West Tisbury: Nelson’s bayonet

Ruth Kirchmeier

I had wonderful stories for this column, but have somehow managed to mislay my notebook. If it doesn’t turn up within the next few hours, I guess I will have to call everyone and tell their stories next week. Very frustrating, though, as I went out on errands and then to the Farmers Market, and ran into lots of people. I have spent the whole morning looking everywhere for that notebook, white with colored polka dots on the cover. If anyone should find it, please call and let me know: 508-693-2525.

The Farmers Market was wonderful. All people who know one another, the winter markets feel like our own. I came home with bread and veggies and, best of all, dinner for Mike and me. Jan Buhrman had complete dinners along with her regular Kitchen Porch offerings. So nice to come home from work and have dinner only “ten minutes in the oven” away. Jan also reminded me of her place at the Airport Business Park. She has breakfasts, lunches, and takeout dinners.

Winter Farmers Markets are at the Ag Hall every Saturday from 10 am to 1 pm. There are still amazingly beautiful vegetables for sale, as well as jam, tea, soap, wool, bread, all one could imagine or need.

This Saturday, Oct. 28, is the 40th Women’s Symposium at the Chilmark Community Center. “Sharing” is the topic. The event is from 9 am to noon, free admission although donations are always welcome.

It’s almost Halloween, and town is decorated with pumpkins, corn stalks, and chrysanthemums. The Charter School students have placed their artful figures all around the business districts. Rusty at Ghost Island Farm started decorating last week, and continues adding to his display. The Grey Barn has the biggest pumpkin by their sign on South Road, and Alley’s has a display of pumpkins that edges the whole porch.

I can’t wait to see the costumes at the West Tisbury library’s Halloween party. It’s from 3:30 to 5 pm. There will be a hay ride, crafts, and delicious snacks, all courtesy of the Friends of the Library. Then Parks and Rec takes over at the Ag Hall from 6 to 8 pm, with games, treats to eat, and a spooky hay ride through the cemetery.

Friends of Denise Dorsey (Cafarelli) are invited to a service of remembrance and celebration of her life that will be held this Sunday, Oct. 29, at Eastville Beach. The service begins at 11:30 am.

Patti and Dick Goodell have returned home to West Tisbury from Pensacola, Fla., where they attended the Wings ceremony for their grandson, LTJG Thomas Goodell. The ceremony took place on Sept. 29 at the Whiting Field Naval Air Station. Thomas, a 2015 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, was “pinned” by his wife, Felicia (Crockett), also a Naval Academy graduate. They have been assigned to San Diego, where Thomas will fly MH-60R helicopters for the Navy. Thomas is the son of Beth Goodell of West Tisbury and Todd Goodell of Chappaquiddick.

Heidi Schultz is enjoying a visit from an old Vineyard friend, Jill Lumpkin, who is here from Bengaluru, India, with her companion, James Ivory, from England. They are house- and catsitting on Pond View Road for the next two weeks.

At the West Tisbury library this week:
Friday, Oct. 27, the Harry Potter Club, “Dumbledore’s Army,” will meet at 3:30 pm.

Saturday, Oct. 28, 11:30 am, Julie Prazich and Sara Rosenthal will teach a wooden fish painting class. Wooden fish blank and painting supplies will be provided. Please sign up at the library. The Lego Club will meet at 2:30 pm.

Sunday, Oct. 29, 1 to 3 pm, the Chess Club for kids will meet. At 3:30 pm, John Merrow will speak about his new book, “Addicted to Reforms: A 12-Step Program to Rescue Public Education.”

Monday, Oct. 30, Kanta Lipsky’s Balance Class will meet at 11:30 am. At 7 pm, a Complete Streets documentary about bikes vs. cars will be shown.

Tuesday, Oct. 31, VNA nurse Liz Sanderman will have a program called “Falls Prevention Bingo,” beginning at noon. The Halloween party will be held from 3:30 to 5 pm.

Wednesday, Nov. 1, the first of four sessions of Moira Silva’s “Memoir Writing Workshop” will begin at 10:30 am. Participants are asked to commit to all four sessions, which will be held on Nov. 1, 8, 15, and 29.

Ruth Kirchmeier and I were invited for tea at Mark Reisman’s house last Friday or Saturday. Neither of us was free on those days, but the reason Ruth couldn’t make it was that she and Nelson Bryant were expecting houseguests, a couple from Holland, Andre and Riet Duijghuisen. They were coming to return a trench knife (it turned out to be a bayonet) that Nelson had lost as a young soldier during World War II.

Ruth invited me over Monday afternoon to see the bayonet and hear about the visit. She described the Duijghuisens as a lovely couple, “children of about 60,” who were reverential toward Nelson. “Because of you, we are free,” Andre told him. This referred to the American soldiers who liberated occupied Holland. Ruth said, “The Dutch make much more than we do of what American soldiers did. They feel that we liberated them. It’s still very current for them and they feel intense gratitude.” This couple traveled all the way to Martha’s Vineyard to show their gratitude.

Andre had found the bayonet and sheath in his father’s attic. I saw the sheath with the name “Bryant” scratched into it, and held the heavy steel bayonet. Nelson, a soldier in the 82nd Airborne Division, 508 Regiment, D Company, had parachuted into a field behind Andre’s parents’ home, very close to the German border. The bayonet was lost and found later when Andre’s father and his neighbors scoured the surrounding fields for weapons, grenades, whatever they could find.

Andre had to hunt through a cemetery of white crosses, then military records and the Internet until he found Nelson, “the right Bryant.” Andre called him up on the telephone to tell of his discovery and his intention to deliver it in person. He made quite a production of handing it over to Nelson in the sack that Riet had made for it, fabric patterned with blue and white Delft tiles. She had made an apron for Ruth from the same fabric. They also brought some pieces of parachute fabric, maybe from the very one Nelson had worn.

It was a lovely weekend, and both couples enjoyed each other’s company. Ruth took Andre and Riet on “the Island tour.” They left Monday morning. Nelson is pleased that the bayonet now lives outside, hooked on his garden fence with a shiny piece of copper wire, a tool for digging in the garden, a use more productive and peaceful than its intended one.

By the time I saw Ruth and Nelson, they had already welcomed another guest, Mary Lou Mettler, a friend of Ruth’s from Zurich, Switzerland. Meanwhile, Tony Rezendes had stopped in, and Linda Doane with her second former husband, Neville. Linda and Neville had come to the Island for a Doane family reunion. Then Robbie Morgan appeared with his wife, Elizabeth, and their daughter, Hazel. A busy day. Nelson was putting a pot of steamers on the stove for dinner as I left. Outside, there was a sliver of a moon.

In my car, I have been listening to an audio book, “Great Expectations,” by Charles Dickens, one of my favorite books. I read it in school years ago, and have reread it several times over the many years since. But I had never listened to it. The reader is Simon Vance, with the deliciously plummy British voice Dickens must have heard in his head as he wrote. I had forgotten how well he told a story in his beautifully written and descriptive prose. This is a recommendation for audio books. Don’t plan on hearing “Great Expectations” anytime soon, though. It has 15 discs, so I expect it will take me awhile to listen to the entire novel before I return it to the library.

A correction to last week’s column: Iyla Bohan’s name was incorrectly spelled Lyla. Oops.