Frank Eldredge recently gained some attention on Twitter when his grandson – WPRI sports anchor Yianni Kourakis – tweeted a photo of them both (shown below). “How about my Grandfather still working three days a week at Narragansett Beach,” it read. “He turned 93 on Saturday!”
“I try to keep busy,” Eldredge told us a few weeks ago, with a gregarious laugh.
Yes, Eldredge is 93 years old and he works summers at Narragansett Town Beach. He actually does a lot of things: He takes daily walks; he goes to church several times a week; he reads a great deal of historical fiction. But the beach has been a cornerstone of his summer existence – for the past 26 years.
“Originally I got hired to keep track of the money,” says Eldredge. He now works at the Narragansett cabanas, which are a hot commodity in the summer; if you sign up for a cabana rental today, you’ll spend at least 10 years on the waitlist. Eldredge knows the regulars and deals with mostly (much) younger guests. He says he’s a good fit for this position because of his amiable personality and good rapport.
“I call most people by name,” says Eldredge. “I know where [regular visitors] are going to park. It’s basically dealing with young adults, giving them words of wisdom, if I can. It’s hard to get mad at somebody when they’re smiling.”
Eldredge has lived all around South County – Wakefield, Saunderstown, South Kingstown – but never actually in Narragansett. He worked for years as a salesman for the Colgate-Palmolive Company, then served an additional 21 years as a salesman for Hospital Trust Bank. His wife was a school teacher and librarian; Eldredge has always liked to joke that she was a “bookie,” but fewer and fewer people seem to know what a bookie is.
When Eldredge was 67 years old, he would take regular walks from Narragansett’s sea wall to the Dunes Club and back. One day, in the middle of this three-mile ritual, a Town Beach employee called him over and offered him a job. The rest is history.
Today, Eldredge continues to work at the beach, accommodating guests a fraction his age. He’s a fountain of trivia and groaner-jokes, and the sunny interactions seem to sustain his youthful vigor.
“People tell me I’m 70,” he says proudly. “I’ve got all my marbles, I think. I have all my original teeth. All my friends are gone, but you make new friends. That’s what life is all about.”