Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

As one member of the Friends of Oak Bluffs, I have been working with folks from the YMCA and the Vineyard House to sell premier seating for the Gladys Knight and the Pops concert this coming Sunday, August 10.

It will be a remarkable event that we are proud and pleased to be associated with and the funds we raise will go to benefit three wonderful and worthy Island charities.

Close to 70 volunteers will be on hand to greet and pamper concertgoers who purchase premier tickets. Free parking, luxurious portable toilets, incredible food and drinks plus the best seats in the park will be the reward for the charitable ticket holders. Ocean Park, soft sea breezes and the feeling that you’ve done something so beneficial for the Island is an extra!

Hope to see many familiar faces on Sunday. Last-minute tickets are available at daRosa’s, Craftworks and Good Dog Goods in Oak Bluffs.

Renee Balter

Oak Bluffs


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Fans of live music, we chanced to stroll by the first annual Martha’s Vineyard Festival in Ocean Park last year to the strains of two of the Island’s celebrated vocalists accompanied by The Boston Pops. We vowed to attend this year were it repeated. Then we noticed that admission is $75. Admittedly, one whole dollar goes to the town of Oak Bluffs.

But we hear many more world-class acts for half the price at Jazzfest in New Orleans every year. And New Orleans can use our financial support a lot more than the Vineyard and the California-based private promoters behind this festival.

We also note an increasing preponderance of very expensive summer events on the Vineyard, as well as the apparent disappearance of the wonderful and popularly priced Vineyard Vibes series produced in cooperation with Berklee College in Boston.

We lament these trends and think this kind of exclusionary high pricing is elitist, and have thus made it a point to boycott the festival in Ocean Park.

Peter and Kelly Tripp-Green

Oak Bluffs


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Regarding the story on black-owned businesses on the Island: the reporter did not do much research.

I have been in business for 27 years here on the Island — Graves Machine and Tool, Graves Welding, Graves Texaco gas station and Graves Sport Shop, located at 13 Uncas avenue in Oak Bluffs. There were also other black-owned businesses already here when I came. I’ve retired recently, but it is not working out. So I’m setting up my machine shop again here on the Island and in Sarasota, Fla.

Over the years it’s had its ups and downs, as most businesses have. But where else can you grab your fishing pole or gun and forget the bad days?

Bob Graves

Oak Bluffs and Sarasota, Fla.


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The Gazette’s look at black-owned businesses on the Island (August 1 — “Black Owned Businesses Dwindle on Island”) could have had more depth.

In 1999 there were 14 businesses owned and managed by black entrepreneurs in Oak Bluffs. In other Island locations outside of Oak Bluffs there were five owned by blacks.

In 2005 there were 10 black-owned businesses in downtown Oak Bluffs and the immediate vicinity — that represented 10 per cent of the total of 101 businesses in the Circuit and Kennebec avenue area. In other areas of Oak Bluffs there were three. In addition there were seven businesses held by blacks on the Island outside of Oak Bluffs.

This year, five black-led businesses can be counted in Oak Bluffs — one of these was established in 2002 and one in 2007. Part of the decline overall since 1999 is due to owners who decided to retire.

Sometimes perceptions do not give the whole story. Enumeration can provide a more accurate and bigger picture.

Robert C. Hayden

Oak Bluffs


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Regarding the Gazette story on July 25 headlined Police Order War Protesters to Move:

The Tisbury planning board was disappointed to learn that peaceful protesters were forbidden to use the post office grounds at Five Corners for a demonstration last week. Five Corners, for all its faults, is nevertheless the Speakers Corner for the Island. If anyone wants to communicate their interests or opinions to the rest of the community, this is the place to do it.

In the recent renovation of the post office parking lot, we were instrumental in insuring that there would be a wide public space on that corner. In addition to improving the safety and sight lines for pedestrians and cars, we assumed that it would also be available for just this purpose. The space is large enough to accommodate a small gathering without blocking the sidewalk. It is far from the entrance to the post office and would therefore create no conflict with post office patrons.

Our efforts to create more parks, plazas and walks in downtown Vineyard Haven go beyond just making it pretty; we want to create places like this where the community can meet, interact and exchange ideas.

In the future, ownership of that corner plaza is to be transferred to the town, but for now it is federal property. That said, we do not see the logic of forbidding citizens of the United States from using what is in fact their own property to express their concerns. It is ironic that the group had to relocate to a private site to express their interest in a public matter.

We hope that in the future the town and the post office can develop a procedure that will allow small demonstrations like these to go forward at this site without incident.

L. Tony Peak and

Henry Stephenson, chairmen

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

This letter has been sent also to Steamship Authority chairman H. Flint Ranney, secretary Marc N. Hanover and port council chairman Robert V. Huss:

Last week, while waiting to depart from Oak Bluffs to Woods Hole, I sat in the waiting room at the terminal. The television was tuned to Fox News.

Over the past few months, there have been substantiated allegations that this station is not the fair and balanced news source it claims to be, that it has doctored images and acted surreptitiously to advance a particular political agenda. Most journalists feel it has no credibility as a serious news source.

I don’t know what can be done about Fox News. I am an editor, not a politician. But I do take issue with public places like airports and waiting rooms broadcasting this station as if it were a bona fide source of information, when in fact it slants and knowingly distorts its stories. I would like to respectfully request that in keeping with your charter, you tune the station to PBS or some other public station, turn it off or maybe run one of those videos showing the progress of the ferries as they cross the channel.

Edward Levy

Hortonville, N.Y.


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I find it shockingly amazing and unfortunately typical that the Martha’s Vineyard Commission is putting itself in the middle of an incredible $1.8 million opportunity for both the Edgartown housing committee and the residents they could serve with this donation from the Field Club project at Katama.

The Field Club has offered to pay $1.8 million toward affordable housing in lieu of three house lots within the development. That is $600,000 per lot. I ask myself how any rational person could even begin to compare the benefit of $1.8 million dollars to three free house lots in an upscale, probably seasonal, housing development where it is doubtful the winners of the house lots would even want to live.

Consider what $1.8 million could do for affordable housing:

• 18 families could receive $100,000 or nine families could receive a $200,000 grant or zero per cent loan, to be paid back to and passed on by the housing committee if the house is sold, to purchase existing homes from our existing inventory of housing under $500,000.

• Under the Dukes County Regional Housing Authority rental assistance program, $1.8 million would subsidize 375 working families in three-bedroom homes for one year or pay for this assistance for 93 families for four years.

Obviously anyone who thinks from a rational rather than ideological perspective sees $1.8 million as more than three free house lots.

But in this case, we have the brilliance of the Martha’s Vineyard Commission pondering busing in three working class families at any cost. Every breath from the mouth of the commission raises the cost of living on the same working families we need to keep on the Island for our year-round economic sustainability.

The regional planning, or lack thereof, policies of the Martha’s Vineyard Commission have been gentrifying the Vineyard for the last 30 years. The proof is today’s outbound migration of the work force. Thirty years of the commission and no housing.

We live in the most failed state in the union based upon outward migration of the working class because of the high cost of living caused by excess and overlapping bureaucracies, regulations and taxation, plus the high cost of housing caused by the residents having to compete with the illegal, uncontrolled, untaxed and unlicensed commercial use of our residential property by the transient accommodation business. Say weekly rental.

The taxpayer cannot afford to pay for unfunded liabilities like retirement and health insurance for everyone who worked for the taxpayer for as long as they live with a declining population of working families with our taxing whoever is left into poverty. Based on this path, I hope whoever gets to be the last one leaving the bluest state remembers to turn out the lights.

I also hope the anti-nuclear, anti-drilling, anti-hydropower, anti-refineries, anti-coal. anti-growth, anti-technology, self-impressed liberal boomers who knew nothing about anything but wanted to control everything realize that their progressive movement of the seventies has failed and we are reaping what was sown.

Thirty years and no housing locally. Thirty years and no energy nationally. Good job! If you remember 1978, I wonder if you have apologized to your children lately?

Donald N. Muckerheide

Oak Bluffs


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Darlene and Penney would like to thank all of our wonderful customers and friends for your love and support in these difficult past weeks. We are blessed to be in such a community as this. A special thanks to Rebekah Blu for her party to gather all of our customers one last time. It meant a lot. Volunteers, we had too many to name you all, but we must thank Fran Uranker, Debbie Thomas, Christina Brown and Peg Burke. Thanks ladies for always being there.

Penney Townes



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

To the Martha’s Vineyard Boys’ and Girls’ Club:

While on our two-week stay here on the Vineyard from New Jersey, we — Connor (12), Anna (9), Fiona (12), and Nora (12) Bradley — decided on a hot, sticky day that we were going to have a lemonade stand.

We wanted to donate the money to a good organization so we started brainstorming places to donate it to. Being kids ourselves, we thought that the Martha’s Vineyard Boys’ and Girls’ Club was deserving of our hard-earned profits.

In the three hours that we worked, all together we made $66.47. Many people gave us the spare change that they had when they found out the profits were going to a good cause. We admire that you care so much about the happiness and well-being of children, young and old.

We hope you use this money to add to the enjoyment of the kids and young adults that participate in your wonderful program.

Connor, Anna, Fiona

and Nora Bradley


and New Jersey


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

This Island is an amazing place. Not just for the scenic views or the beaches, not for the lighthouses and quaint villages. It is amazing because of the sense of community. When a family is in a jam the whole Island bends an ear and immediately asks what they can do to help. And help they have.

On Saturday, July 26, our Island came together to celebrate the life of my wife, Wendy. We were humbled and honored by the sheer number of people that took time out of their busy summer schedule to be with us to honor her. The tent was full of flowers, food — and most of all, love. At both ends there were pictures galore. Wendy loved her camera. I used to complain, “Wendy, we have tons of pictures in boxes all over the house. What are we going to do with all of them?” Now I know.

A gathering like we had on Saturday does not just happen on its own. It takes a small army. We want to thank all who were involved no matter how big or small your role was, please know that you were appreciated.

Thanks to the Flanders family for allowing us to use such a special location for the celebration. Thanks also to:

• Rosemary, Simone, Jen, and Roe for getting it all together at the ground level. From the beginning to the end.

• Evan and Porter for all the help setting up and being the muscle behind the scene.

• Jack and Jeff for the public address system so we could all share special moments we had with Wendy.

• Amy and Gary from Al’s for keeping all the guests hydrated.

• Tom and Marsha from Vineyard Bottled Water for all that cold water. I sure needed it.

• Tara, Sue, Marge and Prudy for some of the most beautiful flower arrangements and centerpieces. Wendy really would have enjoyed those.

• Tilton rental for the tent, table and chairs. Sue, you were a giant help with all your suggestions.

• John and many others at Cash and Carry for all your help with the flatware and plates.

• Rich, Chris, Kenny, and Francis for help buttoning the place up.

• My son Wyatt for being such a big helper, from getting me a face cloth to answering the phone when I could not. Just for being such a strong young man helping his mom and dad when times are tough. We are very proud of you and love you very much.

Like I said it takes a community to have a get-together like this. Wendy would have loved it. I know we really enjoyed spending time with everyone and feeling all the love. I know it is not easy getting to the Island and appreciate all those who came from afar to be with us.

I know I have not mentioned all who helped but please know your work and effort were appreciated.

Ben: Loved your letter — now get up there and take care of that slip. Don’t worry, I will never forget you.

Patrick Jenkinson

West Tisbury


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

From ours to yours, Island friends and family:

Today I gathered Alexa’s things to bring back to the mainland, and I’m thankful to be here for a few days — a place Alexa fell in love with as a little girl 10 years ago at our wedding.

This summer Alexa came here with Kristen, a friend from Bridgewater State College. We were so excited for her. Mark, my husband, kept saying, “She will have the time of her life,” as Mark’s family, the Henry C. Shelleys of Oak Bluffs, have summered here for generations.

I could see the excitement in Alexa’s eyes as she moved into the house on Windsor Drive. She would phone or text message her mom Tina every day with new beach stories.

She was so happy to work for the Harbor View Hotel and told Tina about a boat ride on the harbor in Edgartown. Alexa said it was the most beautiful thing she’s ever done: she felt the breeze on her face, the smell of the ocean, and talked about the beautiful homes and sunshine. “Mom, it’s so so beautiful, the most beautiful place I’ve ever been,” she said.

On behalf of the Holmes and Shelley Island family we would like to say thank you, thank you, to the Harbor View Hotel, thank you to anyone who made her last days so special.

Mary Kate Shelley, also working on the Island this summer, said, “It was an honor to be in Alexa’s presence.” I would like to extend those words to all those that go before us, including Deb Davis and any other grieving family that has been through such sorrow.

I feel this tragedy is somehow a masterpiece in motion. I know it is urging me to slow down, to say a prayer for Nina Houlihan and even give the peace sign to someone that lets me cross the street.

Debra Shelley



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Thank you for the July 25 and August 1 coverage that attracted diverse audiences of all ages to the 2008 Della Hardman Day events. On behalf of the Della Hardman Day committee, led by seasonal resident Esther Hopkins, thanks also to the town of Oak Bluffs, the Oak Bluffs Public Library, the U.S. Slave Song Project, Inc., Featherstone Center for the Arts, the Martha’s Vineyard Rotary Club and the many other individuals and community organizations that contributed to the success of the fourth annual celebration.

Special thanks to the essay contest committee — Ken Walker, Marie Allen and Betty Rawlins, for their work with the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School staff and students.

Next year on Saturday, July 25, 2009, the Della Hardman Day event will mark its fifth anniversary and we invite the Vineyard community to mark your calendar now. Contact us if you’d like to get involved with the committee and be part of an inclusive and inspiring Island event.

And don’t forget, savor the moment!

Andrea Taylor

Oak Bluffs


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I’d like to submit this happy occurrence to your newspaper.

Thank you, kind citizen of the world. I don’t know who you are but I’d like to take a moment to thank you. I deeply appreciate your returning my bag of possessions.

Last Monday I rode my bike, as I often do, from Oak Bluffs to Vineyard Haven. When I arrived at my destination I discovered empty bungee cords; my bag was gone. Using a friend’s phone, I called my daughter Sarah to get my son Greg’s cell phone number. After all, my cell phone was in the bag. I called Greg immediately and asked him to retrace my steps. He did with no success. I did not lose hope. I called the police of both towns and gave them my information. They would call me if anything turned up. I called the credit card and phone companies. I did not lose hope. I activated an old phone that incidentally Greg had cautioned me not to get rid of a few months earlier. I did not lose hope. I went down to the post office for a new mail key. I needed an identification card. Yes, my wallet with my identification and my key was in the bag. Starting to lose hope? No, never.

Again to the post office. New key, old phone, more money earned. I will go on. Life is fantastic. Later I was busy cooking when Greg came into the kitchen. What’s this? My bag! It was between the doors in the front of my house safe and secure.

I’ve learned many lessons in this experience. The greatest: keep the faith. The world is becoming a better place to live. Even $39.16 was still in my wallet.

It’s not the contents that are so precious to me but my belief in mankind. Thank you, stranger, friend, citizen of the new earth.

I have since looked at my e-mail, once a month, and found a message from a man by the name of Tihomir Denchev. I now have a name for this kind-hearted citizen. Thank you so very much for the return of my bag and my faith in mankind.

Sylvia Metell

Oak Bluffs


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

How could the Gazette fail to mention the black-and-white photography winners at the All Island Art Show, when each of its issues carries black-and-white photographs throughout?

Though small in number and tucked away around the corner from the ample color photography section, black-and-white photos nevertheless yielded first, second and third prizes, yours truly coming in first.

Peter Dreyer



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

As I navigated the curves of narrow East Chop Drive in my red 1953 Morgan sportscar, I came up behind two ladies walking abreast with their backs to traffic. One pushed a baby stroller and was talking on her cell phone.

Further up the shore of Crystal Lake, a man wearing earphones ran with his back to traffic. Not only could he not see cars behind him, he could not hear them.

At least half of pedestrians I see on our narrow, shoulderless roads have their backs to traffic.

With so many motorists using cell phones while driving, it is difficult to comprehend that pedestrians blithely ignore the danger of a 3,000-pound vehicle coming up behind them.

Please remember: walk facing traffic.

Ray Howick

Oak Bluffs and

Evanston, Ill.