Chilmark: History lessons

Menemsha moment in the rain. —Valerie Sonnenthal

It was brought to my attention that last week I failed to mention Alfred Hall of Edgartown, who is credited with saving the town at the time of the Great Depression, buying the Harbor View and many Main Street stores, and then renting them at what storekeepers could afford. Hall also organized the purchase and saving of the Greek Revival Dr. Daniel Fisher House (formerly the Roger S. Robinson house) in 1959. I appreciate being corrected, despite the discrepancy about purchasing property from an interview in the film “Barefoot at Beetlebung,” by Dave Modigliani, available from the Chilmark library. Hadassah Magazine’s August 2008 article mentions, “Families with Sefardic surnames, such as Ben David, Car­doza, and Pereira, also settled in Martha’s Vineyard around the turn of the 20th century. They were among the immigrants from the Azores and other Portuguese islands. But the first definitively identified Jew was Minsk-born Sam Cronig, who arrived as a teenager in 1905 and was taken under the wing of the Daggett family. In 1913, the Brickman family arrived from Lithuania, and went into the shoe business. Together with tailor Israel Issakson, these Yiddish-speaking families formed the core of the island’s Jewish community.” In the next paragraph, author Esther Hecht says, “Though Jews were not allowed to buy property in some areas, and though Jews and non-Jews rarely so­cialized, there were instances of mutual help.” What is different today is that neighbors and others, from varied backgrounds and religious beliefs, speak out and come out to support each other in times of tragedy. We are not alone.

While accompanying my husband to Paris Photo, I made it to a few other exhibits on my own. Atelier des Lumières, highly recommended by my cousin as well as fellow poet Arnie Reisman was an interesting art experience. After I wandered into a small gallery and furniture store, where the proprietor, a Visionary Realist painter, Liba Waring Stambollion, knew James Langlois, though they’ve never met in person. Even on the plane home I ran into Island jeweler Marie Vidal, whom I first met at the Chilmark Flea.

Don’t forget the special town meeting on Monday, Nov. 19, at 7:30 pm at the CCC. See the warrant here:

Chilmark Chocolates is open bonus days Tuesday and Wednesday, Nov. 20 and 21, closed on Thanksgiving, and open Friday through Sunday after the holiday.

If you would like to support this year’s Thanksgiving Family to Family Holiday Basket Program, you can mail a check to the Vineyard Committee on Hunger, P.O. Box 4685, VH 02568, or you can go to the VCOH page and give a donation through PayPal at

The Chilmark School advisory council, a collective of parents, teachers, principals, staff, and community representatives that meets monthly to support, enhance, and advise the school board on education matters, is looking for new members. For more information, please contact Susan Stevens, head of school, at 508-645-2562, ext. 102.

If you haven’t yet seen Liz Withim and Ken Wentworth’s “Keeper of the Light,” you can watch it the broadcast premiere on WGBH at 9 pm on Thursday, Nov. 15. There are six more broadcasts through Nov. 20, or purchase a DVD at

Pathways Arts at the Chilmark Tavern is hosting its first monthly Film Night Friday, Nov. 16, starting with the documentaries “The Memory of Fish” and “Trinidad’s Giant Turtles.” On Tuesdays, enjoy or read at Writing and Poetry Tuesdays. Check out Ann-Maria Stromberg’s “Blue Heron” series exhibit, up through Thursday, Nov. 29. Doors open at 6:30 pm and events begin at 7 pm, free.

On Friday, Nov. 16, at 6 pm farmers can hear Mia Halter of the USDA discuss the Farm Bill Equality Incentives Program. Soup, salad, and dessert provided. RSVP at 508-687-9062 or

Join Island naturalist and MV Times columnist Matt Pelikan for a discussion on how you can contribute to citizen science projects, and the way this radical new kind of science has altered how people understand the natural world around them at the Chilmark library on Wednesday, Nov. 14 at 5 pm. On Tuesday, Nov. 20 from 12:30 to 1 pm, public health nurse Lila Fischer and Medical Reserve Corps member Karen McPhail will give an overview what you need to know and do to be prepared for an emergency such as a hurricane or winter storm. Afterschool Crafts with Irene is on Wednesdays, from 3 to 4 pm, for K-5th graders. The Coffee Klatsch Knitting (bring your own supplies and projects) and Chess Meet-Up happens Thursdays from noon to 3 pm. Come enjoy free coffee — just be sure to bring your own mug — for a cozy, laid-back, and communal hang out up-Island. Stories with Rizwan continue Tuesday and Saturday at 10:30 am. Learn more at or 508-645-3360.

The Chilmark Community Church’s Pizza Nights continue free on Tuesdays from 6 to 7 pm. On Thursday mornings from 10 to 11:30 am, hear a free weekly musical jam session. The Chilmark Community Church will be offering an open-table meal at 1 pm on Thursday, Nov. 22, Thanksgiving Day. The Rev. Charlotte and Don Wright will be cooking. All who need a place to go that day or who may not have family nearby are welcome. Donations or a dish to share would be appreciated, but not necessary. For further information or a ride, call 508-645-3100.

Have a great week.