Oak Bluffs: What more could you want?

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This past weekend was one of sunshine, wind, some warm days, and of course days when the cold penetrated your clothing to remind you that after all it is winter. In other words, typical New England weather. Homemade soup, a fire and an overcast afternoon resulted in a cozy, lazy scene in my house with one cat curled up in a chair on the afghan I had planned on using and one rapidly growing chocolate lab stretched out the length of the coach with lanky legs hanging over every edge looking more like a colt than a dog while I was allowed to relax in the recliner after finding another afghan for comfort to replace the one the cat commandeered. What more could you want. Unless it is snow for some which is now predicted for Tuesday and Wednesday of this week.

February is Black History Month, and equality for all is still a work in progress. When growing up in the ’50s on the Island, we were sheltered from the more obvious signs of prejudice and anti-Semitism. Perhaps we were oblivious to what was going on in other areas of the country, but our eyes were somewhat opened when we went on the annual senior class trip to Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., in 1953. A few days before we were to embark on the trip, our principal called a meeting of the class to tell us that the hotel in Washington that the classes always stayed in would not permit people of color to stay there. There was one student in our class that was Wampanoag who probably would have been considered black. After the initial shock had worn off, we were given two choices. We could stay at a different hotel in a less desirable section of Washington, or the student would not be able to go on the trip. Without hesitation the class voted for a different hotel. But that was only the beginning of our introduction to prejudice. When we arrived in Washington, we become aware of signs designating separate areas for seating for whites and people of color, and the much-looked-forward-to visit to a park was completely forgotten as no blacks were permitted. Stunned by these revelations, we returned to our hotel, only to be told that we would be leaving three days early to return to Philadelphia, as conditions at the hotel had become unbearable with rowdiness, and near criminal activity. Our smug belief that that world was fair and perfect viewed from our sheltered Island home, soon rapidly disappeared. I have continued to learn, especially in these past few years, about the hard battles so many faced in obtaining justice in their lives. Silence indicates consent, so speak up and step up for justice and equality for all.

We send condolences to the family and many friends of Ruthie Metell, who died last weekend. She was one of the first friends I met in 1955 when I moved to Oak Bluffs after my marriage. I don’t think Ruth ever met a person who didn’t become her friend. A hard worker, volunteer for many causes, funny and caring, she will be missed by so many. And we will never forget her and Freddie dancing every time the music played, to the great enjoyment of everyone.

Tech help, Tai Chi, Bilingual Storytime, and coffee hour are only a few of the events offered by our Oak Bluffs library. Log on to the Oak Bluffs library website for times and more information about these and many other programs.

Please send your news along to me at meganislandmegan@comcast.net or calling. Remember, deadline is by Monday noon on the week of publication.

The annual Food Pantry Drive of the second grade at the Oak Bluffs School runs through Friday of this week. The students have always delivered large of amounts of nonperishable food at this neediest time of year for the pantry. Please consider dropping off donations to the school office through the remainder of the week for this worthy cause. Arian Wise of our local pantry is also requesting donations, as supplies are dwindling and the requests from Islanders from all towns who are in need of food are increasing. The past two years our local pantry has been able to purchase and receive food from the Greater Boston Food Bank. This allows them to distribute a greater variety of food and some costly essentials like diapers, toilet tissue, soap, and shampoo. The pantry is also in need of monetary contributions, as well as donations of groceries. When shopping, please put any nonperishable food items you wish to give into the purple donation boxes you see in the stores. Volunteers are always needed to help stack, sort, and distribute the food. You may go to their website, islandfoodpantry.org, to see what they do and make a donation.

It may be the slowest part of winter, but there is more happening at our Oak Bluffs School than “readin, writin, and rithmetic,” as they say. Besides the second grade Food Bank drive, eighth graders are making final plans for their annual trip to Philadelphia. Parents can view more information regarding forms and requirements at the Oak Bluffs School website.The PTO Winter Fundraiser was a resounding success, with $17,000 being raised for the Oak Bluffs PTO operating budget and more, which will enable the PTO to continue to do its good work at our school. Thanks go out to all the friends, families, kids, business owners, donors, volunteers, and those whose support made this possible.

The school will be closed on President’s Day, Feb. 18, and the winter vacation is the week of Feb. 25 through March 2.

We send birthday smiles to Eric deBettencourt, Michael deBettencourt, and Lorraine Mavro on Feb. 15, Carol deBettencourt, Kathy Farrissey, and Fr. Michael Nagle on Feb. 16, Carrie Tankard and Joel Rebello on the 18th, and Brenda Lehman on the 21st.

Enjoy your week and remember your valentine today, Feb. 14. Peace.