Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Mark Lovewell’s article concerning the wreck of the Mertie B. Crowley and the four Edgartown men involved in the rescue of the crew of that doomed vessel was very interesting. Capt. Levi Jackson lived just up the street from my family home. His crew were the fathers of people I grew up with. Their exploit is legendary in Edgartown.

Last week you ran an article with a picture of wreckage which surmised that it may very well have come from the Mertie B. Who knows? Maybe?

After reading that article I was looking at a scrapbook that was kept by one of my wife's relatives. This book was started in 1898. The very first page contains news clippings of the great storm of Nov. 27, 1898. With winds exceeding hurricane force, starting with heavy rain and turning into a full-fledged blizzard, up to 35 vessels were either sunk or heavily damaged. In 1898 Vineyard Haven was a heavily used port where coasting vessels sought refuge to wait out the weather or await favorable wind and tide before proceeding onto Nantucket Sound to Great Round Shoal channel around Cape Cod and points north.

I thought it would be interesting to your readers to know that in the town of Tisbury that year and during the Great Storm there were four brave Tisbury men, and one from Oak Bluffs who risked their lives to save 15 crewmen from three different vessels in the harbor. All five were awarded a medal by the United State Goverment for bravery and heroism: F. Horton Johnson, Issac C. Norton, Frank Golart Jr., and Alvin H. Cleveland, all of Vineyard Haven; and Stanley Fisher of Cottage City each received this well deserved honor. There were many acts of heroism during the two days of this storm, by members of the Vineyard Haven community.

Just prior to the storm, one vessel left Vineyard Haven bound for a town on the Cape with a load of coal. After leaving the wind started to increase steadily. Later in the day the vessel was trying to return to Vineyard Haven but was grounded off East Chop. Within sight of helpless onlookers her crew took to the rigging. Throughout the day the vessel was pounded and there was no way to offer assistance. All five souls aboard perished. The location of this wreck was in the most exposed area of the storm.

This storm was described as the worst of the 19th century. It is perhaps the most devastating storm to ever hit Martha’s Vineyard, although one would have to consider the 1938 hurricane as the most devastating. Certainly Menemsha would argue that. The articles in the scrapbook only focus on the devastation at Vineyard Haven harbor. There is no mention of damage to other areas of the Island.

Thomas A. Teller



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Chilmark selectmen Frank Fenner and Riggs Parker and the MV Times reports emphasizing the lot fees in Menemsha, just don’t get Menemsha. Menemsha is the model that other harbors should look at to preserve their fishing communities. Frank has been telling everyone that we should consider ourselves lucky to have what we have. We do appreciate what we have. That’s why we fight so hard to keep it! What we have is a direct result of generations of commercial fishermen and good town leadership before us having the foresight to preserve this gem. I am a holder of a lot lease that was held by other commercial fishermen in the past. I will do everything I can to see that a commercial fisherman follows me. I owe that to my predecessors. As a community, it is our duty to preserve this fishing community for generations to come.

John Larsen



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

As residents of Chappy we want you to know that we are fully supportive of the proposal to create a bike path on Chappy.

Chappy is our home. We want those who visit it to do so safely.

I hope we can count on you to move the pending proposal forward.

Jozef and Sheila Sliwkowski


Safer than what?

This a a copy of a letter sent to the Edgartown board of selectmen and the Edgartown planning board:

Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Once again a minority of Chappaquiddick residents who favor the construction of a paved bike path on Chappaquiddick have found a way to push this unwanted and unnecessary project forward against the wishes of the majority of Chappaquiddick residents who strenuously oppose it:

They have underwritten a class project by a group of students at a Boston university to propose “options” for such a path — and have apparently maneuvered town officials on both your two boards into appearing to support the bike-path project itself.

As a homeowner on Chappaquiddick whose family has been connected to this extraordinary island community for almost a century, I dearly hope this is not so. A “mixed use bike path” — if built — will have one and only one certain consequence for Chappaquiddick: it will bring hundreds if not thousands of additional visitors to the island every year and put the special qualities of the island at serious risk. This might be desirable for various commercial interests on the island, but not for the majority of Chappaquiddick residents who love the rural pace and quiet intimacy of the island as is. One thing is for sure: It will change the character of the island forever. It will cause more speed and more congestion on the macadam and dirt roadways, create longer and more frustrating lines for the ferry, despoil significant portions of island wetland and vegetation in its construction, spend thousands of taxpayer dollars that are in short supply, and inevitably lead to further intrusions on the quality of Chappaquiddick life.

Supporters of the path say it will make the road safer. I would ask: Safer than what? Unlike the roadways of Edgartown (and every other Vineyard town), there has never — repeat never — been a pedestrian or bicyclist fatality on a Chappy roadway caused by a motorist.

With all due respect, I would submit that the Edgartown planning board and highway department should not be holding public hearings on the merits of a student class project in Boston concerning options for a bike path on Chappaquiddick.

The question is not what the options are for a bike path that most Chappaquiddick residents reject. The only valid question at this point is whether any such bike path is necessary or desirable. The answer is a resounding “no.”

Timothy Leland


and Boston


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

To whom it may concern: Is there anyone else out there in the vicinity of the Goodale Construction Co. who feels that the shooting at that site in the sandpit every weekend, Saturday afternoon and all day Sunday, year-round, weather permitting, is a quality of life issue? Is this a matter of legal, safety and noise problems? If so, please join me in writing to voice your opinion to any and all of the following: the Oak Bluffs Police Department, the Oak Bluffs selectmen, or the newspapers. And just to set the record straight, I am not anti gun nor anti hunting, but we do have the Rod and Gun Club in Edgartown for those who are enthusiasts. I’m just tired of being subjected to the noise pollution on my day off. Thank you.

Tommye-Ann Brown

Oak Bluffs


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The League of Women Voters wants to thank the community for its generous contributions of printer cartridges and cell phones to our recycling program. This program serves to accomplish two important goals. First, you help us recycle computer printer cartridges and cell phones, keeping them out of our landfills and making them available to be refurbished and reused. Second, you help raise much needed funds to allow the League of Women Voters to bring annual candidates’ forums to each town on the Vineyard.

We have convenient drop-off collection boxes scattered around the Island, at EduComp, DaRosa’s, Vineyard Nursing Association, Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, Windemere, the Vineyard Haven Public Library and the West Tisbury Public Library. Thank you for continuing to contribute your used cartridges and cell phone and for supporting the public services initiatives of the league.

Judy Crawford

West Tisbury


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Our heartfelt thanks go out to all who attended the open house for the YMCA last Saturday. With over 300 community members walking through the facility, it is clear how excited we all are with knowing the doors of our Y will open in merely a matter of weeks.

One could not have conjured up a more enthusiastic crowd consisting of young children, teenagers, adults and seniors all anxious to have questions answered and sneak a peek at the progress of construction.

We are encouraging Islanders to sign up now for membership and avoid the long waits that we surely anticipate as we move closer to opening day. In addition to signing up, there is an opportunity to double your donation to our scholarship fund so that individuals and families who may not be able to afford the Y will not be excluded from the valuable programs and facilities that will be offered to enrich the lives of so many.

There is another open house scheduled for March 27 where you will find lockers in the locker rooms, cabinets on the walls, tile on the floors and water in the pool.

Thank you for fueling our success with your overwhelming enthusiasm and support.

Christine Todd

Oak Bluffs