Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

It would have been nice if Jim Hickey’s paean to the Clinton years had included a single dissenting voice. Am I the only person who regards that period as the nadir rather than the pinnacle of the Island’s history? The strong economy and Clinton circus may have been a boon to businesses and builders of trophy homes, but for those who relish the Vineyard’s understated charms, those years witnessed a near-Hamptonization of the Island that not everyone is eager to see repeated. Also, the fact that Island voters recently rejected Hillary Clinton by roughly two to one suggests that nostalgia for her family’s time on the Island doesn’t run very deep.

Tony Horwitz

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I read with interest your piece about the Clintons possibly making an Island comeback. I think the story ignored an important element to their years here. It was great that the Clintons thought well enough of our community to vacation here. And indeed, those days where filled with buzz and positive vibration and brought prosperity and commerce.

But in the aftermath, the Vineyard is still in a state of recovery. Is it just a coincidence that school enrollment is down and that the inventory of Island homes for sale has reached an all time high? And how about your recent reportage about Islanders facing a 50 per cent higher cost of living?

The Clintons helped inaugurate an unprecedented influx of the rich and famous, who continue to use the Vineyard as their summer playground. While this is, indeed, a wonderful validation, it has also created a very uneven playing field. I think four more years of the Clinton entourage would only serve to increase this unfortunate polarity even more.

Of course this phenomenon would have probably occurred anyway, but perhaps at not such a disruptive rate. I wish the Gazette had spoken to people who could have expressed this point of view. Instead the paper mostly talked to various business people, who stood to profit the most. If the Vineyard seems deserted these days, it’s because it has become largely unaffordable.

Peter Simon



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Your editorial of Feb. 15 regarding the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School connection to the Oak Bluffs wastewater system seems to have missed the point of the sequence of events. The Oak Bluffs wastewater commissioners voted to permit the high school to connect to the Oak Bluffs plant at no cost beyond the necessary piping and pumps. The school board accepted the proposal, but then realized that they had not gotten approval from each of the towns that support the school. Thereforethey deferred action until the process is completed.

The project has not been plagued with troubles; rather, it was developed in an orderly manner by Vineyard schools superintendent Dr. James Weiss and wastewater manager Joseph Alosso. Neither the town of Oak Bluffs nor the wastewater commission askedfor up frontfunds from the school or the taxpayers.

However, at the request of some Oak Bluffs officials, the proposal brought to the townmeeting hadbeen expanded to include a large plot of land owned by the Oak Bluffs resident homesite committee. For this portion of the project, some up front funding was requested. It was then decided that development of that homesite plot was somewhere off in the future,and that piece of the proposal was deleted. If memory serves, there might have been a suggestion that the town use its borrowing authority to fund the project, but the costs to the town were limited to the homesite plot.

I suggest the Gazette avoid subtle nuances that suggest problems or difficulties where none exist, just because it spices up the story.

Robert A. Iadicicco

Oak Bluffs


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

An open letter to Chilmark selectmen Warren Doty and Frank Fenner:

This is a friendly letter via e-mail to say that I think youboth cavedin by voting for an extensionof the Chilmark mooring deadline date. Everyone I have spoken to has questioned thedecision logic which you used.

It seems like a smallconstituency of vocal town citizens who spend significant time in Menemsha rules the day. Certainly they deserve consideration but not at the expense of the selectmen overriding Chilmark bylaws. Everyone who has a mooring permit knows the rules and has ample time to renew their mooring ap plication. For two of the three selectmen to vote for an extension to the deadline date to accommodate a small number of late applicants sets a bad precedent. Harbor master DennisJason deserves the town’s support on upholding the rules.

There are several potential problems created by the selectmen skirting the bylaws. Other town boards will be questioned when they attempt to uphold them. It makes Denny’s job significantly more difficult; there are difficult residual issues which now he is forced to address. Finally, it sends a signal to the town that laws don’t mean a heck of a lotwhen our selectmen focus too much on politics.

I might add that I served four years on the Darien, Conn., board of selectmen and I truly can’t recall a time when we didn’t back our town officials in upholding a regulation. We did change laws that were out of date. If the bylaws pertaining to the Menemsha harbor needed changing, I assume you would have done so in advance of your decision in orderto avoid this whole issue coming to a boiling point.

Thanks for listening.

Max McCreery



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

On Feb. 11, Island Grown Initiative and the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School culinary arts program teamed up with chef Dan Sauer of the Outermost Inn to offer a winter local foods dinner. Sixty-seven people attended and enjoyed a delicious meal made with 85 per cent locally-grown ingredients donated by Island family farmers. We raised more than $1,500 for the culinary arts program, which will help them continue using Island-grown ingredients in their classes and events.

It was a wonderful evening and a great reminder of the bounty available to us on this Island even in the middle of winter: scallops, ham, beef, eggs, carrots, greens, potatoes, garlic, parsnips, onions and so much more.

Our heartfelt thanks go to the farmers who contributed many delicious ingredients to the dinner: Berta and Vern Welch, Hollis Smith, Jim Athearn of Morning Glory Farm, Rebecca Miller of North Tabor Farm, Clarissa Allen and Mitchell Posin of the Allen Farm and Oscar Thompson of Thompson family farm.

And thanks also to Dan Sauer for contributing his time and expertise to making the dinner a great success, to Jeff Rothwell of the vocational education department at the high school and Jack O’Malley of culinary arts for their interest in locally-grown food and commitment to their programs, to the students who prepared and served the meal with great skill and to everyone who came out to support culinary arts and local food and farmers.

IGI looks forward to developing the connections between local schools and local food, together with Island farmers, chefs, caterers and cooks. For more information on Island Grown Schools, please visit, or e-mail

Noli Hoyle



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

For Valentine’s day my boyfriend and I went to the Ocean View for dinner. Silly us, we didn’t make a reservation and had to sit over in the bar section — no big deal. In fact I think it was incredibly fortuitous.

Oftentimes when I am out and about I hear people asking what is wrong with kids these days. I bet if you ask any woman who was sitting in the bar section of the Ocean View around 7 p.m. on Valentine’s night, they would tell you absolutely nothing.

Two very sweet young men very humbly handed out roses to all the women seated in the bar section. They walked up to complete strangers, handed them a single rose and simply said, “Happy Valentine’s Day,” then turned and walked away. There was not a woman in the place that didn’t have a smile on her face.

The two young men (I am guessing they are about 14 or so) are Yannick Gonsalves and Adahy Gonsalves. On behalf of every woman there, I would like to thank you. Not only for the rose and Valentine’s wishes but for that simple act of kindness.

A woman sitting at the bar heard me ask the young man for his and his friend’s names. I told him why I was asking so he wouldn’t think I was some weirdo. She came up to me a bit later and told me that she and her friend had offered to pay the boys for the roses but they had refused. (I am sorry but her name was drowned out by the noise.)

On a day that leaves so many women feeling sad, these two were a humble ray of light. How refreshing to see two young men making so many women happy.

Thank you for what you did, you made Valentine’s Day even more special for all of us.

Kelley A. Wilson

West Tisbury


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The following was sent to the West Tisbury selectmen from the state Department of Environmental Protection.

I am in receipt of a Nov. 15, 2007 e-mail from Kathy Harris to the West Tisbury zoning board of appeals and board of selectmen.

Regardless of whether Ms. Harris accurately recited our Nov. 14, 2007 conversation on the matter addressed, I want to make it abundantly clear to everyone involved that the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has not and will not apply the noise regulations in this matter. I confirmed this position with our bureau and waste prevention and communicated same to Ms. Harris via voice message following our initial conversation on Nov. 14, 2007.

The Mass DEP considers this a matter of local issue that is best resolved amongst local citizenry. The noise regulations are applicable to sources of air pollution. Sources of air pollution are mechanical objects such as power plants and foundries, they are not people or animals. Mass DEP has never applied its noise regulations to people or animals and will not be doing so here.

After talking to both sides on this matter, I performed a Google search. I typed in “rooster complaints Massachusetts.” West Tisbury is not the only town dealing with this issue. Some have dealt with the issue through local ordinances. The development and implementation of such an ordinance is part of the democratic process. Everyone has their say. Perhaps that would be best here.

Again, Mass DEP is not involved in this matter and takes no position on it. It is strictly a local issue involving a dispute among neighbors best resolved between them.

Kevin John Kiernan



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I was surprised to read the obituary of Ray Gordon several weeks ago in the Gazette. I haven’t had any meaningful contact with Ray for many years, but he left an indelible mark on my life and I am forever grateful for his teachings and his guidance.

I was a member of the newly formed acting company of the Arkansas Repertory Theatre in the mid-1970s when we received a grant to go into the Arkansas state prison system to give theatre workshops to inmates. Ray was brought down to train this group of idealistic actors to meet the challenge of facing inmates of a prison system more concerned with punishment than with rehabilitation. He introduced us to an unknown world of men and women down on their luck, eager to explore worlds outside of their experience.

He taught us the peculiarities of the prison system, and also of the basic humanity of the inmates themselves. He taught us to look at each inmate as a human being, not as a crime statistic. He prepared all of us to face an experience that became one of the most valuable and rewarding of my life.

We began with Ray giving workshops to our company based on his considerable experience not only as an actor, but as a committed believer in social reform through artistic endeavor. We spent a week with him for several hours a day, preparing us mentally and physically for what we were about to experience. I have never, before or since, worked with a more dedicated artist than Ray Gordon.

He accompanied us to our first prison visit — one marked by a prison guard — clearly hostile to our presence — who informed us of the prison’s no hostage policy. In the event of a prison uprising, guards would shoot to kill whether or not we were in the way. That, needless to say, was unsettling. Ray put it all in perspective. The prison system did not want us there and would do anything to intimidate us from returning.

And return we did for almost three years. The week or ten days Ray spent with us gave us all the courage we needed to keep going. I spent the better part of that time going to the same prison twice a week. The inmates were so eager to be a part of our workshops, and they were some of the best people I have ever worked with in my entire professional life. Without Ray’s guidance, I know I would not have the courage to continue. He gave me the confidence to carry on.

Years later, in Manhattan, I met Ray again. By this time I was a working actor auditioning for anything that would give me a job. I met Ray at an audition for a television commercial. I introduced myself (I’m sure he didn’t remember me, and I was right). I told him then how much he had meant to me back in the 1970s and that his teachings and his words have stuck with ever since. He seemed both touched and slightly embarrassed at my enthusiastic greeting. I was so pleased I had run into him after all those years, and was able to tell him what he had meant to me.

Last summer, while vacationing in Chilmark, I had no idea I was living so close to him, and doubt I would have bothered him in any event. If for no other reason, I’m glad my new subscription to the Gazette alerted me to his passing. He was a good man and touched the lives of many, many people I’m sure. I know I was one of them.

Bob Boles

Mount Vernon, N.Y.


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The news that Orlie Alwardt had died came as no surprise, as his health had been in decline for the past several years. But it did come as a shock, for there is some region of one’s memory where those we knew are remembered as they were in their prime. And Orlie in his prime was solid, tireless and unstoppable. He was a rock.

Orlie was a prime example of what I call a Desert Island guy. That is, he was someone you’d want with you if you were cast ashore somewhere, with nothing but the clothes on your back. Knowing Orlie, in short order you’d have a sturdy hut, fishing nets out and a functioning Jeep Wagoneer.

He could seemingly make or repair just about anything. Need pipes bent and soldered and rigged on your scallop boat so you could pull down to haul your drags instead of pulling up (which makes a difference, I am here to tell you)? Orlie was your man. Need to swap out your old VW engine for a newer one? Orlie did that for me one evening between the time he got home from work and before we had supper.

I have never known anyone so generous with his time and talents.

And he was good company, attentive, good-natured, and with an easy laugh. If his capacity for chitchat was limited, it was fine to pass stretches of time with him in a companionable silence.

Orlie was also what I call Old Vineyard, and not simply because his middle name was Mayhew. Born here, raised here as were generations of his family, he knew every inch of this land and of her waters. He knew everyone on the Island (and was seemingly related to most of them). And his stories went on and on deep into the past. In later years, there was sometimes talk of moving off, to Rhode Island, but that could never be. Vineyard seas ran in his veins, her sand was his grit.

And he had that Old Vineyard courtliness, perhaps born of New England reserve, so prevalent in his generation. soft-spoken, polite, and rarely profane (except in Portuguese, as I discovered to my chagrin years later when I parroted one of his phrases in mixed company), he was living testimony that you can have oil-stained clothes and cracked workman’s hands and still be a gentleman.

He was a fine man, I was honored to be his friend. To Karla Martel and to his children, Brian, Mary Ann, Valerie and Pam, I send my truest condolences. And to Orlie: If there is a heaven, and if I get there, the first hundred highballs are on me!

David PB Stephens

Oakland, Calif. and East Chop


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

How can a voluntary water ban be voluntary?

Christopher Gray



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

A recent Wednesday was a wet, wild and blustery day — good for staying indoors. Our nine old hens barely ventured outside but dogs need walking and it was also time to head to Vineyard Haven, and go door-to-door with order forms for the American Cancer Society’s Daffodil Days.

It was a real pleasure dropping in on the downtown businesses that remain open year-round, with warm welcomes and bright, cheery storefronts. What a great way to spend an otherwise gloomy afternoon — not to mention the incredible sales going on right now in some of the stores!

Thank you to all the proprietors, the staff and the Tisbury Business Association, for your efforts to keep our town alive and well during the quietest time of the year.

Penny Uhlendorf

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

People fear giving up the thing that is destroying them because then they have to face how much time and energy they have wasted. But we must remember the children! They have to live their own lives on this earth. This war economy is destroying their future, their world.

Fanny Howe

West Tisbury


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

All those who walk West Chop in recent years have noticed the dozens of small plastic peppermint schnapps bottles that have lined the road on both sides.

I have retrieved as many as 16 one walk.

Who is this masked man who leaves the spent cartridges of his stun gun lining his favorite path?

What story lies behind this long term trail of evidence . . . whatlife drama is unfolding?

Is peppermint schnapps man (or woman) trapped in a deadly labyrinth of relationship or life situation without escape?

Well, tune in next week for thoughts from other West Chop walkers.

William Hall

Vineyard Haven