Polito's Take: Trampling Martha's Vineyard


Cue the theme from Jaws. Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the Vineyard... We're going to need a bigger island... President Obama is coming back.
It all started with Steven Spielberg. He landed on Martha's Vineyard back in 1974 to film his blockbuster Jaws. When the movie was released in 1975, local theater marquees proclaimed that it had been filmed on, "The Cape." That's right, back then, some people in Massachusetts would have said, "Martha's what?" Wow, do I long for those days.
In the film, the Vineyard is transformed into the fictional vacation destination called "Amity Island." In one scene, the Mayor tells a news crew that the name Amity means friendship. Do you think the Vineyard still lives up to it's fictional name for Massachusetts locals? In the book, author Peter Benchley inferred that the island was in the state of New York. That's ironic because our former hidden jewel is now rife with New Yorkers and Hollywood types. They already have the Hamptons, why can't they leave us alone? We were doing just fine with Carly Simon and James Taylor. They were enough to give the island a little cachet and still not attract too much attention.
If you own a property or a business there it's great. But if you want a regular family vacation you'll need a second mortgage and be prepared to get stuck for a few hours behind a presidential motorcade.
Bill Clinton spent most summers of his presidency on the Vineyard and he is still a regular visitor. He bears most of the blame for exposing the island to the rest of the country even though a total of 10 presidents have stayed on the Vineyard. President Grant was the first. John Adams visited before he became president, but at least he was from Massachusetts, one of us.
I met Bill Clinton at the Vineyard on my 40th birthday. We were born on the same day. He was already out of office and was book shopping on Circuit Avenue in Oak Bluffs. I shook his hand and wished him a happy birthday. I was with an old friend who just happens to be an attractive woman. Care to guess if President Clinton gave me any significant acknowledgement?
In my opinion, the sweet grapes of the Vineyard have been trampled by those who stole it from the regular folk of Massachusetts. It's turned from a humble vacation community into a playground for the rich and famous.
I wonder if the great white sharks off Chatham would be willing to head southwest. I don't want them to hurt anyone, just circle the Vineyard and scare a few of the beautiful people away. It worked in the movie.

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