Quiet Commotion

From Gazette editions of January, 1984:

In one of the biggest land and building transactions in Vineyard history, the Harbor View Hotel, Inc., owned by Robert J. Carroll and Allan C. Jones, gives up its ten-year fight to construct two houses and a tennis court on the strategic two-acre property overlooking the Edgartown Lighthouse and the entrance to the harbor. In a deal that effectively doubles Mr. Carroll’s interests in Edgartown, the Harbor View sells the fragile land fronting the harbor for $525,000 to Fairleigh S. Dickinson, Jr., a four-decade Edgartown seasonal resident. In exchange Mr. Dickinson transfers to the Harbor View ownership of five historic properties between Dock and North Water streets, properties of critical importance to the downtown heart of Edgartown.

Explaining his decision, Mr. Carroll said, “For many years we have wanted to build houses there. I became more and more determined to build the houses there. The thing was getting more and more acrimonious. Dick (Dickinson) has been upset by everything that’s happened. Me, being Irish, I’ve enjoyed some of it. But we want to do what is in the best interest of the town. Dick made it possible for us to do what we wanted all along. We hadn’t any need for the houses. Now we can do something we really believe in, instead of doing something that was phony.”

Mr. Dickinson said he wanted to seize an opportunity “to preserve the integrity of the harborfront.” He said the lighthouse property eventually will go to conservation interests and he guarantees it will not be built on.

Otters refuse to be dormant. Two good-sized ones were seen in the snow in one of West Tisbury’s small inland ponds. They seemed endlessly energetic as they scratched in the snow and slid down the slippery banks of the pond. They also wallowed in an air hole of the half-frozen pond, resembling nothing so much as two sybarites enjoying a Jacuzzi. A well-stocked Jacuzzi. Both were visibly munching while they bathed.

The Massachusetts banking commission, by a split 2 to 1 vote, rejected this week an application and bid to take over Martha’s Vineyard National Bank. It is only the third time in 12 years the commission has blocked such a drive. The outcome, after some six months of often emotional public debate, leaves much of the Vineyard pleased, at least one Edgartown family disappointed and Bank of Boston officials surprised and confused.

William M. Honey, president of Martha’s Vineyard National, responded this way to the official news: “Hooray. Wonderful. Terrific. Happy? Oh boy, I should say so!”

The Alfred Hall family of Edgartown brought the take-over issue to the local bank board of directors in July when Bank of Boston offered the Hall family, and any other stockholders, $47.50 a share, about twice the normal market value. The Hall family owns 30 per cent of the bank shares, and Mr. Hall is chairman of the board of directors. But that board, by a 7 to 3 vote, rejected the Bank of Boston offer. It was that rejection which prompted the Bank of Boston to take its case to the state banking commission.

The decision runs against the general trend of deregulation that is sweeping national banking circles these days. The commission decision reads in part: “Testimony shows that reasonably good services are presently offered by the Island banks. Potential advantage of enhanced services and access to more technology do not outweigh potentially negative consequences of unwanted intrusions to this special Island.”

Henry Beetle Hough, editor of the Gazette since 1920, was honored by the New England Press Association, which acknowledged his contributions to community journalism and to wildlife preservation. In brief remarks, Mr. Hough reflected affectionately on the many changes in community journalism, missing the now-lost culture of the old print-shop. “But we haven’t lost the oneness of the editorial and mechanical people working together.”

Let’s talk, with the 60,000 or 70,000 far-scattered summertime Islanders who couldn’t be here, about one voluptuous luxury of living on Martha’s Vineyard that they haven’t experienced and, until they come to stay year round, can’t imagine. Silence is the name of that voluptuous luxury.

The hushed wash of the sea around us is a form of silence. We do not hear it as a conscious discriminating act, the way we hear music. It’s just there, permeating everything we do. The surreptitious, secret snow whispers. The wind rustles along the grasses. Among the forms of silence counted lately are the hiss of hardwood logs and the arthritic creaking of an old house as it stretches and settles itself to sleep. Count your silences. Count your blessings.

Compiled by Cynthia Meisner

library@mvgazette.com