Last week on her popular Rachel Maddow Show, in her own inimitable style, Rachel reminded America that the prince of Oak Bluffs, our very own Edward W. Brooke, was the first United States Senator of either party to call for the resignation of President Richard Nixon in the wake of the Watergate scandal. Indeed, Sen. Brooke went on television on Nov. 4,1973 to share his thoughts with the country, and 10 days later at the White House he spoke personally to the president of his views. On August 8, 1974 Nixon announced his intention to become the first president in American history to resign. The Rachel Maddow show was discussing the need for more Republican senators in Congress to find their voices given the current gridlock in Washington. Ed Brooke for much of his career demonstrated that principle was far more important than party. We continue to salute his life and his legacy.

The morning of March 10, 2015 was a brisk rainy day when hundreds gathered at the National Cathedral to pay their respects to Ed Brooke, its most distinguished son, on his way to his final resting place at Arlington National Cemetery. As I scanned this historic church I saw the famous and the not so famous. But I was especially struck by the presence of those that knew Ed Brooke from both Howard University and the village of Oak Bluffs. There was Adrienne Hayling, Mary Hill Tucker, the Finleys, the Grains, the Slaughters, the Stents. There were former staffers and volunteers, Mary Francis, Vivian Male and Minyard Culpepper. There was special seating for the enormously successful Brooke Charter School students that came down from Boston. But there also seated in the crowd was Charlotte Wesley Holloman. She was a 1937 graduate of Dunbar High School and a cum laude graduate of Howard University in music. Afterwards, she would earn a Masters of Arts in voice and music education from Columbia. She had a marvelous career as a gifted pianist, lyric soprano and beloved teacher and mentor to hundreds of devoted students. Not only was she battling breast cancer at the time of this funeral, but she was battling for her own cottage on the Vineyard, The Bridge House.

All will recall the realignment of the new drawbridge that sits at the mouth of the Lagoon and Vineyard Haven Harbor. The Holloman family owned an unusual cottage just underneath the old bridge and the state declared the need to “take” their cottage by eminent domain over a decade ago. The case finally was decided on Oct. 27 with money damages awarded to the family in the amount of $850,000. Mrs. Holloman lost her battle for life just four months after she attended Brooke’s services but her daughter, Charlotte was present for the battle for The Bridge House. She was completely outdone by the low amount of the award.

She argues: “my mother and I are part of a large, educated and unusually accomplished family and owned this house for over 50 years. The circumstances of this case raises issues of racism, sexism, ageism and class-ism, as well as collusion and fraud.”

Property is much like art and has personal, historical, emotional tangibles that are not often considered by the judicial process. Having previously served as Secretary of Transportation for Massachusetts during the Weld Administration I voted for many eminent domain takings, rarely with satisfied owners. But the Bridge House will always be a special place where we had fun, enjoyed great conversation and even a libation or two with a most memorable view of the Lagoon during the Age of Brooke.

On Tuesday, Nov. 7 at 6 p.m., the rescheduled Nat Benjamin’s Sail to Haiti talk will be held at the Oak Bluffs Library. Nat will share his stories about sailing to Haiti on a 50-foot schooner that he built. Come again to the library on Nov. 9 at 6 p.m. and learn from Maeve McAullife, former head chef at Behind the Bookstore and now at the Kitchen Porch Larder, how to preserve your late harvest veggies, including Fermented Pickles.

Heidi Bryan and family welcome their grandson, Miles Redfield Rose born on Oct. 23 in Australia. All are hoping that he will be able to put his toes in the East Chop sand next summer.

Paradise on earth is the Vineyard experience. Enjoy it as life is fleeting!

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