JOHN S. ALLEY
If you are superstitious, sprinkle a little salt over your left shoulder before reading today’s column. It sure has been quiet in town since the holidays but today it is the start of a long holiday weekend. Presidents’ Day is on Monday. The school, post office and all municipal buildings will be closed. School vacation week, for our schools, starts next Friday and many of you will be taking a winter break off-Island. Several stores will be offering special sales on Monday. Business at Chilmark Chocolates has been brisk — you guys be sure to remember your wife or sweetheart tomorrow with candy and flowers.
Sal Laterra, of Providence, R.I., arrived yesterday with candy and flowers for his valentine, Phyllis Meras, who had just returned home from a 10-day trip to Egypt. Linda Baughman, who had been caring for her cats, enjoyed her stay and reluctantly returned home to Philadelphia today.
Jill Bouck reports that her daughter, Libby, is living in West Falmouth and has been substitute teaching at the North Falmouth Elementary School and is also doing an internship at Cape Cod Life Magazine in Hyannis. Her son, David, worked on an internship project last September until Christmas in Mexico in the mountains north of Veracruz. He collected data for a National Science Foundation project studying a cloud forest environment. He spent January in Africa in a game preserve in Botswana where he worked removing fencing left over from an earlier cattle ranch. He has now returned to Endicott College where he is a senior majoring in environmental studies.
Jonah Maidoff, a social studies teacher at the charter school, reports that they are getting ready to make their sixth visit to Italy. The trip will coincide with their studies of classical civilizations. The school’s first visit to Italy was in April 2002 and continued every other year until 2007, when it was determined that the group needed to be smaller. So now it is older students only. The Italian voyage has developed a special connection with a sister school in San Giovanni Valdarno, a town south of Florence. The town has officially welcomed the visiting group each year in their 12th century town hall. This year the American ambassador in Rome has been invited to participate in the welcoming ceremony. Students will work on an art project with Italian students in their school and they will travel together to the city of Arezzo, which was the location for the shooting of the film Life is Beautiful. What is particularly exciting about this trip, Jonah says, is that they will begin a discussion about fascism in Italy and the fate of Italian Jews during World War II. This is a difficult topic in these towns as there are still elders who fought each other during the war.
Gay and Art Nelson returned home last week after their escape to sunny Florida. Sunny it was, but by the fourth night, it dipped down to 21 degrees. They stayed in a handicapped accessible house her brother Ed and his wife Mary Lou rented, along with her sister Gloria and her husband Lars, located in a development called The Villages, about 30 minutes or so north of Orlando. Sandhill cranes entertained them with early morning mating dances. At the end of their trip they visited daughter Beach Bennett in Wellington, Fla. They had a wonderful time but it was great to get back home.
Marian Irving reports that the Wednesday night community suppers at the church continue to be very popular. The food, she says, is mighty tasty — Cronig’s provides roast beef, turkey, chicken, or ham each week and the church provides veggies, salads, casseroles and desserts. Everyone is welcome no matter where they may reside on the Island. In these tough times we really want to reach those in need and donations of food are welcome. Rosalie Powell has been chairing the committee for three years and will soon be retiring from this duty; there is little doubt that she is a great cook.
Anna Alley reports that snowdrops are about to burst into bloom in a small section of a former thriving garden down at the Frank Adams place.
Heather C. Rynd-Ray proudly reports that her daughter Shannon gave birth to twins last Tuesday. Shannon and her husband Ericson Pitman live in Oak Bluffs.
The town Democratic committee met last Saturday to reorganize. The meeting was held in the Howes House. Rufus Peebles was elected chairman and keeper of the togas and Binnie Ravitch, vice chairman, Margot Parrot, treasurer and Beth Kramer, secretary.
Colleen Morris over at the library reports that tomorrow is winter family fun day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. There will be arts and crafts, a musical puppet show, scavenger hunt and much more.
Amy Houghton at the Martha’s Vineyard Museum reports that in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, whalemen and sailors would purchase valentines to bring home to loved ones. The Sailors’ Valentine exhibit is a collage of shells, stones, beads organized into ornate patterns and displayed inside octagonal hinged boxes. Also save the date of March 7 at the museum when Arnie Reisman presents his film The Powder and the Glory.
Monday marked the 38th anniversary of the nomination of pitching legend Satchel Page to the Hall of Fame; he was the first veteran so honored from the old Negro League. Satchel was also well-known for his sense of humor and observations on life, including: “Don’t look back, something might be gaining on you,” and “Age is a question of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”
On Feb. 16, 1945 Bert Cahoon, Daniel Manter and Albion Alley received letters of thanks and commendation from Lieut. Commander Norman G. Asbury, officer in charge of the Naval Auxiliary Air Station for the immediate and timely aid they rendered to the pilot of a plane forced down on the Orlin Davis property on Middle Road in Chilmark. This aid “was of immeasurable help in the prevention of shock and exposure to the pilot and will shorten his period of recovery.” Albion, chief of the guards at the NAAS, and Bert, operator of the local garage were on their way back home from finishing an assignment at the Peaked Hill military installation and witnessed the crash in a field near the road.
Happy Birthday to Michael Bigby and Vincent Lenza today; police chief Beth Toomey, Margie Have, Chris Morse and Michelle McCormack tomorrow; Kevin Peters Jr., Leah Houghton, Karen Child and Suzanne Fenn on Sunday; Dan Gouldrup, Don MacDonald, Megan Higgins and Nancy Cox on Monday; Leslie Eaton, Barbara Paciello, Janice Feltz, Garrison Vieira and Emily Thomas on Tuesday; Patricia Duffy, Susan Wasserman and Marilyn Bergeron on Wednesday; Bob Knight, Joyce Wright and Florence Paul on Thursday. Belated Birthday wishes to Julia Wells and Matthew Anniese.
Well that is all of the social news for this edition. Please call or e-mail with news you wish to share with others. Have a happy Valentine’s Day, a nice Presidents’ Day weekend and a great week.