Letters to the Editor
To: the Editor—
Last Thursday evening, I brought my work on Anna Ray Ward (1727-1770), an island-born lady, to the Friends of the Island Free Library.
Anna Ray married Samuel Ward (1725-1776) of Newport and Westerly. Ward served as Rhode Island’s governor in the 1760s and spoke for Rhode Island at both Continental Congresses (1774 and 1775), in Philadelphia. He would have gone on to greater glory, his cohorts (among them John Adams) agreed, but Ward “died at his meridian,” of smallpox in that city on March 26, 1776. I propose that he would have served on the committee that formed the Declaration of Independence, with Jefferson and Franklin. His “Westerly Resolves,” of December 31, 1773, following the Boston Tea Party by 15 days, were prescient.
Anna was one of the able quartet of granddaughters of Simon Ray, the chief proprietor of those that sailed from Braintree and Taunton, Massachusetts to Block Island in 1661. They had acquired the island from four Massachusetts Bay gentlemen, who had dubbed it New Shoreham. Ray, and Samuel Dering, had “built a shallop upon their own cost and charge,” reported the Rev. S. T. Livermore in his “History of Block Island” (1877).
I am now pondering, with the Old Colony Historical Society’s archivist up in Taunton, how much of Roger Williams’s writing Ray had known. His first publication, “A Key to the Language of America,” was printed in London in 1644.” The “language” was that of the Narragansett Indians.
I had not been out to the island since my late husband and I came to Captain Rob Lewis’s funeral ten years ago. Yes, I was depressed by the array of mopeds, stabled but ready to blurt forth, bigger and more numerous than I recalled. Excluding them, everything on the island was wonderful. My hostess, a member of the Zoning Board, kindly drove me all around: the full circuit. She missed nothing.
My friends, stalwarts of the Planning Board, the Zoning Board, the Historic District Commission, the library, the Historical Society and the conservationists have done, and continue to do, their jobs. I know it is not easy.
We knew the library when it was in what I guess was a transformed store, on Chapel Street. A stern admonishment was posted above the counter: “Sand Ruins Books.” We knew its replacement, on Dodge Street. The new version, designed by Prout Robert Elias, LLC, occupying its footprint, is astounding. God bless Lester Dodge. I’ve been to a lot of Rhode Island libraries, and presented programs in many cellar meeting rooms. You must be the envy of the entire state system.
I must thank Martha Ball, whose mother my husband and I so admired. Luella came out to our rented place one fine afternoon and we had fun. That morning, in the Historical Society, curator Peg Mullen signed my copy of Livermore’s history: “August 25, 1980: With the best wishes to a promising writer who loves history — especially of Block Island!” Not sure about the promising, but the rest is certainly true.
Thanks to all of you. With Rhode Island in such dire straits, with the country so challenged, it was a joy to see your work.
Helen Farrell Allen
To: the Editor—
We want to say a huge thank you to all those who gave us such a lovely farewell as we wrapped up our four years of ministry on the Block.
People are asking how it was to live and do ministry on Block Island, and we can only reply that it was awesomely good. I (Fr. Dan) come away feeling that these four years have been the most rewarding period in my ministry. From day one we felt welcomed and it was a pleasure to be involved in the life of the island: both of us in the Ecumenical Choir, and at the Lunch Bunch and Soup Group, I as a regular at the Men’s Prayer Breakfast, on the Housing Board, in the Ecumenical Ministries, as the vicar of St. Ann’s-by-the-Sea, and Meg as a library and Helping Hands volunteer, and Book Club member. We have made many friends during our time and intend to come back to visit from time to time. So once again, thanks for a wonderful four years and we miss you so much already.
Fr. Dan and Meg Barker
To: the Editor—
On Tuesday night we watched the documentary “Bag It!” at an Oceanview presentation at the library led by Kim Gaffett. It turned out to be a revelation about the devastating effects of the spiraling use of plastic of all types — especially plastic bags. The extinction of species and the negative links to our health and well being on every level was substantiated.
In the discussion that followed, everyone agreed that the documentary should be mandatory viewing — from grassroots and, especially, to legislators on every level of society.
Kim may show this documentary again. Don’t miss it! You can get all the information about the movie and how to acquire it at: www.bagitmovie.com/screenings.html.
Corn Neck Road
To: the Editor—
On behalf of the Block Island Early Learning Center, I would like to express my overwhelming gratitude and appreciation for those who helped make the First Step Art Auction a huge success. To the artists and community members who donated a variety of exquisite artwork and painstakingly hand-painted and decorated our step stools, we could not have raised so much without these pieces. To Carole Payne, we could not have asked for a more perfect location of our auction. Your inn and your generosity are two things that exemplify the beauty of this island. To The Yellow Kittens, thank you for the use of your tablecloths. And finally, to the always charitable and kind population of Block Island, THANK YOU! We are always amazed by the unrelenting support you continue to give us.
As some of you may know, the ELC is currently in the process of becoming accredited through Rhode Island Department of Education and the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Once accredited, we will be able to apply for funding and grants not yet available to us. New sources for funding means we won’t be depending solely on membership fees, the taxpayers’ dollars and donations and community fundraisers. Not only will we gain financial support, but the education that we provide for our students will improve beyond what we already offer.
However, this accreditation process is not easy. It requires long hours of diligent work by our staff, faculty and volunteer board members. It requires extensive hours of curriculum planning, additional coursework, as well as rewriting and revising handbooks, policies and procedures. It also requires the center to purchase new educational materials, supplies and interactive toys. Furthermore, we need to make some additional changes to modify our physical learning environment: purchasing car seats for the van, making adjustments to the exterior and updating items inside.
As you are all aware, these things come at a price. This community has been so supportive of us throughout the years and we can never fully express how grateful we are. It is our goal to achieve this accreditation, enhance the quality of education that we provide, and ensure that the ELC is the best school that the children of this community can have. With the tremendous support that we have received, this goal is an achievable one.
Lisa Robb, board member
Block Island Early Learning Center