When we heard that former President Barack Obama had been spotted on the Island at an Oak Bluffs restaurant, our initial reaction was a shoulder shrug.
We expected the Obama family to return to Martha’s Vineyard this summer. After all, they spent all but one year of his presidency vacationing on the Vineyard, and came back in the first year after his second term ended.
So it wasn’t a question of if. It was a question of when.
And there is always speculation, it seems, that the former first family is searching for a place of their own on the Island.
So we have a question: Is it still news?
The answer was obvious last year. Obama left office in January, giving way to the new administration of Donald Trump. And so, yes, everyone was wondering whether the 44th president of the United States would return to Martha’s Vineyard to vacation.
And, sure enough, he did. He enjoyed time golfing and going to some of his favorite restaurants, and even came back after moving his daughter, Malia, into college at Harvard.
People on the Island still seem enthused by Obama’s decision to return to the Vineyard. We heard about his visit to the Cardboard Box, Ben DeForest’s new restaurant on Circuit Avenue, as it was happening. We also spotted a sign in a car window in Oak Bluffs Tuesday morning that read, “Obamas you are missed!”
Our post about his return generated more than a dozen comments, pretty much split along partisan lines. And on our Facebook page, a link to our story there had generated nearly 200 comments by the end of the day Tuesday — less than 24 hours after it had been posted.
Most of those comments were positive, like Tammy O’Connell’s: “Maybe this year we get a photo.”
Of course, there were those who took the opportunity to make a snarky jab. “Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water!!!” wrote Allouise Waller Morgan.
But we still wonder: When does Obama become just another celebrity visiting the Island? We give Seth Meyers his space at the Chilmark General Store, and it’s taken all of our inner strength not to approach Meg Ryan on Main Street in Vineyard Haven. (Big fans, Meg.) More than once we’ve had to curb our enthusiasm with Larry David nearby. For Spike Lee we’ve had to do the right thing, as well.
That’s what Vineyarders do.
It’s not as if Obama is coming here and giving a speech at the Hebrew Center, the Chilmark Community Center, or the Old Whaling Church. We’re pretty certain he’d have no trouble packing them in at the MVRHS Performing Arts Center. But he’s never been one to venture away from his vacation to provide that kind of forum on the Island. (And that’s too bad.)
So we’d love to hear from you. Is it still news that the onetime commander in chief comes to Martha’s Vineyard for a little rest and relaxation, or should we start giving him the usual Vineyard celeb treatment?
Let us know what you think at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Can we talk AC?
The past few days have been a tough stretch of weather on Martha’s Vineyard and beyond. The dog days of summer are here, and they’ve hit with scorching heat and humidity. We’re fortunate to have plenty of beaches to cool off on, but the lack of air conditioning in some of our venues — places that we charge significant rents for and in some cases admission to — has been in full view.
There are some public boards that should consider the implications of holding meetings in a meeting space that’s not climate-controlled. Public meetings are supposed to be accessible to all, but when they’re held in places like Katharine Cornell Theater on a hot and humid day, it’s likely to keep some of the public who might want to show up for a selectmen’s meeting away. Not to mention that the meetings themselves become difficult to follow because every available window is open, and the ambient noise — cars driving by, birds chirping, and lawnmowers buzzing — drowns out the people speaking inside. Microphones would help, but so would using one of the meeting rooms in town that is temperature-controlled. In the case of Tisbury, the town has a brand-new emergency services building with a spacious and comfortable meeting room.
While we’re at it, we know they’re controlled by private entities, but places like the Grange Hall in West Tisbury and the Old Whaling Church in Edgartown, which are rented out by the Martha’s Vineyard Preservation Trust and are such an integral part of the rich cultural life of the Island, should make some accommodations for this weather. Technology is certainly available to cool off some of these venues without jeopardizing their historic charm. With the aging population on Martha’s Vineyard, and climate change bringing hotter summers that are not likely to go away, the lack of AC is a significant and potentially unhealthy issue.