A community center potluck dinner conversation about road names caught the attention of Tim Leland, who has a house at Wasque. Evidently his brother, Steve Leland, had been lamenting the corruption over time of the name for the pond near where they both live at the end of the island.
Steve started noticing that Poucha is frequently written as Pocha, referring to both the pond and the road leading toward their house. He’s noticed that even adjacent mailboxes spell it differently. He says, “I think the former spelling [Poucha] has been used traditionally, and the latter misspelling has crept in like invasive phragmites.”
One cause for the misspelling, Steve thinks, is the real estate tax assessment forms. But how did the tax office decide to use Pocha as the spelling? Probably it was one person somewhere who first put that spelling down on an official document.
My husband’s name was misspelled on the deed for our land when it was registered at the court house. It’s also misspelled on our tax bill and occasional other official documents. Misspellings do have a way of taking hold and at some point, if we don’t change it, maybe it won’t be clear if I married Sidney or Sydney. (It’s Sidney.)
It’s in the nature of islands to change, though — especially big heaps of sand like our island — and it’s not always a bad thing. The breach at Norton Point made that a point again, substantiating the name, and made us an island, which of course could change any time. Nancy Hugger reports that the Chappy side of the breach is making a new sandy point — the other washed away about a month ago — and the Edgartown side appears to be growing toward Chappy.
Other place names have evolved over time: Shear Pen Pond, the little pond off the elbow at Cape Pogue where sheep used to be sheared, has sometimes been referred to in more recent years as Shear Pin Pond, because of the damage done to boats in its shallow waters.
I like to use the traditional spellings of place names (traditional usually refers to what we knew growing up.) And when I think of it, I try to use the old names for places so they don’t get lost. Few people refer to The Point anymore when they talk about the place where the ferry lands. We tend to just call it “the ferry” and mean both the boat and the place.
When places change their names, often I can’t remember the new name and end up using the old one. The land bank property across from Brine’s Pond is called North Farm and the connecting property on Cape Pogue is Hickory Cove. They seem like made-up names (which they are) and I usually call the land by the name of the person to whom it formerly belonged (Marshall for North Farm, and Heywood and Wasey for Hickory Cove). This can make it difficult when people didn’t know the former owners. There is no easy solution to dealing with change.
The first dessert potluck and movie night will be tonight, Nov. 2, starting at 7 at the community center. Bring a dessert to share (coffee and tea will be provided) and come watch My Best Friend, the 2007 French film. Also showing will be a short Chappy documentary, Aquabiking, starring Peter Wells.
My Best Friend is about an antique dealer, François Coste (Daniel Auteuil), who is so single-minded in pursuit of the deal that he has failed to make a single personal friend over the years — a point his business partner is willing to bet on. Forced to cough up a best pal in 10 days — or pay up — François turns to a gregarious taxi driver to teach him how to make friends.
The next and only November potluck at the community center will be on Wednesday, Nov. 7 at 6 p.m. Sunny and Alan Wilson will be the hosts and all are welcome.
The November meeting of the Chappy Book Club will discuss Murder at a Vineyard Mansion by Philip Craig on Wednesday, Nov. 28 at 4 p.m. You can call Annie Heywood at 508-627-4754 for further information. The group decided to read a light fictional work of murder set on Chappaquiddick after last month tackling the 800-page tome, Alexander Hamilton, by Ron Chernow.
The 2008 Chappy calendar will be available by Thanksgiving. There are still some available, so avoid missing out on this beautiful calendar. Call Karen Gazarian (508-627-9663) to place an order.
The Chappy ferry will be a less colorful place without Maddie Lecoq, who is no longer serving as captain. Among other new jobs, she will be taking on some pet-sitting. Edgartown’s Walter Streeter, formerly of Bay State Towing, is the newest captain. A warm welcome to him in his new job.
The On Time II is back in town, with its shiny paint job, repaired hull and bumper and new cooling system — ready to deal with the ferry lines that will, no doubt, be longer (as a result of the ferry’s smaller size) while the III is in Vineyard Haven for its annual overhaul.
Last week, I attended a session of the selectmen’s ferry committee whose assignment is to look into if the town should buy the Chappy ferry. Angela Grant, head of the Vineyard Transit Authority, was there explaining how the authority could run the ferry operation. Angela, who is originally from Chappy, seemed very willing to take on the job and had responses to all the committee’s questions.
Not all committee members were as enthusiastic about the idea of the authority taking charge as she was. Edo Potter was quite outspoken in her belief that the ferry belongs in private ownership, under one owner, who will have the incentive to deal with all the necessary repairs under any unforeseen conditions.
The committee (chairman Woody Filley, Fran and Bob Clay, John Dropick, Bob Gurnitz, Richard Knight, Edo Potter, Bob Fynbo, Steve Warner, Sherry Purdy and Joel DeRoche) is due to give its recommendations to the selectmen on Nov. 19. Many thanks to the committee members for all their time on this important issue.
According to Terry Forde, the selectmen are considering a request to pave the rest of the Poucha Road out to Wasque. If you have an opinion about this, you should let them know before or at their next meeting on Monday, Nov. 5 at 4 p.m. at town hall. You can reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org or at Edgartown board of selectmen, P.O. Box 5158, Edgartown MA 02539.
Don’t forget daylight saving time ends early Sunday morning. “Fall back in the fall, spring ahead in the spring” — this can help you remember to put the clock back an hour this time of year and enjoy the extra sleep.