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Letters to the editor

The magazine welcomes letters to the editor. Send them to , or mail to Martha’s Vineyard Magazine, P.O. Box 66, Edgartown, MA 02539. Please include your home town, state, and telephone number. (Letters may be edited for space and clarity.)

From the Not Summer 2012-2013 edition
of Martha's Vineyard Magazine

Another Vineyard flick

Being a movie buff, I enjoyed reading Kate Feiffer’s article “A Guide to the Movies: Set on Martha’s Vineyard” [September–October] very much, but I think you may have overlooked a film. As a young man in 1972, I was employed in the front office of the Harbor View Hotel. There was a movie filmed there and a lot of the cast stayed at the Harbor View. The title of the movie is I Could Never Have Sex with Any Man Who Has So Little Regard for My Husband. The main actors were Carmine Caridi (Godfather II), Andrew Duncan (Love Story), Cynthia Harris (Mad About You), and Lynne Lipton (voice of Cheetara from Thundercats). Although certainly not a major motion picture, the actors all went on to have long and successful careers. For me, this was an I-remember-them-when moment.

– Mark J. Troughton Barre, Vermont

Revisiting the Azores

I will always treasure “The Allure of the Azores” in September–October. I was born in Vineyard Haven in 1922. My parents, Miguel and Theresa Fontes, took my sister Laura and me to the island of Terceira in 1925. We lived there for six years. I remember going to school, and attending a bullfight was as normal as going to the movies here.

We returned to our beloved Martha’s Vineyard in 1931. My parents bought a house on the Edgartown Road for three thousand dollars. My sister and I were placed in the first grade in the Tisbury School at the ages of nine and eleven due to language barrier.

I regret never returning to the Azores, but I have my memories and your wonderful article. Thank you.

– Helen Fontes Cerrone Boynton Beach, Florida

From the Home & Garden Fall-Winter 2012-2013 edition
of Martha's Vineyard Magazine

Moving essay

What we resist or regret becomes a recognized gift! [Perry Garfinkel, who wrote “The Upside of the Vineyard Shuffle,” Spring–Summer Home & Garden 2012) has learned this, and shares with us his wonderful insight.

– Ann Booyer, Chilmark

Follow us on Facebook

During a recent promotion, we offered five new subscribers a chance to win the new Blu-ray release of Jaws. Walt Grogan of Arlington Heights, Illinois, was one of the lucky winners:

Thanks, Martha’s Vineyard Magazine! I came home today to find a copy of the Jaws Blu-ray and a copy of the Amity Gazette in my mailbox! Awesome! However, that doesn’t compare to your magazine. My wife and I received our first issue and it is fantastic! The photography and writing are top notch. Well worth the price!

– Walt Grogan, via Facebook

From the September-October 2012 edition
of Martha's Vineyard Magazine

Family legacy

Ever since the article [“The Shearer Family, Keepers of the Inn,” July] was released, we have had so very many positive comments about the article and our heritage on the Island. We have always been proud of Charles Shearer’s legacy and the fact that we, as a family, have been able to keep his legacy alive. Your article has reaffirmed all of the hard work performed by various family members over the years.

– Lee Van Allen, Innkeeper, Shearer Cottage, Oak Bluffs

Dancing with Built on Stilts

This was a great article! [“All the Right Grooves,” August] As a former performing artist and now arts administrator, it’s great to see all the amazing arts projects happening on the Island!

– Jill Tutt Williams, via Facebook

Keeping in touch

We’ve subscribed to the magazine for a few years now, and love it and the varied content. We love Martha’s Vineyard. I’ve been bringing my wife there since 2004, and my parents and brother have been going there for more than thirty-five years. We really miss it when we leave and the magazine helps us keep in touch with the Island. Just wish we could be there more than once a year!

– Jeff Macholz, Patchogue, New York

From the August 2012 edition
of Martha's Vineyard Magazine

Kudos to Vineyard Youth Tennis

Nice job, Karla [Araujo, writer of “Hitting the Courts,” July]. A great sport, a wonderful facility on an island paradise and now funded in perpetuity by a generous Gerald DeBlois. A gift that lasts a lifetime.

– Chip Wirsing, Chesapeake, Virginia

A paella pan tip

What a wonderful story [“Beach Party Paella,” July], and I totally share your enthusiasm for paella cooked outdoors on an open fire. If your readers are looking for an authentic enameled steel (or carbon steel) paella pan, I suggest they go to (which happens to be my own site, so I can vouch for the quality!).

– Sarah Jay, Jackson Heights, New York

Why do we love Menemsha?

My favorite thing about Menemsha [July] is its crowd-pleasing diversity. A beach for swimmers, a jetty for sport fishermen, clean and functional sanitary facilities, the Bite for the hungry traveler, a convenience store/gas station, and sunsets that stay with you for a lifetime!

– Stephen Trahan via Facebook

Lobster on the beach watching the beautiful sunset. In the colder weather, having a lobster dinner sitting at the counter with Stanley and his wife at Menemsha Fish Market. Loved Stanley’s fishing stories!

– Linda Casazza via Facebook


In the July article “The Shearer Family, Keepers of the Inn,” two photo captions included inaccuracies. The photo on pages 70–71 was likely taken in the early 1920s, and the photo on page 81 featured Doris Jackson and her cousin Miriam D. Walker.

From the July 2012 edition
of Martha's Vineyard Magazine

Time for a second home?

With regard to “Owning vs. Renting a Summer Place” (May–June): The pro is that airfares are dropping so I can visit. The con is that I need to win the lottery to be able to buy a home on my favorite Island.

– Sue Cimmino via Facebook

I am praying that heaven looks like MV and I don’t have to be a millionaire there.

– Diane McCall via Facebook

A welcome gift

We have received a gift subscription for a few years now from our daughter and eagerly look for its arrival. It is a beautifully done magazine – photos, interesting and knowledgeable articles, and recipes.

We thank you for the treasure of each issue.

– Gerald and Joan Watkins

Ledyard, Connecticut

Just received my first issue of your magazine. After I read your last issue from cover to cover, I knew I had to have my very own subscription! I live in Texas, but in some small way your magazine makes me feel like I’m on the Island! I look forward to many future issues.

David Brashear via Facebook

From the May-June 2012 edition
of Martha's Vineyard Magazine

Good ol’ conch

I really enjoyed your article on conch [“The Hidden World of Conch,” Not Summer 2011–2012] and did not know they were both herbivorous and carnivorous. Thanks for the recipes as well.

– Lisa Doricchi, Chesapeake City, Maryland

More on Edgartown’s lighthouse

In “Illuminating Lighthouses” (August 2011), a description of the Edgartown Lighthouse referred to its children’s memorial and an inscription. Tomas Napoleon of Peabody kindly contacted the magazine to explain he wrote that poem originally for Ricky Harrington in October of 1995, and then he adapted it for all children who have died so it could be used at the memorial: “Let the celebration of all our children and their endless youth, when the world was to them still without problem, Always be that unforgotten Vineyard summer – An everlasting day.”

From the Home & Garden Spring-Summer 2012 edition
of Martha's Vineyard Magazine

A new Smith’s house

I am the grandson of Stanley and Marguerite Smith, former owners of the property at 86 South Summer Street in Edgartown. I recently read “Reconstructing the Smith House” (Fall–Winter 2011–2012 Home & Garden) by Shelley Christiansen with great interest. I enjoyed revisiting my family history while also learning a few things I did not know about my grandmother’s house. Thanks for such a wonderful job.

In decades now past, I know my grandmother spoke of someday leaving her home to “the youngest Smith.” At that time, the youngest Smith was me – the last of the line.

Many people in town are probably unaware that my father, Michael Smith, spent many summer leaves from the Army doing what he could to slow time’s onslaught on Grandma’s house. He not only gave his time but invested his limited financial resources. I suppose he always held hope that his mother’s house might someday be returned to its former glory. While my uncles enjoyed residing in the house, it is unfortunate their zeal did not extend to maintenance and basic housekeeping, so my father fought a losing battle. Even after we moved back to the Vineyard in the eighties, the task to save the house only became harder due to its advancing age. Her prime had definitely passed.

I inherited Dad’s dream of hoping we could salvage the home at some future date. My imagination was always occupied with the question of how we would someday execute such a daunting task. Ultimately, this was not to be.

Your story gave me some satisfaction in the knowledge that the Hirschfelds have made use of the property with a faithful nod to its proud past, right down to the “go-to-hell” blue paint as you so aptly described. Anyone who knew my grandmother would agree that she would have approved of this description!

While home on leave from Iraq in 2006, Dad presented me with the placard bearing my grandfather’s name that proudly hung on the house’s blue door for so long. This is all that remains of our family home. It now hangs in my own home in a room my wife has dubbed our “Vineyard Room.” While Grandma’s house now belongs to the ages, a small piece of tradition remains in this Smith house.

– Major Sean M. Smith, Churchville, Maryland

From the Not Summer 2011-2012 edition
of Martha's Vineyard Magazine

Keeping in touch

We just returned from our annual vacation to Katama, and we’re heartsick every time we have to pack up and head for the ferry to leave. We’re going to attempt more Island time this fall and next spring and in the future, but we desperately need your magazine to keep the adrenaline flowing until we return to the Vineyard. Every one of your articles and features captures the Island so magically in my heart. I loved the salute to State Beach! [“A Perfect Beach Day,” July 2011]

Keep up your wonderful chronicling of the people, history, excitement, and charming character of the Vineyard, thus allowing each of us to share this very special place year-round through your eyes and words!

– Alan Cassidy, Braintree

The best of the fair

The Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Fair [“Celebrating the Fair,” August 2011] is a warm and inviting event for locals and visitors. The crowds are indeed friendly; the people associated with the fair are great. My children have fond memories of the rock-climbing wall. Bryce, Jordan, and Ella share ice tea and popcorn, and dart inside to cool off on a hot day. Returning to the Vineyard as a mother of three – taking time from a career as a corporate attorney – is a gift from the souls of the Vineyard.

– Jennifer C. Warren, Lords Valley, Pennsylvania

Chappaquiddick “complaints”

I kept very busy doing nothing all weekend on Chappaquiddick. I sat down in a chair for so long that I had to take a nap. I was exhausted from listening to the constant chirping of the birds and the blowing of the wind through the trees. I saw a crow perch on a birdbath looking for a drink. At night I could hear the crashing of waves from the ocean against the sand at Wasque.

At one point a woodpecker had the audacity to make noise in a tree right above my head as I walked through the vegetable garden and past the rows of flowers and fruit trees. I saw people on bikes clogging the only paved road. There was sand all over the beach! I went for a walk once and the quiet was interrupted by the sounds of hooves against the ground: three horses at Pimpneymouse. I could feel the sound against my chest.

I was nearly blinded by the stars at night while we rocked gently across the harbor aboard the On Time ferry. I sat motionless as I watched a bee dance from flower to flower; the buzzing of his wings was deafening. And don’t get me going about the deer! There are more deer here than there are pigeons in the city!

I was traumatized by this experience. I will need to learn how to accept all the island’s faults by repeatedly going there, thus acclimating myself to the environment.

– Stephen Oliveira, Fall River

From the Home & Garden Fall-Winter 2011-2012 edition
of Martha's Vineyard Magazine

Architectural insight

It is so tempting to choose a house where the inside space and layout fits our family and lifestyle. But choosing a house that dissolves into the landscape makes the world happy. I guess the agrarian style would do so the best. Great article! [“A New Architectural Vernacular,” Home & Garden Spring–Summer 2011] I read it word for word; it brought order and clarity to my vision of Martha’s Vineyard architecture.

– Leen De Weerd-Mosley via Facebook

Bottling summer’s bounty

Wow, love these recipes! [“The Simple Beauty of Canning,” Home & Garden Spring–Summer 2011] I will have to try them in my pressure cooker (usually the ones ten quarts and above are okay for canning).

– Laura Pazzaglia, Rome, Italy

MV Family Campground

What an awesome article [“Summer Among the Trees,” Martha’s Vineyard Magazine August 2011]. My folks camped there – when I began my first of six years living on the Island, beginning in 1975!

– Melissa K. Elley via Facebook

From the September-October 2011 edition
of Martha's Vineyard Magazine

A lightkeeper’s daughter

Thank you for the fine articles on West Chop, East Chop, Edgartown, and Cape Pogue lighthouses [“Illuminating Lighthouses,” August 2011], all of which my father, Octave Ponsart, took care of as keeper from 1946 to 1957. As we had great friends in all the keepers at Gay Head, I was also very glad to see a great story on Gay Head too. I miss the Island, of course, and my friends there, but most of all how I do miss my lighthouses. It is wonderful news to know they are still standing and still much beloved. Please be sure to write more about them and endorse the efforts of all who will preserve them for the future of Martha’s Vineyard.

– Seamond (Ponsart) Roberts, Pineville, Louisiana

Surf’s up

I loved the article [“Surfing: In the Zone,” August 2011]. The pictures were insane! I had the feeling like I was in Southern California in the seventies. It was really well done and I loved the thread of Spa [Tharpe] throughout and how the article ended with Spa talking about the hard times. I loved it and I am so honored to be in the article as the only girl. Besides, there are only two girls on the isle who brave the surf in thirty-four- degree water in the winter!

– Griffin Hughes, Oak Bluffs

From the August 2011 edition
of Martha's Vineyard Magazine

Kudos on Best of the Vineyard party

(See our coverage on page 90)

Thanks again to MV Magazine for putting on such a fun event tonight [June 27] at Nectar’s. We look forward every year to the “Best of the Vineyard” awards and you never let us down! Hopefully we will see you there again next year!

– Jason Giordano via Facebook

Feedback on July 2011 magazine

I read mine already cover to cover. I enjoyed the tribute to State Beach [“A Perfect Beach Day”]; it’s one of my favorites.

– Julie Delaney English via Facebook

Very good magazine, excellent photography, great stories about the old times on MV, worth subscribing to.

– Susan Ingram via Facebook

From the July 2011 edition
of Martha's Vineyard Magazine

Appreciating the spring issue

The pictures taken by Skip Bettencourt [“The Evolution of a Breach,” May–June] are absolutely great! We live in Ohio and usually come to the Island in the spring and fall. This year we won’t be able to make it in the spring (hope the fishing is great for all the Island fishermen).

We have been trying to follow the whole story of beach erosion on Chappy. We have stayed there for many years of vacation and knew last year that things were going to be radically different.

Martha’s Vineyard Magazine this month was wonderful. Even though we don’t own land there, we feel that the Island, particularly Chappy, is our second home.

Keep up the good work. We will be there in the fall.

– Mary Wollam, Delaware County, Ohio

We wanted to thank you for the wonderful magazine [May–June]. My husband and I devoured every morsel on the pages. We read last night till we couldn’t keep our eyes open anymore and woke very early this morning and continued our feast. (I’m glad we each had a copy so we didn’t have to fight over it.)

It brought me back to childhood and what I cherish about living here, about the lifestyle we have created and nurture everyday. The subliminal message behind each story explains what the Vineyard is really all about, and about love of place.

Thank you and great job.

– Nancy Hugger, Chappaquiddick

From the Home & Garden Spring-Summer 2011 edition
of Martha's Vineyard Magazine

Guiding house size

Regarding the issue of the proliferation of very large houses on Martha’s Vineyard [“Living Large,” Home & Garden Fall–Winter 2010–2011], readers should know that the Martha’s Vineyard Commission is currently revising its Development of Regional Impact (DRI) checklist with an eye to bringing it into conformity with the goals of the recently completed Island Plan.

One of the most frequently voiced concerns we hear is the absence of a planning review for very large houses. The Vineyard Conservation Society believes there is a need to protect the Vineyard’s scenic and ecological resources against the regional threat of large structures that would impair those values. Such protection is not currently assured through existing regulations.

The scale of the built environment on Martha’s Vineyard – the relationship between structures and the natural landscape – serves as an important defining component of Vineyard character. The visual assets of the Vineyard shoreline and hilltops are especially vulnerable to problems associated with development of inappropriate scale.

We have recommended DRI review for any private development proposing to create a “built environment” footprint of more than a certain size. Our rationale is that above a certain threshold such development should be presumed to have impacts that are of regional concern in one or more of the following areas: topographic alterations to the land; habitat fragmentation; nitrogen generation; energy use; visual intrusion; waste production; open-space encroachment; and scale in context.

Once a large house plan is referred for review, the MVC would have the power to impose conditions addressing these concerns.

– Brendan O’Neill, Executive Director, Vineyard Conservation Society

From the Not Summer 2010-2011 edition
of Martha's Vineyard Magazine

Farewell, ferries

Our entire family really enjoyed the article by Karl Zimmermann [“Final Chapter: The Islander and Other Bygone Ferries,” August 2010]. My son, Lake, developed a love for ferries after riding the Islander as a small child. I never gave much thought to what happens to “retired” ferries, so it was with great interest and sadness I read this article. Ferries are so unique and integral to the Vineyard.

It would be great if the Steamship Authority and the Vineyard would recognize the value of ferries in maritime history and construct a museum from one of our “retired” ferries. The history of these ferries is as much a part of the Vineyard as are its many residents that depend on them as a lifeline to the mainland.

– Patricia Moreis-Stiles, Springfield, Virginia

My dad worked for the Steamship Authority all his life, and being on board these ships was like second nature to me. Felt like a little piece of my heart and history went when I read the Islander was no longer in business.

– Susan Mendell, Palmyra, Maine

My family spent many happy summers on Martha’s Vineyard’s West Chop in the 1930s. I distinctly remember the old Naushon and another ferry called the Sankaty. Our last vacation on Martha’s Vineyard ended in our evacuation just before the Hurricane of 1938 struck.

– Arthur H. Brockie, Melbourne, Florida

A friendly farmer

What a great story [“Elisha Smith” by Phyllis Méras, September–October 2010]. Elisha is one of my favorite Vineyarders. Always a smile and kind word.

– Jeff Madison, Aquinnah

From the Home & Garden Fall-Winter 2010-2011 edition
of Martha's Vineyard Magazine

Don’t plant invasives

The Polly Hill Arboretum is involved with informing people about invasive plants, and as part of the Island Plan we are trying to steer people away from plants that invade and compromise native plant communities. Several of them have been banned for sale in Massachusetts, and one plant that was featured in Justen Ahren’s article [“Deer- resistant Gardens,” Spring–Summer Home & Garden 2010] is Berberis thunbergii [Japanese barberry] and its varieties. Thousands can be found along North Road and it is considered a tremendous weed.

I thought the article was great though, and it is a topic that we also get calls about – deer-resistant plants!

Tim Boland, Executive Director, The Polly Hill Arboretum

A de-skunking tip

We tried the hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, dish soap mixture [“How It Works: Getting Rid of Skunk Smell,” Spring–Summer Home & Garden 2010] after a dog/skunk altercation earlier this week. Worked like a charm.

To get the smell out of the house, I sprinkled a baking sheet with cinnamon and baked at 250 for an hour. This resulted in a lovely smelling house, with the side effect of an undeniable craving for coffee cake.

– Linley Dolby, Edgartown

From the September-October 2010 edition
of Martha's Vineyard Magazine

Appreciating old magazines

My wife and I visited the Vineyard three years ago and fell in love with the Island. I read MV magazine from cover to cover, especially the older copies, and found the July 1997 to have one of the best articles I have ever read; it was titled “Recent Riches.” It could not have been more perfect as we watch Mr. Bigshot and his family descend on the Island spending money like it is going out of style. Thank God they are the minority. Let’s try and keep the Island as a beautiful place to be appreciated for all it offers.

– Tom Kono, North Haven, Connecticut

Judging the photo contest

The first-prize shot is great [in “Our Second Annual Photo Contest,” August 2010]. Third prize should’ve been an honorable mention and been given to the Hopperesque ferry shot or the minimalist Tisbury Great Pond scene. The Aquinnah Light sunset is a post card, and I mean that as a put-down. But there’s nothing wrong with post cards. I’ve been known to send them occasionally. They should end up among the [other entries online at] though.

– Peter Dreyer, Edgartown and Westwood

What a wonderful collection of pictures taken by people who love the Island. I have the first place winner’s photo as the background on my computer. It is breathtaking and I would love to buy a print of it to hang in my house.

– Sue Cimmino, Palm Harbor, Florida

From the August 2010 edition
of Martha's Vineyard Magazine

Best of the Vineyard

I think your Best of Vineyard survey [July 2010] is being manipulated by overly aggressive commercial establishments. I am aware of instances of them soliciting responses, people voting more than once, etcetera. A likely goal of your magazine is to help the consumer select quality stores, restaurants, and services. It’s a lofty goal but in reality my sense is that the results are potentially misleading. Indeed this is regrettable; it was a good idea that might have reached the end of its shelf life.

– Max McCreery, Chilmark

SENGE LUVS MV license plates

I was so pleased when I first saw the July magazine at Cronig’s – and read the SENGE bit [in “ILUVMV”] right there in the market. I could not be happier about the way Kate Feiffer wrote it – being so much about my Jim and his incredible love of this Island. It means the world to me (and my sons) that it is so much a tribute to his true feelings in that regard.

Also, I loved the article on following “the motorcade” – especially the bits about lipstick and bra. I can totally relate – leaving the house as I do sometimes dressed as I wouldn’t dare do in Washington, D.C. Well done!

– Ellie Rider, Oak Bluffs and Washington, D.C.

Online comments for “ILUVMV”

My daughter and I both have MV plates on our NJ cars: VNYRD and MV MASS. As a visitor of more than sixty years to MV, I have a need to feel connected to MV when I’m not there. It’s always interesting to see the variety of plates people come up with to show their love of the Vineyard – and fun when you see your particular plate on a car from another state.

– Joan Boyken, Denville, New Jersey

My dad had “Bluffs” on his car for as long as I can remember. Does anyone know who has that plate now?

– Jenifer Clements, Brookfield, Massachusetts

Great article! I collect the stories and meanings behind personalized license plates here in Maine. Living on the coast, we also have a high influx of tourists whose plates show their love of Maine and the various coastal towns. The creativity amazes me! I’ve collected enough stories of Maine personalized license plates now to put them together into a book called “The Maine Plate” ( that prints next week. Glad I saw your article.

– Holly Sherburne, Rockland, Maine

Online comments for “The Athearn-Mayhew Feud”

As a direct descendant of Governor Mayhew myself, I find this article [by Nicole Galland, July 2010] interesting, humorous, and fascinating. I’d love to hear more stories.

– Jeanne Mayhew Gravley, Vineyard Haven

Oh my gosh, how hilarious. Never knew there was a feud between them, having attended Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School with them and their families. Nicole is part Manter and Norton, and they are all part of the rich fabric and history of Luce, Look, Mayhew, Smith, and Tilton families who were welcomed to our shores by my families. We are all friends today.

– June Manning, Aquinnah

Corrections for the July 2010 magazine

In an article about personalized license plates, “ILUVMV” by Kate Feiffer, a quote and story attributed to Bill O’Leary should have been attributed to his wife, Dona O’Leary.

In the article “All About Shellfish,” the daily limit for crabs was listed as fifty. To clarify, the state regulations allow fifty total crabs, which can include up to twenty-five blue crabs.

From the July 2010 edition
of Martha's Vineyard Magazine

Missing Ray Ellis

First, I wish to tell you how much I am enjoying reading and looking at the wonderful anniversary edition [May–June 2010]. My family and I are true Vineyard lovers and spend as much free time as possible on the Island. Your magazine has really captured so much of the magic of the Vineyard. Bravo!

Second, I do wish to share my disappointment with one aspect of the article on Vineyard artists. Clearly, you could not include every single Vineyard artist. [Thomas Hart] Benton and [Allen] Whiting were obvious choices. But, in my estimation, the omission of Ray Ellis is glaring. No artist has surpassed Ellis in capturing every nuance of Island life and beauty. His accomplishments are many! He is represented in the permanent collection of the White House, was chosen to paint the White House Christmas card more than once, has illustrated many books including best sellers with Walter Cronkite, and more. Beyond this, he has donated paintings and money to just about every Island charity. No doubt you are aware of his work for the [Martha’s Vineyard] Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby scholarship fund. Frankly, I am mystified that he was omitted. I kept turning the pages with a smile saying to myself that his painting would be on the next page. Alas, I never got to one.

Again, I loved the issue on balance.

– Scott Ryan, West Caldwell, New Jersey

Anniversary issue

Just got my copy of MV Magazine [May–June 2010] and it looks outstanding. I’m so impressed with the variety of articles that link the past with the present. The highlight for my wife, Joyce, was the photomontage with “real Islanders,” people she can relate to, having lived here since 1969. She got them all right; me, as a fifteen-year newcomer, got one right.

I’m wading my way through, article by article. I love it. You captured both the spirit of the Vineyard today, with stories by Tom Dunlop and James Lengyel, as well as updates from the past, the where-are-they-nows. I’m enjoying every page. Great job. Congrats.

– Tom Dresser, Oak Bluffs

Online comments for Wampanoag article

I really enjoyed reading and rereading the history of the tribe [“Wampanoag Living,” May–June 2010]. Thanks to June Manning for the wonderful story, which needs to be told! What a wonderful tribute to the tribe.

– Jane Anderson, Bluffton, South Carolina

This is a spectacular article, full of fascinating information. You have allowed many of us who would be otherwise ignorant to share the story of a proud and enterprising people.

– Peggy Williams, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

I agree that federal recognition isn’t a “panacea” and that it has “polarized” and destroyed “community spirit.”

– Galaphan Peters, Hyannis

The Pease Report is highly inaccurate. Many progressive and successful Wampanoags had already left for Boston and other cities by 1870, so they were not picked up by the Pease Report. On the other hand, many direct descendants of poor black slaves had remained behind in their original communities, and they were catalogued in the Pease Report.

– Monica Peters, Hyannis

It is not just the Pease Report that is inaccurate. All censuses fail at documenting marginalized elements in society. When my ancestors left the Wampanoag reservation for mainstream America, they wanted to escape discrimination. The house that an ancestor purchased had a clause that said it couldn’t be sold to Indians. The state could have taken back the house from him, so he blended in. At that time, America was trying to civilize the “savages” – we were even forbidden to speak our language. We remained closet Indians but we were always proud of our heritage. And then suddenly we find that the government says we aren’t Indians. Worse, the Wampanoag Nation says we aren’t Indians.

– Noah, Hyannis

From the Not Summer 2009-2010 edition
of Martha's Vineyard Magazine

Transporting article

It has been a long time since I have visited Martha’s Vineyard. We subscribe to your wonderful magazine. Would you please thank Matt Pelikan and Brian Jolley for their article “Stonewall’s Anomalies” [September-October 2009]? As I read the text and looked at the images, I could actually hear the water rushing over the cobblestones and imagine holding a wet and shining one in my hand.

– Jane Buxton Brown


Better cover

Thank you for returning to your beautiful magazine covers as seen on the September-October 2009 issue. I was so disappointed in your August issue magazine cover. It wasn’t up to usual high standards.

– Diane M. McCall

Geneseo, Illinois

A fishing flop

Here’s my take on your article “Charter Captain to the Stars: Buddy Vanderhoop” [July 2009]. A few years back, I set up a date for Buddy to take out my wife, two kids, and my son-in-law. We expected his boat, but Buddy showed up with his brother’s, saying his was out of commission. So we all crammed into a boat that was comfortable for three, and headed around Gay Head to fish for bass.

My daughter couldn’t land her fish, so I helped bring it in, but Buddy lost the fish with a dull gaff (his brother’s, of course). Did I forget to mention that Captain Vanderhoop told us all the same boring stories he told you, i.e. fishing with Keith Richards and Spike Lee, etcetera? We did troll for bluefish the last half-hour of our trip. We caught two so Buddy could get his fee. Our family still thinks Buddy Vanderhoop, the King of the Wampanoags, owes us a striper.

– Sam Erenberg

Menemsha and Santa Monica, California

From the September–October 2009 edition
of Martha's Vineyard Magazine

Protecting cormorants

To the editor:

The anti-conservation comments made by fishing charter captain Buddy Vanderhoop in the July issue of Martha’s Vineyard Magazine are outrageous. Asked by the interviewer about having gotten “in trouble shooting some cormorants,” he responded, “Yes I did! [With great cheer.]” He went on to say, “They have no predators here – except me,” and “It’s so much fun to shoot ’em!” After shot-gunning a large number of cormorants on Wampanoag land in 2003, Vanderhoop continued, “Because it was done on tribal property, the state couldn’t prosecute me, but the tribe banned me from the herring creek for a year.”

Vanderhoop went on to advocate going to the birds’ island rookeries to spray olive oil on their eggs: “If you break their eggs, they’ll lay more, but if you spray them with olive oil, they’ll sit on them all summer long whether they hatch or not, and they won’t hatch, because the oil kills the embryo inside because it can’t breathe. That’s a real simple solution to stop them from multiplying.” (Humane Society, take notice!)

He added: “But in the meantime, you gotta get rid of some of these birds that are here. If you could get permits, say, for five hundred a year, everybody could shoot five hundred a year. [Grinning.] I could do cast-and-blast charters: Go catch your limit of fish, then blow away about a hundred birds.”

Buddy Vanderhoop’s celebrity clients should be forewarned: What he is advocating is illegal under both state and federal law. Casting-and-blasting could land them all heavy fines, at a minimum.

Vanderhoop’s complaint is that the fish-eating cormorants are taking too many of “his” herring and other species. It is true that the double-crested cormorant population in North America has been on the rise since the birds were protected under the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act in 1972, when they were in danger of dying out because of widespread DDT poisoning. In 2003, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service did expand the rights of citizens and managers to deal with the expanding population. In twenty-four states, local managers are now allowed to kill cormorants that threaten public resources. In thirteen of the states, private aquaculture producers are allowed to shoot cormorants feeding on their private ponds.

Massachusetts is not one of those states. Here, cormorants are still a fully protected “species of critical concern,” where such measures are not allowed by law. Vanderhoop would need to apply for multiple permits in order to legally do something about the birds. Not that he seems to care. He’s a willing participant in what one expert calls “a witch hunt” against cormorants, which are not deemed a fully recovered species. The National Audubon Society predicts: “In the long term, the population will likely decline and then stabilize due to disease, lack of available nesting habitat, or changes in food resources.”

In 2003, after telling the Vineyard Gazette he was justified in illegally shooting eleven cormorants by the herring run, Vanderhoop said, “We weren’t making any money,” referring to himself and his brother Chip. He added that other members of the Wampanoag Tribe “are ignorant of the fact that they [the cormorants] are doing so much damage.” To the tribe’s credit, it prohibited Vanderhoop “from participating in the commercial activity relating to the taking of herring” that season. (That was also the first summer we saw a recurrence of herring in the creek.)

The tribe should give careful scrutiny to Vanderhoop’s latest “blast.” So should federal, state, and local environmental enforcement agencies. According to the National Audubon Society: “Double-crested cormorants have a long history of being persecuted by humans.” One of the Island’s own is among those persecutors, and he obviously needs some monitoring.

In the world we now live in, with such a fragile environmental balance, the Vanderhoop attitude is simply unconscionable. Respect for life is what is important, above all, and that is why we have laws. Native Americans are supposedly stewards of nature, an example to follow. Yet when Buddy Vanderhoop speaks of the pride he takes in the whaling tradition of his ancestors, it makes one wonder whether – if he was not shooting cormorants – he would just as soon be out there killing whales.

– Dick Russell, author of Striper Wars

Jessie Benton, lifelong Island resident

Richard Guerin, Chilmark

Kristen Fauteux of Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation contacted the magazine after this letter was published to clarify that the cormorant is not protected in Massachusetts as a species of critical concern, just as part of the overarching Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

From the July 2009 edition
of Martha's Vineyard Magazine

Buy on-Island

To the editor:

Kate Feiffer’s terrific article on the spirit of Island independent bookstores [May-June 2009] was a brilliant reminder of how important it is to support our local businesses. The temptation to shop online must be weighed against how much poorer we would be without these treasured stores. Every box we see at the dump represents money that could have stayed on-Island and supported our neighbors. The story of the survival of independent bookstores is written all across the country by the dedicated people who work in them and the people continuing to buy their books from them.

– Steve Fischer

Cambridge and Chilmark

Executive Director

New England Independent Booksellers Association

From the May–June 2009 edition
of Martha's Vineyard Magazine

Same ol’ Vineyard

To the editor:

I grew up with summers at the Jersey Shore as a kid and was a year-round weekender with my family in the Hamptons for ten years, and now we consider ourselves “Vineyarders” despite our relatively brief stays during the summer. Due to the realities of distance and busy weekends with the kids’ stuff, we do not really get up to the Vineyard in the shoulder or off-seasons. However we think about it often and hope to spend a Columbus Day or Thanksgiving soon on the Island.

I appreciated your winter issue and especially the “Thrifty and Thriving” article [Not Summer 2008-2009], which describes life on the Vineyard in the winter. I first stepped onto the Vineyard in 1982, and please trust me when I say that the changes on the Island have been much, much slower than the changes at the Jersey Shore and the Hamptons, which have turned into exurbs.

The Vineyard has kept its same similar vibe, and this is a direct result of the year-rounders who run the Island and maintain the pace of growth. I laugh and love when I see stories in major publications about the idiosyncrasies of Vineyarders who preserve their way of life. It is still an incredible place, and I marvel at how you have been able to maintain development. This, of course, makes housing expensive, and it limits the amount of work for the locals in the off-season.

When I first bought a house in Southampton, New York, we loved our bike rides from the bay side of Southampton to the ocean. It was a mix of forest, farms, open space, big homes on big properties, and was a lovely place to live and see. Unfortunately, every winter we would lose another farm to development, and suburban life slowly crept into the rural pace of life in Southampton.

Thanks to all year-rounders on Martha’s Vineyard who have maintained the Island all these years. It is a great place, and I hope this winter is a quick one for you.

– Michael Sweeney

New York, New York

Science lesson

To the editor:

In your Not Summer 2008-2009 edition article on cranberry bogs [“How It Works: Cranberry Bogs”], someone apparently skipped Chemistry 101 yet is a magician. The story says that peat is beneficial for the cranberries because peat “gives off methane, providing a natural dose of nitrogen.” Nitrogen from methane, which consists only of carbon and hydrogen? The rest of the article describes “organic” methods to maintain a cranberry bog. As a chemist, I object!

We chemists owned the term “organic” about 150 years before you guys stole it from us. We mean any substance containing carbon and hydrogen, usually somehow derived from a former living organism. “Inorganic” typically refers to rocks or other substances without a direct link to life.

I get it that “organic” to the general population has a definition of purity and the minimization of unnatural materials such as herbicides and pesticides. But I do sense under the big umbrella of “organic” with respect to farming and other activities an anti-science bias – so much so that we somehow can derive nitrogen from methane! In case you haven’t caught on yet, methane is CH4, a compound of carbon (C) with four hydrogens (H). To be a source of nitrogen (N), it would have to contain nitrogen, which it does not.

– Larry N. Lewis

Scotia, New York

From the Home & Garden Spring-Summer 2009 edition
of Martha's Vineyard Magazine

A daughter’s thanks

To the editor:

Thank you for the heartfelt and beautiful piece about Nina’s Garden [“Nina’s Beauty,” Home & Garden Fall-Winter 2008-2009]. It was a bittersweet article to read, but a pleasure to think of as a grand finale that would have made my mother smile. I was touched to know that the Coynes [the new owners] and the Islanders wish to preserve the garden’s essence. I am relieved to know that the place is in such caring hands (Zada Clarke’s included).

Please won’t you convey my gratitude to unfailingly conscientious and creative Phyllis Méras (who managed to turn up tidbits that were new to me and my family) and to [photographer] Nina Bramhall?

I’ll treasure the magazine as the last word on my mother’s living oeuvre.

– Elizabeth Schneider

New York, New York

From the Not Summer 2008-2009 edition
of Martha's Vineyard Magazine

The Island of no

To the editor:

As a native Islander, I truly related to and appreciated your recent article “Going au Naturel” [August 2008]. Spending many a lazy summer day on those very same semi-nude beaches mentioned in the article was and continues to be a wonderful experience for me and my friends. My family is by no means sexually repressed, often taking my brothers and me to the now-defunct clay baths at the Gay Head Cliffs. And I can vividly remember sunbathing in and around the “naturists.” I would be very disheartened if conservative America won the culture war and banned nudism on the Island beaches. As someone who has a stake in Martha’s Vineyard’s future, and current direction, I applaud those who still live by and expound the teachings of Freud, who proclaimed sexual liberation – and Marx, who was seeking freedom from oppression and authority.

– Duncan Schilcher

Vineyard Haven

Kudos for caring

To the editor:

This is our second full summer on MV (we sailed here for years and visit off-season and September!), and I find myself so impressed with the spirit and talent of the many who are doing “good” for the Island – especially in the non-profit world. Yes, there are lots of events and lots of work to ask us to contribute, but it is so clear the Island benefits from this good work. We are so fortunate, and I say, “Thanks.”

– Gerald Jones

Hingham and Edgartown

Remembering his pony

To the editor:

As “cousin Eric,” Margaret Knight’s partner in crime in her story about Topper [“The Truth about Kids and Ponies,” August 2008], I can’t help but share my thoughts on our youthful adventures. Although it was more than forty years ago, I remember well the summer of careless freedom when we declared no rules and roamed Chappaquiddick with our untrained, unruly “steeds.” Spontaneous races through untested meadows (I remember one nameless adult exclaiming, “You raced where?”), gallops on the beach, and exploring endless trails were all part of the day. My little white pony was as finicky and as completely out of control as Topper. But I thought my brains over my steed’s brawn would always win out. It never occurred to me back then that I was beaten badly in both departments, and that pony made a daily joke out of me as she repeatedly dumped me in a poison ivy bush or puddle of muddy water. I never objected. It was all just plain fun. (Any mature thoughts like getting hurt or hurting the pony just didn’t enter into the equation somehow!)

I also question – looking back on our summer of trespassing, complete with uncontrolled gallops through front yards, leaving behind trampled flower beds and piles of manure – if we were really as welcome as we thought. (For all of you who may remember a red-haired boy on a white little pony, this is my best attempt at a tardy apology for all our transgressions, and thanks for your patience with a couple of teenagers!)

Thanks for the memories, cousin Margaret.

– Eric Gostenhofer

Humble, Texas

A lot has changed

To the editor:

The article in the May-June issue “Where Have All the Hippies Gone?” and the cover story in August, all about the history and social significance of nude bathing on Martha’s Vineyard [“Going au Naturel”], have prompted me to write this letter and to send the enclosed artwork.

In 1979, my friend Jacquie Maskovsky and I produced a number of pen and ink drawings, selecting eight of them for a packet of Vineyard cards that we offered for sale locally at places like Bunch of Grapes [in Vineyard Haven], Handworks [in Edgartown], and the hospital gift shop. That fall, we decided to spend a small sum of money to advertise our cards in the Vineyard Gazette’s Christmas catalogue in order to create more “global interest” in our work. We both agreed that my depiction of the nude bathers at Lucy Vincent Beach would probably generate the kind of sales we hoped for.

I prepared an ad and sent it, along with the artwork. A week or so later, the Gazette sent me a polite but firm response stating that this kind of thing was not appropriate for the paper. I was disappointed, but I loved the fact that the paper thought the picture was too provocative and that they had a moral responsibility to their readers to censor such material. Judging by the recent articles and cover story, much has changed in thirty years: not just the nude beach customs, but a definite shift in the paper’s policy. It makes me a little sad.

Should you print the artwork, I would like your readers to know that I am the one in the lower left corner wearing the suit. I know most of the characters pictured and remember vividly the winged voyeur swooping down for a closer peek at all the naturists.

– Renee Olcott Balter

Oak Bluffs

From the Home & Garden Fall-Winter 2008-2009 edition
of Martha's Vineyard Magazine

Angry about bittersweet

To the editor:

Thank you for sending me an extra copy of the Home and Garden issue [Spring-Summer 2008], so I could cut out and copy the article on bittersweet [“Going Green: It’s Time for Bittersweet to Get Out of Town”] to send to Spring Hill Nursery.

I enclosed a copy of my cover letter. I pray it will make a difference but don’t have high hopes.

– Vera C. Pratt


Editor’s note: Below are excerpts from Vera’s letter, addressed to the catalogue designers and nursery staff at Spring Hill Nursery, which sells native bittersweet. The magazine article, referenced in her letter above, pointed out that Oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus) “can hybridize with native bittersweet, degrading the genetic purity.”

I love your catalogue, for all the good plants and illustrations and information you give. However, for some time I have been very distressed that you still sell bittersweet (Celastrus scandens). It is extremely invasive, and particularly because birds do like it, it gets planted all over. A year ago I called to tell you please don’t sell it.

Please look at this article taken from Martha’s Vineyard Magazine’s Home and Garden issue. You will see that it is a real problem on this Island. I’ve known it’s a problem from when our family houses were in western Connecticut, and I remember noticing it spreading as I was living there thirty or forty years ago, though at the time we cut some because the berries are so pretty. I imagine there are some places where it is not so invasive, but I think it is not worth having it in a catalogue, unless you really tell people that it should not be used in most areas, and that it is terribly invasive.

Please be good stewards of our land, and do some necessary teaching in your catalogues.

From the September-October 2008 edition
of Martha's Vineyard Magazine

Nostalgia for college a cappella

To the editor:

Just wanted to send a quick note to say thank you and bravo! I thoroughly enjoyed the piece [“The A Cappella Boys of Summer,” July 2008]. The Vineyard Sound is a beloved entity for me and many others, and I’m so happy to see it captured in this manner.

– Erik Grimaldi

San Francisco

To the editor:

It is very rare nowadays to find something that is pure, treasured, and worthwhile. Every summer for the past sixteen years, ten college students from all over the nation are humbly granted one of those rare opportunities to come to one of the most cherished and beautiful places in the country to perform for the best fans, friends, and family members around.

This year, these unbelievable people took time out their busy lives to vote us as Best Live Musicians on the Island in Martha’s Vineyard Magazine. With this great honor, it is with the utmost appreciation and gratitude that we, the 2008 edition of the Vineyard Sound, and all those of the past sixteen years that came before us, thank you for allowing us to do what we do each year and hope to continue to do so for many years to come!

Thanks, and we will see you next year!

– The Vineyard Sound

From the August 2008 edition
of Martha's Vineyard Magazine

Naked hippies

To the editor:

Courtesy Jack Armitage

I loved the article [“Where Have All the Hippies Gone?” May-June 2008]. It was a perfect arrival gift to me as I revisited the Islands last week after having spent much time in the late sixties and seventies on Nantucket. The story about the naked beachers pushing the police car out of the sand is classic. I have a picture of one of the beach patrols in those early years asking naked people for ID so that he could write up tickets. Without wallets, they had names like Jimi Hendrix, John Smith, Dickie Nixon, etc. The officer diligently wrote down the names, gave them their tickets. Surely forty years later they are in drawers unpaid, occasionally referenced with a good story! Richard [Skidmore], thanks for the memories and a well-told story!

– Jack Armitage


From the July 2008 edition
of Martha's Vineyard Magazine

Hippie music

To the editor:

I am writing to suggest that the photo caption on page 49 in the story “Where Have All the Hippies Gone?” in your May-June 2008 issue refers to the wrong song. The caption partially tracks Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth” where tracking Bob Dylan’s “Ballad of a Thin Man” would be more appropriate. Although both songs refer to social tensions in the Vietnam era, the photo depicts the ideological tension in “Ballad of a Thin Man” more than it does the political tension in “For What It’s Worth.” You may have confused the songs’ similar lines: “There’s something happening here / what it is ain’t exactly clear / there’s a man with a gun over there / telling me I got to beware” (“For What It’s Worth”) and “because something is happening here / but you don’t know what it is / do you, Mr. Jones?” (“Ballad of a Thin Man”).

Thank you for stirring my memories.

– Jack Kraichnan

Dublin, New Hampshire


From the Home & Garden Spring-Summer 2008 edition
of Martha's Vineyard Magazine

To the editor:

“The History of the Telephone” (Home & Garden, Fall-Winter 2007-2008) is a fascinating and beautifully researched piece of Island history. What a wonderful read!

My father bought the old Jeremiah house on Chappaquiddick in the early 1940s, and I remember when the telephone arrived. One telephone in a twenty-two-room house, installed in the front hall and designated “The Telephone Room.”

I was eight or ten years old that summer, and I enjoyed a pastime your article did not go into – listening in on others’ conversations because we had party lines. My brother, Trip, and I did this on rainy days. Each party on the line had a different number of rings. I think our number was 427 with two rings.

It dawned on me that a great follow-up to your history might be gathering memories of Vineyarders who shared party lines and whom they shared with, etc. Great stories, I’ll bet!

– Susan B. Walker

New York, New York

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