The Block Island Times

In Case You Haven't Heard

By Fran Migliaccio | Feb 25, 2012
Courtesy of: Sharon Lehman Block Island Boat Basin dock shack

About town

Don’t forget Block Island’s annual Game Dinner on Sunday, February 26, 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Highview, upstairs and down. The food is always great, servers will be the island’s clergy, and donation checks for the Manley Fund will be welcomed.

Follow-up information on the Groundhog Day census was imparted by Bill Penn, who told me he was winner of the Groundhog Day betting pool. The pot was a lavish $102, and Bill split it with the Manley Fund. “I sold him the winning number!” joked Nancy Worth. And of course, that lucky number was 948.

Now that spring is approaching, keep your eyes peeled for a few vintage mopeds that have gone back to road duty. The four proud owners of the vehicles have the makings for a road club of two-wheeled antiques, if they choose to go that way. I won’t reveal their names; they may make themselves known if they wish “as time goes by,” but I will say that one of the vehicles, surely the star of the fleet, is a wonderful 1977 French Motobecane with pedals that actually go round and round. It was mine until recently, and its new owner reports it is in beautiful shape. I’m delighted it has found a careful owner and new life.

Block Island everywhere

On a warm-up visit to Florida’s west coast, Alan and Roberta Alpert and Ron and Judy Tierney stopped in to see Charlie Hayback and Joyce Clougherty on Casey Key. Norm and Shelley Topf drove down from their winter home outside of Tampa for the fun on a windy afternoon that reminded them all of Block Island, though Florida will never be as beautiful as home (says Judy).

Justin Barrows, down in Cream Ridge, New Jersey, was particularly happy with a Christmas gift from his mother, Diane Johnson: “My mom gave me Sharon Lehman’s dock shack painting. How awesome is that! I’ve got it hanging in our entryway. She sketched a little figure that’s supposed to be me beside the bench. She also signed it again because of it.” Justin worked for the Block Island Boat Basin years ago, first at the store and then on the dock. He and beautiful wife Anna met each other at the Boat Basin the summer she came to work at the Oar, so the dock shack holds happy memories. (The now-famous painting may be viewed on the Block Island Boat Basin Facebook page.)

Justin added that he and Anna are renting a house on-island for 4th of July week: “See you this summer! Can’t wait!” In addition to being the son of Diane Johnson, Justin is the grandson of native Block Islander Silas Littlefield (“Dub”) Barrows.

A new blog by Johno Sisto can be reached at (make sure you put both those dots in there), and offers a cornucopia of food lore, a favorite meal or two, and some of Johno’s recipes. Viewers are welcomed to become followers or friends of the site. Great idea, fun to read, and recipes are deliciously simple. And simply delicious.

All creatures

A funny avian configuration at Sands Pond was called to my attention by a bird watching friend: “I just saw a flock of about a dozen geese fly in, and they have a herring gull that flies in formation with them! They’re out on the pond now, all together. When the gull flies with them, he keeps to their wing beat, he doesn’t fly like a gull any more! Thinks he’s a goose. Funniest thing!”

Later that day, at the end of a Chihuahua wildlife safari, I pulled the truck alongside the lot on Sands Pond wherein dwells a horse that doglets Tia Maria and Coco Chanel love to bark at. Dobbin was there, all right, and with him a flock of Canada geese with, lo, a white goose with gray wings in their midst. I watched to make sure ’twas goose, not gull; round and large it was, with a neck that craned far up, and a yellow/orange goose bill. I called the birdwatcher and reported. He replied, “It’s definitely a herring gull that flies with them, but if they have a white goose too, maybe that’s how the gull got confused.”

Sound of silence

A winter neighbor and I were recently chatting about the lovely silence that prevails this time of year. “It’s so quiet on the island now, it’s wonderful!” he enthused, noting that March would bring more airplanes and the mowers would follow soon after. “People don’t think about silence, but when it’s gone, it’s gone,” he said. “Then, they miss it without knowing what made the difference.” Like open space, we agreed. But airplanes and mowers are certainly essential, and summer’s buzz of activity entertains us all.


Arlene Tunney and Ken Maxwell will celebrate their wedding anniversary on February 29, so wish them a happy anniversary and divide whatever number it is by four!

Is 2012 really a Leap Year? Julius Caesar added an extra day to the calendar every four years, starting back in 45 B.C., and the new Julian calendar was created to compensate for the 365.24 days it takes the earth to rotate around the sun. If an extra day were not added every few years, we would lose about six hours a year and be off by 24 days after a century, so Caesar standardized the timing to four years. In the late 14th Century, Pope Gregory XIII ruled that a year is not a Leap Year unless it is evenly divisible by 400. Maybe people were having too much fun with Leap Year every four years.

With February 29 leaping into the Gregorian calendar every fourth year anyway, we might as well celebrate. A lady who’s of a mind to may propose to her man on Leap Day, and if he refuses he must pay a penalty. Tradition holds with a gown, or money, or in some parts of Europe, a gift of 12 pairs of gloves, so that the lady can wear them to hide the embarrassment of not having an engagement ring.

Whether people are marriage-minded or not on Leap Day, it’s still fun to make some sort of occasion of the Leap’s relatively rarity.

Of cakes and candles

A very happy birthday to Becca Hollaway, whose special day is February 25, the day this paper hits the street! Happy birthdays too to Mon Dickinson and Marilyn Bogdanffy, February 26; Betty Gann and Jessica Willi, February 27; Gabby Hobe, February 28; Charles Beck, Barby Michel, Abra Savoie and David Roosa, all on March 2; Webb Moore, March 3; Cliff McGinnes, March 5; Erica Tonner, Persephone Brown and Shirley Gasner, March 6, and Shirley, by the way, is celebrating her 95th this year; Betsy Theve and Barbara Temple, March 8; and Willis Dodge, Kim Gaffett, Cathy Payne and Tracy Muller, all on March 10.

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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