then again, most things from the sea are more appetizing than they sound.

Here, we also call pasta (paster) sauce gravy.  No, it doesn’t mean that you want a ladle of savory brown sauce, made from flour and drippings.  You just want some more tomato sauce.

If you want a cold drink of water, you’re not looking for the water fountain, you’re looking for the bubbler (bubblah).  No one knows quite why it’s a bubbler, while the rest of the English speaking world has never heard of this word.  Possibly it came from the fact that water bubbles out of the bubbler.  It doesn’t spray, it doesn’t flow, it bubbles.

Fort Dumpling, RI by George L Clough

Idear, bananner, paster and vaniller.

All those R’s that get dropped when a Rhode Islander tries to say chowder (chowdah), car (cah) or park (pahk) have to go somewhere, and get added on to words that really don’t need them.

It’s nice that we provide a home for these displaced letters, instead of just forgetting about them.  It just makes us nearly impossible to understand.

Around here, you have to be careful.  If you eat too many wenies, you might take a hot attack walking up stairs from the cella.


Fall asleep on the drive from New York City to Boston, and you’ll miss it.

You can drive through Rhode Island in half an hour.  A long commute is where you have to drive more than 20 miles, round trip.  I hear friends from out of state tell me about taking a two or three hour ride to go out for dinner.

Here, a two or three hour ride requires you packing a lunch, and possibly reserving a room for the night, because at that point it’s no longer a ride, but a trip.

Of course, the plus to all of this is that you’re never more than half an hour away from the beach, and complaining about the tourists who clog the roads to the beach is not just a right, it’s a privilege.



It’s a strange, strange state.  And you’ll have to use a crowbar to get me out of here.  We may be nuts, but that’s okay, at least when I ask for a bubbler, or coffee milk, they’ll know what I’m talking about!



Rhode Island – Moon Handbooks by Andrew Collins


Rhode Island Blues by Fay Weldon


Thoroughly Modern Milkshakes by Adam Ried

A History of the Narragansett Tribe of Rhode Island by Robert A. Geake


Rhode Island Red by Charlotte Carter



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7 Responses to “The Places Where We Live”

  1. James L. (JimiJam) says:

    I…LOVED…this entry. Being so poorly traveled as I am, I know almost nothing about Rhode Island except it’s small, it’s that way (points East), it’s got a REALLY long official name, and Family Guy is set there LOL

    This new blog theme is brilliant! Chock full of Win 🙂

  2. Jerelyn H. (I-F-Letty) says:

    I truly love this idea! and I will have to tell my friend Bonnie to read this, you know Bonnie she taught your BIL’s sisters kids. (I don’t know if she did or not but I figured I’d get in the spirit.)

  3. Bonnie (LoveNE) , says:

    LOL Jerelyn here I am! Great stuff! I am from RI as well, right here in Warwick. (where the airport is located even though they tell you on every flight that you are landing in Providence!) A few things not mentioned…ice coffee and the fact that kids start drinking it when they are 4! Weenies in my end are called saugys and how could you forget that our favorite politician is a convicted felon and still loved? This is a strange state but full of pride!

  4. Susan says:

    I’ve always loved visiting my dear cousins in RI! Then I get to go home to Florida and tell everyone about such strange things as “coffee milk” and “cabinets”. A fun read Cousin Cyndi!

  5. Greg (VOSTROMO) says:

    Insert thumbs-up glyph here

  6. Sarah says:

    Loved it Cyn!!!! Great job! I am very proud to say I am a Rhode Island native. You can take me out of Rhode Island but you will never take the Rhode Island out of me! Love Ya!

  7. Sianeka N Hollywood, CA says:

    I grew up in neighboring state Massachusetts, and while we have bubblers and grinders (and ice coffee) there, I never heard of gaggers and cabinets as edibles.

    *laughing* I thought I was the only one that noticed that New Englanders tend to add these extra “R” sounds on words to make up for the ones we drop off! Even though a decade away from living in the area has modified my New England accent, I still have been known to talk fondly about my “sistah Linder” (“sister Linda” to those of you raised away from the Nor’east!)

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