R.I.P., Jack Howland


To the Editor:

We will likely never see his kind again; his deep, bellowing voice full of confidence and swagger could ice anyone in its path. As a war hero from the Greatest Generation he was shot in Okinawa in April of 1945, then sent home and back to Brown, where he met Missy and married her in 1948. He sold his convertible to buy her the ring. Then it was off to Manhattan where he became the head of advertising for AT&T in the 1960s, a true life Mad Man who smoked five packs of Luckys a day in between martini lunches. He “let his fingers do the walking” all the way until he retired to the Vineyard in 1982, where eventually I met up with him when I was 19. I sat with Bob Tilton and David Croan last week, and we talked about the good old times at the round table in the ArtCliff diner and the weekly deliveries of Holy Water from Kappy’s in Falmouth.

I can only imagine what the diner is like up there in heaven? It probably goes something like this. 4:45 am, Stuart Bangs arrives to turn on the coffee. Soon after, Pat Luce shows up to start the eggs. The locals come in slowly to the old Formica round table in the corner below the low ceiling and wood paneled walls with random photos and newspaper cut-outs pinned behind the table. Don Amaral is there and so is Jim Gaffney. Dr. Hoxsie stops in for a coffee on his way to the hospital and says hello to Bill Hagerty and Dave Searle. Melissa Howland is there for breakfast before she heads up to see Hal Tinker for the day.

Soon a crowd of tourists tries to come in, but Johnny Seaview scares them all away. It’s a usual morning and then Jack walks through the door looking for Joe Cooke to mow the lawn. It must be quite a place up there. It’s been just over a week and I really miss Jack. Nobody ever busted my balls harder than you, and I am a better man for it.

I will miss all of that. I will miss happy hour with Jack and Missy and his diluted Dewar’s tangents. I thought he’d live forever with his larger than life presence, but he knew the end was near. He was one of my best friends and his confidence and swagger will live in me forever. He was my hero. So I will end with Jack’s own words, “I’m not always right, but I’m never wrong.”

Chris Huff

West Tisbury