Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The following letter was sent to the Tisbury selectmen reacting to complaints about a rooster in the neighborhood:

With apologies to Shakespeare, “I have come to praise Rupert, not to bury him. For Rupert is an honorable rooster, so are they all, honorable roosters.” You know how we all pay car insurance, and some of us pay homeowners’ insurance, and there are always disclaimers in these policies which we put so much money out for that say “not covered by an act of God.” Well, Rupert is an act of God. No one bought him and brought him to our neighborhood, he is no one’s pet. He showed up approximately three years ago; I consider it an act of God. He brings so much joy to so many of us, and especially to the neighborhood children. He is warm, he takes care of himself very well, he runs with the turkeys whom no one is catching. He often roosts on my friend, Angela Murphy’s — known to all by the nickname Piper — spruce tree. Angela is the mother of three young children. She has posted on her property “No hunting, fishing, or trespassing.” That is her property and she has kids to watch out for. No one should be trying to snag Rupert out of her trees.

I lived in Manhattan for 15 years. The garbage trucks began at 5 a.m.; well, they had so much to do, you couldn’t complain to the city of New York about that. Then I moved to the Lincoln Center neighborhood, West 69th street. Besides the garbage trucks, and, always, the sirens, you heard opera singers, violinists, cellists, saxophonists, dancers, practicing their craft and, because I lived near ABC studios, you heard actors rehearsing their lines for soap operas such as Days of Our Lives and Dark Shadows. That was, excuse the pun, the tenor of my neighborhood and I accepted that.

In 1978 I moved to Martha’s Vineyard, year-round. I thought it might be quiet and peaceful. On many days when I can’t work because of a migraine or sinus headache, I am treated, from 8 a.m. (sometimes earlier) to 5 p.m. (sometimes later) to the ongoing drone of construction projects (many of which I wonder if the necessary permits have been applied for and issued), weed whackers, gas-driven lawnmowers, leaf blowers, tree cutters and tree chipping machines, motorcycles — no mufflers! — the town of Tisbury dump and recycle trucks, necessary of course, the yapping of cardinals which I thought were the most beautiful birds until I heard them cackle, the turkeys, whom I love, the crows that could wake you out of a coma. Often in the winter, when it is 10 degrees out and my windows are closed, I am treated to the sound of a car passing, also with closed windows, blasting the music I call rap crap so loudly that I can feel it in my chest. The lilt of Rupert’s call is hardly bothersome compared to these audio invasions.

Rupert, an act of God, has brought much pleasure to juniors, boomers and seniors alike in my neighborhood. Some of the people protesting his appearance in the neighborhood do not even spend 24/7, 365 days a year as the rest of us who love him do. Let it be.

Thank you for your kind attention to this matter. God doesn’t like ugly. God has put him in our ’hood for a reason. God bless all creatures, great and small.

Nancy Gardella

Vineyard Haven

Nancy Gardella is the Vineyard Haven columnist for the Gazette.


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I am writing to warn travelers planning to vacation on Martha’s Vineyard to beware of deer ticks. My vacation on the Vineyard in August 2010 resulted in a so-called perfect storm, leaving me with a life-threatening condition after being bitten by a Lyme-disease-carrying tick.

I am a brown-skinned African American and traveled with a friend who took a tour to the area known as up-Island on the Vineyard. I mention my skin color because when I contracted Lyme disease, the bull’s-eye rash was not readily apparent. The tour guide failed to inform my friend that there were warnings for Lyme disease in the Aquinnah area. After the tour my friend, who was dressed in dark clothing, did not realize that she was carrying ticks which in turn bit me. I did not realize that I had been bitten by a tick and thought the bite was from another type of insect.

Upon my return home to New York city, I experienced crippling joint pain, night sweats and a rash on my foot that would not go away. The bull’s-eye rash presents differently on darker skin, but a closer look by a doctor who was knowledgeable about Lyme disease would have resulted in an earlier diagnosis. By the time the doctors figured out something was wrong, my resting pulse was 36 and I had developed a heart arrhythmia with no option other than a pacemaker because of my heart condition resulting from untreated Lyme disease. After much prayer, antibiotics, my own course of holistic treatments (garlic pills, organic aloe vera juice to cleanse my blood, and massive dosages of vitamin C to boost my immune system), I am on the road to the good health I enjoyed before my trip to Martha’s Vineyard.

Needless to say, I will not return there for vacation and I caution others to beware of Lyme on the Vineyard. I know that it could have been worse, and thank God I am alive to tell my story.

Ann Hamilton

New York city


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Joseph Chase Allen (1892-1987) was the Vineyard Gazette Wheelhouse Loafer for 50 years, from 1925 to 1975, and he also wrote the With the Fishermen column. He was a romantic, poet and prose writer who artfully blended fact and fiction with a wry Yankee humor and individualism. He was an astute observer of the local scene described in his numerous columns and in several books, the most famous of which was a book of verse titled Fireside Tales, where every poem began with “Longside the stove at Sanderson’s.” Sanderson’s is Alley’s General Store today.

Perhaps his most famous column where he scooped the world press was his discovery of FDR anchored at Tarpaulin Cove off Naushon Island, in the presidential yacht, seen quietly fishing in early 1947. Roosevelt was on his way to meet Winston Churchill, at sea, for the conference that resulted in the Atlantic Charter of August 14, 1947.

Joe was Yankee Magazine’s Oracle for 30 years and the father of award-winning editor, journalist and author Everett Allen (1926-1990). He was a Chilmark native and a Tisbury High School graduate who composed all his material on his beloved, huge Olivetti manual typewriter that sat, like the icon it was, on a solid table in his first floor workroom and office, a spartan environment. Joe’s landmark, fine and wide, shingled house is at 173 Main street, Vineyard Haven, now the corner of Crocker avenue, with an open but covered porch on the west end. When he was in residence, an American flag with staff was affixed to the front of the house.

At the time of his death, obituary and tributes, it was not known if he had a mentor or who had influenced him and his writing intellectually. But he had told me in an interview at his home, circa 1972, that the person was John Clark Ridpath (1847-1900), a professor and 1863 graduate of Indiana Asbury University, now DePauw University in Greencastle, Ill., approximately 35 miles west of Indianapolis. Ridpath also had an advanced degree from Syracuse University, obtained in 1879.

Ridpath wrote and published a highly interesting and readable, although monumental, text of four books in a single volume, published in 1883, 707 pages, titled History of the United States. A later 1927 edition, 887 pages, was published in two volumes by his own publishing company. These two editions were highly accessible. The 1883 edition had 11 single or double folios of color maps or charts; the 1927 edition had six. Both editions were plentifully illustrated with carefully selected engravings or pictographs. He also published Ridpath’s Histories of the United States which had so stimulated and influenced a young Joe Allen, who had read them from a very young age.

Peter Colt Josephs



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

As an admitted Beatles fan(atic), but skeptical of Beatles wannabes, I was hesitant to attend O.Beatles! at the Oak Bluffs School last weekend. However, Brian Weiland and Shelagh Smilie led their students through an endearing performance, with startlingly familiar singing and creatively imaginative choreography, supremely supported by a super band. It was a joy to watch. I went twice. I want to see it again.

Tom Dresser

Oak Bluffs