Islander's Blog

Archive for March, 2010

Goodman’s Gam

Friday, March 26th, 2010

I apologize for not being here last week. My computer had some minor problems and went in the shop. Then, a two day off island appointment combined to make a timely column unlikely. Not only did I miss my weekly fix, there were several readers who were worried I might be ill. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Most of you who know me are aware I’m not a joiner of committees and boards. I made an exception a couple of months back. Shelling out the minimal sum of $20, I became a member of the Nantucket Town Association. You ask why? They’re involved in a couple of important items that I feel are crucial to where we’re heading in the future.

First up is the Wilkes Square idea(s). The NTA is leaning toward a possible non commercial development project of approximately half of the properties. A park, with a civic bent is one idea. Having involvement with the arts is another part of a park area. I’d love to see trees, benches, a bandstand and other people (aka family) oriented activities in this downtown parcel of Nantucket.

The second NTA item that caught my eye was an eyesore that could be turned into a showcase for visitors arriving on island. The Broad Street/Easy Street area is the first sight people spy when disembarking from Steamship Authority vessels. Today, it’s flat out ugly and beat.

A member of the NTA has spent an enormous amount of time and effort drawing up landscapes of what could be a wonderful showcase for all of us. Small green spaces mean so much for us when spread among the asphalt and cement (even brick) infrastructure we live with day to day.

Much of the ideas brought forth in this transformation of the entry point to Nantucket have been vetted with the SSA, and other interested groups. I think most of us are appalled by the appearance of the strip across from the “Strip.” This needs to be more than okay. It could be, with our help.
There are 24 local associations and groups in the Civic League, and the Nantucket Town Association is but one of two dozen. There’s a vast difference in this case. No matter where we live, town is a part of our lives. We have a vested interest in the downtown looking and feeling beautiful.

If you live within a mile and a half of the Pacific National Bank, then you’re within the NTA domain. Towns with green areas attract more visitors and in turn help downtown businesses bottom lines. In turn, we all benefit from having a more attractive place to spend time and relax with our neighbors and friends.

Right after my last column, I noticed the first daffodils blooming (bedraggled though they might be) in the circle at the Rotary. The rain was falling, it was cold and windy, but the sight was uplifting. I thought it was about time for spring, knowing that despite some nice days, we had a ways to go. This past weekend was outstanding, to say the least.

When my computer came back from the shop, there were several hundred emails on it. Other than the same old scams, there’s a new one. Flood insurance is bigger than Nigerians trying to give away millions of dollars. Isn’t it amazing how quickly sleaze balls tumble to the next lowest device to try and steal our money?

Also, there were three emails from people who wanted to be the first to relay the news they’d heard the first spring peepers. The lovely Gail Ellis beat all with her report, having been in Coffin Park and hearing the tiny frogs on March 16th. Following that was Elaine Flynn on the 17th and Jim Gross on the 18th. Thank you, all!

I hear the natives are getting restless at the Westmoor Club. There’s trouble brewing out on Cliff Road. Get ready, there’s more to come in the next week or two.

I relish any comments from readers. My email address is , write me at Box 1263, Nantucket, MA. 02554, or phone 508-228-4325. I don’t mind the occasional insult; though please make it a good one. I hate to be bored.

Waterfront News

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

Spring has arrived at the waterfront. (Click Here for Photos), I have never seen a March as nice as this one. March is typically our worst month weather-wise here on Nantucket. We have enjoyed at least five days in a row of beautiful warm weather. Very, very unusual. The waterfront is still quiet but there are signs of life. The flowers are blooming and people are starting to stir. The charter-boat guys are thinking of splashing their boats soon in anticipation of their upcoming season. I noticed the Nordic tug Blue Yonder was out cruising around today. Her owners Pete and Anna, are taking a trip. They’re going on the America’s Great Route. Click here for the Blue Yonder website.

Commercial Scallop Season ends soon. There is chatter around the docks that it may be extended a week or so as there are still a lot of scallops out at the west end to be harvested. Click here for photos.
– Martie Mack writes the Nantucket Waterfront News blog

Goodman’s Gam

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

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On Saturday evening, the Nantucket Historical Association hit a home run. Their first (and hopefully annual) Nantucket History Quiz Bowl took place at the Whaling Museum. I had seen a notice for the event, though wasn’t planning to attend until I ran into John Manning while having lunch at the airport.

When he walked in, it made my day. Having not seen him since he’d left for Marstons Mills, I had almost forgotten him. I asked him, why the visit, assuming he might be visiting family and he said he was participating in the history quiz. I kept thinking it might be interesting to watch some old-timers show off their island knowledge.

Arriving at the Whaling Museum, it was readily apparent that almost 300 people had decided to spend a couple of hours trying to answer questions being asked the teams. I hoped to be able to get a few of them right and learn much in the process.

The moderator (who was perfect for the job), was Nat Philbrick. Besides having the right credentials, he was funny and kept the show moving along at a good pace. A number of the teams were comprised of well-versed people, though many of them missed questions that were obscure and few people might know.

In the end, a group of three young guys (comparatively) took home the stuffed whales. Steve Sheppard, James Grieder and Harvey Young had the right stuff and blew away their competition.
The audience was on the north side of 60 for the most part, but it was entertaining and enlightening for any age. Next time, as wonderful a location as the Whaling Museum is, a larger venue would be nice. And, selling tickets or asking for donations would mean additional income for the NHA.

After what seemed like months without sunshine, this past weekend, plus the next few days were just what we needed. Blue skies, with warm temps and not too much breeze made it feel as if spring was almost here. I noticed that downtown streets had few vehicles parked, while most people headed for open areas and made the most of the fine day.

Sunday was another beauty, with even more sun and less wind. Driving out along Polpis Road, I observed happy people walking, biking, horseback riding and a brace of motorcyclists. At one point, I almost rear-ended a sightseer, who’d stopped in the middle of the road, to look at something. The next time, I hope he’ll do it on a straightaway, not a tight curve.

On Saturday I worked in the morning and while in the neighborhood of the airport stopped in at the Habitat for Humanity home that’s being built. As I mentioned earlier, most folks were enjoying the day and the new house was practically devoid of helpers. It takes very little to help finish off this house and some extra bodies would be nice. To volunteer, call Craig Spery at (508) 228-7892, or e-mail him at .

Don’t forget to set your clocks ahead by an hour, before you retire for the evening Saturday. Daylight Saving Time begins and we’re heading towards ever longer daylight hours. I’m ready!

Tomorrow, ACK Bosom Buddies is having a bake sale at Nantucket Cottage Hospital, in the living room, from 9:30 until 11:30 a.m. It’s your chance to load up on sweet home-baked confections. There will be coffee and tea available. We all know someone who has been affected by breast cancer. Here’s a way to contribute to the cause and grow out your belt line at the same time.

Last, but not least, Nantucket High School is presenting “The Pajama Game.” The director of the show is the talented Laura Gallagher Byrne. On Friday and Saturday, March 19 and 20, the shows are at 7 p.m., and Sunday the 21st it will have a 2 pm. matinee. The students always do a terrific job, so this is well worth attending. Tickets are available at the door.
“Goodman’s Gam” appears weekly in this space and regularly in The Inquirer and Mirror.

Goodman’s Gam

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

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I’ve already heard people mentioning that we’ve now entered “Hate Month.” Nothing could be further from the truth. I hold that August is truly a time for enmity on Nantucket. Give me a hot day, with a traffic jam on Main Street, Steamboat Wharf, the Rotary/Roundabout, or the Stop & Shop parking lot and you will observe some barely (though not always) repressed, loathing of others.

March is a time for closing ranks, not opening up wounds with neighbors. At present, there are only a couple of months left to us, before seasonal people begin to appear on-island. I appreciate the influx in many ways, though there are limitations to every situation. Traffic and bodies are two of these.
Speaking of traffic and hate, right now is when drivers are at their most charitable to one another. People tend to yield the right of way to other motorists, rather than seeing if they can finesse it, by sneaking out in front of an oncoming vehicle. That’s for warmer weather. Right now that seems further away than it really is. It won’t be long until you’ll look around and ask where did winter disappear to?

For the time being, most of us will be dealing with dirt roads in one fashion or another. Whether you live on a muddy track, visit friends living there, or in other cases, work along one, it’s something to bear up to. Between snow, rain and the in-between stuff, precipitation has wreaked havoc on these narrow thoroughfares.

Having little else to occupy my mind while slowly slogging down the ruts, my mind tends to wander (as it usually does). Most drivers have their own theory as to the most efficacious way to traverse the bumps and puddles. I try to wend my way in a snakelike fashion, trying to avoid the worst changes in altitude between miniature hills and valleys.

There are those people who try to split the difference between ups and downs. When I see tracks that came before me appearing to go through the middle path, I mentally shake my head at that notion. Just to be sure, every now and again, I’ll follow suit. It doesn’t take more than a few yards of that before I return to my tried and true. Is my way better? Probably not, but it is my way.

The worst practice I’ve seen (and experienced) are drivers, foot hard on the gas, practicing their mogul skills in a mud-slick, dirty-water ballet. Not only is this uncomfortable on the seat, but it mostly puts money in repair-shop tills as mufflers and shocks are quickly beaten into submission. It’s a faster and rougher way to get to one’s destination. Saving 30 seconds can’t be that important, unless you’re driving an ambulance.

Since driving and roads are on my mind, I’d like to thank the DPW crew that trimmed along the sides of Hummock Pond Road a couple of weeks back. For now, the chopped look on the brush they cut back is raw. In a couple of months when vegetation starts turning green, it’ll be less noticeable. The important point is drivers having a better and longer view of oncoming and merging traffic. For a while, overhanging brush was almost on top of traffic.

I was pleased to hear that the Finance Committee voted in lock step to ask the Board of Selectmen to fund the town’s Human Services Department for another year. The BOS idea to outsource this to a private contractor might be a terrific idea. I don’t know and evidently there are many more folks who feel the same way. For a possible savings of $30,000, we need to be sure, beyond a doubt, that people in need don’t end up suffering for a decision that feels thrust upon us.

At the BOS meeting Wednesday night, the board made a Solomon-like decision, splitting the difference and approving the Human Services Department funding for six additional months. At least there is now sufficient time to sort out this whole situation more rationally. People spoke up and the BOS listened. Well done, everybody!

The Red Sox played an exhibition game against the Boston College squad last night. The Eagles were outgunned 15-0, though some errors on their part might have kept the tally a bit closer. For me, it got my juices flowing. I’m ready for some more baseball!
– Goodman’s Gam appears weekly in this space and regularly in The Inquirer and Mirror