Public Safety day honors Aquinnah heroes

Award recipients - Bret Stearns, Paul Manning, Ben Retmeir, Tri-Town Ambulance Chief Zeke Wilkins, Aquinnah Police Chief Randhi Belain, Curtis Chandler, Susan Schofield, Jonathan Klaren, Alan Ganapol, Kristina West, Tracey Jones and Don Scranton. The award recipients were honored for saving the life of Chilmark resident, Christopher McCloud, on June 18, 2014. — Photo by Lisa Vanderhoop

Such sad news in Aquinnah this past weekend. Carl Widdis died on Sunday. I will miss seeing him around town, usually with his family, and getting an annual phone call from him telling me of the Hot Rod and Antique Car show every June. My first summer on the Island I drove my car off an embankment on my road. After calling a couple people and trying to get help from a neighbor — all to no avail — my then boyfriend, now husband, said, “Call Carl Widdis.” I did and very shortly Carl showed up and quickly got my car set right. He did it so kindly as well.

My husband and I frequently talk about what a friend of ours calls “the grief tax” here on the Island. The grief tax is the amount of grief you must “pay” when you break something and bring it in to get fixed. For instance you got into a fender bender and you bring your car in to be repaired and the mechanic says something along the lines of, “What happened? You just couldn’t put the phone down and pay attention?” or “You realize what your rear view mirrors are for, don’t you?” Carl never charged me grief tax (more than I can say for my husband) and for that I was very grateful. I felt so embarrassed and silly for driving my car off the road and Carl was so sweet about it. He always had a kind word for people and was quick to laugh. To me he seemed like part of the landscape in Aquinnah. I know he will be sorely missed by all who knew him. Much love to his family and friends.

Nancy Caldwell will speak today at the Old Town Hall at 5 pm as part of the Aquinnah Public Library Speaker Series. The topic is, “Negotiating Troubled Waters” between Christopher Columbus and Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain.

The Aquinnah Cultural Center is open this week Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday from 11 am to 4 pm. Stop by for a house tour and to see the exhibit on Wampanoag whaling in the 18th and 19th centuries.

The Wampanoag Tribe’s Heritage Exhibit has opened and is on view daily at the Cliffs. The exhibit was created by the Natural Resources and Tribal Historic Preservation Departments.

The Gay Head Gallery is open daily, 12 noon–5 pm. Up right now is the exhibit, “Keep the Lighthouse in Sight;” a portion of the proceeds of sales will go to the effort to save the Gay Head Light.

This Saturday The Yard will host “Pride, not Prejudice: A Pride Celebration.” This is a “public dancing allowed” event that honors all LGBTQ people and celebrates ten years of marriage equality in Massachusetts, and I know it is going to be so much fun with great DJs. The dance starts at 4 pm and there is a $10 suggested donation.

Dana Gaines will be kayaking around the entire Island on August 9 to raise money for the lighthouse. If you would like to support him go to

The Annual All Island Art Show will be this Monday, August 4, from 10 am to 3 pm at the Tabernacle in Oak Bluffs. Art created by artists from all over the Island will be on view and available for purchase.

The public safety day held by the Aquinnah police and fire departments this past Saturday was a huge success and very fun. There was a raffle, food, and a bouncy house (perhaps the biggest hit among the younger set). Simon Bollin, our fire department chief, led a great and very informative demonstration of how the department uses the “jaws of life” and other equipment to rescue people from a crashed car. There was a pin ceremony honoring all who helped rescue Chris MacLeod when he had his heart attack a month ago. Parked around the front lot of the fire station there were all the vehicles of both departments on display, and kids could sit in them and get a tour of all the equipment. I’m toying with the idea of joining the fire department so I can use the new Jet Ski that they have.