Islander's Blog

Changing Times

My early married years were marked by me getting out of bed and checking the doors and windows to make sure they were locked. Growing up we were taught the importance of a locked door, and when I had my own apartment it had three locks – the one that locked when the door shut, a dead-bolt, and one of those bars that ran between the floor and the door. When I moved to a little island, where nobody locked their doors, those instincts took a few years to wear off.

Then the day came when I was sitting in a van on a street in Manhattan, waiting to return about $70,000 worth of camera and lighting equipment to a rental house, after a long shoot day. After we unloaded the equipment, the cameraman looked in the van to see the keys hanging from the ignition. I had left the keys in the van, with expensive equipment, in downtown Manhattan. it was proof to him that I had lived on Nantucket for too long.

These days I lock my doors. A friend of mine who works in law enforcement has told me for the last few years that things have changed. I thought it was just that his job had skewered his point of view, the same way a doctor might begin to think everyone has some sort of disease. But these days I am inclined to take his advice. There are too many crimes on the front page of the island’s newspaper.

So we lock our doors. I tell myself that it is just good policy. The first six months or so that I lived in my very first apartment, I checked the closets every time I came home. I don’t know what I was looking for. Just making sure, I guess. Thirty years later I do not check the closets. But I lock the doors. We are getting used to doing it as a matter of everyday habit.

Nantucket is changing. Friends of mine who were born here, or who came here as young hippies many years go, or who summered here and still have the notion of this island as the summer haven of their youth, often complain that this place is getting to be just like any other place. That might be true, but it leaves out that there are some good things about other places. We are changing and some of it is good. Some of that change is something we should celebrate. And some it requires us to lock our doors. Like everyplace else.
– John Stanton is a documentary filmmaker and writer on Nantucket

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