Islander's Blog

Archive for June, 2010

Goodman’s Gam

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

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Do you remember when the four-way stop signs were first erected on Old South Road? On several occasions, people uprooted or vandalized the signs. Last week, as I was writing this “electronic gam,” the Board of Selectmen was voting the signs out of existence. I felt foolish the next morning, when reading of the BOS meeting.

Early this week, new signs are up on the road. They’re informing drivers that the signs are coming down at the end of this month. I’ll bet these signs won’t be defaced by unhappy drivers. Two people have called me, rejoicing at the upcoming removal. See, the BOS is capable of doing great things.

Now, how about dismantling the Surfside Road signs?

Having congratulated the members on their governing abilities in one case, we have to look at a bad call. It seems that when you’re appointed to a town committee, you’d better not rock the boat. At least, don’t disturb the ship of government’s vessel. Getting reappointed is unlikely in that case. One would hope that being good at the job, might count for something. David Gray knows that tune. Two BOS members did the right thing (I&M story here).

Judging from the numbers of riders waiting at bus stops along NRTA bus routes, business must be booming. Considering the already knotted-up traffic we’re seeing, the bus looks like a great way to get to and from town. The only time I drive downtown, from now until Labor Day, is on beach days, in the afternoon. Grocery shopping is after 6 in the afternoon if possible. Any other time makes me crazy (well more than usual).

On my way to the airport the other day, I spied two moms and a gaggle of their young kids, who had set up a lemonade stand. They were at the park with statues at the corner, as you turn off Old South Road. As I passed by, the kids were yelling at cars, hoping for takers. I had lunch and on the way back to work, stopped to quaff a glass of store-bought mix.

I brought a dollar bill, hoping inflation hadn’t put a cup out of my meager means. One of the moms told me, no price, just a donation. They had cookies and brownies, but I stuck to the drink. The children were very cute and fought over who got to pour my cup. It wasn’t the best lemonade I’ve ever had, though the experience made my day.

I was pleased to see that the town had stripes painted on many island roads recently. Bartlett Road hadn’t had lines (that I recall) before this. Given the way some drivers use the right side, plus some of the center, this was a long time coming. There’s no question that it’s all right to swerve over the center line to pass bicycles, regardless of oncoming traffic. I know that’s true, because everyone does it.

On another front, parking spaces have been delineated on some town streets. I parked in one, in front of the Town Building, last weekend. Coming back to the car, the driver behind me was over the line by better than a foot, making my exit more difficult. Naturally, there was no one behind them. I’ve heard negative comments about the spaces, so we’ll see how little attention is paid to them.

Now for the other players in our parking situation: summer specials, or whatever name they’re going by this season. The new guys (I have yet to see any women), appear to be more professional than in recent years. My only knock on them is their uniforms. Well, they didn’t choose them, (the town fashion designer did) (I&M story here).

The Boston Celtics took the Lakers all the way to the last few minutes of game seven of the NBA finals, in Los Angeles. After game five, when Paul Pierce said, “All we have to do is win one,” I knew they were cooked. The one they had to win was game six. Still and all, no one thought they’d get beyond the first round. Small comfort, there.

Now, all you naysayers from a month back, how about those Red Sox? Oh, ye of little faith. There’s a long way to go until Labor Day, much less October. You know the old saying, “it ain’t over ‘til it’s over”, and we’re not even in the middle.

For those folks who want to reply to me in private, my telephone number is (508) 228-4325, the address is Box 1263, Nantucket, MA. 02554 and you may e-mail me at
– Goodman’s Gam appears weekly in this space.

Goodman’s Gam

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

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There were tons of people here over Memorial Day weekend. Then, the week afterward, things and numbers of people abated. No more than a week following the apparent fade, we are back at what feels and looks like larger crowds than we’ve seen so far this season, including the holiday weekend. I’d say things are shaping up for a decent summer season. Whatever happens this year has to be superior to 2009.

For a little over a week, most of my travels have been in the mid-island area. Judging from the traffic along Old South Road to the Stop & Shop, this is bound to be the worst place to travel, at least in the near future. I don’t include rainy days on our downtown streets. Nothing is as agonizing as heat, humidity and too many cars on narrow ways.

But, let’s return to the Old South route . . . I still believe that the four-way stop at Lovers Lane is the problem, which is bottlenecking traffic along that stretch. With vehicles having to stop and start at the octagonal signs, there’s a continual stream of cars and trucks. Then, this perfectly-spaced traffic makes it next to impossible for cars trying to turn on Old South Road. People try to help out by slowing, or stopping, which then further ties things up. (Editor’s Note: The Board of Selectmen voted Wednesday night to remove the offending Stop signs by July 1).

I have yet to drive this route without encountering long lines of traffic. Whether it’s early, late, or, in-between, the crunch is on. Direction I’ve traveled seems not to matter. You’re going to be moving slowly and employing the brake pedal continuously. My hopes are that this is the worst scenario I’ll be encountering in the upcoming two and a half months.

Driving into town last evening, shortly after 5, it was easy to find spaces to park on Main Street. I was surprised at how few people were on the sidewalks, and how many of them were locals. Should that take place a week from now, I’ll be shocked. The “I’ll see you in September” mode is almost in full swing. I do look forward to catching up with returnees coming back for the summer. I ran into my first on Tuesday night at dinner. Welcome back Jean!

Is anyone else wondering why a majority of the Board of Selectmen spent tax money on a study of our legal services and then decided to pass on (negate, in my mind) the report? Yeah, yeah, I know they sort of think that they’ll use the information for something.

What it is, no one seems sure of. Here’s my take. Town manager Libby Gibson isn’t going to have a final say on the situation. Once again, we’re seeing more BOS micro-managing matters that shouldn’t be their domain. I never expect changes at Broad and Federal streets. This is a case when I hate being correct.

I realize this next vignette is going to make me sound as if I’m becoming soft and cuddly. Perhaps it’s true, but I prefer to believe being observant has always been my strong suit.

Pulling up to Orange Street Extension by the Marine Lumber offices and appliances building the other morning, I spotted what looked like earth-colored lumps poking up from the lawn. My first reaction was that someone had been on horseback and the animal had dumped a load of manure on the lawn. Sorry, that’s what it appeared to be, to me.

Stopping short of the roadway, I had a better view. The five lumps turned out to be a mother duck and her ducklings, which gave me a much more pleasant story to relate to you. What struck me most was the sight of wild animals, within five yards of a busy street, sleeping soundly. It started my day in a most pleasant way.

Another pleasant sight has been the plethora of beautiful days we’re continuing to experience. Sure, there have been a few clinkers, but compared to most Junes this is far beyond the norm.

I’ve always likened the sprouting of Day-Glo orange tickets on windshields in the core district to that of springtime flowers. When these phenomena began, I’m not positive, though my suspicion is early this week. Seeing this municipal progress makes me quite pleased. The khaki uniforms the Summer Specials (or whatever their new title is) are wearing look better than their old duds.

Tonight, we’ll see if the Boston Celtics will pull themselves together, play as the team they’re capable of being, and bring home the NBA championship. Tuesday’s debacle was painful to watch.
– Goodman’s Gam appears weekly in this space.

Goodman’s Gam

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

I suppose we’re now ensconced in what’s known as the shoulder season. While it’s springtime by the calendar, summer is here, if one goes by the weather we’re enjoying each day. This is a difficult time of year for many of us. There’s work to be done, yet the beaches are calling us. Normally, this depressing syndrome doesn’t set in until after the Fourth of July.

This time of year, we have been watching flowers, trees and lawns, rapidly growing. Another item I’ve noticed sprouting, are yard sale signs. Most of these are posted illegally. Utility poles and public street and traffic signs are off-limits, though you’d never know it. Some of them have numerous sales signs affixed to them.

I wouldn’t mind them so much, if yard-sale folks would remove the signage after the sale is concluded. This practice is visual pollution, and because the paper signs eventually fall to the ground, it’s also littering. I realize this is going to sound like I’m a shill for the I&M, but how about sticking to classified ads for your next yard sale? There are local online sites that post ads, too.

If you’re like most of us, scenes being broadcast on television news of the explosion and subsequent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico have to make a chill run down your spine. This disaster will affect all of us. We may not have drilling platforms off our coast, but I can’t help thinking about the possibility of an oil tanker breaking up (again) in our waters.

I’ve seen videos of what the gulf spill would look like, should it happen here. Then there’s the fact, that in some fashion, some of this spill will creep up the Eastern Seaboard and come ashore on Nantucket. Let’s hope there’s an end to the flow, before it fouls up the entire East Coast. It appears that the Gulf is going to be in critical condition for many years to come.

One of the first people I met upon moving to the island was Tony Viera. A few years later, in the mid 1970s, I lived in a house next door to him on Cato Lane. At the time, his yard was what I like to call casual Nantucket style (apologies to Leslie Linsley). In other words, his grounds held some collectibles found at yard sales, the dump, maybe a boat, lobster pots and the obligatory clam/push rake with a wire basket.

Until making a delivery a few weeks back, I hadn’t had any occasion to drive down Cato Lane for at least 20 years. When I came upon Tony’s collection of second-hand goods, the amount he had amassed was considerable. For a moment the enormity surprised me, but then I realized, nothing Tony (ever) did was conducted on a small scale.

Other than the vote about deer hunting at Town Meeting, this spring, I haven’t heard much talk about ticks. While visiting a work site last week, I found the tiny pests are still with us and at least where I was walking, they’re doing all too well.

In less than twenty yards, I picked up four of the little buggers. Three were dog ticks, which led me to inspect my legs more closely. I then found a single deer tick. Had I not been wearing shorts, it’s likely they would have had time to reach other areas undetected.

Not having found a tick on myself for several years, I’d become careless, thinking a back yard was safe ground. Once again, I’ll have to remember ticks are everywhere. Nantucket may be mostly sand and scrub, but we have to have the hardiest and most prolific populations of poison ivy and ticks.
Isn’t there some kind of industry that could be fashioned from the two? Perhaps we could manufacture terrariums, replete with ticks crawling over the noxious vines. Come up with the right name (gotta have Nantucket in it) and they’d fly off the shelves come summertime. The rest of the year, there’s always mail order and FedEx.

Town clerk Catherine Flanagan Stover let me know that there is still time to be counted in the 2010 Federal Census. If an enumerator hasn’t caught up with you, call her at (508) 228-7217 with your name and address. Every uncounted resident is a possible loss of $1,100 to the town. This is particularly important in the case of natural disasters and the amount of aid we’d receive.

The Boston Celtics fell behind the Los Angeles Lakers by a score of two games to one in the NBA finals. Having home-court advantage is no longer theirs, and to win the championship, they’ll have to pull it off on the left coast. They desperately need to win the next two at the Garden. Boston Red Sox pitching is beginning to rise to the standards we were expecting prior to the season. The fielding is clicking as well, and their batting average(s) have been robust. Happiness is a winning team. Be well.
– Goodman’s Gam appears weekly in this space.

Goodman’s Gam

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

We had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend. There were the usual crowds of returning seasonal residents along with a flood of people ready to spend three days partying. On Friday, I drove down Whale Street after visiting a couple of friends on Old South Wharf. Coming up to the Grand Union parking lot, a horde of baggage impaired visitors were exiting Straight Wharf.

A number of the younger members of this mass exodus from the mainland were carrying suitcases of beer (familiar red and white cans), or in some cases, Styrofoam coolers. Very large coolers. The gazebo at the Tavern was so packed; it would have made a sardine claustrophobic.

From everything I’ve heard, there were few problem partiers or parties over the weekend. I have to believe that a combination of Figawi warnings to the crews and police having a presence around town helped keep the lid on. A couple I know was carded at a downtown bar. They’re both over fifty-five years old. The week before, that wouldn’t have taken place.
I’d like to congratulate James Grieder for organizing a last minute Memorial Day March to honor our veterans. Whether or not you believe in some of our recent “wars,” the men and women who serve and have served us, deserve every bit of support we’re capable of. Thank you, James!
Another unique touch to the weekend was a bank robbery. I’d have said attempted, but the alleged thief got money from a teller. Evidently, her getaway was a bit more problematic. Walking into the post office next door, in order to blend in, was bright move, though from what I’ve read in the I&M, none of this larcenous behavior was well thought out.

Back in the early 1970s, some friends and I used to sit in The Sandpiper and shoot the breeze. For some reason (it may have been a movie we’d seen) we began fantasizing about digging a tunnel under the Pacific National Bank and grabbing the loot. We had fun thinking about it. Daydreaming about ridiculous schemes is best suited to bored 20-somethings, which we were. When I heard of the bank robbery, it brought back a long lost memory of foolish times.

Problems at the MSPCA didn’t surprise me. Over the years, there have been many good people who’ve worked there. Sadly, a few bad apples have spoiled the barrel. Since Gus Thornton’s passing as the head of the Massachusett’s MSPCA, things have rapidly declined. Gus was our veterinarian on Crooked Lane, back in the 1960s, and he had a special fondness for the island. Now, that’s long gone.

A former vet who almost brought the practice to its knees a little over a decade back, too many personnel changes to count, and animals lost for no good reason is the biggest knock most pet owners have with the facility. I remember a woman whose cat died from anesthesia during a dental cleaning, about 20 years ago. I realize these things happen. What was unforgivable was when they brought her frozen cat to her, wrapped in a black garbage bag. If you’re like I am, pets bring out more empathy (within me), than most humans do. Notice I said, most.

The passing of Ann Killen marked the end of another chapter from my early memories on Nantucket. When I first moved here, the only way for younger people to find rentals was word of mouth, or to go visit Ann Killen. Other real estate agents would immediately shine you on. Not Ann. She went to bat for us, and probably at a financial loss in many cases. I’ll miss her, though I’d have to stand in line behind the many others she took care of.

Now that the big weekend is past, many of the crowds have returned home. Our population has risen and will continue to do so until Independence Day weekend. By then we will have hit our peak and the season will be in full swing. Get ready, there’s a month until blastoff.

We are enjoying nearly perfect weather this spring and should it stay that way, this summer could help bring more visitors to vacation here. After the past couple of years, we could all stand a summer of warmth and sunlight.

You may easily e-mail me at I’m also available at (508) 228-4325, or post me a letter at Box 1263, Nantucket, MA O2554. Be well.
– Goodman’s Gam appears weekly in this space