The Block Island Times

In Case You Haven't Heard, January 7

By Fran Migliaccio | Jan 09, 2012

About town

“It was a dark and stormy night,” as Snoopy used to begin all his manuscripts, and indeed it is as the doglets and I sit here, writing. Who would have thought, after the warm, gentle weather we have been enjoying — and what will happen next who knows, for ’tis New England on the verge of a New Year, after all.

Our semiseptcentennial year is now over, and 350 Committee co-chair Connie La Rue and I would like to say a heartfelt thank you to all who made Block Island’s 350th Anniversary a rousing success. Founders, donors, sponsors, performers, speakers, facilitators, hosts, transporters — you all know who you are, and it could not have happened without each and every one of you! Thank you, thank you!

On the last weekend of 2011 and first of 2012, our island hosted many guests and revelers. Among them were Ed and Jan Sleight, and Greg and Callie Daniels, all members of the Block Island Boat Basin boating “family” who spend large parts of their summers here.

Longing for the comfort of some retrospective Christmas music this year, we ordered up old friends-from-childhood Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney, along with a Leroy Anderson CD, “Sleigh Ride & Other Holiday Favorites.” All were welcome sounds from the 1950s. As many may know, Leroy Anderson is the father of Jane Vercelli and grandfather of Anders and Lars Vercelli, of Corn Neck Road.

We also found, this year, that a Christmas Day culinary project of preparing a turkey dinner in anticipation of a visit from a few close friends was a splendid way to spend the day, and just the ticket for a happy Christmas.

If you’re lucky enough to encounter Herman Hassinger about town, as we were on a day when he was handing out little silver booklets, be sure to accept, and then enjoy delving into, “Reflections.” Written in 1997, when Herman had completed 40 years as principal of his own architectural firm, the work is a compendium of fine pictures and Hassinger’s reflections on architecture, art, construction, aviation and life. Fine, funny and “good-sensical” reading it is. The last sentence says, “Look for the next edition,” and we hope it’s coming.

How doing?

Many may have seen lovely Emma Rose Tripler-Frageau getting around town on crutches and in a cast recently, the result of a skiing mishap. After the fall, when rescued on the slope, Emma saw a member of the rescue team approach her with a large pair of shears. Told that the intent was to cut off her brand new ski pants, she decreed, “No, you are not!” When rescuers explained that she would suffer much more pain if the ski pants had to be pulled away, Emma informed them, “I’ve suffered pain before. Do what you need to do, but you are not cutting up these pants!”

Back on Block Island with parents Diane Tripler and Donn Frageau, Emma consulted with South County Orthopedics in Wakefield. Though surgery is not necessary, total recovery could take six months. “She’s doing much better, and getting around,” said Donn, adding that Emma will be heading back to her home in Derry, New Hampshire, perhaps by the time this column appears. Wishing you a good recovery, Emma!

Judy Mitchell, now staying on the mainland with her son while she continues her recovery from hip replacement surgery, was upbeat when reached at the other end of her telephone line. Fitted with a new MAKOplasty hip by Dr. Robert Marchand of South County Orthopedics, Judy reports enthusiastically that she is walking around, doing physical therapy three times a week and “Doing very well — but I can’t drive yet. I can hardly wait to drive again, and get back to work!”

Judy hopes to be back home around January 10, but will continue her therapy at South County once a week. An on-island memorial for Judy’s late husband, Cliff Mitchell, will follow at some point after her return.


Graduating Block Island High School seniors Noah Gasner and Sam Spier received welcome gifts in December, both learning that they have been accepted at the University of Vermont. We received the glad tidings of Noah from proud grandparents Lydia and Don Littlefield, and learned of Sam’s Christmas Eve “present” from parents Kerri and John Spier.

Award-winning Block Island Times columnist extraordinaire Martha Ball has arrived at the 20th anniversary year of writing her beautifully crafted “Island Notes” column for our weekly paper every single week, and that is no small feat. Her column has earned a growing readership of faithful followers over the past two decades, and her portrayals of island living, philosophy, landscape, social interaction, history and all else are unfailingly true to Block Island and its inhabitants. A small staff celebration at the paper’s office, hosted by publishers Fraser and Betty Lang, featured a chocolate truffle cake created by “resident” newspaper chefs Becky and Mike Ballard. Congratulations, Martha, with many more years to come!

A very happy upcoming wedding anniversary to Elisa and Michael Hundt, January 14!

Of cakes and candles

We’ve learned that New Year baby and erstwhile choir comrade Bill Crawford, whose birthday was reported in our last column, will celebrate his 93rd this year! Happy New Year, Bill!

Happy upcoming birthdays, over the next few weeks, to: Beatrice Cyr, January 4; Maria Leone, January 6; Martha Wilson, Teri McCombe and Martha Smith, January 7, and a special birthday hug to Gary Ryan, who hits the big 6-0 that day; Sue Torrey, Carol Engel, Nathaniel Tripler and Justin Barrows, January 8; Abigail Willi, who turns 3 on January 9; Kathleen Mitchell, January 10; Madelene Salster, January 11; Clif Payne and Doug Gilpin, January 13; Dottie Graham and Bill Luddy, January 14; Cheryl Moore and Ross Draper, January 15; Tom Brielmann, January 16; Judy Tierney, January 18; your columnist, January 19; Pete Tweedy and Patsy Easterly, January 22; Cara Willi Tripler, January 23; Emma Rose Tripler-Frageau and Mike Ballard, January 24; Linda Spak, Honey Fitch, Betty Fitzpatrick and Pat Kelly, January 25; Michelle Leone, January 28; Sarah Barkley, Julia Butcher and Charlie Pyne, January 29; Cheryl Blane and Ryan McGarry, January 31, and Margaret Millikin, who turns 97 that same day.

Let us know what’s happening! Visiting relatives, special occasions, updates on friends near and far, projects… Deadline is Tuesday morning, and Fran can be reached at 466-2892 or

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