Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Based only on the article in the Feb. 19 Gazette, Chilmark selectman Frank Fenner sounds just like the typical penny-wise, pound-foolish politician who totally misses the big picture. He wants fishermen, already facing extreme economic pressures, to carry liability insurance to protect the town in case some tourist sues while in Menemsha. Based on his numbers of an additional $100 to $500 in cost (apparently he hasn't bought insurance for awhile), this would save the town a whopping $1,200 to $6,000. Meanwhile, he is prepared to shell out $30,000 of town money for new construction of doubtful necessity.

The big picture is that Menemsha is a tourist attraction bringing tourist dollars to the town precisely because it is a rather quaint fishing port. If you load up the fishermen with excessive insurance and rental charges, you will succeed in driving them away. Well, maybe Mr. Fenner’s hidden dream is to change Menemsha into a yuppie yacht basin, but I think most people want it just the way it is, and the fishermen and their boats and their catch are essential to that. So here’s to Warren Doty and Jane Slater and the others who understand the big picture, and here’s hoping selectman Riggs comes around as well.

Mike Rodell

New Canaan, Conn.

and Chilmark


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

As an octogenarian with many lifelong memories, I read of T.P. Benton’s death (Feb.26) with interest, as well as sorrow.

Though we never knew each other, I was very aware of him when he was eight years old and I was seven, the year before the Bentons left Greenwich Village in New York city for Kansas. He was in the class ahead of mine when I entered the school, and the “eights” ran the school post office, with pick-up and delivery of mail throughout the day. T.P. must have liked being the mailman as I can still see him in the tan outfit he preferred, making daily rounds, more often than his classmates. I don’t think we ever spoke, but I knew his name, and never forgot it.

When later in life I began Vineyard visits, and learned of the longtime Benton connection, I often recalled having watched him doing that postal assignment in our fine school called City and Country, which has had up-Island connections to many among its students and teachers. If he hadn’t gone west, he and his flute would have been a great addition to our school orchestra, and perhaps we might have become acquainted.

Leigh B. Smith

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Just a short note to acknowledge Mike Joyce, his team and coaching staff for providing our Island basketball fans with such a memorable season.

As his former coach, I am especially proud of the values he instilled in our athletes. Coaching is the art of communicating ideas, which he did well. An example of what he passed on can be judged after a game’s outcome. I watched his players’ postgame behavior. Each player seemed to win with a degree of modesty and after losing only four games, they did it with dignity. In life, they will have to struggle against disappointment and one of their biggest challenges will be to hold on to their personal dignity. That is good coaching, it’s not automatic behavior. It is taught by a coach, then caught by the players.

I know how hard a good coach like Coach Joyce works in the off-season studying the game, traveling to clinics and encouraging players. His team was prepared and it showed.

For the above, I wish to publicly laud his efforts and say that our Island, our school and our athletes should be thankful that he is their basketball coach. Parents of future ballplayers on the Vineyard, know that your son will be taught with a measured blend of fairness and firmness, when in the capable hands of Coach Joyce.

Oh, yes, congratulations to all on a league championship!

Jay Schofield

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The West Tisbury Library will hold its first annual Limerick Challenge on Sunday, March 14 at 3 p.m. Admission is one limerick.

It can be one you heard in school, or perhaps another under more adult circumstances. It can be a brand new one submitted in answer to the challenge. Risque or romantic, it must be related to the Vineyard. This is from the Poe Festival last month at the library:

A guitarist from Vineyard Haven

While nearly completely unshaven

Enchanted a crowd

By chanting out loud

Poe’s popular poem, The Raven.

Cards are available at your town library, Alley’s and Howes House with complete instructions. Bring them with you to the door where, if you are entering the challenge, they will be given to the jury. You may choose to read your contribution or have it read.

While originated by the library, it is also a response to the surge of Nantucket limericks over several years. Fortunately we have many more places and events than they do. The intention is to publish this collection annually, with proceeds to benefit the library.

According to Wikipedia, limericks can in themselves challenge the world of Emily Post. Staff members will be equipped with perfumed water pistols lest anything gets out of, uh, hand.

For more information on the Vineyard challenge, visit the library’s Web site at westtisbury or call the library at 508-693-3366.

Joe Eldredge

West Tisbury


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The group from ACE MV (Adult and Community Education of Martha’s Vineyard) that is coming down to Pacaya, Nicaragua, has room to bring some school supplies with them. Please contact Julie Hitchings, Lynn Ditchfield or Sandra Grymes if you have items to donate; e-mail, or call 508-693-1033 extension 240.

We need children’s books in Spanish, Spanish-English dictionaries, world maps and especially boxes of white board markers in various colors and erasers.

It is possible to buy school books here in Nicaragua, so if anyone would like to collect money to buy books that would be a splendid gift too. Just give it to the teachers to bring down with them. One school book costs $10. In one of the schools there was just one math book for 800 students to share. That is how precious books are here.

Children need to have a white shirt or a white blouse to wear to school. Everyone here has to wear a uniform and all uniforms include a white top. We need summer weight, short sleeved white tops. And T-shirts for children. Clean and in good condition.

The Island is filled with wonderful caring people, and if you can help, there are some beautiful children waiting. And just think of the stories that your fellow Islanders will have to tell on their return!

Keep the faith.

Muriel Laverty

Masaya, Nicaragua