Town Columns


By Gail Craig - October 12, 2006

We've certainly been blessed with some wonderful weather for October. The nights are chilly but we've had some gorgeous days. People are still swimming and enjoying the fall. It's really a great time to be on the Vineyard, with a slower pace but still plenty of sunshine. I only wish that it was spring and that summer was right around the corner, rather than fall and heading into (yuk!) winter!

Richard Krauss and Nelson Smith had the honor of attending a formal gala event at the Expo Center in Boston a couple of weeks ago. The evening was to honor every Congressional Medal of Honor winner and the event was attended by approximately seventy recipients of the award, from World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, a pretty impressive turn-out when you learn that there are only 111 living recipients. Richard was able to obtain two tickets to the invitation only event and could think of only one person to bring with him - Nelson.

As it was a formal event, Richard and Nelson were dressed to the nines in tuxedos and they mingled with some of the bravest men in history, in what Richard referred to as "a room full of heroes." Both men are hugely patriotic and were thrilled to be at such a special event. Because Nelson is still having knee troubles, he spent the evening in a wheelchair. Richard said that a number of the heroes sought Nelson out, praising his efforts in the military, saying such things as "without you Seabees, we wouldn't have gotten anywhere." It is just so wonderful that these award recipients, who were being honored that evening, offered their own praise to another military man. Nelson apparently had a magnificent evening.

Richard, long an aficionado of Pearl Harbor, finally had a dream come true that night, getting to meet 97-year-old John Finn, the last living Medal of Honor recipient from Pearl Harbor. Richard has tried several times to contact the gentleman, a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy who was wounded 21 times during the battle at Pearl Harbor yet continued to fight. Last week, Mr. Finn was seated two tables away from Richard and Nelson so Rich was able to finally meet him and chat with him for a while. Richard said that at 97, physically Mr. Finn was ailing a bit but that his mind was as sharp as a tack. It sounds like an inspiring evening, to say the least.

The Old Whaling Church was the gathering place on Monday morning to honor the life and memory of Timmy Norton. Though Timmy was an Oak Bluffs boy, he touched many lives on the Island, including the Gardner family. Tim and my brother, Bobby, became good friends in high school and remained close over the years. Tim, in turn, became a family favorite, one of the kids particularly near and dear to my parents' hearts. He was an exceptional man, warm and intelligent, funny and caring, and seemingly always happy, even as he faced a serious illness. He was taken from us far too soon and will be sorely missed. Our condolences go out to his family. His passing will leave a huge hole in the hearts of all who had the honor and great pleasure to know him.

The Craig household is in for some interesting times in the months ahead, as Riley has signed up to take violin lessons. Never one to doubt his own abilities, he is already planning the songs he's going to play as soon as he brings it home, beginning with the theme from "Star Wars." I hope he's not too disappointed by the "music" that actually comes out from the instrument in the beginning! I'm starting to rethink the idea of a drum set!

That's all, folks! Have a great week and be sure to get me your news.