Letters to the Editor, July 21, 2012
To: the Editor—
The American Legion Auxiliary has been sending packages to soldiers overseas for several years. On Tuesday, July 17, one of our recipients, Spc. Benjamin Cooke from South Kingstown, was home on leave from Kuwait and came to visit Block Island with his girlfriend at our invitation. We’d like to thank Ernie’s Restaurant, Ballard’s, Old Harbor Bike Shop, Monica’s Taxi and the generous couple who contributed $100 to make their visit special.
Many Auxiliary members and also American Legion members were at the dock to give them a BIG Block Island welcome. Sincere thanks to all.
Linda Spak, American Legion Auxiliary Member
To: the Editor—
I enjoyed reading Lisa Stiepock’s Featured Property story about Eschaton House. My late parents bought adjoining property in 1951, several years before that wonderful house was built. Even though Tom and Elizabeth Allan family have owned Eschaton for nine years, I will always refer to it as the Stringfellow House. It has one of the best views on the island, and for many years it had a swimming pool.
I think there is a minor error in the story. Going on memory and what I could find on the internet, I believe that Daniel Berrigan was arrested on B.I. in the summer of 1969, not 1972. I know because I was there! Here is what I can remember after 43 years:
In the summer of 1969 I had just finished my freshman year of college and was working at the Spring House as a bellboy — my second summer working on B.I. for the Mott family. I lived in the help quarters at the hotel instead of my family’s place because we did not yet have electricity or running water, plus my folks were not going to be on the island until late in the summer. On one of my off days I went up to the house to cut the grass and work on the drive. It was cold, gray and windy, and while I was in the yard a pale, pasty looking man wearing a rain slicker and carrying binoculars walked up our drive and waved to me. I stopped the mower and said hello to this “birdwatcher.”
He then pulled out his wallet, showed me his FBI ID card, and started asking questions about our house and our neighbors. I did what I think most people would have done — I answered his questions. He asked specifically about the Stringfellow house and what could be seen from our property. My initial thought was that the feds were there for a drug bust or something like that.
After our conversation, he walked back down our drive and I finished my work and then headed back to the Spring House for my evening shift. When I got to the bottom of our drive the same guy was there, looking at Stringfellow’s house through his binoculars. He was not looking at birds.
Once I got back to the Spring House, I called one of our neighbors, Dr. Alvin Goodman — the Goodman family’s first B.I. house was across the road from our house and Stringfellow’s. I asked Dr. Goodman if he had any idea why the FBI was hanging out around our part of Spring Street. As I recall, he did not know and I believe he called the B.I. police to find out if they knew what the FBI was doing. Again, my recollection is that the local police did not have a clue that the FBI had agents on B.I.
The news broke the next day that Berrigan had been arrested on Block Island. I read about it in the Providence Journal and watched the story on the evening news from Channel 10 out of Providence on the only TV at the Spring House. The broadcast showed Berrigan being taken from B.I. on a Coast Guard boat — not the Point Judith ferry.
It was a memorable couple of days in a memorable summer. I worked at the Spring House and the Narragansett for the next three summers, completing my tenure with the Mott family in the summer of 1972. I believe that Daniel Berrigan was released from prison in 1972. Several years later, after I had graduated from law school and was practicing in Providence, I had the pleasure of getting to know Bill Stringfellow and his partner, Anthony Towne. They were good neighbors and I enjoyed sharing with them my story about the Berrigan arrest.
Athens, Georgia and Spring Street, Block Island
To: the Editor—
Wow, what a wonderful week of hot air ballooning for the Block Island Early Learning Center fund raiser and silent auction.
The weather was incredible and we were able to fill the balloon three times. The community support was endless, with dozens of people helping out and having fun. A special thanks to the Town Council for their approval, The Sullivan House and Narragansett Inn for hosting us, all the auction donors and table attendants, the line handlers, Tatyana Ramella for her coordinating skills, the Harborside and Old Town Inns for rooms, Littlefield & Sons, and of course all the good folks who went for a ride and helped support the island’s daycare and preschool with a donation. Can’t wait until we can do it again next year!
To: the Editor—
The Block Island Lions Club held its annual Summer Golf Tournament on Monday, July 9. The day was picture perfect, the course was pleasantly challenging, and the impressive turnout of golfers has ensured a significant financial boost to our Scholarship Fund. We thank you all for your enthusiastic participation.
We would like to acknowledge Ray and Sue Linda of Interstate Navigation for their continued support of our fundraising efforts by donating round trip ferry tickets for the golfers. We also appreciate the assistance of Megan Moran of Group Sales, Norissa Linda, Cindy Littlefield and the entire ferry crew.
Thanks to the following local businesses who donated money to be T-Sponsors: Block Island Plumbing & Heating, Red Bird, Lila Delman Real Estate, National Hotel, Finn’s, Beach Real Estate, Payne’s Harborview Inn, Rebecca’s, Mig’s Rig Taxi, Red Right Return, BI Beachcomber, Phillips Real Estate, Sullivan Real Estate, Ballard Hall Real Estate, Island Hardware & Supply, BI Houseright, Inc., BI Reservations & Real Estate.
Prizes were generously awarded by the following businesses: Valenti Subaru, Winfields Restaurant, Richmond Golf Club, Pinecrest Golf Club, Scarlet Begonia, New England Airlines, BI Sports Shop, Gates Insurance, Jerry’s Hardware, O’Neils Package Store, Golfers Warehouse, Geabers Package Store, Stop and Shop and Beachline Computer Services.
Because of the support of all the above, the Lions Club is able to continue to award a scholarship each year to a graduating BI School senior and to maintain that scholarship for four years.
Mary Lawless and Andy Fletcher, Co-Chairs
Block Island Lions Golf Committee
To: the Editor—
On behalf of the Double Ender Committee, we would like to thank the scores of people involved in making Block Island’s 4th of July celebrations a success.
To the dozens of donors large and small who gave generously to fund the fireworks and parade, a heartfelt thank you. B.I. Volunteer Fire Department, Rescue Squad, and B.I. Police Department, with assistance from the Rhode Island State Police — without your involvement, the parade and fireworks don’t happen. Thank you for helping to provide a safe venue for both events.
Thank you to Interstate Navigation for your generosity and help getting our parade participants to and from Block Island and your willingness to work with us to make sure things went smoothly. To our Grand Marshals, the members of the Block Island Legion Post and Auxiliary, thank you for your service, and thank you for your presence and the dignity you brought to the parade.
Thanks to American Thunder and its capable crew for a very well received fireworks display.
To the Mott family, thank you for the use of the staging area for the start of the parade. Thanks also to the Lions Club for rounding up volunteers to help with security along the parade route.
Thank you Block Island Tourism Council for taking the time to hear us plead our case and then providing us with a generous donation. Thanks Block Island Times for getting the word out often and effectively about the celebrations to the wider Block Island community. To the many Ad Hoc members of the Double Ender Committee who gave time and effort the day of the parade, thanks so much. Finally, a special thank you goes to all the parade participants, young and old, families, groups, and businesses, who put in talent and effort to make the theme of the parade come alive.
The Double Ender Committee
To: the Editor—
Since 2006, two of our main focuses at Captain Nick’s have been to cut down on underage people entering our establishment and to stop physical altercations before they start. With the help of Chief Carlone and the local police officers (all of whom do an outstanding job), we’ve achieved that goal. Last summer we had not one fight at our bar and we confiscated and turned over dozens of fake IDs to the police. We’ve gotten so good at spotting fakes that we actually taught Frank Faubert (creator and teacher of a state mandated course on responsible alcohol serving) what to look for on the new wave of fake IDs we’ve seen come to our door. In short, we taught the teacher. He also gave us kudos on our security staff training manual, saying it was “one of the better ones he’d seen.”
Our overall goal is to provide people with a safe, enjoyable place to party where they can have as good of a time as they want as long as they’re being responsible about it. People who choose to not follow our rules are either escorted out of the establishment or, if they arrive at our door already intoxicated, they’re not allowed in. I’ve heard chatter that we’re earning a bit of a reputation as being “uptight.” But if trying to run your business correctly and in a safe manner makes you uptight, then I guess we’re uptight. Plenty of folks would disagree though.
I’m going to make the bold claim that we are party professionals. It’s what we do — and we’re good at it. We understand there is a “right” way to party and a “wrong” way to party. The idiots responsible for the 4th of July Beach Party Debacle on the beach near the surf hotel were doing it the wrong way. And finally, they were dealt with properly.
The folks who put on the so called Mohegan Bluffs Bash are a group who do it the right way. And they’ve been doing it for 12 years without incident. This is a group made up of lawyers, doctors and police officers who carry generators, musical equipment, kegs of beer, coolers of food and alcohol down the bluff stairs then nearly half a mile down the beach to a secluded spot where they won’t be bothering anyone. They party from around 11 a.m. until 3 or 4 p.m., then clean up every single beer can, bottle and scrap of trash, carrying everything back up the stairs leaving no trace. There’s never been a fight or a rescue call. The organizers know everyone at the party and can verify that all participants are of legal drinking age.
This group makes a significant donation to the fire department every year and the majority of them spend the whole week on the island patronizing local businesses and bolstering our economy. I know them personally and they’re the nicest, most responsible bunch of people around. It’s a shame to think that they may not come back to Block Island anymore because one group of jerks has seemingly ruined beach parties for everyone forever.
It’s ironic because a beach party is the reason I came to Block Island in the first place. Back in 94’ some friends took me to a bonfire on Scotch Beach with at least 50 kids in attendance. I got drunk (gasp!) and made out with a girl in the dunes under a full moon. At that point I decided Block Island was about the greatest place on earth. It’s a shame to think that night is just another example of “how great things used to be out here back in the good ol’ days.”
Speaking of good old days: I played the piano at the Billy Stubbs tribute last summer at Dead Eye’s. There were members of the town council, historical society and other venerable Block Island institutions all singing along to songs with titles like “Crocked For Ages,” which features the lyric, “And we’ll be crocked for ages. Let’s not stop at two or three.” As old memories came flooding back, eyes grew watery with emotion and I was regaled with fantastic stories, like the one about the two brothers who used to get so drunk they’d have weekly fist fights in the corner of the bar. We laughed heartily over these quaint anecdotes. Unfortunately, the message I’m sent now looking back at that experience is, “It’s funny to get drunk and have fist fights as long as it was us doing it 40 years ago and everything is filtered through a distant, nostalgic lens.”
Here’s my point, Block Island. Let’s not pretend we don’t like a good party. And let’s not chase people away if and when they want to party here. Let’s try to help them do it safely. And let’s not delude ourselves into thinking that over-regulation will stop bad things from happening. We’re always going to need a rescue squad and a police force.
We’ve quelled one problem but my fear is that the new no-alcohol-on-beaches ordinance coupled with the general “anti-party” mentality will snowball until Block Island becomes a desolate wasteland of boring. And boring translates to people not wanting to be here. And people not wanting to be here translates into businesses failing. And whether all of you who have enough money to sustain yourselves out here believe it or not, you still need us. I’m sure there are plenty of people out here who would love to see Block Island turn into a silent utopia free from the buzz of mopeds and the sound of rock n’ roll blaring from speakers. But there are also plenty of people like me out here who still love a good party. And if you want to try and run me out of town, give it your best shot. But I was raised on the Beastie Boys. And I’ll continue to fight for my right to party. And yours too.
Proprietor- Captain Nick’s since 2010, Booze Beggar since 2003
Unrepentant Beach Party participant since 1994