Monthly Archives: April 2012

This Day in Westport Island History

On this day in 1861…151 years ago today

Westport Island’s 70 plus cemeteries provide a mini history and window into the lives of its people and their times.

According to a headstone in the Dunton family cemetery near Squam Creek, Martha A. Dunton, daughter of Captain Stephen and Elizabeth Dunton, died on April 24 in 1861.  She was 21 years, 1 month, and 15 days.  Her death came 12 days after the start of the Civil War.

Martha’s father, Stephen Dunton, was a sea captain:  he was a troop at the Island’s Fort McDonough during the War of 1812, signed the petition that separated Westport from Edgecomb in 1828, and mastered a ship named the Martha Jane until 1840. The grief that he and his wife felt at the death of their daughter, Martha, is evident in the carved rose and accompanying inscription etched on her tombstone. The inscribed verses come from a poem by Charles Doyne Sillery (1807-1836), a Scottish/Irish poet and essayist.

She died in beauty, like a rose from its parent’s stem.
She died in beauty, like a pearl dropped from some diadem.
She died in beauty, like a star lost on the brow of day.
She lives in glory, like night’s gems set ’round the silver moon.
She lives in glory, like the sun amid the blue of June.

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Not Exactly a Westport Story: Chief Michael Maloney Remembered

Small Town Tragedy

 
Today, Chief Michael Maloney of Greenland, NH, was laid to rest. He was killed on April 12 during the service of a narcotics search warrant. Officers from Newmarket, Dover, the University of New Hampshire (UNH), and Rochester were wounded. The suspect, Cullen Mutrie, and his girlfriend, Brittany Tibbetts, are dead as the result of a murder/suicide perpetrated by Mutrie. Although this is not a Westport Island story, it could be an Anytown, USA story.

My husband and I mourn as retired law enforcement officers. I mourn as a New Hampshire native who: knows Greenland as the home of a best friend; graduated from UNH; worked at the Dover Police Department while at UNH; and lived in Newmarket before moving to San Diego and joining the San Diego Police Department. I feel tied to the officers and the communities.

When we mourn and remember Chief Maloney — along with his family and his communities, it is with deep sadness that my husband and I remember other such deaths and moments in the lives of families, officers, friends, and neighborhoods. The loss is beyond that felt by the families and communities involved… Families and friends have lost loved ones. The officers involved will never forget that night and will live with the sometimes unreasonable guilt of surviving. The community, now violated, will never recover its “before the incident” sense of security. And, we all feel a sense of helplessness with the rotting cavity that drugs and the illicit drug market have bored in our extended families and neighborhoods. This event will live on as yet another training scenario of the dangers inherent in dealing with the drug addicted, the alienated, and the mentally ill.

The proverb that “it takes a village to raise a child” is oft quoted in child development. Likewise, it takes all of us and all of our villages to address the permissions given to drugs in our culture and our families. Donna Tibbetts wisely stated at her daughter’s vigil this past week, “Just remember, life is too short. Make good choices…take one day at a time; and make every day special.”

The best way to commemorate the Chief who gave his life, as well as the suffering from this tragedy, would be for just one person, and hopefully more, to recognize bad choices and start the journey back to those who care and to a life well lived.

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Patriot’s Day Storm: Five Year Anniversary

Today is Patriot’s Day, which New Englanders marked by the running of the 116th Boston Marathon. Weather: beautiful and dry — heat advisories were posted for runners. (We cheered Westport runner, Shanna Greene, who completed the race in 3:48:23 [an 8:43 mile pace — Shanna, you are my hero!]). Five years ago today — weather: violent winds and rain. Westport Island braced against what is now known as the Patriot’s Day Storm.

National Weather Service data states that the high tide recorded in Portland, ME, in the late morning hours of April 16, 2007, was 13.28 feet, the 7th biggest tide on record; 30 foot waves ripped at buoys and caused damage to personal property; and the storm tide was higher than the storm tide during the “Perfect Storm” in October, 1991. The three-day rainfall in Portland from April 15 – 17 was 5.6″, one inch above normal for the entire month of April. Although Westport did not experience the heavy flooding of southern coastal areas, heavy rain and peak wind gusts reaching 53 miles per hour on the Island resulted in extensive damage from downed trees and power lines. At various times throughout the storm, roads and driveways were blocked leaving residents stranded. The Island was without power for over a week.

Although I ventured out in the storm, because the dogs would not leave the stoop without me, I never saw the storming, ocean waves; because to see the shore, you had to pass beneath the screaming, falling trees.

Remembering the five year anniversary of the Patriot’s Day storm with a few pictures taken in the calm after the storm…

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New Fire Truck: A Good Day for Westport Island, Maine

A bridge is like a telephone:  it’s a lifeline, and it brings both good news and bad news.  On this Friday the 13th, it seemed to bring only good news to Westport Island.

The ospreys are back as bridge sentinals: they are working on their nest, preparing for summer.  It was a beautiful, warm, sunny, Spring day.  And, after lots of spirited discussion at town meetings, Westport Island has a new fire truck — which arrived this bodacious day.

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Although it was a good day for the Island, we send our sympathies and thoughts to the residents of Greenland, NH, where the police chief was fatally shot today and four police officers were injured during the service of a search warrant.

Solving the Birthday Gift Dilemma…and Shopping Locally

Who you gonna call?

What to buy the 60 something husband who has everything – if he needs it, he buys it; if he wants it, he buys it; if it’s a boy hobby toy, he buys it.

Add to that dilemma:  how to shop locally and support local businesspeople?

A brilliant flash of the obvious…When the favorite boy toy is a John Deere, the favorite pastime is working on a road through the backyard woods, why not call the “Dirt Busters” — the Cromwell Brothers — for a load of bank run gravel.  With the gravel, a man has a reason to run his John Deere and something to move. Duh.

So, the perfect boy birthday present arrived by dump truck special delivery.  Thank you Dennis and Gary Cromwell.  A bit of a wrapping challenge, but not insurmountable.

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Guns to Hoses

Joining the Westport Volunteer Fire Department Community

March ended with the annual ham and bean supper at the Westport Volunteer Fire Department. Along with its bottle and can bin for donated returnables and the summer chicken barbeque, this supper is one way the fire department raises money for matching grant funds and day-to-day operating expenses.

It was our first year to join neighbors at this annual event, because my husband, Roger, now volunteers on the fire department.

When Roger retired his motor boots and ticket book seven years ago, no one who knew him would take odds he would one day wear turnout gear and drive a fire tanker. In the streets of San Diego, police are “po-po;” firemen are “hose beaters,” and there’s not a lot of “cross dressing” so to speak.

On Westport Island — where the town agent knows every Island-registered car by sight, people stop to say “hi” when you’re in the yard, the budget is tight, and the living “feels good,” most people want to give back in some way. Volunteering on the fire department or supporting them with donations or appreciation at these semi-annual events is one way to do so.

The ham and bean supper was a good time. Next chance: the summer barbecue on July 14…

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