Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
So I hear the waters that I have gone swimming in every summer since I was an infant (Truman was president) are deemed “maybe polluted.” Ho hum. Not the first in a long line of indignities visited upon what I revere as the Galilee of bathing beaches. Here is a timeline of sorts:
• The disappearance of blowfish. These were cute little fish that would turn into ping-pong balls when you caught them in your hands. More fun than silly putty or a slinky. When I was around 10 they were gone. Never knew why.
• The removal of the swim float and pier from the Pay Beach. As if we weren’t blessed enough with those wonderful sandbars, we also had all the fun accoutrements the kids had who went to summer camp off-Island at Lake Muc-Kee-Bottom. Having since gone to law school, I now know why the town got rid of them.
• The excavation of Lover’s Rock — the iconic Matterhorn of Inkwell Beach is immortalized in hundreds of old photos. I believe it was gone from the seascape before I had opportunity to take advantage of its nominal purpose. No matter. The rocks next to the seawall provided much better cover.
• The end of coin diving. Although the waters near the steamship pier are not on the current “no swim” list, the noble sport of battling your peers underwater for tourist nickels and dimes is long gone. That’s too bad. Besides affording healthy exercise, it served as a useful introduction to the American commercial world.
• The demolition of the old Sea View Hotel and Lounge. A giant anchor sat out in front of it. Talk about romantic, salt-scented, nautical atmosphere. Ernest Hemingway may never have sat at the Sea View bar but there were a lot of guys who looked just like him. Unfortunately, so did a lot of the women.
If the Oak Bluffs town beach can survive the aforementioned parade of assaults, it is well poised to handle anything the 21st century can throw at it. This includes a roaming bunch of nerd types armed with high tech, hair-trigger bacteria detectors, making Henny-Penny pronouncements about water quality.
But the truly perplexing question is why here, why now? The waters up-Island would seem a more likely problem spot given that area’s recent explosive development. Oak Bluffs, by contrast, looks about the same as it did 150 years ago. I’ve seen those old pictures of trainloads of people descending on the town back when waste disposal technology was still almost primitive. Never read anything about cholera or dysentery. Actually, looking at the way those Victorians dressed they probably held it and didn’t go until they got off-Island.
Let me declare that I have swum in these waters all my life and accidentally swallowed some of it too. I’ve also consumed countless generations of quahaugs from the nearby lagoons. Despite this I can remember getting sick only once and that was the result of a youthful encounter with a bottle of gin on the beach one night with some bad kids from off-Island.
I say go jump in the water.
Owen W. Joyner
New Orleans, La.
Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
While I can appreciate the concerns of the witnesses of a police officer taking a skateboard from a youngster in downtown Vineyard Haven, let me present another viewpoint, i.e., that the police officer may have saved that person’s life, and saved an innocent motorist, or cyclist, from a lifetime of guilt over a fatal accident.
Even without the bicyclists and skateboarders who ride the wrong way down the one-way street, backing out of a parking spot on Main street can be a harrowing experience if you are parked next to an oversized vehicle. There is a wonderful skate park a short distance from Vineyard Haven. But there are several young boarders who insist on riding on Main street, intentionally harassing motorists and weaving across two lanes where Main street is two way. I have also on two different occasions witnessed young boarders after 10 p.m. in the middle of Main street, near Hatch Road, weaving back and forth in complete darkness, in dark clothing. I imagine the police may be frustrated with this behavior. Did you not wonder that the boarder was silent and ignored the officer’s request? I will not pass judgment on your interpretation of what you saw, but I will ask Vineyard Haven police to continue to address the safety issues which threaten our peaceful enjoyment of our time on the Vineyard, and which may save a life.
Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
My girlfriend Mary and I planned our trip to Martha’s Vineyard for months in advance. We finally arrived from Florida on Friday, July 15, for nine dreamlike summer days visiting with my older brother, Ted, and his wife, Nancy, at their home in Edgartown.
Mary had never been to the Island before, or New England for that matter. I had first come to the Vineyard many years before in the late 1970s when I was living in New York and returned for several summers in a row after that. I respectfully encouraged my brother back then to consider it for their family summer vacations also instead of the Cape. He was an IT director for a large Boston corporation and I knew they would fall in love with it as well. They did and built a beautiful home here, now living full-time in the summer and Florida in the winter after their retirement.
I had not told Mary of my plans to propose to her while we were here, and after a wonderful day in Chilmark and Aquinnah, got on one knee and offered her a diamond ring during our dinner in Menemsha that evening. She accepted and with that the Vineyard will always hold a lasting memory for us both. We can’t think of a more perfect place to spend time in the gorgeous, blue sky days of summer. We enjoyed the beaches and shopping in Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven, fishing on Chappaquiddick and everything we could cram in the short time we had here for our visit this time. Our vacation was accentuated by the wonderful and friendly residents of the Island; we even found time for a lecture on great white sharks at the Tabernacle in the Camp Ground at Oak Bluffs. We look forward to returning again next year with our inner riches intact from these nine wonderful days in July of 2011.
Thanks for such a great newspaper.
St. Petersburg, Fla.