Interview with Wilbur Jennings


Interview with Wilbur Jennings


Wilbur Jennings, the Councilman for Ward 8 (Elmwood, Reservoir, West End) on the Providence City Council, is a long-time resident of the neighborhoods near Mashapaug Pond. In this excerpt, he shares some of his childhood memories, his thoughts about education, and his hopes for the future of the Gorham site.


December 3, 2011


Lucy Boltz


Wilbur Jennings


Brown and Waterman Street, J. Walter Wilson Building, 3rd floor, Providence, RI


Wilbur Jennings: And I've lived in the Triangle for approximately 20 years. I know the neighborhood pretty well. I know every street.

And my mother and father used to tell me that the churches, predominantly minority churches and back then back in the 40s when I was born, they used to baptize people there in Mashapaug Pond.

All us kids used to bunk school sometimes when the summer time come, when the weather was getting warm, we would bunk school, we'd go down there, take our clothes off and go into the water and swim. And that was Mashapaug Pond....

They had a pipe, water coming from the Gorham's going into that water and kind of polluting that water, so we couldn't go swimming in there no more.

We had a Stop and Shop located right in that Gorham site where they were, they closed up and it's still vacant there. But we're trying to find somebody to go in there. I don't know if it's going to be another supermarket or not, but maybe somebody can open a business there which is what we're working on as we speak. We can put people to work. Neighborhood people, by the way, that's what I'm really looking for.

Mainly I try to emphasize that kids go to school because that's the key right now, to go to school and get an education. I was very not fortunate enough to go to school as much as I really wanted to. I come from a family of fourteen kids. I'm the oldest and I didn't go to school too much because I was poor. I wanted to go and work so I could make some money and buy some food to eat.

You can't make it like I made it. The way I made it. I didn't come up with a real good education. I came up, I went to public college, by the way, I don't know if you're familiar with public college. Public college is people--people taught me my education.

I was lucky enough to be able to stick it out and run for office. I ran 12 times in 24 years. I never gave up. And now I serve as an elected official, as a councilman.

I would like to see a YMCA in Providence open up again too. Maybe that's in the future. There was plans for that in the Gorham's site. What we're talking about. Maybe we could still talk about the YMCA in the future. Who knows. That's a possibility. It's right located central in the heart of the area, in the community. And we won't have to go over to Cranston.



“Interview with Wilbur Jennings,” Reservoir of Memories, accessed September 23, 2020,