Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Last weekend  provided two different aspects of life on the Island: delight — and dismay.

On Saturday and Sunday, a group called the Boston Area Roadsters Club brought a number of shiningly restored vintage cars. Part of the welcome the Island offers this group, apparently, is permission to park on both sides of Lake avenue, which is the road that runs along the base of the Oak Bluffs harbor, for the three days of their annual meeting. 

So far, so good. It’s fun to see them and it’s fun to see all the people who come to see them.

The only sour note, it turned out, as we sat on the porch of a Lake avenue Camp Ground cottage to enjoy the scene was when we noticed that a perhaps well-intentioned policeman was issuing tickets to any non-vintage car that was parked on the “wrong” side of the street. No warning sign was present to suggest that ordinary non-vintage cars were not permitted there. Sadly we watched as innocent drivers, happy to spot an empty space, pulled in and walked off, rejoicing, unaware that very shortly the traffic cop would arrive in minutes to write out a ticket.

Sitting out on our porch, we watched this small, semi-tragic drama unfold. As we watched one of the vintage cars pull out (and those old autos were constantly going and coming) and an innocent and ignorant contemporary car pull in, we obeyed our best instincts and went over to warn them of the inevitable ticket they would shortly receive.

But this time the ticketing process may have hit a snag. The woman who got out of the car was not a helpless protester. It was Arnie Arnesen who, on radio station WCCM, hosts a talk program from 6 to 9 a.m. each weekday morning that is called Chowder in the Morning and takes aim at the foibles and fables of the people who live and travel in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and surrounding areas. She had already been tagged once, earlier in the day, and was determined to fight for justice for herself, and others similarly unwarned and similarly ticketed for a crime they had not wittingly committed.        

I offer warning, therefore, to the parking czar of Oak Bluffs, harried as I know he (or she) must be as the season of too many cars and too few places to park is on us, that a woman with three hours each morning to share what’s on her mind may have something to say this week. New Englanders fought against taxation without representation. Ms. Arnesen may urge them to fight a lesser struggle against ticketing without justification and may lead her many faithful listeners to stage an  Oak Bluffs Tea Party of their own. As an Islander, I naturally hope we don’t get so many visitors that we’ll sink into the sea, but also as an Islander I want the visitors who come to be treated fairly.

Joyce Lockhart

Oak Bluffs


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Unfortunately for young people, one of the prime causes of the declining summer job market for teenagers is mandated wage hikes (Gazette story, June 12 headlined: “Thanks for Calling: Employers Say Most Summer Jobs Filled.”)

According to economist David Neumark of the University of California at Irvine, for every 10 per cent increase in the minimum wage, employment for high school dropouts and young black adults and teenagers falls by 8.5 per cent. In just the past few years, the Massachusetts minimum wage has increased almost twice that amount.

You don’t need a business degree to understand why the wage hikes affect teen employment.

The classic summer jobs — cashier, restaurant waiter and grocery clerk — can help an employer who has increased business or a need to cover for full-time employees taking vacations or sick leave. But when government mandates add to labor costs by artificially boosting wages, employers are more likely to hold off on hiring people to fill such flexible slots.

Kristen Lopez Eastlick

Washington, D.C.

Kristin Eastlick is an economic analyst with the Employment Policies Institute.


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The June 13 story in the Gazette on the controlled burn was fascinating, even if the reporter did bury the lead at the end of the third paragraph. I’d like to see a chart of which parts of the Islands were subject to natural burns, say, in the 18th century.

Christopher Gray

New York, N.Y.


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

My wife and I love the quotes on the front cover of the Vineyard Gazette. Thereare evensome that we have cut out andhung on our refrigerator until they turned yellow withage. Some of thequotations wehave memorized because theimages they provokeare happyand allow us to dream of summer, and oth ersare thought provoking. One of my wife’s favorites goes something like this:

“On a clear blue day on Squibnocket Bay I gathered mussels alone. What joy in the tussle as I pulled each mussel from its beard encrusted throne.” I can never remember whether the last word is “home” or “throne.” I love to think about this one during the bleak days of winter.

Another one from years ago reads as follows:

“I am on the sea I am on the sea, I am where that I would every be, with blue above and blue below and white waves whereso ever I go.”

That one is worth printing again.

I was wondering if the VineyardGazette could do a retrospective of these quotations, or perhaps print out the favorite ones of your staff? Or betteryet, you could ask Islanders if they have favorite ones and print those? I image there are a lot of others who enjoy these little bits of poetry.

H. Jeffrey Brandt



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Captain Kangaroo would love to meet Isabel West, founder of the Tashmoo Memorial Day picnic. The captain would tell her the old European-Asian-Pacific Ring folktale, Stone Soup. Three strangers arrive in a poor town and with the wits of enlightenment, create a soup from three stones that feeds all the town folk. As a bit of salt and pepper, a few carrots and an onion are wished for to improve the stone soup, something special begins to happen. Each villager opens their heart to give what they can to the soup pot and the delicious soup becomes richer. The community gathers to eat, laugh, listen to music, stories and one another.

And so it was, once again on this year’s Memorial Day.

The Tashmoo picnic committee invite all to next year’s Memorial Day fun and food. We will gather once again to say thank you to Isabel West and her 35-plus year picnic tradition, a true gift to the Vineyard community. Isabel has shown us that sharing makes us all richer.

Sandra Kingston

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The AARP sent an e-mail to us retirees inviting our responses concerning how these harsh economic times are impacting us seniors. This was my personal response.

As a 77-year-old woman, who retired to her family summer house in 1995 here on the Vineyard after a 30-year teaching career, with pension plus rental income, I imagined myself to be comfortably off. Unfortunately, not so.

I supplement my income by operating my own home as a guest house during the summer months chiefly on weekends, and by substitute teaching at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School. I thoroughly enjoy both activities.

Over the last three years I have found myself fearful of raising my loyal tenants’ rents, as with their own ever-rising heating costs, they might be compelled to leave. Yet despite my stagnant income, my own costs for insurance, real estate taxes, repairs, etc., are skyrocketing. In effect, I am subsidizing my tenants at my own expense. Not good economic sense, but the old adage, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, comes to mind.

To add to this dismal state of affairs, we regular substitute teachers on whom the school depends to replace staff members who are ill, have personal days, attend conferences, take sport teams off Island for games or go on trips, etc., have not seen an increase in our lowly per diem pay for 10 years.

This is outrageous since nowadays our own students working at Stop & Shop or even menial laborers make more per hour than we currently do. So much for advanced degrees in teaching, social work, law or engineering or whatever skills and experience we bring to the Island school system. Massachusetts-qualified substitutes receive $75 per diem; those qualified out of state receive $70. We arrive by 7:30 a.m. and leave just after 2 p.m. Most teachers provide us with definite plans for the day but sometimes we m ust improvise. Students enjoy challenging substitute staff since we lack the power to influence their grades.

Retirees who choose to substitute teach enjoy the school ambiance, the students and the hardworking regular staff. The adage, you can take the teacher out of the class, but never the class out of the teacher, strikes a chord for me personally.

Recently a former Brazilian teacher, now a gas station attendant suggested, upon learning of my lowly pay, a mere $58 per diemafter deductions, that I join him pumping gas. Cleaning ladies receive at least $25 per hour.

Retirees are also doubly penalized for Medicare costs. We are obliged to pay independently for it, yet the school system also deducts daily for the same service. Is this not government double dipping?

I have just learned from a Toronto, Ontario, friend with whom I formerly taught, that today substitute teachers there receive $230 per diem. In spite of the cost of providing socialized medicine for all of its citizens and newcomers, theprovince is still able to offer a living salary to its substitute teachers, when the Canadian dollar is on a par with the U.S. dollar.

Many Island retired professionals such as myself are now being compelled to leave their homes here for less expensive sites, as costs rise way above their fixed pension incomes.

When our school superintendent tells me that we lack funding to raise substitute salaries, yet offers substantial raises to his administrative staff, it gives one cause to ponder. When President Bush promotes his No Child Left Behind mandate, yet those of us responsible when regular staff are absent receive such a pittance, it tends to make cynics of us all. 

As a former member of the middle class, with two master’s degrees and principal’s qualifications from the largest province in Canada, Ontario, plus 30 years experience behind me, I am humiliated and embarrassed at the shabby treatment substitutes receive from our own school administration.

Without substitutes all extracurricular activities would cease and regular staff would have to forfeit their preparation time to replace ill or absent members. The teachers’ union would be outraged. Yet to date, after a miserly previous $40 per diem pay, these last 10 years has seen no augmentation of substitute teacher pay. We obviously suffer from benign neglect.

My son in law suggests that it is the economic law of supply and demand. During the winter months, when jobs are scarce here, similar to migrant workers who accept without question pitiful recompense for their labor and are exploited — so too are we.

Doreen Kinsman

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

On June 7, the Pink Squid Yacht Club held its 12th annual fishing tournament. The event raised more than $5,000 for Island scholarships and Big Brothers Big Sisters. The club would like to thank all the participants, especially the Osterville Anglers Club and all those who volunteered their time and efforts.

And congratulations to this year’s yacht club scholarship recipients, Ben Rossi and Jessica Cummings.

Hope to see you all next year and stay tuned for our annual meeting.

Peter T. (Rico) Robb



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Once again I applaud the Gazette Farm and Field column. However, as executive director of Island Grown Initiative, I would like to set the record straight regarding comments suggesting that IGI created a farm map even when the agricultural society was en route to do the same thing. That simply isn’t the case.

In the spring of 2005, IGI met with the agricultural society to confirm that there was no redundancy in the creation of a farm map that highlighted only Island food growers. At that time, the society was considering a map — but one that included all farms, not just food-producing farms. So IGI went ahead with the project.

Today, IGI’s farm map is widely distributed in print and on the Web and used by both locals and tourists. An updated version of the farm map that includes aquaculture will soon become available.

The farm map helps raise awareness about the importance of locally grown food. Our dedicated core group of volunteers work hard to be relevant, judicious and successful in finding solutions that generate lasting, meaningful support for Island growers.

As always, thank you for the forum.

Ali Berlow

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Tonight Windemere will hold its auction to benefit the residents’ activity programs.

Windemere is home to 75 of the Island’s elderly, Islanders who have worked hard all of their lives and now deserve all that we can give to them. Our goal is to make this time of their lives as enjoyable and as comfortable as possible.

As Mother Teresa said so eloquently, “In these times of development, everybody is in a hurry and everybody’s in a rush, and on the way there are people falling down, who are not able to compete. These are the ones we want to love and serve and take care of.”

We invite the Island community to come to the agricultural hall in West Tisbury tomorrow from 6 to 8 p.m. and see the incredible items that are up for auction.

Or come for the wine and desserts. There will be something for everyone.

Betsy Burmeister

Oak Bluffs

Besty Burmeister is recreation director at Windemere.