Letters to the Editor
Stanton C. Richards, a tribute
To the Editor:
How does one appropriately assess and then add to the memory of a truly fine man after he is gone?
Stanton C. Richards, private and public citizen, of West Tisbury, was just such a man - a cheerful and friendly man of great character, integrity, decency and kindness. A gentleman's gentleman, if you will.
A man who, along with my first cousin and late summer next-door neighbor, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Robert Crighton, must have attended Depression-era New York's Bronxville High School concurrently where Crighton, known as Ace, was the top pitcher on the baseball team.
I had not known that Stan was a WW II US Army combat veteran of the Italian campaign, including Monte Cassino. The Italian campaign, along with the second Battle of the Ardennes or the Bulge, in Belgium, was the most hellish and horrible of the entire war on the Western Front.
A highly respected veteran, Stan flew commercial aircraft from the Vineyard to Boston and successfully managed the Edgartown Yacht Club complex for 27 years. He also chaired the County of Dukes County Selective Service office for 20 years during the difficult Vietnam War period and thereafter served the town of West Tisbury as assessor for another 33 years. In these posts, Stan gave the county and town the benefit of his life experience, wisdom, and good judgment in matters fiscal and otherwise.
I can state categorically and without reservation that, Stan was ACLU founder Roger N. Baldwin's best friend and colleague of summertime Martha's Vineyard, followed closely by famed Vineyard Gazette editor and publisher Henry Beetle Hough. I inherited Roger from my parents, who had bought their place in Chilmark at exactly the same time as Roger and Evie bought theirs, and I am speaking as his volunteer summer driver for the last decade of his life.
There was no one Roger was happier to see than Stan. Roger made everyone feel special in his presence. To be sure, as a lad, Stan must have been among the first generation of Roger's young and husky, late teen to early twenties, "canoe boys", who would help haul the heavy, old, canvas and wood canoes from Windy Gates barn to the Squibnocket Beach and to the town landing at the pond, every summer since 1931; not to mention the other Island ponds, great and small, salt or fresh, as Roger claimed to have dipped his paddle in them all, no doubt with Stan's help.
I was proud to call him friend. Indeed, where do we get such men as Stanton C. Richards?
Peter C. Josephs
To the Editor:
I would again like to thank [Times reporter] Janet Hefler for her story about the recent completion of our second school in Cambodia (Feb. 19, "Friends change lives, a school at a time"). The school is now fully finished and filled to capacity with students.
Once again, Janet took her time and followed up repeatedly with me and Justin, as well as contacts in Cambodia, to get the full and most accurate details of the trip and the new school. Her interest and professionalism showed through once again.
We have begun to raise funds for the last school in Cambodia with plans to move on to Burma after it's completed. The stories in the Martha's Vineyard Times have been invaluable in these efforts, and Janet's attention to detail gives a real feel to the situation in these
extremely poor countries. We are still surprised in these hard economic times how generous Vineyard people as well as people off-Island have been.
We would like to thank Janet, The Martha's Vineyard Times, and everyone who helped get this school built.
Todd Alexander and Justin Lavigne
Hospice of Martha's Vineyard 28 years, 1,222 families supported
To the Editor:
I write in direct response to last week's letter written by Ebba Hierta [Get over the turf wars]. I would like to clarify the description of Hospice of Martha's Vineyard as a "volunteer run" organization. We have a paid, professional, experienced, licensed, trained and certified staff of registered nurses, social workers, a chaplain, a medical director, and administrators.
And yes, we do have volunteers.
They are our angels, and they are invaluable to the support we are able to offer our patients and their families. We have brought our expertise to many a bedside, lending support to the frailest of patients and their loved ones. We do not help people die; we support the patient and the whole family as they live their days together, however many they have. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health licenses us as a hospice. At this time, Hospice of Martha's Vineyard is the only licensed hospice on Martha's Vineyard.
I am very sorry that your friends have had to leave Martha's Vineyard for insurance-covered end-of-life care. When insurance reimbursement dictates the plan of care, you are correct that Hospice of Martha's Vineyard cannot recover expenses from those insurance companies, private or government. This is another reason why our services are free.
However, our patients have been able to access their own insurance reimbursements, and if necessary Hospice of Martha's Vineyard has been able to help with the costs of medications, supplies and other expenses. We do this through the Christopher Fund, which was established by a patient's family, and Hospice of Martha's Vineyard raises funds for this account and receives donations to it from the community.
The Christopher Fund helps patients and families with financial needs pay for medicines, equipment, even fuel oil. Many community organizations have been very supportive of our efforts. The Cancer Support Group also provides financial assistance to Islanders. Also, the Martha's Vineyard Hospital has been very supportive of community members facing their last days. We coordinate with these and other organizations to reduce our patients' financial burden. Hospice of Martha's Vineyard works to the best of our abilities to support families to care for their loved ones at home, in the hospital, or at Windemere and we offer our professional care free of any charges. 2009 marks our 28th year, and we have supported 1,222 families and patients with quality end-of-life care. And in all those years, the insurance piece has rarely been an issue for these families.
Our mission is clear. We seek to provide medical, social, and spiritual care for all who are facing the end of life, and just as importantly, we give support to their families all the way through grieving. We do this with pride, compassion, and with total focus on the comfort and care of our patients, and we look forward to doing it for many years to come.
Terre D. Young
Executive Director Hospice of Martha's Vineyard
To the Editor:
We would like to thank The Martha's Vineyard Times for the article written about Phillips Hardware that appeared in the February 26 edition of your paper. We have received many positive comments. We also received a framed copy of the article from Sharon Custom Framing that we will be able to display in the hardware store.
Donna Leon and Susan Phillips
A good thing
To the Editor:
I have been reading about the VNA's efforts to start a hospice and thought my experience with their agency might be instructive.
My wife Joan was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in late 2005. Following an operation, radiation and chemo-therapy at Mass General, she returned home to Edgartown. Knowing that her prognosis was not particularly good, we contacted VNA, and we used their services in caring for my wife. Their nurses, Cheryl and Sally, were just amazing and did a masterful job of telling Joan what to expect and how to deal with the symptoms of her terrible disease. Her time ran out at the beginning of 2007, and the VNA was at her side as they had been throughout the entire process. I simply could not have had better support for Joan than what the VNA provided.
I recognize that the Hospice of Martha's Vineyard does good work. Clearly, both of these organizations perform important and noble work, However, I believe, when viewed through the eyes of a patient's family, the desire of the VNA to expand their services to include hospice is a natural extension of the work they do every day. It was in my case.
In announcing their new service, the VNA is clearly looking at ways to enhance services for all. We all recognize that change can be very difficult, for people and for organizations. However, in the final analysis, if more health support services can be provided to the community, that is a good thing. If any financial burdens can be relieved or removed from our neighbors, that is a good thing. If the fundraising burden in our community can be reduced by having the two organizations join together, especially in these challenging economic times, then that too is a good thing. Overall, we should applaud the efforts of the VNA to improve and increase services because, in the end, it's a good thing.
David C. Thompson
To the Editor:
Luther spoke with a quiet whisper, but he had a heart as big as all outdoors. He and Anne were my friends, and he was not only my inspiration, but that of many a person. The news today that he is "no longer with us" is wrong, for he will always be with us, through his quiet smile, his affirming handclasp, and his listening ears and heart, the latter of which was as big as all outdoors. The world, the community, my family are grateful that Luther passed our way, and we thank the Great Spirit for his love and compassion.
VNA hospice needed
To the Editor:
Martha's Vineyard needs a certified hospice. I'm sorry that Hospice of Martha's Vineyard has decided not to seek licensure and Medicare certification on its own, because I agree that having an organization dedicated to care of the terminally ill and their families is most desirable. On the other hand, continuity of care is also very important. When so much else is changing, it is very helpful to the patients and their families to have the same caregivers and agency transition with them to end of life care.
For 21 years (1980-2001) I worked with hospice, as a nurse, clinical coordinator, CEO. I served on the board of directors of both the Connecticut Organization for Hospice and Palliative Care as well as the National Organization for Hospice and Palliative Care during many of those years. I have hospice in my heart.
I've cringed every time I read publicity releases from Hospice of Martha's Vineyard asserting that the agency is unique and that not having Medicare certification is a good thing. I disagree. Almost every other hospice in the U.S. has seen the need to and benefit of becoming licensed and certified. Licensure and certification ensures that the hospice provider meets at least the minimum standards of care; it ensures that hospice patients are eligible for certain Medicare benefits that they would not otherwise be entitled to; it ensures that patients and families have access to the same Medicare hospice benefits whether they are residing on Martha's Vineyard, or anywhere in America; and it provides reimbursement to the hospice so it does not need to depend fully on the community for its support of its operations.
Yes, patients need to be certified as terminally ill by their personal physician, as well as the hospice medical director. This is to protect the patient as well as the hospice. We want to make sure that patients receive hospice care at an appropriate time in their lives. If a patient lives longer than six months and remains terminally ill, there is no penalty to the patient or hospice - the patient is re-certified and hospice care continues. If at any time during the course of hospice care, the patient's condition stabilizes, or improves, the patient can be discharged from hospice. Hospice care can resume when needed.
Unfortunately, it is not only Medicare (older) patients who need end-of-life care. Private and state-run health insurance programs generally require the hospice to be licensed and certified. They want to know that the hospice meets the minimum standards of care.
Reimbursement provided by Medicare and other health insurers does not fully cover the costs of providing good hospice care, but it helps. Hospices are very grateful for donations and bequests made in appreciation for the care provided to patients and their family members. However, there are many important nonprofit organizations that do not have access to any type of reimbursement and need community support to continue their good deeds. If reimbursement is available, then we should access that money and lessen the need for community support.
It is with a heavy heart that I write this opinion. My mother was served by Hospice of Martha's Vineyard before she died in 2005, and my father is currently receiving hospice care. They and we received excellent support, especially from Ann Ledden, RN.
As a professional hospice person, I've been through several mergers and break-ups, and it's never easy. However, we should have access to a certified hospice here on our Island, our home. If Hospice of Martha's Vineyard does not want to become licensed and certified, either as an independent agency or as part of VNA, then VNA has no choice but to go forward on its own.
We all die suddenly, or not so suddenly. If it's the latter, I want a compassionate, competent hospice team by my side.
Janice Casey, RN, MS
Their stories, our stories
To the Editor:
"The Vineyard" is coming to the Vineyard. It's true: I read it in The Martha's Vineyard Times (Feb. 19 and 26). "The Vineyard," according to its executive producer, Dave Broome of 25/7 Productions, is a "soft-scripted docu-soap." (I'm not sure what that means, but it sounds meaningful.) Broome says he's big on authenticity. "It's really critical to do this very genuine and very authentic," he says. He wants people to watch the show and say, "That's exactly what life is like on the Vineyard in the summertime."
Having lived through quite a few Vineyard summers, I can't begin to tell you "exactly what life is like on the Vineyard in the summertime," but that's okay. 25/7 Productions, which is based in L.A., is going to set me straight. Summer on the genuine, authentic Vineyard, it seems, is about recent college graduates. Some of them come here to work; others don't have to work and just want to have fun. Summer on the Vineyard is about the "interaction" (Broome's word) between 20-somethings of the upper class and 20-somethings of the upper middle.
Although these 20-somethings will be marooned on an island, you know this isn't anything like Survivor because this island isn't deserted. According to 25/7 Productions' website, www.marthasvineyardcasting.com, Martha's Vineyard is "inhabited by high-profile residents, movie stars, politicians, writers and artists." This is the Vineyard that those high-profile types, including L.A. production companies and New York publishers, know best, the one that winks into existence around Memorial Day and winks out by the middle of October. The stories they tell are the ones they know: the ones about college-educated summer hires and high-profile residents. The rest of us, the low-profile year-rounders, are the stage crew, indispensable for sure, but nearly invisible. The lucky (and photogenic) among us might get a walk-on part, but we don't get to write the script.
And that's what bugs me. The voices of year-round working people are rarely heard on the other side of Vineyard Sound, and when they are, they're cut-and-pasted into "soft-scripted docu-soaps" and other stories dreamed up by the well-connected, the journalists, the producers, the novelists and academics from somewhere else. True, the complex vitality of the year-round Vineyard can be heard and seen in, for instance, the stories of Susan Klein; the mystery novels of Cynthia Riggs and the late Phil Craig; the story songs of Dillon Bustin; and the nonfiction of Jill Nelson ("Finding Martha's Vineyard"), Nora Ellen Groce ("Everyone Here Spoke Sign Language"), and the late Dr. Milton Mazer ("People and Predicaments"). Their works are all informed by a deep knowledge of the place, its past as well as its present. They show us new facets of Vineyard life even as they convey something about us to the wider world. But will their combined audiences ever add up to more than a fraction of those who will see "The Vineyard" and as a result think they know something about the Vineyard? I doubt it.
What happens when outsiders get to tell other outsiders what the Vineyard is really about? When their version trumps our versions over and over? Outsiders get a lot of distorted if not totally bogus information about Martha's Vineyard, but that's not the worst thing. The worst thing is that we who live here and actually know something about the place start to think that our stories aren't worth hearing, or even worth telling. "The universe is made of stories / not of atoms," wrote the poet Muriel Rukeyser. So is Martha's Vineyard. If we don't tell those stories, the place becomes less visible, not only to outsiders but to ourselves. Stories connect us across space and across time. Nora Ellen Groce's "Everyone Here Spoke Sign Language," about the up-Island community that incorporated both deaf and hearing people as equal participants, is out in the world inspiring people who may never visit Martha's Vineyard. Few people now living have firsthand memories of that community, but it lives on in the stories that were told to Groce, and from which Groce created the story that she told to the world.
I believe that stories playing out right now on Martha's Vineyard, some on terra firma and others in people's imaginations, are at least as dramatic, at least as funny, at least as worth hearing, as 25/7 Productions' docu-soap about recent college graduates sun-and-funning on Vineyard beaches. How do we tell our stories when we fear we have nothing worthwhile to say? When we're working two jobs and trying to meet the never-ending challenges of living in a manic depressive seasonal economy? And if we do, against considerable odds, manage to get them told, how do we get them into the wider world when so many gatekeepers in the mass media think their version of Martha's Vineyard is more exciting, sexier, more commercial, more authentic than ours?
Damned if I know, but I suspect we have to make it up as we go along. We've got plenty of raw material: writers' groups and workshops; people with the technical skills to produce books, videos, CDs, TV shows, radio shows, and websites; talkers, storytellers, singers, actors, and teachers. If we can put it all together, maybe someone out there will listen. We might have a hit. Got any ideas?
Susanna J. Sturgis
To the Editor:
Wednesday, March 11, in the late afternoon a tragic event unfolded at Red Pony farm.
It happened in the little barn, a seven-stall barn leased out for the winter to a third party, leaving the third party in total control of the care, safety, and well-being of their horses. Around 5 o'clock in the evening, a stallion belonging to the third party broke out of his stall. He then continued to break into another stall, also belonging to the third party, and proceeded to drive the mare out onto the property. A chase followed, where the stallion attacked the mare, resulting in her unfortunate death.
Fortunately no other person or animal was injured during this event. The Red Pony is very upset about such a cruel thing happening. Care and safety is always one of our foremost concerns. The stallion has been removed from the premises, and we have taken the appropriate steps to ensure an event like this will never be repeated.
Karen Magid and Martijn Stuurman
High school debaters
To the Editor:
I watched the Martha's Vineyard Commission proceedings regarding the Muckerheide project in Oak Bluffs and thought that I was watching a bad high school debating team.
This commission is a joke. If they were not ready to vote on this project, why did they waste so much time in inane discussions about what to discuss?
They have zero credibility and, in my opinion, are a detriment to this Island's future.
What a commission of this type should be doing is establishing a zoning ordinance for the entire Island and then getting the heck out of the way and letting the town building departments take it from there.
It's His business
To the Editor:
A brief addendum to your blurb on the time change:
"Hawaii and Arizona . . . do not observe DST." Well, neither does Notre Dame University (South Bend, Indiana). They let God decide what time it is.
A gift of music
To the Editor:
The winter months were made brighter for my husband Ray and me by our regular attendance of opera performances at the Capawock Theatre. The larger than life, live productions from La Scala, the Metropolitan, and others were wonderful.
The wide screen, surrounded by high definition sound and digital images, brought the singers and sets right up to you, as if you had a front row seat at the opera. Truly a spectacular treat.
The productions are still going on, ending in May, I believe, but I had to write a thank-you to Buzzy Hall today. He gave free tickets to all his regular opera attendees, for the Berlin Concert that we attended on March 8. The performance was live from Waldbuhne and featured Placido Domingo, Anna Netrebko, and Rolando Villazon. It was spellbinding. Ray and I would have been happy to stay and see a repeat performance.
Thank you, Buzzy, and the Capawock Theatre, for bringing this gift of music to Martha's Vineyard.
Lorraine St. Pierre
Why me, why my dog?
To the Editor:
I am writing in regards to a hearing I attended last Wednesday, March 11, concerning my dog Kodah getting out and chasing livestock.
First off, I would like to ask why must I go to and why must we have these petty hearings over a dog getting out and chasing livestock? Is it not the farmer's job to watch after his livestock and shoot the animal or run it off their land, if he or she feels threatened? I mean, we aren't having any raccoon or hawk hearings are we?
It just breaks my heart how the West Tisbury elitist can turn against my family and the animals in it so quickly, when Kodah has yet to seriously harm anything. I'm not saying I shouldn't be punished. I would just expect more open-minded and less biased folks deciding the consequence.
The thought of euthanizing Kodah if she gets out again is unjustified. It makes me want to shout out "catch us if you can." And, to order me to build an enclosure out of chain link fence with both a roof and floor costing hundreds, well I'd just as soon keep the dog inside and put it out in its town ordered run when needed. I would also like to add, no one told me when the hearing would be for my dog, so I was very unprepared to tell my side as I entered the meeting late, after Joan Jenkinson called and said I was to be there. Kodah is a Siberian husky just over a year in age and has been a great addition to our family. Some may say the breed has a taste for blood, but I am yet to see this dog draw any. Fight the fight for Siberian husky rights.
Murder on the Lagoon
A crow alit on cabin gutter,
A dozen more by eave and shutter,
A hundred in the leafless oak,
A thousand to each other spoke.
In blackened branches overhead,
Their voices hoarse, their message dread,
Cacophonous, the chorus cursed,
Of what they said I feared the worst.
I waved an arm and flock took flight,
But wheeled about and did alight
Again, then did the fowl lurch
And scowl from their foul perch.
Around the bend on scallop midden,
I startled crows who thought they'd hidden,
But off they flew with flap of feather.
And left me in the winter weather.
Why did they not come after me,
And chase me off into the sea,
And tear my scalp and peck my eye
And leave me on the sand to die?
I turned my back against the breeze,
And cast my gaze toward the trees,
And murder in the branches high,
And suddenly remembered I
Commuting crows these crows must be
For something fearsome did they flee,
And daily crossed the Vineyard Sound,
To rest in trees on island ground.
For here there dwelt no great-horned owl,
Who nightly would the darkness prowl.
And what the crows just might have said,
Was of the owl that they fled.
Then every second from the north
Another gliding crow came forth
To island roost, where safely they
Could sleep, and not be owl's prey.
Adam R. Moore
March 8, 2009
Adam Moore is the executive director of Sheriff's Meadow Foundation.
Graffiti and patriotism
To the Editor:
I agree with all of Woody Williams's points, with the exception of one. How is it possibly unpatriotic to protest a war?
The very foundation of this country is based upon people questioning those who govern them. If it weren't for the "unpatriotic" souls who had the courage to stand up to and eventually throw out British rule, and those who protested and eventually defeated unjust voting laws and civil rights injustices, we would be living in a very different reality.
From the Declaration of Independence, "That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."
We must not judge people for their beliefs, political or otherwise. I wasn't at these protests, but Mr. Williams's comment insults me. It is my belief that this lemming mentality, blindly following the leader over the cliff, is the very reason our country is at cliff's edge as we speak. Graffiti is one thing; patriotism is another.
A teacher's thanks
To the Editor:
What a shock to look out the classroom window last Friday only to see my very old, extremely used, but much-loved 1990 Acura fully engulfed in flames. The event created quite a spectacular show for school children aching for diversion.
And for me, well, it was a sad loss but also quite a heartwarming experience because of all the support and kind words from the firefighters and staff. Although the car was totaled, I was able to salvage my rollerblades and fishing equipment, for which I am very grateful.
And let me add this: "If you live long enough, you see everything." At least three of the firefighters were young men who had been in my kindergarten class back in the days when "little boys wanted to grow up to be firemen." My thanks to you all.
An outstanding neighbor
To the Editor:
What follows is a copy of a letter to James McLaurin.
From time to time I have written letters to the community expressing my appreciation for some of the outstanding people in our community. James McLaurin is one of them. On February 20, in an assembly sponsored by the Young Brothers to Men, Mr. McLaurin presented to our students as part of Black History Month, two school assemblies, humbly acknowledging his role in World War II as a Tuskegee Airman, and as a way of bringing it home he added a strong message to the students of persistence in the pursuit of their goals. At 86 years of age, he has accomplished a great deal, he has persisted his entire life in keeping our country the greatest in the world, by not only serving his country but also his town and state.
So, I wrote: I wanted to take this opportunity on behalf of the Young Brothers to Men (YBM), the high school and me to sincerely thank you for your wonderful talk to the students this past February during our Black History Month assembly. To see you as a living legend, someone who has experienced all of life's ups and downs, as it has related to our history and legacy, was truly remarkable.
Thank you for just being there, as the role model and mentor for a younger generation, which has had little knowledge of what came before them. You are able to bridge that chasm and link the lines of knowledge together, which will stay with these young brothers and sisters their entire lives. They will remember the Tuskegee Airmen, and they will remember you.
We (the YBM) would like to take on an opportunity to establish a youth association with the Tuskegee Airmen, and if it is possible we would be willing to do what is necessary. We also would like to try to assist you with your idea of conducting a "fly In" where students could help plan a visit by vintage airplanes and highlight some of the history you have lived. If we could marshal community support, we may be able to do this in September or October. In any event, I look forward to seeing and talking with you soon. I hope you are feeling well and your health is good.
W. Leo Frame Jr.
Advisor, Young Brothers to Men