Hi! I’m Marietta Karpinski, and my hubby, Tony, and I have lived on Blackberry Road for the past 42 years. This article is a little bit about us. We were high school sweethearts living in New Jersey, and in 1958, Tony entered the aviation cadet program of the United States Air Force because he had always wanted to fly in airplanes as a boy. He graduated as a second lieutenant and navigator in December 1959, and we were married a week later on Dec. 19 — we’ll be celebrating our 63rd wedding anniversary this year!
Our first assignment was in Sacramento, California — a big move for two kids who never left New Jersey. Tony started as a navigator in the B-47, then moved to the larger B-52, and finally, he was in the two-seater FB-111. He describes his experience flying in the FB-111 in three numbers: 200, 400, and 600. He tells me this means 200 feet above the ground at 400 mph, then climbing to 25,000 feet flying at 600 mph, just an awesome experience! Over our 20 years as an Air Force family, we lived in nine states, moved 16 times, and had three children: Joe, Scott, and Lori.
On base, we had a house, chapel, hospital, gym, officer’s club, barber shop, commissary, movie theatre, and schools — talk about a gated community! We even had an armed guard at the entrance. While on active duty, Tony took advantage of getting multiple graduate degrees, completing programs from Plattsburgh State, USC, and RPI. He retired from the military in December 1978, and he started working at Texas Instruments in Attleboro.
During that time, Tony scouted areas for us to live and came across a new development off Raymond Hall Drive. There were only 13 lots on Blackberry Road at the time, we picked one, and Hurder Homes built us our dream house.
After living on military bases for 20 years, we were going to have a house that was our very own. Since Blackberry Road didn’t go through to Landry Avenue back then (there were still woods at the end), the kids had to drive over Watery Hill and by the War Memorial Park to get to the high school.
We’ve made so many wonderful friends in our 42 years here. Some have moved away to new jobs or new homes in heaven. We had so many going-away parties, baby showers, graduations, and weddings, and now a new generation of children has moved in. Some of you who grew up here as children are now some of the new families living here. So many happy times with many of you.
It’s funny that we’re the Christmas family edition of the magazine because we’ve always loved Christmas in this neighborhood. This time of year has brought us some of our happiest memories here, especially for Tony. As many of you know — he visits neighbors’ homes every Christmas Eve as Santa, talking with your children. We also had a group who went caroling in the neighborhood, and we called ourselves the “Cliff Notes.”
For fun, when the kids were in high school, Tony also built a Bradley kit car, and our teenagers thought it was the coolest car to drive. He’s a cool dad and can do and fix anything we ask of him. He loves woodworking and has built many pieces of furniture, clocks, Santa sleds, and model radio-controlled airplanes. He has always had a love for magic, too, building wooden tricks for magic dealers and magicians.
As for myself, I’m more of a volunteer person at church and around town. I have been a member of the Angel Tree Garden Club for 40 years and have gotten to decorate many historical buildings and places around town. In 1992, I worked on a committee to bring recycling to our town after working with a group in Attleboro. We started by collecting newspapers and cans at a drop-off center on Smith Street. We later secured curbside service, and the garden club helped distribute those small green bins to residents. We also were involved in collecting thermometers after hearing how dangerous mercury was to humans — offering digital replacements that we received from the E.P.A.
We are always welcoming new members to the garden club — you’ll love it! To relax, I do needlework, and during the pandemic, I finished a beautiful oriental hooked rug that I started years ago.
We are very happy here and love our town. It’s been wonderful visiting all the old and new local businesses and restaurants over the last 42 years — and, of course, meeting all of you. Merry Christmas!