Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Better late than never.

This is just a thank you letter to all of the people who sent me well wishes, cards, flowers, and notes when I lost my sister, Eloise Downing-Allen, five years ago. I think of her every single day and still miss her dearly. Few people can appreciate what it is like to lose a sister who is also your best friend and advisor for over 70 years. Her passing devastated me, so I keep her picture by my side to this day.

Thank you all very much. You know who you are.

A lot has happened to me since then.

Two years ago I had a life-threatening illness. I was taken to the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital’s emergency room where I was losing so much blood that they had to tilt me on my head just to keep me conscious. They were giving me blood but they could not stop the bleeding. They were just about out of my blood type when the medivac helicopter arrived, but we had to wait again after they touched down because all of the major hospitals in the area were full and we did not know where we could go.

If not for the quick-acting, well-trained, nurses and miracle workers on staff, I would not be here today. Somehow they were able to stabilize me enough to get me into the helicopter and to New England Medical Center strong enough to survive a very challenging diagnosis, a number of complex procedures, two surgeries, and months of rehabilitation.

I know that I don’t have much time left. I am hanging on to see Barack Obama’s inauguration in January and hopefully long enough to see my grandchildren one more time this summer. I just wanted to thank everyone who was involved in my life so far and all those who gave me these past two years.

What I have seen happen in this country within the past months was worth a lifetime of waiting. I only wish I had my best friend, my advisor, my sister Eloise to share this time with me.

Gloria (Gigi) Downing Pope

Oak Bluffs


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

At 4 a.m. on Sept. 20, our caretaker called from our home in Vineyard Haven, where drunken kids who had left a party next door had decided to crash. A guitar was in splinters, an organ thrown through glass sliding doors. The place was trashed. In the first of several idiotic moves, three of the kids were actually asleep in our bedroom when the police, alerted by a neighbor, arrived. The ringleader left behind his cell phone and wallet.

The Vineyard police were exemplary in handling the matter; not so the district attorney’s office, which seemed more concerned with protecting the rights of the criminals than those of the victims. We requested at the outset that the perpetrators answer to us in person. This request was repeatedly denied. Having to face us in person would force the guilty parties to admit what they had done. Instead, the three kids who were caught were to repay our insurance deductible, do community service, and write us letters. That’s it. They were told not to talk to anyone about the matter. In response, the same young man who left his wallet and phone in our bedroom bragged about the break-in on Facebook, alerting the entire population of the regional high school. Our daughter found the posting in a matter of seconds; the perpetrators puzzled as to who she was. We alerted the district attorney to their breaking the confidentiality. No response.

Today we received the letter from the ringleader. It was an exercise in evasion and placing blame elsewhere. Apparently this young man as well as the district attorney are unfamiliar with the concept of a simple declarative sentence stating, “I did this and I am sorry.” Instead, the apology was for any problems that the criminal acts caused. The absurdity of this letter was precisely why we have insisted that these young people face us in person. Of the other two letters, one was acceptable, and the other even more inane, the writer claiming she did not know she was in a house that was broken into. The common theme: shirking of responsibility.

The kids who did this may be guilty of nothing more than extreme stupidity. What concerns us more is the district attorney’s apparent slap-on-the-wrist policy. Either the district attorney never read the letters, or she read the letters and actually approved of these two young criminals avoiding accountability. The district attorney’s office is contributing to training career criminals. Congratulations.

We are writing this letter to warn residents of Vineyard Haven to lock your doors and install lights or alarms. Some of your neighbors do not know the difference between right and wrong, and the district attorney’s office refuses to teach them. Unless these young people are required to face their victims, they will surely strike again.

Ricki and Larry Lewis

Scotia, N.Y., and

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Nov. 29 not only witnessed glorious weather, but a wonderful outpouring of support for the fourth annual 5K for KJ cross-country run. A total of 155 entrants of all ages turned out to run and walk the 3.1-mile course through our state forest. Smiles, best wishes, fond memories and many laughs were shared on that morning, and once again it is thanks to our community members who made such an event possible.

The run benefits a scholarship fund dedicated in the name of former team mate, Kevin Johnson, and was sponsored by the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School boys’ and girls’ cross-country booster club. However, we could not have done it alone. Our appreciation goes out to the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School and the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation for access to the facilities and forest, and to the many others who donated goods and services for the event. And thank you to our coach, Joe Schroeder, who watched with sheer joy as the majority of his Mayflower League Champions meandered across the finish line. To all of our volunteers, thank you all. It was a team effort!

Stephanie W. Dreyer

West Tisbury


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Local generosity is a wonderful part of Island life. The Martha’s Vineyard Chamber of Commerce wishes to thank all the businesses who helped make the annual breakfast with Santa Claus a great success, along with photographer Bob Schellhammer, the help of our energetic team volunteers, and certainly the Edgartown fire department for making sure Santa arrived on time. All proceeds from breakfast with Santa benefit the Jim Lambert Memorial Scholarship fund, providing financial assistance to Martha’s Vineyard High School graduates in their secondary studies.

Ken Goldberg

Vineyard Haven

The Vineyard Gazette welcomes letters to the editor on any subject concerning Martha’s Vineyard. The newspaper strives to publish all letters as space allows, although the editor reserves the right to reject letters that in her judgment are inappropriate. Letters must be signed, and should include a place of residence and contact telephone number. The Gazette does not publish anonymous letters.