West Tisbury

West Tisbury lost two of its most notable gentlemen last week with the deaths of Jim Alley and Jack Howland. Both were larger than life itself, big, handsome, booming guys with hearty voices, ready jokes, and enough flirtatiousness to make them fun for the ladies. Both were part of the “old” Vineyard I treasure. Phyllis Meras’s obituary in the Gazette and Chris Huff’s letter in both papers conjured up perfect pictures of Jimmy and Jack. I urge everyone to read them. There will be a graveside service for Jim at the West Tisbury cemetery Friday morning, May 24, at 11 o’clock. My heartfelt condolences to all whose lives they touched. There were so many.

I followed a trail of red, white, and blue balloons to see the new Communications Center on Sunday afternoon. A little late in the afternoon, so I missed the biggest crowd, the hamburgers and hot dogs, Edgartown’s police cruiser and ladder truck with a huge American flag draped from the fully upraised ladder, West Tisbury’s rescue truck #721, Oak Bluffs’s ambulance, and the Mass Casualty Incident Mobile Command Unit. Fortunately, Communications Center Supervisor, Major Susan Schofield, gave me great descriptions of what went on in the earliest couple of hours. Inside, Bob Brown and Robyn Bollin were demonstrating how all the various monitors collected, tracked, and coordinated information. Enhanced 911 is fascinating. It pinpoints every location on the Island. Robyn was showing a little girl from Edgartown where her house was, as we watched the map zoom in closer and closer. Bob asked me to make sure to “thank the public for coming.” Thanks for inviting us.

I had to park at the Police Station and watch the garden party on their lawn later Sunday afternoon. Bob and Bobette have finally introduced their brood — four perfect cygnets. One stood up and flapped his/her wings, then settled down with siblings asleep in fuzzy balls at Mom and Dad’s feet. There were also four mallards and a pair of Canada geese with their four goslings. The goslings appear a bit older than the cygnets, bigger, and into everything. As all the parents stood watchfully, the babies were totally oblivious. They ran around and played, eventually heading down the bank, and into the Mill Pond. It was great fun to watch their antics.

The other side of the Mill Pond will be busy this weekend, as the Martha’s Vineyard Garden Club holds their Annual Spring Plant Sale at the Old Mill. Hours are from 9 am to 2 pm, Saturday, May 25, and Sunday, May 26. Besides the garden club’s plants, all propagated and raised in their greenhouses, the Lagoon Pond Association will be selling rain barrels for $81 each.

Ralph and Alvida Jones celebrated their 65 wedding anniversary and respective 90th birthdays with a small party at their home. Ralph turned 90 in April; Alvida will be 90 in June. They met while working at Merck and Co. in Rahway, New Jersey. Both were chemists working in adjacent labs. They were married May 22, 1948, in Jersey City, where Alvida’s parents, Sidney and Dionis Riggs, lived. Ralph likes to say, “The chemistry was right.” And it was. Wishing you many happy returns of the day.

A hummingbird update from last week. Molly Cournoyer let me know they have finally arrived on Indian Hill Road. “Fireman Bob” Hennessey spotted one at his feeder on May 8. Molly saw one a few days later.

Bob Ganz appeared at the library Saturday afternoon, announcing that he and Anne were here year-round from now on. He was driving the most beautiful car I have ever seen — a 1926 Lincoln touring car. Although a 1926 model, it came out mid-summer 1925, in time for Bob’s July 27th birthday. I can’t believe either one is 88. Bob said he spent ten years restoring the car. It couldn’t be more pristine. It seats seven, has a polished mahogany steering wheel, polished everything inside a sporty olive green exterior. It’s truly a work of art. And it’s a convertible. I can’t wait for a ride.

Kara Taylor will open the doors to her new gallery, H-ART, Thursday, May 23, in the former Stanley Murphy Gallery at 24 South Road. Hours are Thursday to Sunday, noon to 6, through June. Longer hours and the official opening party will follow in July.

Allen Whiting’s Davis House Gallery opens for the summer this Saturday, May 25. Hours are 1 to 6 pm Saturdays and Sundays through June.

I am passing something along that I read online. Cocoa mulch is toxic to dogs and cats. Makes sense, as chocolate is poisonous to them. The mulch probably smells delicious but is not safe to use. Other reminders of summer safety risks for pets, for us, too: hot cars and ticks. I have heard that several Island dogs are suffering from Rocky Mountain fever, a tick-borne disease.

Congratulations to Laura Kimball, who graduated with honors from Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida, last Sunday. Laura majored in interdisciplinary arts, with a focus on theater and film, and minored in Chinese. She and her mom, Julie, will be here soon for the summer.

As soon as I walk out the door I can smell lilacs from the bush my father-in-law gave us when we moved into our house. It was a whip from the enormous shrub at the corner of their house. Now ours has grown outsized, a spectacle every May, a continuation of the New England tradition of lilacs beside every old house. It makes our house look and feel as though it’s been here forever and will forever remain, nestled into the landscape, sheltered from all winds and storms, enhanced by a fragrance and a history to cherish.