To the Editor:
Reading your article on the book "Thirty Dirty Sailors And The Little Girl Who Went A-Whaling", by Dillon Bustin and Susan Convery, brought back memories to me.
In the spring of 1961, I was about to graduate from college, in Boston. My landlord, took me down into a dark cellar, which lay underneath his old brick apartment building near Symphony Hall. He knew I was going to be married and offered to give me as a present an old chest, which had been hanging around in his cellar. He said it belonged to an elderly lady, well into her eighties at the time, who had passed on some 30 years, or so, prior. She told him stories of when she was a little girl, going out to sea with her father, who captained a ship berthed in Boston. She took the chest with her. All her earthly possessions - clothes, dolls, etc. - were stored in the chest. I calculated the dates she referred to, as being in the 1850s -1860s time span. Close to the time, in the story, that six-year-old Laura Jernegan sailed on a whaling ship.
I readily took the chest, and my wife and I love it. I believe it might be best described as a tool chest. We prefer to call it our sea chest, given its history. The wood is all original, in perfect condition, with a single piece of pine used for the top lid measuring 24 by 42 inches, as well as for the bottom. Original hardware and lock still intact; no key, however.
Every once in a while, I gaze at the chest and let my imagination soar, wondering who the little girl was (my landlord could not remember her name), what her father's name was, the name of his ship, and where she sailed to, and all the wonderful stories she could have probably recounted. I hope she had a good life.
I have enclosed a photograph of the chest, which now rests in the living room of our home in Mashpee. Far from the shipping lanes of another era, but still close to the sea and still casting a magic spell for those with imagination.
William Ross Searle
Issues and issues
To the Editor:
As a practicing Roman Catholic for 79 years in the Diocese of Boston and Fall River, and as a Democrat, I resent my bishops categorizing the Democratic Party as hostile to opponents of abortion rights and stating that it "borders on scandal" for Catholics to vote for candidates for public office who would uphold the legal right, protected by the U.S. Constitution, for an individual woman to have an abortion. To be pro-choice is not to be pro-abortion. I have yet to meet a pro-choice person who would advise or encourage a woman to have an abortion.
Our state and federal legislatures do not even vote for or against abortions. It is, therefore, not a true political issue. Cardinal O'Malley did, however, provide a list of true political issues about which he admits the Republican Party, Republican legislators, at both the state and federal levels, and Republican voters oppose the positions advocated by the Roman Catholic Church and its present and past Popes: namely, immigration, capital punishment, the economic issue of poverty and homelessness, and the war in Iraq. Would the Cardinal also categorize the Republican Party's hostility to the Church's position on these true political issues as bordering on scandal?
Joseph Sequeira Vera
Oak Bluffs and Cambridge
Time for giving
To the Editor:
At this time of giving and giving thanks, I would like to say thank you to all in the Vineyard community, including the town employees of Tisbury, the Oak Bluffs Police Department, Martha's Vineyard Hospital, Trader Fred's, Reliable Market, Keith McGuire Designs, AFSCME Council 93 and many others, that donated items and money for the boxes for our servicemen. Two hundred sixty-five pounds of supplies were mailed out to nine servicemen with Vineyard ties. We're also sending cards to every soldier, whether abroad or stateside. I'd also like to thank Pat Harris and Jeannie Pearson for all their hard work in gathering items to send and mailing all the packages.
Jo Ann Murphy
Dukes County Veterans Services
Music, theater, absolutely essential
To the Editor:
From all the way across the country, I have heard that the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School is once again planning a cut in the music and theater department. This should be the cause of much concern for students and members of the Island community alike. High school is a difficult time for most students, but it is especially hard for those who choose to follow a slightly less well-beaten path and who find importance in preserving their individuality and creativity throughout their mandatory, standardized education. It is absolutely essential that we provide an outlet for these students to express themselves, a place where they can be encouraged to use and develop their otherwise wasted creative energy.
I vividly remember feeling as though music was the only place I could put my energy to use and how that was my only respite from the otherwise alienating and frustrating experience of high school.
In high school, I was a dedicated violinist. Recently, I began law school. Though the two may not seem related, I know that without the first I would never have gotten to the second. My health in high school was not good, and it was very difficult for me to get up each morning and attend classes. But on the days I did force myself to get up and go, it was only because of the encouragement and opportunities the music department (and more specifically each of the wonderful teachers who are currently there) provided for me. Without them, there would have been no point in going. I honestly believe that without the music department, I would have lacked the motivation to overcome my illness and continue with my education at all. I certainly doubt that I would have made it to law school.
If this were only my story, perhaps I could let it go and move on. However, my experience is by no means unique. There are many students each year who experience the same sense of alienation and discouragement that I experienced, and who also find their only solace in the music and theater departments. So, to the administrators of the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School, I would like to say this: Be fully aware that by making this cut, you would be making a statement about the types of students you truly value. You are making a powerful statement to students like me, who at the high school age have tremendous potential but hardly any motivation or encouragement to nurture it. I realize the challenges inherent in a shrinking budget, but you have a responsibility to these students.
To the rest of us, I would like to say this: One of the most valuable characteristics of our exceptional Island community is our artistic and musical talent, which is overwhelming in proportion to our small size. We would be seriously endangering this unique and integral feature of our community by allowing yet another cut in the arts department at our high school. Please stand behind your students and recognize the contributions that our beloved music teachers have made both to individual lives and to our community as a whole.
West Tisbury and Los Angeles
See you next year
To the Editor:
Recently, I had the opportunity to visit your wonderful Island for the first time. I went up to help a friend drive down to Florida for the winter.
Maggie knew I had never been to Martha's Vineyard, so for two days she drove all over showing me the island. Being an amateur nature photographer, I had a ball. From the cliffs of Aquinnah to the Japanese Gardens of Chappaquiddick, the photographs I took are wonderful. I also like to take photos of lighthouses and got every one on the Island.
It seemed that everywhere we went was prettier than the last place. Originally, I'm from a small farm town in the Pacific Northwest. It seemed as if I was going back in time, and I loved it. From staying in a gingerbread cottage to visiting the farms in the area, it was great.
The main thing I noticed, though, was the people. Friendly, down to earth and always helpful. From the lobster fishermen, the lady at the little country store, to the waitresses at the restaurants in Oak Bluffs. Everyone had a smile, was very friendly, and made me feel at home.
Will I return? You bet. Only next time I will bring with me my teenage grandson, Sean, that I'm raising. In the fall, off season, next year. We like horseback riding, hiking, and walking beaches. To be able to do these things on your Island in the fall - well, I don't think it can get any better than that. Sean and I have traveled all over the U.S. This is one place I don't want him to miss.
Thank you for your wonderful hospitality. Just wanted you folks to know how much I appreciated it. See you next year.
Port Charlotte, Florida
To the Editor:
Anticipating the big Nantucket game is always exciting, but for the Martha's Vineyard cheerleaders, it involves a lot of hard work and giving up much of their free time from the beginning of October until the big day. When the game is home, the girls are busy lugging, painting, and selling the wooden signs that line the Edgartown Road, as well as preparing decorations for the senior and starter players. The girls must also keep up their practice schedule.
I would like to give the following people many thanks for their help. Jesse Steere of Shirley's Hardware for his donation of all the paint for the signs. Anna Cass, Nicole Deese, Lita Doward, and Kayla Manning, Martha's Vineyard cheerleaders, who continually for weeks gave up their weekends and free time to paint signs. Donna Paulson, Lindsey Mercier, and Stephanie Andrade for their help with painting signs. Brittany and Stephanie Strelecki for their help making posters. I would especially like to thank Lindsey Mercier, Keira Mercier, Michael Cass, and Katie and Kailyn Hart for their help in setting up the signs along the Edgartown Road. Michael Cass and Peter Duart for their help in taking the signs down and placing them in storage. As I was terribly sick with the flu, I would not have been able to do it without them. A special thanks to Michelle Barry for all her help throughout the season, especially during the big game.
Big thanks to the Martha's Vineyard Touchdown Club for their continued support of the cheerleaders.
Congratulations to the boys on a game well played both varsity and junior high and to both the junior high and varsity cheerleaders for keeping the spirit up.
Until next year.
Varsity Cheer Coach
To the Editor:
On Nov. 3, we were scheduled to have our AACDP fundraiser at the Hebrew Center, but the 70-mile-an-hour wind and three inches of rain seemed inauspicious. We set up anyway, hoping against hope that the storm would abate, when the electricity went out, forcing us to cancel. How lucky we were that the Hebrew Center was available the next Saturday, and all the plucky, goodhearted people that had volunteered their time, resources, and energy were willing to do it again.
So, with one full dress rehearsal under our belt, we knew exactly how to proceed the next Saturday, and brought in $3,000 for the Zambian children at the Upeme Home and the Mama Bakhita Center for Disabled Children in Livingstone.
Many, many thanks to Abbe Burt and Susan Thompson who organized this event, to the Hebrew Center and Kanta Lipski, who generously sponsored us, to MVTV, without whom my documentary would never have been made, to both the MV Times and the Vineyard Gazette for their wonderful coverage, to Lila Fischer, Rachel Curtain, Lucia Dillon, Marina Sparagana, Koko Sanfilippo and Nora Karasik for selling crafts and setting up, to Ana Sargent and Eliza Greene for passing hors d'oeuvres and to Mae Deary, Patrie Grace, Robin Forte, and Lisa Morrison for making those delicious tidbits. If I've forgotten anyone, I apologize, but it was a lovely and successful communal effort. Together, we are waging peace.
African Artists' Community Development Project
Thanks to all
To the Editor:
The Tisbury eighth-graders are fundraising for their Washington, D.C., trip. We'd like to congratulate Barbara Humber on winning the Red Sox jacket raffle and Louie Nahme on winning the five lobsters from the Net Result. We would like to thank everyone in the community for supporting us. Thank you, Cronig's Market and the Stop & Shop, for letting us use your space. Special thanks to Debra Bessitte, for donating the jacket, and Louie Larsen at the Net Result.
Thank you all.
The Tisbury School 8th grade