How many of us are sensitive about being washashores? It may be a bit of a taboo to talk about it because most of us act as if we couldn’t give a flying Fig Newton. So we don’t have whaling captains in our ancestry, who cares? Those were a bunch of uptight and bossy dudes; who needs them?
But there should be a few extra notches in our belts to help us along the scale, from zero (you arrived here so recently, you haven’t even been issued a post office box) to 10 (where you’ve been here so long people assume you were born in the old marine hospital.)
Here are some suggestions for moving yourself up the ladder: You’ve visited the Ritz Cafe at least once and on that particular occasion, the king of cool, Maynard Silva, was singing the blues. You’ve actually worked a number of jobs here and some of them were nasty. You know a few authentic fishermen who’ve left bluefish in your fridge. Ditto farmers bearing zucchinis. It’s been a long time since any garments you’ve worn had to match or be free of holes and paint-spatters. You’ve actually read Charles Banks’s three volumes of Martha’s Vineyard History, kept locked in your library’s glass cabinet. Some of your best friends are natives. You’ve given birth to natives or sired natives. You’ve adopted a hint of a New England accent. You possess a telephone number that starts with 693. You make it part of your conversation to recall businesses that are long-gone, like the Kafe restaurant in Edgartown (remember Ralph?), the drug store in Oak Bluffs, and the Red Cat bookstore in West Tisbury. (If anyone mentions places going further back then you do, you feel slightly mortified). When visitors pronounce Ka-tay-ma Kat-ah-ma, you feel settled in here long enough to overlook it. You take fewer and fewer trips off Island and, last but not least, in this post-9/11 world, you still keep your door unlocked. If somewhere along the line you started using a key, you automatically lose five points.
Judy Searle of Winnemack avenue dropped in the other day to take issue with my Lay Off Veira Park commentary a couple of editions back. She was really nice about it, and articulated her own bigger Little League policy most eloquently. I promised her, to be fair, I would pass along her talking points which are, in a nutshell: We would only lose 10 trees at most, and Judy finds it ironic that one of the most vehement anti-baseball abutters recently built jumbo houses, displacing many more trees. Our parks should be protected but, within their scenic boundaries, more recreational facilities are needed, such as a volleyball pit in Dennis Alley, formerly Waban, Park, and a covered pavilion along Sunset Lake. Any increased traffic and noise in Veira would occur only during the league’s spring season, finished before the major noisemakers of summer arrive. The new plans would improve the parking situation, making the area safer, not more dangerous, for kids. Finally, and this is an excellent point, rather than complaining about Oak Bluffs carrying the rest of the Island, we should feel proud of our oversized contribution.
This all makes sense. My only major departure from Judy’s arguments is that, if anyone tried to put up any sort of structure along the banks of Sunset Lake, I’d lay my body down, just as I did to block the tanks outside a military base during the Vietnam War. (Actually, I didn’t go that far, but some of my friends did, and I cheered, though not too ostentatiously.)
For the Friday Conversation on Nov. 30 at Oak Bluffs Senior Center from 10 to 11:30, guest speaker Ted Amaral will talk about Housing and Urban Development grants for low and moderate-income families.
Mark your calendars for Treelighting in Post Office Square on Nov. 28.
At the library, Portuguese-English Story Time returns on Saturday, Nov. 17 at 10:30 a.m. Stories will be about bears, with a craft and snacks (suspended from trees, of course, to prevent bear raids.)
Oak Bluffsnik Karen Achille invites people to mark your calendars . . . Hospice of Martha’s Vineyard will host its annual holiday fund-raising event, Handmade from the Heart on Dec. 8 during Christmas in Edgartown, once again at the Daniel Fisher House. If you’d like to donate any of your hand-crafted, hand-made or home-baked good for this sale, please call the hospice office at 693-0189.
Another Oak Bluffsnik, retiring Unitarian minister, writer, quilter and poet Judy Campbell, e-mailed friends and parishioners this reflection:
I watch the night sky shifting into dawn
A sun-streaked glow of hope and promise.
My days are going faster now
Less time between this sunrise and the next
I savor it all while I can.