Knowing of course that he is on vacation, what would you say to Barack Obama if you had a moment to speak with him? At the Inkwell Beach in Oak Bluffs, Squid Row in Menemsha and the front porch of the Chilmark Store, the Gazette found a variety of lively responses.

The scene is Inkwell Beach, very early Monday morning, and the Polar Bears are gathered. This unusual summer club, whose central themes are swimming, breakfast and inclusion, has been in existence for more than 64 years. The sun shines through a thin morning haze that hovers over a calm Nantucket Sound. The water sparkles as the swimmers enter, creating wavelets behind them.

Eleanor Hughes, longtime Polar Bear, said: “I would congratulate him for taking on the job, knowing that no matter what he does, everything wrong will be pointed out.”

The Rev. Stephanie Spellers of Boston, who will lead two services at the Trinity Episcopal Church in August, said: “I would tell him to be brave. We all know the truth is very hard. We all know we are a young and an undisciplined nation. We want what feels good now. We need you to call us to deeper reflection and hard, wise and compassionate choices.”

Gloria Yong of Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven, had this bit to say as she headed for the water: “Pray for healing.”

Sheila Tidline of Baltimore, Md., wore a cap with a portrait of Obama on the front. The cap was a gift earlier this year from a Howard University sorority conference that she attended in New York city last April. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha. The sorority was supportive of Obama’s candidacy: “I would be so awestruck, I would be speechless,” she said.

Okolo Schwinn-Clanton of Vineyard Haven and Methuen, is a financial adviser. His mother, Elizabeth Clanton, was an avid Polar Bear and died in June in Florida. With his daughter Ariana seated in his arms, he greeted Polar Bears as they headed for the water and offered this thought: “I would tell him to never forget the message of hope he brought to us.”



Squid Row bench at Menemsha is the place where fishermen swap tales early in the day and summer visitors come later in the morning to soak up the day. On this bright sunny morning, young children populate the dock, some with small fishing rods and others with nets. The chatter is all about the prodigious amount of bait swarming in the harbor water beneath the planks. Large fishing boats that were out long before the sun was up return with their catch.

Abby Abrams, 11, of Norwalk, Conn., had a simple answer to the question. “I’d say: ‘Hi! I am Abby. What is it like to be President? And what do you like about Martha’s Vineyard?’ ” she said. She added a question for Sasha and Malia: “Have you been on the Flying Horses?” And then one more for Mr. Obama: “Is it the hardest job ever?”

Jake Abrams, 10, of Marblehead, and a cousin of Miss Abrams, was holding a fishing rod. “If you had any job other than politics what would it be?” he wanted to know. And the young fisherman also wondered what the President does when he isn’t working. “I don’t know what he likes, so I’d like to ask,” he said.

“Welcome to Martha’s Vineyard!” boomed Les Bowman of Old Saybrook, Conn., seated with his wife Nancy at a picnic table within a few feet of the Squid Row bench. “I hope he enjoys it here. I hope he visits one of the fish places for lunch.”

Bob Savage of Sandwich was seated on the Squid Row bench trying to reprogram his Timex watch to carry the local tides. This was his question: “Where is all the money coming from?”

Drew Edwards of Dyerbrook, Me., was visiting Menemsha to spend time with his good friend Ian Jaffee, the assistant Chilmark harbor master. “Take a chance. You have the political capital, you have once in a generation, an opportunity to change health care and make a difference. Go for it!” he said.

For his part, Ian Yaffe, who has spent five years working summers on the waterfront, said he would give the President a warm greeting to the Island and wish him a great vacation. He had one more thought: “I wouldn’t want to talk because I know he is on vacation. But if he was interested in talking, I might suggest he buy a T-shirt to support the Chilmark fire department.”

Around the corner from Squid Row bench, Bob Lane and his friend Mike Stimola had just returned from a fishing trip with Jonathan Boyd. Mr. Lane is the assistant principal of the West Tisbury elementary school. “I’d say go get ’em Obama. Keep the faith baby!” he said.

Mr. Stimola, of West Tisbury and Edgewater, N.J., said: “Stay the course. Toughen up if you need too. And don’t let the entrenched lobby deter you.”



At the Chilmark Store, the front porch is a beehive of summer activity. Here you will find the summer power brokers arguing about the state of the world over hot coffee and cold soda. The conversations are intense, and the smell of freshly baked pizza wafts out onto the porch and mingles with the scent of suntan lotion. You could call the place Pizza Beach.

Kelly Vaska, an interior designer from Palos Verdes, Ca., had just finished lunch with friends. “I would say to the President how much of a huge fan I am of him,” she said. She also said she would be full of questions. “I want to know what he is going to do. Is he bicycle riding? Is he boating? I want to know.”

Paul Dolman, a writer and executive producer of a new television series called What Matters Most, is on the Island for the summer and living in Edgartown. He said: “I hope he has courage of his convictions, that history will smile on those with him, who not only share in the vision but take bold action. Our society is reaching a critical state and only a new paradigm and new consciousness can transform and save us.”

Kathy Stinson and Larry Gomez of Vineyard Haven were at the Chilmark Store to pick up a quick pizza for lunch as they drove through the tiny up-Island town. They own Greenwood House, a bed and breakfast next door to the Vineyard Haven library. Ms. Stinson also works at the library. If given a moment with the President, Ms. Stinson didn’t hesitate about what she would say. “I hope you are taking time for yourself and your family and enjoying this Island. We are all here to make it happen,” she said.

Mr. Gomez confessed that he would be swept up in the moment if he were standing next to the President. “I’d be tongue-tied,” he said.