From Gazette editions of September, 1986:
For the Lombardi family of West Tisbury, Tuesday was a long-awaited day. Their boat, a 40-foot wooden gaff-rigged sloop, was launched into Vineyard Haven harbor. The boat, named Liberty, began as an idea last winter in the Gannon and Benjamin boatyard. She is the largest wooden boat built on the Vineyard and launched from the Vineyard in this century, her builders say. For the 350 people who attended the launching, it was an event to remember. Twelve-year-old Primo Lombardi Jr. had trouble concentrating in school that morning. “I thought a lot about it,” he said.
In the nine months it took to build the vessel nobody knew what the vessel would be called. At the boatyard someone had taken a piece of cardboard for the transom and written Pepperoni Princess — recognizing Mr. Lombardi as the owner of Papa John’s Restaurant on Circuit avenue. But it wasn’t until the day of the launch that word got around that the name of Liberty had been chosen. “Liberty, it means a lot,” said Mr. Lombardi. The Statue of Liberty was given its centennial celebration this year, he said. “This is a good year to name a boat Liberty.” He smiled and said, “This will liberate me from the oven.”
“I was astounded by the numbers of people who showed up. There were friends of Primo’s and friends of Nat’s and mine. It was nice having so much support. We are hoping that somebody will commission us for another boat for the winter,” Mr. Gannon said.
Lie detectors for fishermen and electronic tests for the freshness of fish are among the new provisions for enforcing honesty and good sportsmanship in this fall’s bluefish derby. With prizes bigger than ever, derby rules have been reworked to ensure the winners are legitimate. Everett (Porky) Francis, a member of the derby committee, said a polygraph for contestants and a tory meter to measure the age of caught fish have not been obtained yet, but the new regulations provide for their use if needed. And he acknowledged that there has been controversy over some prize awards in the past. Mr. Francis said: “There has been controversy over past winners and we are trying to eliminate any discrepancies.”
Last year’s derby began and ended in controversy. In the first days a fisherman was kicked out for alledgedly weighing in a fish that had been caught prior to the start of the tournament. And a fisherman who entered a bluefish in the last hours of the derby was interviewed at length by the committee about the circumstances of his catch.
During one of the Island’s busiest summers the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital emergency room treated some 73 people for moped injuries. Many Vineyard police now say moped drivers should be required to have motorcycle licenses.
“It’s like throwing an innocent person to the wolves,” said Oak Bluffs officer George Fisher, who feels the state’s requirements for moped operations are too lenient.
Just about anyone, experienced or not, can take the motorized bicycles out for a spin around the Island. All you need is a driver’s license and money.
Officer Fisher thinks mopeds cause problems for everybody. ”It’s a burden for the injury and private pain and suffering they can cause,” he said. And moped accidents take police away from other duties.
Technically it is not autumn yet, but the deep green of poison ivy is lightening to a paler shade. Red grasses are tossing in fields and goldenrod is gleaming. The purple wild asters are out and sunny butter-and-eggs are ready to decorate the table. Virginia creeper tumbles over fences and walls, fragrantly and in profusion. And there are milkweed pods to be opened and their seeds sent aloft on silky wings.
Now that September is here, the smell of wild apples is an unexpected pleasure here and there along up-Island roads. Beach plums and grapes are expected in a Vineyard autumn, but apples really are not our fruit. They just happen now and again in an old field or beside an overgrown foundation.
Wild apples will never win horticultural prizes for beauty. They are invariably small and irregular in shape. Only rarely is there a pretty blush to their cheeks. The farmers who planted them are long gone and the gnarled trees have had to fend for themselves.
Louise Tate King and Jean Wexler in their Martha’s Vineyard Cookbook point out that wild apples are fine for apple sauce or apple butter. Gathering and cooking wild apples, one muses about who planted them and nurtured them. One wonders how many small boys jumped to reach the better fruit. That is part of the pleasure of wild apples — the way they conjure up our past.
Compiled by Cynthia Meisner