West Tisbury: A little Scott’s Grove history


After complaining for most of the summer about the lack of rain, it seems appropriate to begin this week’s column by stating my gratitude for a mostly rainy week. More is predicted for this week. My garden looks replenished and green, the shrubs and trees revived.

It was a nice rain, too. Not pounding or spattering off the ground, but a soft, soaking-in rain. A good rainy day rain for inside projects or just reading a book. It left some good puddles, though, for Iyla and me to jump in in our high boots.

I was so sad to learn that Mike Achille died on Sept. 26. So soon after Karen died. My condolences to the Achille family.

And to Cathy Minkiewicz, who lost her husband Mike. My condolences to you, your children, and your adored grandchildren, “the mini-Minx,” as you called them.

West Tisbury’s newest affordable apartments, nine units called Scott’s Grove, held an official ribbon-cutting ceremony last Thursday afternoon. Mike Colaneri gave a bit of history about the property, formerly owned by Susan W. Scott and donated to the town when she died in 1951. It was particularly interesting to me, as Mike’s aunt and uncle, Janice and Dan Hull, bought Susie Scott’s house from the town.

They lived there for many years, and that house has always been a special place for me, a wonderful old Cape that had been mostly left alone and unchanged from pre-building code days. It had the skinniest staircase, with the narrowest steps that led up to a hallway where you had to go immediately to your right or left to avoid walking straight into the chimney. I think you might have had to duck, too; there was a low beam across the upstairs hall. Those bedrooms were tiny, just big enough for a twin bed. Mike lived in one of them before we were married, and I always wondered how my big, manly husband navigated those stairs and fit into such a tiny bedroom. He certainly couldn’t stand up straight.

Downstairs was a dining room where Janice reigned at Thanksgiving dinners and any other time we were eating at her table. It had once been two tiny rooms, the dining room and a bunk room where Mike and his siblings and cousins piled in during summer visits with Dan and Janice. Mike took out that wall to make a bigger dining room with an expertly designed joasticator, a funny word the family used to describe a cabinet built into a room where nothing was square. It took a clever carpenter to make it look right and to have the shelves be level. He built Janice’s stereo into it, too. She usually sat there reading the paper and listening to music. The conversation began as soon as somebody arrived.

For years after Mike and I moved into our house, we would find old bottles and rusty cans when digging in our woods. They must have been Susie Scott’s garbage holes. A nice reminder of a time past.

A celebration of the life of Barbara Rivers will be held on Saturday, Oct. 6, at the First Congregational Church of West Tisbury. The service starts at 11 am, with a luncheon and shared memories to follow.

Valerie Sonnenthal, who writes the Chilmark column, sent me an email and photograph of Jack Ryan being surprised by unexpected visitors at the West Tisbury Post Office last Thursday. His sister, Holly Foote, and her daughters, Julia and Hayley, appeared at the counter with Marie-France Davoust and her sister, Elizabeth, who were visiting from Paris. Holly and Marie-France had met years ago when Holly was living in France. Marie-France is an artist and part of her time here was spent painting Martha’s Vineyard scenes. They also checked out every yard sale with Jack’s wife, Lauren.

Besides being our postman, Jack is an accomplished artist. He is currently having a show at the Vineyard Haven library through Oct. 18. Jack’s work is pen and ink, meticulous drawings of New York City sights. His technique always reminds me of the drawings of Georges Seurat, where there were no lines at all, where light and shadow emerged from patterns of thin or thick dots on paper. Jack grew up in New York. He continues to render its architectural history with drama and splendor.

Heather Sommers invited some friends to her studio on Sunday afternoon to see her latest series of sculptures and graphic prints made from them. They are political, based on events in the news since the beginning of the Trump presidency. They are powerful, funny, satirical, and they are also fine art. Her clay sculptures are beautifully modeled with textural, tactile surfaces. Some have drawing or objects added in or on.

Heather tends to work in series. The series before this was several years of mixed-media pieces all within frames, a combination of sculptural containment and painted or sculpted (or both) friezes to hang on the wall. They are the subjects of her show, “Re-Framed,” at the West Tisbury library, which will be on view through the month of October. There will be a reception for the artist this Saturday, Oct. 6, from 3:30 to 5 pm.

Other events at the library this week:

Saturday, 10:30 am to noon, the seventh annual Lynne Whiting and Carol Brush Fairy and Troll House Building Day. All are welcome. Participants are asked to bring building materials to share. Possibilities include bark, shells, seed pods, feathers, twigs, rocks, fur, moss, lichens, small pieces of driftwood, anything else that sparks your creativity. The rain date is Thanksgiving weekend.

The library will be closed on Monday, Oct. 8, for Columbus Day.

Tuesday, Oct. 9, 10:30 am, Adult Community Dance Class with the Yard. Noon to 1:30 pm, Monthly Wellness Clinic with nurse Lila Fischer. At 4:30 pm, a workshop about loans, grants, and scholarships to finance post–high school education with financial aid expert Nancy Sinsabaugh.

Wednesday, Oct. 10, 4:30 pm, Bruce MacNelly will continue his architecture series, and author Mary Lou Piland will talk about her new book, “For the Love of Spumoni.”

Town clerk Tara Whiting wants voters to know that absentee ballots are now available at her office between 8:30 am and 4:30 pm. Early voting will begin on Oct. 22, through Nov. 1, also at Tara’s office in Town Hall. Hours for early voting will be 8:30 am to 2 pm. The last day to register to vote before the Nov. 6 election is Oct. 17. The town clerk’s office will stay open till 8 pm that evening. You may also register to vote online: sec.state.ma.us/ovr. Call Tara with any questions, at 508-696-0148.

Lynne Christoffers and I had a catch-up visit last week. The increasing flocks of wild turkeys were among the hot neighborhood topics. We have had lots of babies following their moms all summer, and I think they have kept the ticks down in our yard, as well as providing entertainment for our cats. They are like Cat TV for Nelson and Mona. For Lynne’s cat and Cynthia Riggs’ cat, as well.

They have guinea hens, too, down there at the Cleaveland House. After their wild flock died off, Cynthia sent away for guinea hen chicks. They are now teenagers, as Lynne described them, all doing just fine outside patrolling the property. Lynne thought they had fewer ticks this year, too. Glad they are doing their job.