Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

John Morelli was not the only great teacher I had at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School, but he was the one who understood me best. I loved him very much.

During my senior year I discovered Jack Kerouac and begged Mr. Morelli to let our class read On the Road. It was new to me and I was excited about it. He ordered a box of copies and when the box arrived he let me open it.

I liked English class all through high school, but I did not do homework on any regular basis. When I stopped handing in assignments altogether, Mr. Morelli pulled me aside. “You can bring them in when you get around to it, but bring them in,” he told me. “I just want to read what you write.”

It’s important not to lose track of people. I would give a great deal to have taken my sons over, one of these afternoons, and talked books with Mr. Morelli again.

Molly Hitchings

West Tisbury


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

It’s wonderful to know that Vineyard chef Raymond Schilcher’s legendary culinary legacy on the Island has been passed through his family, and now down to his sons, Alexander, Nicholas and Duncan (and MacAleer) to continue on his creative inspiration. For 20-plus years, their father, Raymond, created and provided such enormous pleasure, joy, culture, and sophistication for countless within the Vineyard community, dining on his le Cordon Bleu cuisine at his restaurants. The Hamlin-Schilcher sons have certainly each enjoyed a truly blessed and unique upbringing, in so many respects, from both of their parents.

As they each begin their individual journeys through their adult lives, hopefully, they will each find the peace, health, happiness, and success they deserve. Wishing all the best to each of them.

Cynthia Seymour

New York, N.Y.


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

In the late 1980s I had the opportunity to participate in a seminar led by Scott Price, the African-American psychiatrist from San Francisco and author of Black Rage. He had just come from his initial visit to the Martha’s Vineyard, and after we had established our mutual Vineyard connection, he asked me if I heard the place name Inkwell or Inkwell Beach. At that time, I had not. He was both astonished and dismayed that African-Americans were choosing to label a stretch of beach in Oak Bluffs with a racial connotation.

Over the last 20 years I have watched as this phrase gained currency and crept out of the African-American reference group, to T-shirts, and now to broader use in the Vineyard community including the pages of the Vineyard Gazette. Inkwell, in the most literal sense of the word, is denigration and does not contribute to efforts to build a diverse and accepting community.

At least twice this summer I read Inkwell in headlines in your paper, and this letter results from listening to Dr. Toussaint and Bill Cosby, among other issues, discuss the demeaning impact of the N word when used within and without the African-American community in the Oct. 14 edition of Meet the Press with Tim Russert.

Although I am an adamant foe of politically correct speech and prior restraint of the First Amendment, there are choices that we can make with regard to every rule. I confess to having used Inkwell in the past. It is appealing and tends to identify one as hip, tuned-in, facile with language and entertaining, but upon reflection and with a better sense of awareness about our subtle racist attitudes, it might be best if you and I resisted the tide, sought out and encouraged a different place name for this beach, and let Inkwell ebb from our vocabulary.

Frank J. Partel Jr.

Bryn Mawr, Pa.

and Edgartown


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The Martha’s Vineyard Historical Society is to be commended for its recent restoration of the Edgartown and East Chop lighthouses. However, the article erroneously stated that the last time either lighthouse was painted was by the U.S. Coast Guard.

For the record, both of these lighthouses were sand blasted, inside and out — and painted when under the care of Vineyard Environmental Research Institute (which I founded) for six years. The institute also replaced the windows in the lighting rooms of both lighthouses and installed new balcony railings at the top of the East Chop Lighthouse.

If it wasn’t for the effort of the institute in giving testimony before the U.S. Congress in the mid-1980s, and having three of the Island lighthouses transferred to their care — these lighthouses were scheduled to be torn down and replaced by steel skeletons with strobe lights.

After six years of fund-raising and loving restoration of three of our Island lighthouses, the institute transferred the care and control of our Island’s historic sentinels to the historical society.

William E. Marks


TAxation Rates

Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

This is the time of year when people involved in town finances begin the long process of preparing our budgets for the next fiscal year.

Part of the budget for every town is the cost of the regional school district. Last April, voters in Oak Bluffs opted not to support the regional agreement, a choice that led to considerable conflict with taxpayers from other towns.

It could happen again. If we are unable to agree on a fair way of assessing taxes to pay for the regional district, we could once again be caught up in anger and accusation that accompanied the process last year. Once again, we may end up resorting to a state formula that few if any of us understand, and the fairness of which no one seems willing to stand up for.

On the Island and across the country, our schools and many other local government functions are supported by property taxes. The regional district has been supported by property taxes since it was instituted in 1956. The controversy revolves around the way in which properties are taxed.

In a progressive tax, the more your property is worth, the higher your rate of taxation. We can see a parallel in income taxes, where the greater your taxable income, the higher tax bracket you are in. The higher your tax bracket, the greater the proportion of your earnings that is taken in taxes. No one, so far as I know, is suggesting a progressive property tax to pay for the schools.

In a regressive tax, the more your property is worth, the lower your tax rate. The regional agreement, which specified the assessments for the regional district, is a regressive tax. Under that agreement, every property in the two wealthiest towns is assessed at a lower rate than any property in any other town. This inequity is part of the agreement itself and must be changed.

The only fair way to pay for the regional district is to treat all property on the Island the same: to have a flat tax, in which we are all assessed at exactly the same rate. This is not a strange or unfamiliar suggestion: the Martha’s Vineyard Commission is paid for by a flat tax; so are the county and the refuse district. Within each town, every property owner pays for the schools at the same rate, and across the country it is common to assess all property owners in a school district at a single rate.

The high school offers its services equally to all students on the Island. It is part of our caring for the next generation and helping to preserve our democratic way of life. I am proud to pay my fair share of the costs of the education it offers, even though my children and grandchildren all live in other states. I am happy to contribute to the education of children from all six towns. I am not happy to be contributing to the education of children from wealthier towns at a higher rate than their parents are.

The main counter argument to a flat tax so far has come from people who say that no one, especially the wealthy, will give up a financial advantage, however small, or however unfair. I hope they are wrong. I believe that it is just as important to treat others fairly as to be treated fairly, and I want to believe that most voters and taxpayers in all six towns will agree with me about that.

Thad Harshbarger

Oak Bluffs


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

With the newspapers and television news filled with articles of corporate and political corruption and athletes using drugs, it was more than refreshing and inspiring to receive the following letter from my neighbor Dan Parker:

I am writing to inform you about a humanitarian project I have become involved with and find myself very passionately moved by.

Following the 2005 hurricanes I was drawn toward assisting the victims because it was such a natural fit with my professional capabilities. My wife, as the Youth Minister at the Federated Church in Edgartown, led me to join in the leadership of a youth group humanitarian trip to offer rebuilding aid for one week in St. Bernard Parish last December.

What we encountered in the New Orleans area was nothing short of appalling: devastation beyond anything conveyed in the media. These innocent victims continue still to suffer from the loss of their homes and livelihoods, their neighborhoods and social support systems. The ineffectiveness of our national response has left them feeling hopeless and abandoned, yet they continue to be people of such rich and deep spirit.

We were recently contacted by a 63-year-old widow who wants desperately to get out of her FEMA trailer and back into her home, which has been completely gutted. She is doing her own part to help survivors in her job as a social worker assisting youth who have been uprooted and traumatized by the storm.

My wife and I are organizing another mission trip through the church for this November, a 10-day trip for adults to help this determined and wonderful woman get a functional and safe living space again. She says she cries every time she receives contact from us; we hope to go accomplish amazing things for her!

While I work hard here on the Island, my life is blessed by relative comfort, hope and dignity. If you feel the same way about your life and your prospects and blessings, I hope you will consider making a donation which will enable me to volunteer on your behalf and on the behalf of other like-minded and compassionate donors. If we all open our hearts as we are able we will have a significant influence, and that influence will have the power to change lives.

As Dan mentions, he made a trip to New Orleans last December to offer rebuilding aid. He was accompanied by his wife, Jill and Jerry Fritz, minister of the Federated Church, and a youth group composed of Matthew Fisher, Win Grimm, Jackson Parker, Cassandra Gaines, Michaella Gaines, Dani Cleary, Wes Haeselbarth and Dan Durawa.

Please note: Dan Parker did not suggest I send his letter to our local newspapers. However, I do feel strongly that as many people as possible should know about this very worthy cause. Any support you can give through the Federated Church to Dan Parker and his volunteers for their humanitarian trip to New Orleans will be greatly appreciated.

Mev Good

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I would like your help in fulfulling my dream to carry the flame of the Olympic Torch as part of the relay in China for the Summer 2008 Olympic Games.

I was selected by Lenovo computers as a finalist (one of only 18 out of 6,000 world-wide entrants) and now the voting goes to the general public via the internet.

You can vote on their Web site at

For the contest, I wrote an essay and made a video (a true accomplishment since I can not even work a digital camera). The video is rough but creative. Please read the essay and look at the video and then cast your vote.

I have lived on the Island for 15 years and worked for the past three Olympic Games. I also volunteer down at the derby weigh station each morning. The winner will be announced on Oct. 31.

I appreciate your help in representing the United States and Martha’s Vineyard in Beijing. And pass the info along to your friends and family. If chosen, I would be happy to share the experience with all of you.

Amy Coffey



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

On Oct. 18, Island Grown Initiative presented its mobile poultry processing unit to Island farmers, representatives from town boards of health and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. The demonstration was a monumental step in providing safe, clean, humane, size-appropriate on-Island processing — so farmers no longer have to transport their animals off-Island wasting valuable time, money and fossil fuels. Nor must animals be subjected to unnecessary stress.

Thanks to many people, there is now a constructive dialogue going on between growers and their local and state governments. As a community we can grow more healthy food for our families, which also supports both the local economy and the agricultural integrity of the Island’s working farmlands.

The demonstration was the culmination of the widespread support that we have received since the launch of the Pastured Poultry Pilot Program. The initiative thanks everyone who participated.

Ali Berlow

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

We would publicly like to thank the Gazette for the story on our new store Tilton’s Market. However, there were a few mistakes.

Saturday shoppers found us at Cromwell Lane even though the Union street mall was given as a location. Our great-great-grandfather Capt. Owen H. Tilton may not care that he was said to be our great-grandfather, but just in case we’ll mention it.

Our mother insists she does not know Bob Holland and is sure Bob Tilton is our father.

Tuesday, the village cat, was rather miffed at being called Suzy especially after full Gazette coverage a few weeks back. But after we explained it, she went out, caught and ate a sparrow, washed it down with a bowl of cream, curled up in a shopping basket and had a nap. It seemed all was forgiven.

Kathleen and Tania Tilton

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

One of the reasons I love the Vineyard so much is because the annual striped bass and bluefish derby, where thousands of fishermen compete, structured the event so that a 13-year-old boy, Chris Morris, who caught the winning bluefish, drew the magic key that fit the boat, motor and trailer!

Congratulations, Chris, and to all of who won prizes and volunteered untold hours to make this event so special.

Anne Gallagher

Oak Bluffs