Happy birthday to Jack Chronister who was born eight years ago on March 22. Such a delightful present for his parents and sister to welcome the arrival of spring. Jack is a lifelong Chappaquiddicker and a member of the Edgartown School second grade. He will soon be moving into his family’s very own home at the old Casemiro Bettencourt farmstead. Only six more years and you may see him as a deckhand on the Chappy ferry.
Interesting changes continue at the Wasque opening. There is now a sand bar partially protecting the fisherman’s landing bluff. Check the Chappy ferry Facebook page for the latest aerial shots by Skip Bettencourt and GPS tracings by Woody Filley. There is still a very small pond in the widest part of the swimming beach. Dana Gaines remembers a slightly larger pond in that position in the mid 60s. He learned to swim in it. I recall that the shallow brackish water in it was pretty warm by noon and quite slimy. It was a good place to warm up after our lips had turned blue from being in the ocean for hours. You just had to keep your feet off of the bottom or the crabs would pinch your toes. These little ponds are separate from the expansive swan pond that forms in the channel of the opening after the ends fill in.
Since tick season is rapidly approaching, I want to draw your attention to a program called SAVE THE TICKS! The Laboratory of Medical Zoology at UMass is asking us to save our ticks and to send them in for testing. If you’ve been bitten by a tick and want to know if it carries Lyme disease, you can mail it to the laboratory along with $40, and within five business days they will send you the results. Perhaps your tick will test free of Lyme and you can rest easy. They will also test for the many other diseases that ticks may carry, such as tularemia, babesiosis and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Go to their website at umass.edu/ticks for more information. It may not be cheap, but it just might buy you peace of mind. Check yourself for ticks even now in the cold weather. The dogs are already bringing them home.
If you haven’t been in the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital lately, I’m happy for you. That’s usually good news, but you’ve been missing out on the fabulous exhibits of photographs and paintings in the main hall of the new building. Most of the pieces were contributed by local artists. Some are world-renowned, while others we’ve kept to ourselves. You will be treated to a photographic history of the Martha’s Vineyard Bass and Bluefish Derby complete with recorded interviews that are accessed through your cell phone. There are some great shots of the old time derby characters.
Many celebrities from the 60s and 70s were photographed by Menemsha’s Guy Webster. Their portraits are on display in big-as-life format. Mr. Webster has been quoted as saying that the reason they came to him for their pictures was that he made them look good. He got his start with the album cover for Barry McGuire’s Eve of Destruction record.
Forgive me if I’ve told the following story before but it’s my lead-in to the joke in the final paragraph. A while ago I was visiting a friend who was laid up in the hospital with a hurt knee. I had stopped at DeBettencourt’s garage to buy him a couple of newspapers and some candy bars. When I got there he was sound asleep. I sat with him anyway. It was very therapeutic for me, being in the calm of his room. A nurse came in to check on him and chuckled when I said that I guessed that my friend must be quite a handful as a patient. She said that they were all relieved when he went to sleep.
For a while I gazed at the incredible view of the harbor then snooped around his room a little. On a bulletin board was a list of details about my friend to inform the many nurses who took turns caring for him. I was amused to see that he likes hamburgers but dismayed to see that he is diabetic. He eventually woke up and we had a grand time “tempting worse” by joking about his predicament. He admitted that he was far from being a model patient and that the wonderful staff didn’t seem to hold this against him. I opened the newspaper to an article that I figured might interest him. In his reclining position he had to hold the newspaper directly above his head. He yawned, mumbled something, his arms buckled and the newspaper dropped onto his face forming a little tent that rose slightly as he exhaled.
That seemed to be a pretty clear indication that my visit was over so I reached out and gently lifted the paper up. Like a scene from a slapstick comedy, he woke with a start and said loudly, “You have to take the candy bars with you,” and immediately conked back out. Always happy to accommodate a friend, I took them with me and as a demonstration of empathy for Jerry’s suffering, I ate all three on the way home.
I recently rediscovered a short story that my daughter clipped out of a California newspaper and sent to me many years ago — A woman recounted that at the hospital where her mother works, patients’ food and drug allergies are posted on a large sign above their beds. One day a visitor approached the nurses’ station to say, “You people sure do call them as you see them.” Her mother went into a nearby room and saw that instead of writing that the patient was allergic to shellfish and nuts, the nurse had written in bold letters: “Selfish and Nuts.” — Well my friend Jerry is as generous as the day is long, but even he would agree that the second part applies to him.