Islander's Blog

Goodman’s Gam

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March is not Hate Month. There is one thing concerning this month, however, that I do hate. No one expects February to be warm, sunny or pleasant. March begins the same way as February, but at some point, we receive a beautiful sunny, somewhat warm day(s). This occurrence leads many (including myself) to fantasize that winter has left and spring is at our doorstep. We enjoyed a couple of spring-like days last week, only to gaze out on snow falling at noon on Monday. Fooled again. Our weather will soon be better. May sounds about right.

Whenever I see the name Nantucket in off-island news, the news is almost always bad. If it isn’t a sensational murder, then someone is verbally dumping on this eroding sandbar, most often telling the world how expensive and snotty we are. Live here and you know how untrue this is.

This is akin to saying that Tucson is known for mass murders because they had a single incident. In four decades I’ve lived here, there have been four homicides. I don’t believe the most paranoid islander walks around worrying about falling victim to a homicidal maniac. Nantucket has always had crime and always will. Even with the lurid headlines last week, we live in a place as safe as there is.

Are there hordes of very well-to-do people living here? Not really. Most rich homeowners are actually vacationers here. If you count people who live here through the entire year, most live modestly. Year-rounders have to work in order to have a roof over their heads. Nantucket is not inexpensive. Now, for what keeps us from falling apart . . .

Our community is what makes this island special. When I look around and see the cohesiveness among us, that’s the big benefit of living here. We have to pull together for several reasons, the least of which is living side by side with one another. It’s just as easy to make friends as enemies in a small town.

There’s an old saying, “Familiarity breeds contempt.” We see that, though more often, people here help each other out, even when they may not like the other person. I know this better than most, having had several years of medical problems. The support I received was far beyond what anyone, particularly me, was deserving of. You can’t put a price on that. Nantucket is a unique place, with its beaches, moors and wildlife, but it’s the inhabitants that make us a superior community.

Perhaps I hadn’t noticed this until now, or it was recently erected, but the sign over the front door of the Fairgrounds Road town offices is strange-looking. Not that it isn’t recognizable. The colors and lettering are the same as many town and county signs. The problem is that the logo and lettering are squeezed, making the sign somehow appear pregnant, or (if you read “Superman” comics) bizarre.

I’m never surprised to see what money will do to some people’s principals. Take the Hy-Line. When Cape Wind made application to install a wind farm in Nantucket Sound, one of the most vocal opponents was Hy-Line vice-president David Scudder. Mr. Scudder has changed his mind and now has plans to run ferries out to the site for eco-tourists to look at a forest of industrial towers. I have to wonder whether the image of tourist dollars flowing into Hy-Line coffers has made him change his mind about wind turbines.

Here’s a quote from Scudder dating back to the first hearings on the wind farm: “We have consistently and adamantly been opposed to the project at its present location since its inception because of our concern about public safety caused by potential radar interference, the proximity of the project to ferry routes, and the compression of traffic,” he said at the time. Now they say these concerns have been addressed. Huh?

Scudder and his brothers at Hy-Line say they’re looking into using hybrid technology for their eco-tourism ferries. That’s a nice thought, if they do so. Will the Hy-Line’s day-tripper, tourist ferries continue to use diesel fuel, or will they be hybrids? This is not about ecology. It’s about the Scudders’ – and the Hy-Line’s – bottom line.
David Goodman’s “Goodman’s Gam” appears regularly in this space and periodically in The Inquirer and Mirror.

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