Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Not being one for sentimentality, here I go for the first time: Two anniversaries are approaching for my husband, Richard and myself. First, moving to the Vineyard full-time 10 years ago, Nov. 5, and second, the sad anniversary of 9/11.

These two are forever intertwined; Our house in New York sold in August 2001, and Richard, a New York city firefighter, was in the depths of 9/11 a month later. Here he was losing friends, going to funerals and memorials, and aching with pain of what he had seen.

So for another first that I’m certainly proud of, I want to thank Richard, and all the other people who worked to save others that day and went through pain, physically and/or mentally that will never go away. May all of us come together to remember those heroes, and those who lost their lives, and most importantly, to show love and compassion instead of anger and disharmony in our country and in our world, which is becoming as small as our Island. We all need to care more and put aside the pettiness of greed and distrust.

And thank you people of the Vineyard for accepting us and giving us a true home.

Phyllis Kugler

West Tisbury


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Gazette readers should compare the Sept. 2 rational defense of scientific thinking by Richard Knabel with the more emotional political letters by Peter Robb and Michael Fontes on the same page. In the area of weather, Mr. Knabel supports the environmentalist worries over the effect of human activity like burning huge amounts of fossil fuels on the planet’s climate over religiously-tinged industrialist claims that the puny activities of mere mortal men cannot change the course of mighty nature.

As to the diversity of species, Darwinian theory, constantly modifying in response to new discoveries, explains the fossil evidence far better than does Genesis, however inspired its ancient authors may have been. Although science shows us how one life form evolves from others, Mr. Knabel must admit that it has yet to explain how life began on this once barren rock of ours. The laws of chance won’t do.

Mr. Knabel depends on reason and evidence. By contrast Mr. Robb praises his Tea Partiers as being from all political opinions, when surveys have shown them to be predominantly Republicans. Typically, he wants a founding fathers-sized government that will offer all the benefits to which he is accustomed at a fraction of the cost. If he fires all the bureaucrats, who will sign his Social Security check or flood relief payments? Never mind details; in 2012 all that majority of Americans who oppose the Pelosi-Reid agenda will march to their voting places and virtue will triumph. Hoo boy! Mr. Robb’s letter will win high praise from his Tea Party fellow believers, but is unlikely to draw any converts.

Mr. Fontes accuses the President and his party of having become “authoritarian socialists” like “the ones from whom my grandparents once fled.”

It is clear that he will not vote Democratic in 2012, but if he can’t be less cryptic as to his reasons, he won’t get many to vote the same way.

From now to election day many partisans will write letters to the editor. Few will convert any partisans of the other side, but the more rational will earn a more receptive reading.

W.R. Deeble

West Tisbury


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Richard Knabel in a Gazette commentary titled, Those Who Deny Science are Unfit to Lead, states that all Republican candidates running for President in 2012, except for Jon Huntsman, do not believe in evolution. One can deduce from this title that these antiscience candidates are unfit to lead our country. My suspicion is Mr. Knabel didn’t choose this incendiary title but rather someone on the Gazette staff wrote it. How unfortunate. I thought the Gazette was more balanced in its reporting and commentary.

This article reminds me of a quote by one of the world’s most influential evolutionists, Richard Dawkins. In his review of Blueprints: Solving the Mystery of Evolution, he writes, “It is absolutely safe to say that if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid, or insane (or wicked, but I’d rather not consider that).” Is this what the Gazette is inferring when it states that those who deny science and evolution are unfit to lead? Are the Mitt Romneys and Rick Perrys of this world too stupid or ignorant to lead this country because they believe in creationism rather than evolution?

We live in a world that believes that religion is a fantasy made up by stupid, insecure people. Smart people don’t believe in God. They ridicule what the Bible states about how the world was formed based upon Genesis 1 and 2. Intellectual elitism has run amok in the world of research and academia. Professors, scientists, doctors, and other “intellectuals” look down on people like me, a Christ-follower, because of my “narrow-mindedness.” They roll their eyes at people who put any stock in the Bible. They snort when they see someone bow their head to pray at Linda Jean’s. One would have to wonder if Sir Isaac Newton, Galileo Galilei, Nicholas Copernicus, Sir Francis Bacon, René Descartes, and Gregor Mendel would browbeat and belittle modern scientists for their lack of belief in God. Today’s scientists base their work entirely on the foundation laid by those men, and yet somehow we’re stupid for believing in the same God that those legends believed in.

There was a time when scientists regarded the universe as the handiwork of God. But most modern scientists operate on the assumption that God is a myth, that the universe is an entity caused and ruled by chance. When it comes down to it, scientists can’t give any dates for when the world began to evolve. They can’t tell us where the matter involved in the big bang originated. They can’t explain how something as complex as the human brain could evolve naturally from a cosmic accident. They can’t tell us how a single-celled organism could suddenly start adding organs and bones and intelligence.

The newspaper industry is in the business of selling papers. I hope that in the future the Vineyard Gazette would be more balanced in its reporting and commentary. There are persons of every political and religious persuasion living on this Island. Both liberals and conservatives, atheists and believers shop and work on Martha’s Vineyard. May the Gazette be for the whole Island, not just for those who are liberal in their perspective.

Jeff Winter

Oak Bluffs


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The other evening I was fortunate enough to attend a conversation between Linda Coombs, the director of the Aquinnah Cultural Center, and Geraldine Brooks, author of the recent novel Caleb’s Crossing. It was a stimulating discussion on very difficult issues and I applaud, as many there did, both Ms. Coombs and Ms. Brooks on their willingness to engage in dialogue on the thorny subject of race, appropriation, and the role of art in increasing our understanding of others, and, ultimately, ourselves.

Ms. Coombs did a great service in laying out the need for annotating racial stereotypes and misrepresentations in fiction when it comes to a telling of the history of native peoples in America. In particular because so many of us remain ignorant of their truth, of their actual experience, often still lived. This is something she encountered often in her work at Plimouth Plantation representing a Wampanoag in historical reenactments.

For her part, Ms. Brooks made an impassioned case for the use of the imagination in conjuring what life may be like for people other than ourselves. It was evident that she was aware of the tenuous ground she was treading and the dangers of cultural appropriation and that she tried to treat the subject with the utmost respect.

For me one of the most enlightening moments of the evening was when Bettina Washington, historic preservation officer for the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), spoke of being upset while reading the book because one of the main characters, Caleb of the title, was not fictionalized but an actual person, an ancestor. She found herself wondering how Caleb would feel (she may have even said was feeling) about his story being told in this way. Being of European descent myself, I found that remark to be revealing of one of the great divides between “white” culture and native peoples. The native people’s connections to their ancestors (and the earth, those two things being very intertwined if I understand correctly) feel different than ours. For the Wampanoags, those personages are alive in ways we don’t recognize while the prevailing culture pushes beyond what came before with a neglect of continuity that I feel is damaging to ourselves and our home, the planet. I have used the dreaded “us” and “them” and I hope there will be a time when, while we still recognize our differences, perhaps we will understand them with compassion and recognize we really are all one. As another listener pointed out, we all make assumptions about everything all the time. Largely these assumptions are unconscious which is what makes them so damaging.

I would like to thank the Aqiunnah Cultural Center for hosting such an important event and I encourage everyone to take advantage of this wonderful new resource atop the Gay Head Cliffs. It will enrich your experience of this beautiful place.

P.S. If either Ms. Coombs, Ms. Brooks, or Ms. Washington feel that I have misrepresented their statements, sincere apologies.

Mitzi Pratt



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Many thanks to Wampanoag tribal cultural council director Linda Coombs for hosting Geraldine Brooks at the Vanderhoop Homestead this past Wednesday.

The discussion and question-and-answer session about Geraldine’s latest book, Caleb’s Crossing, was most educational. Given the book’s international acclaim and distribution, many people around the globe are learning for the first time about the existence of the Vineyard’s Wampanoag tribe. As well, many people are learning for the first time about how Wampanoag tribal member, Caleb, was so brilliant that he learned the languages of English, Latin and many other subjects — to be the first Native American to graduate from Harvard in 1665.

Kudos to the Wampanoag tribe and Geraldine for bringing attention to Caleb’s contribution to the culture and history of our country and our Island.

William Waterway



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Comcast spokesman Marc Goodman said the following last week: “Our strategy as a company has always been to roll out new technologies across our entire network. As a result of that approach, people on Martha’s Vineyard have access to the same Internet speeds as people in Boston on the same fiber-rich network. And we are committed to keeping our customers on Martha’s Vineyard on the forefront on the latest technology.”

Apparently Mr. Goodman is not aware that Chappaquiddick residents, who are Vineyard homeowners and taxpayers, are not included in Comcast’s fiber-rich strategy playbook.

Chappaquiddick residents have been struggling for over a year to get Comcast and the Edgartown selectmen’s attention to the absence of cable TV and reliable Internet coverage on Chappy. While negotiations have been ongoing in every Vineyard town on a new 10-year Comcast contract, Chappaquiddick residents, who are homeowners, taxpayers, and voters in Edgartown, are ignored and treated like nonentities.

As a result, we have written an open letter to Brian L. Roberts, chairman and chief executive officer of the Comcast Corporation that was published in the August 30 edition of the Gazette. We would appreciate a response from Mr. Roberts.

Johnathan Cobb, Bob O’Rourke,

Chris Trancynger, Dennis Goldin



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

As we bask in the pleasure of having President Obama and his family visit the Island, the president announced just as he was leaving the Island that he would stop his own top advisors from issuing new standards for smog pollution. Instead he is going to stick with outdated standards left over from the Bush administration. His own Environmental Protection Agency administrator Lisa Jackson said that these standards likely violated the Clean Air Act and needed to be revised.

Refusing to update smog standards will likely cost tens of thousands of deaths due to asthma and other lung and respiratory diseases. Infants and children are especially vulnerable to pollution-caused asthma.

Contrary to people who attack environmental protections, promoting clean air would create new jobs by investing in technology and infrastructure to reduce pollution. It would reduce health care costs. It’s really a no-brainer for anyone except the polluters and their apologists — who are, of course, just as vulnerable as the rest of us to smog and bad air.

As a longtime Democrat and incoming head of the Chilmark Democratic Committee, I am especially angry that the President I worked hard to elect would succumb to right-wing opponents of environmental protection. I expected better.

If you feel as I do, be sure to let the president know that by refusing to update smog standards, he will be polluting the air of the very place he loves. Let him know he is endangering the health of his citizens, himself and his family. He must reverse this mindless decision!

Zee Gamson



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

On Sunday, August 26, the day Irene arrived, our seven-year-old grandson broke his arm. We knew the Chappy ferry was locked down due to the weather, so our initial concern was high. Yet all it took was one phone call, and we quickly saw firsthand the expediency and dedication of emergency services here on Chappy. Peter Wells immediately pulled a crew together to man the Chappy ferry. EMTs from Chappy drove the ambulance to the ferry to take August over to the Vineyard hospital. August spent the night with his father at the hospital in the emergency room, and then was taken by ambulance the following morning to Children’s Hospital in Boston for surgery. Everything happened seamlessly. We are so grateful to the Chappy EMTs, Peter and all on the ferry who did not hesitate to help out in very difficult conditions, as well as everyone at the Vineyard hospital. We also have a good friend, Win Self, an orthopedic surgeon who drove from Cape Pogue during the height of the storm to see if he could assist. Chappaquiddick is a very special island. It is a wonderful feeling to know there are so many Chappy islanders who are ready to help when needed. Our sincere thanks to you all.

Louise and Graham Marx



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Despite the fact that there is a 1997 Tisbury town ordinance specifically prohibiting the raising of fowl, Rupert the rooster is still crowing relentlessly at all hours of the day and night on Leonard Circle in Vineyard Haven.

So for the last three years Tisbury town officials have chosen to ignore so many complaints that the town administrator John Bugbee finally had to assign a specific person (Hillary Conklin) to handle them all this summer. This is in addition to the many complaints filed with the Tisbury animal control officer Laurie Clements, the Vineyard Haven police, the environmental police (Matt Bass) and last, but certainly not least, the board of selectmen . . . who after discussion with the Tisbury town attorney (Leonard Kopelman) decided it would be illegal to go on someone’s property where the rooster roosts because it happened to be posted. Which suggests the key to breaking the law is to simply put up a No Trespassing sign so no one (including the authorities) can come on your property. This presumably would include barking dogs.

That said, I would like to reiterate that those of us who are kept up by Rupert’s incessant crowing want no harm to come to him. We just feel that running with the turkeys is a poor substitute for running with the hens on a farm where he could screech to his heart’s content.

June Parker

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

With gratitude, I write to thank both the selectmen and NStar for their efforts to put the telephone and electric lines underground from the Chappy Point to Litchfield Road.

Ever since the 1938 hurricane, virtually all northeast or southeast gales would take out the poles or lines along the Gardner property and Caleb’s Pond, leaving us without phone service or electricity for a lengthy time.

Even though Irene wasn’t as strong as expected, its winds would have been enough to leave Chappy again with no utilities. However, thanks to the selectmen, working with NStar, all went well. Not only is it a pleasing sight to have no poles along that part of the road, but I believe this is the first time that we have experienced 60 mile-per-hour winds and not lost power.

Last winter, NStar worked through some of the worst conditions you can imagine, to put electricity and phone service underground. Their trucks, machinery and huge pieces of equipment were a maze to get through, to and from the ferry. No matter how awful the weather, the NStar crew remained on the job, always courteous and helpful. I thank them for what they accomplished. It is particularly appreciated after Irene.

Edith Potter



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

On Friday morning at 3:50 a.m. I received a phone call from the Island Communications Center reporting that several boats were on fire at the shipyard’s storage site at the Airport Business Park. I arrived within 15 minutes to find the entire Edgartown volunteer fire company as well as the airport fire truck working to extinguish the blaze. It appeared to me as though there were 50 men working on the fire. As I approached the scene, I asked to speak with the fire chief and the police officer in charge. From my first exchange with an unknown member of the fire company and throughout the entire ordeal everyone I spoke with was professional, courteous, helpful and interested. This made what for me was a bad situation, manageable. My interaction with the Edgartown fire department is one I will never forget. I wish I knew each and every member of the fire company so that I could thank them personally. I would like to give special thanks to fire chief Peter Shemeth and assistant chief Scott Ellis. On behalf of the Martha’s Vineyard Shipyard and my customers who were affected, I thank you for your professionalism.

Phil Hale

Vineyard Haven

The writer is president of the Martha’s Vineyard Shipyard.


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I was 10, 11 and 12 years old during World War II. For kids it was a very exciting time, visiting the soldiers and watching their maneuvers. On one occasion a line of landing barges stretched out beyond the Edgartown Lighthouse all the way down to Katama where they landed. It was where the land bank property on the point is now located. There were no houses in the area at the time. Approximately 6,000 men were involved. They pitched their tents and set up a latrine area and were there several days. During this time they were practicing landing in the surf on the South Beach side. Several of the boats breached during the landings on the beach. A large truck similar to a large wrecker tried straightening them with little success, breaking cables in the attempt.

While working at Katama Farm, we watched planes shooting rockets at moving targets. There was a circular track which led to a large protecting bunker where the targets could be put in place for the next plane. The large cement interior of the bunker is 100 feet or more in the ocean and was broken up by explosives; part of the earth built up for protection is still there.

The Coast Guard patrolled the south shore of the Island on a regular schedule, prepared for any German submarine landings. The sailors were housed on the Flynn property in a large summer house located not far from Oyster Pond. We watched them making meatloaf for dinner one day and enjoyed talking to them.

Seeing soldiers walking through property in the area that is today Morning Glory Farm or along Katama Road or up near the water tower was not unusual. On one occasion there were several soldiers near the water tower; one was cranking a hand generator for communication and they had their faces blackened and may have been part of a parachute landing. There were other happenings at the naval air station, now the Martha’s Vineyard Airport. The only civilians allowed in the base were required to have passes, so that left kids out. We did see many air activities including seeing a fighter plane just at treetop level while we were hiking one day. Also we saw dive bombers practicing over Cape Pogue Pond.

What prompted me to write about these experiences was the article in a recent Gazette about a group searching for unexploded ordnance along the shore and inland. Several years ago the army shut down a large part of South Beach to search for unexploded ordnance, which they never found. Where they are now searching is probably more than 100 feet in from where the shoreline used to be. As kids we were never stopped from walking on the beaches or anywhere else because live ordnance was exploding. The rockets that were shot by the planes never exploded and were filled with chalk, as we found out after the war when we were investigating what was left behind by the navy, unscrewing the top of the rocket shell.

If there is in fact live ordnance in the area, as the warning signs explain, why are people allowed to go to the beaches? The signs are elaborate and look to be very expensive. Who is paying for this?

John W. Osborn Jr.

Edgartown and

Mechanicsburg, Pa.