You can’t spend much time in the presence of Ivo Meisner without concluding you are in the presence of a unique individual. Born in Estonia in 1944, he fled his homeland in advance of the Soviet invasion of his country in that same year. The family stayed in several displaced persons camps until finally being allowed to emigrate to the United States. They landed in New Haven, Conn., in April of 1950.
After graduating from Middlebury College and American University Law School, he served a brief stint in the Judge Advocate Generals Corps (1971-74) before setting up a private law practice in Edgartown. Of special interest to old-timers in East Chop, he was the last lawyer for the Highland Trust, the nineteenth-century company that originally developed our community. In his capacity as a lawyer, he served as board president and longtime board member of the Open Land Foundation, an organization dedicated to preserving the rural character of Martha’s Vineyard. He also served as president and board member of the Manuscript Society, an international organization of rare manuscript collectors.
Ivo started collecting used and rare books in high school. He turned this boyhood passion into a business when he purchased Book Den East in 1986. Located at the back of his home on New York avenue, the store is a charming two-story wooden structure with a classy antique look about it. The store houses 25,000 used and rare books, along with posters, works of art and an assortment of intriguing artifacts. The warm, funky look of the place is mostly due to Ivo’s wife Piret, an artist of considerable ability who will be having a showing of her work in the Book Den East Gallery later this summer.
Though it is a well known that Book Den East is for sale, Ivo is looking for just the right buyer.
“The problem is I have another business in Estonia. It’s a 150-acre resort that focuses on cross country skiing in the winter and a variety of fun summer activities,” he said. “Unfortunately, it is not possible to be in both places at the same time. But I do love selling these books. I am lucky to be in a unique niche of the rapidly changing book business and to have so many loyal, return customers.”
If you are looking for some stimulating summer reading, Book Den East is worth the trip. Don’t worry if you’re not sure what you will find. Ivo specializes in finding the right book for the right person.
It was a bittersweet week for the extended Meleney clan. It was sad because they all gathered to say goodbye to Helen Meleney and Austie Wise, but wonderful in the sense that it brought together brothers and sisters, cousins and old family friends. Nancy Stephens would have provided names, places of residence, spouses, in laws, outlaws — you name it, but you’ll have to forgive me. And if the truth be known, the Gazette paid Nancy by the inch.
It all began on Tuesday morning at the tennis club where a memorial round robin was held to honor Helen. Rounds within the event were organized around a beautiful new bell given in honor of Helen. We will miss her quiet, dedicated labor on behalf of our community. On Thursday, Jane Meleney Coe and Peter Meleney hosted a lovely lunch on June 26, the day that Helen would have been 82 years old, to honor their sister.
The Wise family held a similar luncheon on Saturday to remember Austie. The luncheon was given by Anne Cluett, Austie’s partner for the last 10 years, and Austie’s children: Ellie Wise Ausmus, Carol Wise and Tim Wise. Old friends spoke thanking Austie for being such a loyal friend. Others commented on his gentle ways, his optimistic outlook on life, his bird-shaped legs and his engaging smile. It was a happy, fun party to remember a very good man.
Finally, the sing at the East Chop Tennis Club on Sunday night was dedicated to Dale Collinson who died this fall. Jeremy Berlin played the piano and led us in song, but we missed Dale’s voice. Dale sang for many years as a member of the National Philharmonic Chorus in Washington, D.C. More than his voice, I will miss Dale on volunteer occasions. Though I don’t ever remember him playing on the courts, he cheerfully volunteered his time at the club during the many years his wife Sue was on the board.
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