The buzz in the basement of the Old Whaling Church on Friday afternoon came from the members of the Martha’s Vineyard Preservation Trust, gathered for their annual meeting and luncheon. But the main topic of conversation was unbeknownst to a key member of the group. In honor of Christopher Scott’s 20th year as executive director, the Edgartown selectmen and the Edgartown historic district commission presented Mr. Scott with the Edgartown historic district preservation award.
The preservation trust also made an official resolution in their minutes thanking Mr. Scott for his service to the trust and the community, and presented him with gifts of gratitude. The assembly was spent both praising and roasting the good-natured executive director.
Life trustee and former president Carole Berger started by recounting the process of hiring Mr. Scott. The preservation trust received over 100 letters of interest in response to a small advertisement published in the Boston Globe, she recalled.
“The letter from Mr. S. Christopher Scott has been residing in my files for the past 20 years,” Mrs. Berger said. And along with the letter were the comments that the selection committee for the position made at the time they reviewed applications. Mrs. Berger read from the list: “Obviously qualified on paper,” “Too good,” and even “Why does he want us?” It was unanimous — this candidate went on to the next round and beyond.
As Mr. Scott accepted the framed letter and comments as a sign of 20 well-earned and well-spent years with the preservation trust, he, too, recalled the application and interviewing process to the audience. “I remember the day I came here for my interview,” he began. He walked to the Dr. Daniel Fisher House and thought, “This would work.” Then he walked into his interview, slightly nervous and trying to impress. “I actually wore a tie,” he said.
“In an interview, you want to put your best foot forward. I was extending it as far as I possibly could.” But it was an uninvited guest at the interview that broke the ice and got the conversation flowing.
“I remember this huge fly in the room,” recalled Mr. Scott. He tried to ignore the buzzing insect and stay poised, proving that small distractions wouldn’t deter his keen focus. He forced his eye away from the enormous bug, even when it landed on the interviewer’s table.
“Then Jim Luther rolled up my resume and smashed the fly on the table,” said Mr. Scott. Forty years of drive and experience were suddenly drenched with the insides of a large insect, and Mr. Scott remembered a feeling of slight shock. “But it worked out,” he continued. “I thank the fly. He gave it all to help me out.”
That lighthearted attitude and sense of humor characterized the rest of the luncheon, and the group as a whole. Trustee and former preservation trust president Bob Cox delivered a poem for his longtime friend and director that replayed the recent history of the organization and Mr. Scott’s involvement as a leader and a person. Mr. Cox poked fun at some of Mr. Scott’s tendencies, and events that went slightly awry in the preservation trust’s past functions and events. Mr. Cox looked to Mr. Scott between verses for some affirmation of facts, which Mr. Scott gave reluctantly along with comments like, “Is this almost over?” and “Oh, boy, let me see the rest.”
Mr. Cox received a standing ovation and the room rang with the laughter of the entire group, including Mr. Scott. The executive director was then presented an extra token of appreciation from the Trust — an antique sperm whale tooth scrimshawed by the renowned David Smith with an image of the Old Whaling Church.
Mr. Scott thanked the group for the beautiful memento and the award, but mostly for 20 years of hard work and the rare gift of loving a profession every single day.
And in an interview at the back of the venue before the party ate lunch, Mr. Scott told the Gazette and friends standing nearby that he looked forward to many more years. “I have a lot of work to do,” he said.