NARRATOR: Rev. Ted Anderson
INTERVIEWER: Peter Schmid
PLACE: 31 Somerset Road, Nantucket, Massachusetts
DATE: July 14, 2000
SCHMID: This is an interview with Reverend Edward B. Anderson at 31 Somerset Road, Nantucket, Massachusetts. The date is July 14th, year 2000, the interview conducted at approximately 2:00 p.m. at the residence of Reverend Anderson. The interviewer is Peter Schmid for the Nantucket Historical Association. I imagine Libby had some ideas. [Chuckle]
ANDERSON: Oh, sure, sure! Libby got me involved in writing an article for--on the tower and the bell of the Church for Steve Shepherd's magazine.
SCHMID: May I check that magazine?
ANDERSON: Yeah, I've got busy on that. [Chuckle]
SCHMID: We've got a pretty thick file on that.
ANDERSON: On ____ magazine?
SCHMID: Oh, well, no--on the bell and everything. I mean, I know you've got a lot of material on it, but we've got--
ANDERSON: I don't have a lot of material on it. I just have mainly what I've written.
SCHMID: Well, you'll have to come in the library, and we've got quite a few things, so--
SCHMID: Yeah! I was just going to start with, you know-- What are your-- I don't know how early you came to the island and what your earliest memories are.
ANDERSON: Well, my grandparents lived here, so I guess I came to the island first about 1936 or 37 as an infant to meet my grandparents.
SCHMID: And where were you living?
ANDERSON: I grew up in Connecticut outside New Haven.
SCHMID: So, were your grandparents like native Nantucketers?
ANDERSON: No! My grandparents were both Swedish. And, oh, we've just in the last few years learned some very interesting things about my grandfather. But they came to this country as-- Well, he was 14, I think. But he came to this country, and she was about the same. He came with his older sister. His father was either dead or--whatever happened. Anyway, he was born--and so was his sister--before their mother married a guy named Anderson, who was not their father. And he adopted them and gave them the name "Anderson." I don't know what their name was before that, but we'll find out sometime. And this Anderson who adopted them is described in the records in Sweden with a fairly unusual word for the times. He's called what we would translate as "serf." He was a serf and a carpenter as well, so he was able to leave the farm to work on his own as a carpenter. But obviously they were very poor. And his sister and my grandfather-- I don't know whether they ran away to this country or what happened, but I mean they wound up very ____, and he never went back.
But when he died, just before World War II, even his wife didn't know where he'd been born. As far as birth place, he's listed in the town building as Sweden--"unknown place in Sweden." But they're both buried up in Prospect Hill Cemetery. But anyway, they lived in New Haven for a long time. He worked in the brass foundry. And in those days there were no environmental controls or anything. I don't know if you've ever been in a brass foundry, but I used to-- When I was a kid, I used to work for a man who had me cut firewood, and the brass foundries around Waterbury and New Haven on Naugatuck River all started their fires with kindling--wooden kindling. So I used to deliver the wooden kindling to--____ bags full of kindling to the brass foundry. And I used to take a deep breath before going into the foundry and run, throw the bags where they were supposed to go, run out and try to get out before I had to take any of that air in, because it was just--Oh, burn your lungs! It was terrible! And my grandfather worked there for quite a while. And his lungs gave out. So I'm not surprised.
So he and my grandmother had an opportunity to come out here. Dr. George Folger, whom I'm sure you've heard of-- Dr. George's wife Catherine--maiden name was Coe, and she was from New Haven, and they were friends of the people that my grandparents had worked for. And I don't know-- They didn't come out to work for Catherine. They came out here to work for the LaFarges. The LaFarges lived next door, and they also had a big place out on Tuckernuck. And my grandparents came out for the summer to work for the LaFarges on Tuckernuck. And I remember going out there with--Ah! Ruth Reedy's father. What was his name? Chappel[sp?]--Edward Chappel went out there in an outboard motor. Must have been, oh, 1939-1940. Went out to Tuckernuck. And the LaFarges had a big brass telescope. It's still there. The house isn't there. The hill the house was on is gone. It's all eroded. But I remember seeing a house that was right on the edge of the bank about ready to go over, but also, going up to the top of this hill where their house was and looking through the telescope at some "coasting freighters by sail." And it was pretty exciting--three big coasting freighters, and--down south of the island.
And anyway-- Yeah, I remember that was my first trip out to Tuckernuck, and that was around 1940. And I don't think I went to Tuckernuck again until Dan LaFarge got married. And I did his wedding out there, and that was the first wedding on Tuckernuck in over a hundred years! [Laughter] But anyway the LaFarges lived next door to the people my-- My grandmother was a cook, and she worked for Professor Kent who was at the divinity school. And my grandfather also went there and did some things and then decided to work in the foundry. But they knew the LaFarges, and they came out here for the summer and then met Catherine Folger. And she asked them if they would stay for year 'round to work for them, which they did. They lived out in Polpis near the lifesaving station, in the house that Harter--Ika[sp?] J. Harter--had. Now Ika's dead--the Harter house.
And those are my first memories of going out to Nantucket with--going down the old road before it was straightened out--the old Polpis Road, and going out to visit my grandparents out in--on the Polpis end. And that was right in the third house on the Polpis Road, up on the Lifesaving Museum. I don't know what it is now--about the 575th. [Laughter] But there were no houses down there. It was very open, lot of milkweed. I remember when you looked from the house, of course, you could see out ____. And they had an old "woody," and old station wagon. And I remember one day I wanted to go-- My grandfather took me crabbing up the creek there. And we went down to the beach, you know, and there comes some ____. We went down to the beach and got into George Folger's skiff there, right up the creek dipping for crabs. [Laughter] And my grandfather would get a crab, dump it out of the net into the bottom of the boat. And of course I'd run around in my bare feet--oh my goodness! [Laughter] That was before hurricane of '38, so it must have been-- Yes, I must have been very young--must have been about four at that point, because we went up the old mouth of the creek. When the hurricane of '38 came through, there had been a big bed of clams out there--steamers. It buried the bed of clams; it changed the opening in the creek to the way it is now. This was just before then. I don't remember that it was different, but my father did. [Chuckle] That was fun!
And, you know, one of the sad things-- My grandfather was a--was big on--for some reason he liked the spring. I don't know whether this was something in his heritage or something in his boyhood. But just he knew the significance of the nice clear spring, because he cleared out a spring and fixed it up down at Mount Carmel[sp?], out in front of where Professor Kent ____. And that was the spring that we used to drink out when we were playing hockey at the pond. Oh, it's sad to go out there. Last time I went into Mount Caramel, I stopped there to see what--if it was, you know-- There was a sign up--"Don't drink the water." Not ____. But he also cleaned out a spring here, and that was Canapatche[sp?] Spring out in Polpis. And one of the sad things that's happened, I think. Building a house out there, people wanted to put in some extra parking. So they rented a bulldozer, and they bulldozed the spring out there. And to me that's-- Well, it's ignorant, for one thing. But it's also totally contrary to the respect for life that we should all have. Who would bulldoze over a spring ____, a spring that gave the place its name! That just is so distressing! Distressing! There are people who seem to think that they're alive in order to make a killing, and what they do is to make a killing, right!
Anyway, those are some of my earliest memories. I do remember that the air smelled differently than it does today. And I didn't believe that till I went out to Tuckernuck when Dan LaFarge got married and I smelled that same air that I had smelled on Nantucket in the thirties. So that's how I got to Nantucket.
SCHMID: So, do you remember the hurricane in '38?
ANDERSON: Oh, yes! I remember very well.
SCHMID: You were here on the island?
ANDERSON: But I wasn't here, no.
ANDERSON: No. I remember it very well. I was in kindergarten. I was--young! [Chuckle] Just started school. But the kindergarten teacher was my god mother, so my parents got me in early. And so here I was, four years old, and the hurricane came. And it hit, and it hit badly in Connecticut, as it did here. And they dismissed us from school, but not--in the hurricane! And here I was, this little guy four years old. [Chuckle] And I walked home in the hurricane all by myself. There wasn't any transportation around there. And I remember turning my back. The wind was blowing so hard that it was blowing my--pebbles off the--and sand off the road and into my face. So I turned around to walk backward into it down by B.J. Dickerman's barn. And as I turned around, I saw a big apple tree that I had just walked under tumble like a tumble weed across the road. I didn't hear it. The wind was howling so, it made no-- I couldn't hear anything at all. But the tree just tumbled where I'd just been and crashed into the barn and busted up the door of the barn. But, oh yes! I remember the hurricane! [Chuckle] But, geeze! You know, to send little kids out into a hurricane! Go home, kids! [Laughter] Now is the time to go home! Holy mackerel!
SCHMID: Did your home get damaged?
ANDERSON: No, no. My father worked for the telephone company. And because the telephone company was so critical for communications in the emergencies, he didn't come home until--oh, late at night. And by then all the wires were-- He walked! He was some stubborn Swede! He walked all the way from New Haven all the way from New Haven out to Mount Caramel, around the fallen wires and the trees and the-- It was a mess! [Chuckle] My grandmother--my Swedish grandmother used to say, "I am a firm willed old lady! Your father is an obstinate man! And you are a pig headed little boy!" [Laughter] Oh, she was the most stubborn person I've ever met in my life! Yet. Well, anyway.
SCHMID: So, what was-- How about town? What was town like in the thirties and forties?
ANDERSON: Town here?
SCHMID: Yeah, here.
ANDERSON: Oh, well, we didn't live in town. We lived-- When we came down, the Folgers had had a camp out by the west side of Hummock Pond. It burned down. As a matter of fact I was on the fire department when it burned down. And went out there and put out the fire, and then we went back a little later and put it out again. It started up again. I don't know whether-- It was probably arson, because there was nothing there to start a fire. There was no electricity and nobody living there, supposedly. So ____.
Well, anyway, when we came into town-- There is that little rise by the Folger-Franklin monument. And you could look from there and see town. And that was the first time you saw town. And town was very confined, even when I started at the church here 30 years ago, town was very clearly defined. The edge of town was by Caden[sp?] Circle. There were a few houses beyond that, but not much up to the landing--not much. Beyond that was open. There were a few houses around, like ____ house, of course, but basically it was open beyond that. And when I used to go up in the tower to look around the island, you could see the edge of town, you know? Went from ____, and it came around, and you could see the end of the houses. Well, not anymore.
it was interesting living out there at the Hummock
Pond. In those days Hummock Pond was just one pond,
and there was a big stretch of water on the pond
between ____ pasture and the beach. And nobody went
swimming out in the south shore of the--not really.
You know, some people went out there, but nobody
went swimming. People were afraid of the "undertow,"
you know, and that kind of thing. But there weren't
that many people ____ for the beach, you know. The
people who came regularly in the summer got hunkered
down in places like. They had their own spots. There
was a lot of socializing in Nantucket and that kind
of stuff ____, but not at the south shore. You very
seldom found-- Even when I worked for Whitings Dairy
in 1959-1960, something like that, after work at
five o'clock I'd drive out Hummock Pond Road to
the end of the road, take off my clothes, and run
across the beach, have a swim, come out, put my
clothes on. There was never anybody there! And that
was all summer long--never anybody there.
But in-- I went swimming-- We used to-- My mother used to let us play in the surf a little bit at the edge, but not go in the water. But around 1947, '48--something like that, when I was a young teenager, they let me go in swimming. And I was out swimming in the water-- "Not too far, don't go too far! Don't let the undertow bite you!" So I was out swimming around. All of a sudden I saw my father frantically on the beach--frantically waving me in. So I came in-- "What's the matter?" He said, "Look!" And I looked out there, and I there were sharks! [Laughter] You could see-- You could see the sharks! [Laughter] He said, "They were swimming around you! [Laughter]
ANDERSON: Yeah! So-- [Chuckle] Yeah.
SCHMID: Did you go out to Siasconset? Because I know that-- We have a lot of photographs early on of a lot of people swimming out at Siasconset.
ANDERSON: No. That's very early. That's on Low Beach, yeah--on Country Square in ____ Park, yeah.
SCHMID: You didn't go out there?
ANDERSON: No, we didn't go out there. We didn't go out there by the ____. My parents usually took us over to Dionus[sp?], and that was interesting, too, because I remember you look way down the beach and you could see people swimming down at the jetty, but that was it! Nobody's swimming--nobody on the beach. It was--out of town it was very rural! Now there were farms, and there were cows. June Bartlett had cows out-- And, you know, the dairy out at Slozach's[sp?] wasn't even built then! It was built a little later, ____ and stuff like that, riding through the dairy. Yeah!
SCHMID: And you used to work for a dairy? Is that what you said?
ANDERSON: I worked for Whitings, yeah. Vern Hamilton was the--I guess the boss for the dairy--Whitings ____. I was-- Jack McCuldary[sp?] was a milkman. Frank Miscern[sp?] was a milkman. I was desperately looking for some kind of work. I was a teacher then and here visiting my parents. And my parents built a cottage and came in the summer. And then they retired. And my daughter was out here with them, so I'd come out to visit. As a matter of fact, my father and I frequently go back and forth. He was still working ____ at the telephone company. And he and I would come out for the weekend, but then I would stay when I had the chance. And I got this job working at the dairy being a mechanic. And I'm not a mechanic, but I convinced Vern I knew something about machinery.
ANDERSON: Vern Hamilton.
SCHMID: Vern Hamilton.
ANDERSON: And the-- I fixed some things. I washed the trucks and stuff like that, you know. But it was just a part-time job. But that was alright.
SCHMID: You would have been in your teens or twenties?
ANDERSON: Oh, no, no, no, no! By then I was teaching.
SCHMID: Oh, you were already a professional--alright.
ANDERSON: I was a teacher.
SCHMID: Yeah, I understand.
ANDERSON: Oh, yeah, but 1960 I was ____ 26 years old. And my daughter was five, I guess--four--five!
SCHMID: Well, what level did you teach?
ANDERSON: I taught high school.
SCHMID: High school.
I taught English at Cheshire High School in Cheshire,
Connecticut for three years. And then I went to
divinity school. Yeah, things happened. I was torn.
My-- A professor of mine with whom I got along very
well--we remained friends after I graduated from
college. He wanted me to sort of follow in his footsteps.
He wanted me to go to his university and study Germanic
philology history of the English language. And so
I prepared for that. I applied, and that was fine,
except that I couldn't--there was no place to live.
I had just gotten married, and I didn't want to
be separated from my family. And the-- One of the
members of the school committee was the assistant
dean at Yale Divinity School. And I talked to him
about going to divinity school and becoming a school
chaplain. I thought it was a great idea. And so
I put in a late application to Yale Divinity School
and got accepted. And, oh, I thought I'd work my
way through by-- Well, I had scholarship money of
course, but I worked my way through by teaching
at ____ Connecticut State College. In fact I taught
there--on the faculty there for three years.
And then I did become a school chaplain. I was a school chaplain for four years. But then the school had some what I call political difficulties, and the headmaster resigned. And I figured it was time for the chaplain to resign as well. And so I resigned and came out here. And school chaplains' jobs are not easy to find unless you're a Catholic or an Episcopalian!
SCHMID: [Chuckle] Yeah!
So I had some possibilities, but things dragged
on. At the time my parents were down in Florida
for the winter. And of course, if you give up a
private school job, you give up your housing, because
was part of the job. And we stayed at my parents'
house, because we didn't have a place to live. And
it dragged on! And I was working. I got a job almost
immediately working for John Gilbert. John Gilbert
gave me a job doing carpentry. And, you know, people
knew I was a minister. And when some of the ministers
went on vacation or got sick or something like that,
I'd fill in. I think I filled in at most churches
on the island. I'd known Fred Bennett for years
before we came here. As a matter of fact, the year
they did the restoration of the church over there--1968,
I'd just come back from Israel. And Fred asked me
if I'd help him out by taking one of his three Sunday
services. I said, "Sure!" Then when his
father died, I came down here and covered for him
that time. Fred was a nice guy! I liked Fred.
[Chuckle] I came down to give the Sunday morning service, and of course I left school. It was in New York State. I left there on Saturday and got the boat out. I got here on Saturday, alright. It was the winter. Everything was shut up. And Sunday afternoon I couldn't get out. I think it took me about three days to get back to school. Of course the headmaster was ripping when I got back! [Laughter] ____. I was just stuck on the island! And the weather-- You got stuck!
I remember one of the times I came over in the sixties with my father, we had to spend the night on the boat. It was so foggy the boat couldn't get in. It got over here to the end of the jetty, but they didn't have the kind of technology that they do today. And we drifted off ____ all night and came in first thing in the morning.
SCHMID: Everyone just slept on board?
ANDERSON: Oh, no! You tried to sleep.
SCHMID: Or you didn't! [Laughter]
ANDERSON: You didn't sleep, yeah.
SCHMID: Do you remember the harbor freezing up?
ANDERSON: Oh, sure! Sure! There were three good freezes around 1980. I think the winter of '78-'79, '79-'80--'82-'83 or--well, anyway, two-- I can't remember exactly. I remember one of them was the year that--one freeze was the year that Ronald Reagan took office.
SCHMID: That would be 1980.
ANDERSON: Well, no-- Was he elected in '80 and take office in '81? I think it would be the winter of '80-'81. Maybe I'm wrong, but he was--
SCHMID: I thought he started in '80, because I remember the Iranian crisis as '79, and that was Carter's nightmare going out of office.
ANDERSON: Yep-- Well, that's right, that's right. It would have been-- Yeah, they take office in '80. That's right, they-- Well, we've got an election this year, don't we?
ANDERSON: So the election is 2000, and they take office in 2001.
SCHMID: That's true! It would be 2001, actually. Yeah, that's right.
So it would have been '81 that he actually took
SCHMID: That's right. Yeah.
ANDERSON: [Loud helicopter noise] That's been around too much!
SCHMID: Is that its regular pass here?
ANDERSON: No, it isn't, as a matter of fact. It's circling around, and I don't know what's up. Somebody must have--they must have decided to go back in with a patient. That's one of the--one of the very difficult things. They take off with somebody's in very tough shape, just get off the ground, and--
SCHMID: And something happens and they need to come back in? Stabilize-- Stabilize him?
ANDERSON: Yeah, I think that's what just happened. [Long pause] Well, had a funny one-- Faith Holden was flown off-- Libby's sister. It's a wonderful story. Faith is rather frail now, and she's well on. And the crew looked at this frail old lady, and they were a little concerned. Said, "Have you ever been up in a helicopter?" And Faith said, "In Korea I had my own helicopter!" [Laughter] She was colonel in the nurse corps! [Laughter]
SCHMID: That's great! [Laughter] Libby told me that. She didn't tell me that story, but she-- Oh, wow!
ANDERSON: "In Korea I had my own helicopter!" [Laughter]
SCHMID: That's a great answer!
ANDERSON: I love it! I love it! Oh, that's great. Now, what was I rambling on about?
SCHMID: Oh, let's see. Well, you were talking about-- You had been talking about being a chaplain, and then coming out here and doing intern--intern kind of thing.
ANDERSON: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
SCHMID: So you didn't actually move out here until about to live ____ 30 or so years ago, right?
No! We didn't-- That's right! That's right! I actually--
It was just 30 years ago. And I thought it was only
temporary. I thought it was only going to be for
a few months. And then months slipped into a couple
of years. And in January of '72 the minister at
the Unitarian Church, Brainard[sp?] Gibbons, who
was a wonderful guy-- But he'd retired. He'd been
head of the Universalist Association and come out
here hoping to find a place to retire on Nantucket.
And he got a little disgruntled at the-- [Chuckle]
at the real estate prices. Can you imagine being
disgruntled in 1970? [Laughter] Anyway, he suddenly
left, and the congregation-- I'd just been there
filling in for him while he was on vacation. So
the congregation asked me if I'd fill in until they
got somebody permanent. They ____. They tried this
one, and they tried that one; and none of the candidates
impressed them. So they asked me if I would do it--make
it permanent. And I really wasn't sure. I'd never
had parish ministry on my mind. I was teaching,
and-- As a matter of fact I hope to be teaching
again some this fall. I enjoy teaching! I've enjoyed
being a parish minister, but I wasn't what I had
in mind. [Chuckle]
But anyway, I said, "Well, we have a few opportunities. Let us go check them out. I'll give you an answer when we come back." So Gretchen and I went off, and we knew this before we got on the boat. We knew that we were going to accept the job here. We went up, and we looked at the--what was available. And I probably would have taken one of them if we hadn't been able to stay on Nantucket, but beyond that-- But we did, and we moved into the parsonage on Memorial Day weekend in 1972. We'd be living above the cliff if--winter rental, 125 bucks a months!
SCHMID: Wow! [Chuckle]
ANDERSON: And I think it was a five bedroom rate, but-- Ha! Well, in those days you could-- If you were lucky you could find a place to house sit. People would have you live in their house just to keep an eye on things if you were lucky, but-- Well, you know, 125 bucks-- I wasn't making that much more as a carpenter, you know? I was making about that a week, I suppose, as a carpenter.
SCHMID: Right. What kind of carpentry did you-- Did you do finished carpentry or just sort of everything?
ANDERSON: Oh, everything. The carpenters then all did everything. We did flooring; we did roofing; we did, you know, the specialized that we do today. We did finished work, but it's become much more specialized with now people just doing roofs or just doing insulation or just doing finished work. People have multiplied themselves out of work. But it gave me enough skill to be able to build a house if I want to, and I built the cottage over here.
SCHMID: Now, so when you came out-- Now, had you been raised as a Unitarian or not?
ANDERSON: No, I hadn't. I was ordained-- My idea was to be-- Oh, there's a Cedar Waxwing up the top of the tree, there! I was ordained by--in the Congregational Church--UCC Church, and the people who ordained me were mainly friends of mine. One was UCC; one was the dean--associate dean of Yale Divinity. He had been on the school board up in Connecticut--Cheshire. He was Disciples of Christ, and an old friend of mine who was Presbyterian, you know. It was a mish-mash of ministers. I didn't have much of what you would call denominational allegiance. I don't think it's-- Well, of course most Chaplains do have a denominational allegiance, but if you're going to serve a school, serve people of many different persuasions and none at all, then you can't let denominationism interfere. So I didn't have much of an allegiance to any denomination. But when they offered me the job here, I really felt that I had found a place that--a community that expressed things the way I believed them. In other words, I thought I'd found in Unitarian Universalism--this is what I-- Liberal religion is where I felt comfortable. And since it's non-creedal and non-doctrinal, I could-- You know, I didn't have to worry about being a hypocrite and saying things I didn't believe.
ANDERSON: Ha! One of the local ministers one time said to me, "You know, at heart," he said, "I'm really a Unitarian." I said, "Well, you're not, because if you were, you wouldn't be saying all those other things that you say." [Laughter] You know, you wouldn't be making a hypocrite out of yourself. [Laughter] Yeah, I don't think he was really a Unitarian at heart anyway. Just trying to make me feel good.
SCHMID: So what were the challenges that faced you, being a pastor of this kind of congregation?
Oh, it was a wonderful congregation--very small.
Brainard had figured that there were 28 people who
had contributed to the life of the congregation
in any way the previous year--28 members, either
by coming to church or by sending in a check at
Christmas, or whatever. [Chuckle] There-- It was
a very small group. They were generally retired--retirement
age--not all retired, but retirement age, a lot
of teachers. Dorothy Gardener, for instance, was
a member, Mary Sherman--a lot of librarians. Eleanor
Finney, who was a wonderful--I thought a wonderful
poet, was a member. Kay and Til[sp?] Burnam, Bob
and Helen Condon-- They were a terrific bunch, and
I fell in love with them, which is marvelous! I
guess that's the best ____. I fell in love with
these people! And we had a good time. We have ____,
we have-- You know, we'd have an occasional pot
luck supper. And they were wonderful cooks. But
there was only one person who was able enough to
set up the tables, and that was the minister! [Laughter]
And everybody else was older than my parents!
We had a wonderful sexton. Ann and Freddie Van Arsdale, who really loved the place! And, by golly, it had-- You can't buy that! They really loved the place, and ____ loyalty--and Gus Bentley, who was the organist. And Gus was not really an organist. He was a pianist, but he did alright on the organ. And there's a difference in instruments, and you're an organist or a pianist, or you can be both. But Gus had a little combo on a tour boat for a number of years, and I remember his-- He started what was called "Poetry Sunday," where the members of the church either contributed poetry that they had written or read some of their favorite poetry, or something like that. It was a lot of fun. And that got Eleanor Finney-- Oh, she was right behind it. She was a terrific woman!
SCHMID: Poetry Sunday.
ANDERSON: Poetry Sunday. One Poetry Sunday, celebrating the creative arts-- That Poetry Sunday-- Oh, I hope he's going to be alright ____. [Helicopter noise and pause] Let's click it off and ____. [Tape is clicked off.]
SCHMID: Yeah, I think that's it.
ANDERSON: I think so. Yeah, we moved into the parsonage Memorial Day weekend in 1972, and we moved out of the parsonage Memorial Day weekend, 1992. So we were in the parsonage exactly 20 years! [Laughter]
SCHMID: Exactly 20 years!
ANDERSON: Yeah, we moved out here to our own place and freed up the parsonage for other uses. The church has grown. It's not the--certainly not the same as it was when I started. Most of the people who were members then have passed on. Oh, I did want to mention what Gus Bentley did on Poetry Sunday!
SCHMID: Well, Poetry Sunday--yes!
Gus Bentley-- We included a lot of music in the
ceremony, and Gus at that time was very frail. And
he came up to the front of the church. We had a--
We had piano there--and played a composition of
his own--a jazz composition, which was a hit song
at one point. It-- The title was "Elaine,"
which was his daughter's name. He played "Elaine,"
and that was a very moving moment. There have been
so many moving moments in that church--oh, like
the memorial service for Josephine Whitehall. And
the person who was singing-- And I'm trying to remember
who it was. I can't remember. ____ just broke down.
She couldn't sing any more, and she was right in
the middle of a song. And Catherine Flanagan was
there, and Catherine just picked up the song and
went on--led everybody on with it without missing
note! Everybody joined in ____ right along ____.
Lot of wonderful moments like that!
Other moments, too! Remember the time Sidney Coffin-- Oh, what a cute little thing she was! Sidney was in her nineties, and she used to have a column in the paper called "Bird Tracks." And it was--oh, not heavy ornithological scholarship, but it was a lot of fun watching the birds, you know, telling little stories about what the birds did. And Sidney-- For Sidney's sake I'd occasionally read a passage or say something about birds. Well, I read something about birds as one of the readings that Sunday. And Sidney and Eddie, her husband, were sitting right in the front pew. And as I was half way through the passage about birds, Eddie Coffin jumped up, and he said, "My God! I left the chicken in the oven!" [Laughter] And he ran out the back door. [Laughter]
SCHMID: That's good! I like that! [Laughter]
Sidney came up to me one time. She and Eddie had
been divorced for years, couldn't get along, but
lived right next door to each other; and used to
do everything together, but just couldn't live together.
Well, Sidney came up to me ____ in almost a whisper
said, "I'm going out to Tuckernuck with Eddie
this weekend and staying overnight. Do you think
that's alright?" I said, "Why, Sidney,
you go and have a wonderful time!" [Laughter]
As a matter of fact, I've got Eddie's old dory out
back, now. Byron inherited it from Eddie, and then
Byron gave it to me before he passed on. It's a
wonderful, wonderful dory! I don't-- I can't keep
it the way Eddie or Byron did. Byron was a wonderful,
wonderful shipwright as well as seaman, and I don't
have the skills he had by any manner or means. But
I've got this wonderful dory that was built about
50 years ago the lines of the dory built at the
turn of the century that used to supply Tuckernuck.
It's a 22 foot dory, and it takes--
SCHMID: Big? Pretty big boat?
ANDERSON: Twenty-two feet, yeah! Sailing dory--takes 500 lbs. of ____--500 lbs. of ____. It's a marvelous.
SCHMID: Excuse me for a minute. I'll be turning this tape over. I just realized-- Ah, it's still okay for a little bit. I got this long tape in.
ANDERSON: Good! I'm long winded! [Laughter]
SCHMID: Good thing, huh?
ANDERSON: Yeah, yeah! [Laughter]
SCHMID: So, how do you account for the growth. I mean, I had read in one of the articles that there were about 21 people when you came on--27 or whatever.
ANDERSON: Well, Brainard said 28, but I know there were-- There was one service one service one Sunday morning--quite a snow. And of course we don't meet upstairs in the summertime--in the wintertime, because it's not heated. We met downstairs as usual, and there were seven people there including Gus Bentley, ____, myself, and Gretchen. So really there were four parishioners there besides the staff. And I said, "Now, I've written the sermon, and I'll be happy to do it; but, you know, how about saving it for next week, and we'll just have a palaver this morning. And one of the parishioners, I think it was Faith, said, "We came through this snow to hear a sermon, and we're going to hear a sermon!" [Laughter] "Yes! Colonel! Yes! Colonel!" [Laughter]
SCHMID: Really, you fight the weather, by God, you're going to hear a sermon! Right?
ANDERSON: Right, you're going to hear a sermon, yeah! I love it!
SCHMID: That's funny!
ANDERSON: I was trying to get myself a little reprieve there! [Laughter]
SCHMID: Well, yeah-- I mean, how many parishioners are there now in that church?
ANDERSON: Oh, I think we've got about-- I really-- I don't like numbers. I'm not really sure.
SCHMID: But it's grown hugely, though, hasn't it?
ANDERSON: Yeah, well about 300, I suppose. But the numbers lie. You know, there are people who are members I haven't seen for years, you know--who haven't come back to the island, moved away or something like that. But they still have a loyalty and an allegiance. I'm certainly not going to take them off!
SCHMID: Oh, sure.
ANDERSON: But membership rolls--oh, I have numbers-- Numbers are deceptive! But there are a lot of people who probably will never become members who will call on me or call on whoever the minister is when they need a minister, because that's the place they feel an identity with. I think that's been the big change. The church has made a--become an important institution in the community or the members of the congregation, and the congregation provide leadership in a lot of ways. And, you know, I think I can look for the right thing to do for--from a liberal standpoint. That's where it's going to come from. [Chuckle]
SCHMID: Yeah, right.
ANDERSON: Right thing from a liberal standpoint and right thing from a reactionary standpoint are frequently at odds.
SCHMID: At odds, yes. Still there must have been some conflict--
ANDERSON: What do you mean?
SCHMID: --in the church.
ANDERSON: In the church?
ANDERSON: If there were, I never-- Well, there were a couple of conflicts, yes. There were some, mainly in recent years, and mainly differences of opinion with people who didn't understand the island or didn't understand the island community or the congregation. For instance, we--when we stand up to sing the hymns, we turn and face the choir loft, which is wonderful, you know--gives the minister a chance to air out on a hot day and count the congregation. [Laughter] I didn't know that the minister was supposed to count the congregation every Sunday so that the trustees would know how many people had attended church.
SCHMID: Speaking of numbers, right?
ANDERSON: Speaking of numbers, yeah. And the first minister's report I gave-- It must have been the meeting in 1973 report on the activities of the church, and I finished my report, and Bob Condon said, "Well, how many people came to church?" And I said, "I have no idea!" He said, "Didn't you keep attendance?" I said, "No." [Laughter] He said, "Well, you're supposed to keep attendance!" And I said, "Well, nobody told me to." So-- Ha! After that, first hymn, everybody got up, turned around, faced the choir loft, I'd count! [Laughter]
SCHMID: So you had to sing and count at the same time?
ANDERSON: Well, I usually ____. You know, it didn't take too long to count the seven people! [Laughter]
SCHMID: Yeah, that's a unique custom for that church isn't it?
ANDERSON: Yeah, but there's apt to be somebody who will come in the future and say, "This is silly. This is not done in any church I know of. We're not going to do it any more." And--sure! You know, why not?
ANDERSON: It's important to keep your own identity and, just because they do things differently somewhere else, doesn't mean that's the right way or the only way.
SCHMID: Yeah, sometimes tradition supersedes practicality, right?
Yeah-- Well, there's nothing particularly practical
about going to church in the first place! [Laughter]
Yeah, people have--come sometimes with different
ideas, and they find it difficult. They think we're--sometimes
think we're old fashioned and stodgy. And perhaps
that's because we've had more respect for the past
than people do who are willing to put a road through
a Cemetery or that ____. Certainly the-- Through
the years the island has shown sometimes an unrealistic
respect for the past, distorting what the past was
all about, sometimes--distorting the fact that the
Quaker community of 1820 was not the Quaker community
that we're familiar with--you know, pacifism and
civil rights people. It was--the Quaker community
on Nantucket was a very rigid, domineering type
community. And you don't understand Nantucket's
past if you mistake the Quakers of 1820 with the
Quakers of 2000--or the Unitarians of 1820 with
the Unitarians of 2000.
Believe it or not, there was a man expelled from the Uni-- Well, actually it was before it was the Unitarian Church. Man was expelled from the congregation for heresy. Well, how can you be a heretical Unitarian! Impossible! But that was before they had become Unitarian.
SCHMID: It was still a Congregational Church?
ANDERSON: Yeah. It's still a ____ church. And, as a matter of fact, in the early years it was tax supported like all the established churches in Massachusetts--established by an act of the state legislature. But there were also good things back then.
SCHMID: Actually, I'm going to turn this over. [Change to Side B of Tape] I just-- I do all the reading I can about a person and try to find out, you know, as much as I can about them. And then sort of brainstorm for a few things I can ask. And most people just like to--you know, like to ramble, hopefully go off the clock! [Laughter] That's the--it saves me! I guess-- Let's see, I was going to ask about the church renovation that occurred in the 1980s. Was that-- ?
ANDERSON: Early eighties, yeah.
SCHMID: Yeah, what kind of difficulties did that-- ?
ANDERSON: Oh, well, we didn't have any money! [Laughter] That was the beginning, yeah. We lucked out. We had a meeting down on Holbert[sp?] Avenue at John Greenleaf's place, John Greenleaf's summer place down there. We met on the porch, and it was a meeting-- Let's see, who was there? Bob Condon was one; Bernie ____; John was one; I was one. Can't remember who else was there. And we were debating about going into a fund raiser that was going to-- Oh, the renovation was going to cost a half a million dollars probably. Actually wound up costing quite a bit more. And Bernie said, "Well, let's each make a pledge, and see how much we can come up with. We were just this little group here--see how we get off the ground. And I thought that was strange thing to do, just bring it up like that. And I stretched. I think I pledged $5,000, which, given that we didn't have anything at that time, that was kind of optimistic! But the others were able to pledge a lot more, and I think they realized that among themselves they were willing to contribute a quarter of a million dollars-- Okay, we're alright! We can do it. And we get-- The Hendricks brothers were wonderful. Jack designed the new quarters downstairs. Jack was president of the trustees at that time, and Jim was the chairman of the South Church Preservation Committee. And they just knocked themselves out. They were generous with their talents and with their resources. They were wonderful. And Bob Condon was very generous, Bernie, Harry Armstrong, Dedi Greenleaf--Dedi and John, both were very-- Most of these people are gone, now. And I don't know if people who have resources have the same kind of commitment to the community as those folks did. But we did it, and it was a big job. It was an enormous job. Doing the--redoing the interior painting was, itself, a quarter of a million dollar project. And I'm afraid-- We saved the plaster and it was repainted, nice job, but I'm afraid paint on plaster on Nantucket is never going to last very long. But at least, the plaster isn't going to fall off.
ANDERSON: And that was very important. The plaster was consolidated, ____ back into the ____. We found a lot of things in the course of the work that-- Oh, boy! It's a wonder the building didn't fall down! We found one area that was badly charred. It had a fire in there.
SCHMID: What section was that?
ANDERSON: Well, it was down on the north side of the building about two-thirds of the way along toward the back of the church, around the foundation. I don't know what it was. It was on the inside of the building--no idea what it was.
SCHMID: I wonder if it's in any of the old records--if there's any mention of that.
ANDERSON: Well, we'd have to search. And, you know, there's a lot of work that could be done on the whole building. It's the-- It's older than the other big churches on the island. It's always had a special place in the ____ of the community as a building--as a building.
But not as a congregation. That's had its ups and
downs. Cyrus Pierce was a member, _____ Mitchell
was a member. But there was a long time that it
was doubtful that it would continue. When I started,
I had the idea that Nantucket was one of the last
small towns where people lived and worked--still
aren't commuters. Of course the season was different--the
tourist season. And you went down town in the early
evening, in the early seventies--went down town
after labor day, the only sound you could hear was
the sound of the kids playing up on the up on the
playground at the Academy Old School. That was right
after Labor Day. Well, that's all changed! That--
The town really was or the island really was pretty
self-contained as far as the people were concerned,
and as far as the heart of the community. I had
talked this over with Eddie Stackpost so many times,
how the heart of the community is downtown Main
Street, and if the community loses that, the community
will lose its heart! And I don't know as it's totally
happened yet, but it certainly has been happening
with year 'round businesses moving out--no more
Putner's[sp?], no more Robinson's, no more barber
shop. You know, the local businesses have moved
out. And it's been taken over by the tourist industry.
And the tourist industry, for all its benefits, is probably the most destructive of communities that there is. Takes over communities. I think it's the third biggest business in the world.
ANDERSON: Yeah--drugs, guns, and tourism! I'm not sure which order the come in.
SCHMID: So what do you think is the biggest challenge facing Nantucket in the future, and what's going to happen, do you think?
Well, I'm not sure that the community is going to
continue to have a sense of itself. If you don't
have a sense of your-- If a community doesn't have
a sense of itself, it's like a patient with Alzheimers.
It forgets who it was, forgets where it came from,
forgets what's happened, and is here for the moment.
And that's it! I'm not sure that-- There are things
that haven't disappeared yet. The Historical Association
hasn't disappeared, and it hasn't become a curio
collection. It's still got its viable place in the
community and it's respect in the community. The
paper still has "Looking Backward" and
stuff like that. But I don't think that people feel
____. Certainly 50 years ago nobody would have dared
suggest running a road through a Cemetery! And to
me, if you don't respect the dead, if you don't
respect your own past, and if you-- You can legally,
of course, run a road through a Cemetery--move the
graves and do whatever. But that isn't the point.
I saw this when we went down to Florida after Hurricane Andrew. I realized that one way a community helps get a sense of itself is to reach out beyond itself to some other community, which is what we did by going down to Florida after Hurricane Andrew--which is what we did by sending stuff up to Chelsea after the fire.
ANDERSON: Did a lot of stuff like that. And, you know, I really don't hear that much about what's going on, on that type of reaching out beyond ourselves--not a whole hell of a lot. We're getting more and more focused on just ourselves, until you step outside and look at it ____. But anyway, and I-- When I started, I thought that this would be a wonderful place to have the kind of community ministry and parish ministry that I thought I could do, then focusing in part on the community, making a commitment to this community and this place, but also trying to sort of reach out beyond--but building up a sense of self. That's what people express, I think, when they talk about going down town after the tourist season and seeing people--seeing their friends, seeing people they know, seeing people they haven't seen ____. What they're doing is saying, "Okay, we are still a community." There are so many little things involved. But then years ago when you would go down the road past somebody you knew, which was most of the time, you gave them the one finger wave.
ANDERSON: You don't see that much anymore. Don't see ____ [Names] anymore. [Laughter]
SCHMID: Eddie Coffin? Is that who you were talking-- ?
ANDERSON: Eddie Coffin, no, I--Andy Lowell.
ANDERSON: No, Andy's still around, but he's not very well. Andy had it right! Andy would say 30 years ago, "There's going to be-- We're going to lose it! The one-man carpentry operation is fine, but it's going to be taken over by big corporations, big developments. They're going to build us right out of work!" He had it right.
SCHMID: [Chuckle] So, I mean, you've certainly extended yourself beyond--all this reading, beyond just the congregation, too. I see that you've done a lot like-- How did you get involved as being the chaplain of the fire department?
ANDERSON: I was on the fire department! I was a fireman!
SCHMID: You were on-- You were a volunteer fireman?
ANDERSON: Yeah, for years I was on the ladder company. I was ____ of the ladder company. I was on the ladder truck the night of the Straightwater fire, on the ladder truck the night of the Zero Main Street fire. So if you see pictures of the ladder truck that night, probably ____! [Laughter]
SCHMID: ____ want to be up there, yeah! [Laughter] How long did you do that?
ANDERSON: Oh, I went on-- Irving Bartlett was the chief when I went on.
SCHMID: What year, about?
ANDERSON: Early seventies--'71, '72. And, because I was a minister, they made me the chaplain. And very shortly after I went on Irving died. And so I very quickly got involved in being chaplain ____. And then a little bit after that Johnny Hamlin died. So that's how I got involved there. I kept on up until around--oh, 1982. I was just--when I was approaching 50, anyway. And I guess I had stopped when I--
ANDERSON: --was stopping the fire ____. I figured it was time to-- My legs were getting arthritic, and I figured it was time for somebody else to go bouncing around on the roofs of burning buildings in the middle of the night!
SCHMID: [Laughter] So, I know that you're interested in teaching again, now that you've retired?
ANDERSON: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
SCHMID: Have you-- You live out-- What's going on with education on Nantucket?
ANDERSON: Well, I would say that in education, as in all things, Nantucket is just world ____ small. I'm concerned with what's going on in education not just on Nantucket, but in the country. And the move to privatize education is--makes about as much sense as the move to privatize the fire department, you know. Huh! It's ____ privatization is nonsense! Some things work very well privatized--private enterprise does well with some kinds of businesses, but it doesn't do well at all with others. And it doesn't do very well with those that serve all the community.
And the great dream of America ____ more basic than
even the idea of freedom is the idea of democracy
that begins with democratic education-- Educate
everyone, and provide the best education you can
for everyone. But Americans have never bought into
the second part of that. [Chuckle] We haven't supported
education as we should. We haven't supported the
dream, and now, turning it over to a politician--saying,
"Something's wrong, so let's let the politicians
fix it." To me it just makes no sense at all!
The ____ tests and that kind of stuff, it's just
sniffling! And it should be done away with, and
they probably will be. Tests don't solve the problem.
I think we were closer to solving the problem with the Conant Report back in the late fifties. After the Soviets fired off Sputnik, Americans said, "Oh, my goodness! You know, the Soviets are getting as smart as we are!" That's some people have never given the Soviet Union credit for. In 1917 Russia was a country where most people were illiterate, lived in squalor. It was the pits! And fifty years later they put Sputnik up and an educational system--health, education, housing-- There's a lot-- The same with Castro, putting the emphasis on service, and doing so while fighting almost a continual war and also while being almost entirely isolated by embargoes and prejudice from the rest of the world. It's just-- No wonder they went broke! [Chuckle]
ANDERSON: It's incredible. It's just incredible that you-- But they believed in education. I was playing with the idea of going to Novokuznetsk to teach for a sabbatical leave, just before the break up of the Soviet Union, and I had a possibility there. But that changed. But anyway, I don't feel very hopeful about the solutions that are being proposed. The solutions that Conant proposed-- Conant was the president of Harvard. He was asked by the government to make a report on education. What should be done to bring up the level of education. And there were some wonderful ideas. You don't hear about it today. There were some wonderful ideas. For instance, there was a lot of scholarship--government scholarship availability for people who wanted to go into teaching. You give the scholarship, and for every year you taught, a certain amount of the loan was written off, so that after you taught for ten years, you had paid for your own college education--things like that to encourage able people to go into teaching and to build up a pride. It-- Frankly, it's demeaning to think that a guy who does fairly--not demanding physical and intellectual work can get twice the pay of a teacher!
It's demeaning! I think everybody should be given
a fair salary, something they can live on, and live
well on. I don't-- I think the leveling of salaries
has to--leveling of pay has to come about. Good
God! I mean, inequities! You go down-- Down at the
harbor you see a boat with not just one helicopter
on it. It's got two helicopters on it ____. Well,
what is this? It's just expenditure for the sake
of showing off, that's all--just showing off! But
that showing off hurts the people who are struggling
and think they're doing something worthwhile. If
you're doing things that could ____ and know in
your heart are worthwhile, then you should be given
some respect! And the way-- To live struggling to
make ends meet is not being shown much respect.
The system is saying, "We don't respect what
you do enough to see to it that you can become--
It's demeaning and humiliating! And no wonder morale
Oh, I think there are wonderful teachers in the school system here. I think they're struggling with a lot of stuff. Those in Nantucket have to struggle with--
SCHMID: I know housing is a big problem, that it's hard to get teachers to come out and stay. They can't afford to ever buy property. That's one big problem.
ANDERSON: And there's no place to rent.
ANDERSON: You know, and the rents are out of sight. Yeah, they're out of--somebody with a job like yours. I don't know how much you make, but I know you're ____.
SCHMID: It ain't much! [Laughter] I mean, I was lucky in that NHA provided us an apartment. So--which is donated in kind by Mimi, which is a great thing that she does.
SCHMID: Otherwise, to be honest with you-- I mean, I wouldn't even consider coming out because, as beautiful as it is, and it's got so many new things in, there's no way I could hope to ever-- I couldn't afford, you know, rent here. And they couldn't afford to pay me the salary that it would take ____ that kind of money. So--
ANDERSON: And then you see good teachers dropping out of teaching to go into real estate, so that they can pay the mortgage. Not so hot!
SCHMID: Yes. Right.
ANDERSON: That's a place to begin to ____, and ____ is just-- You know the famous Kansas state decision not to teach--that the Kansas State Board of Education publicized. They voted not to have basic modern science taught in the high school. They weren't going to teach-- It wasn't just evolution. They weren't going to teach the big bang or ____ geologic or plate tectonics or anything like that--modern science, in other words. Well, the way they did that was say, "You can teach it if you want, but it's not going to be on our version of the ____ testing. And so if you take time to teach these things to the kids, you're not going to be taking the time to teach the things that are on ____ test. They will be penalized; you as a teacher will be penalized because they didn't do well; your system will be penalized. And that's how they'll do it, through the ____ test. Now take that a step-- Do it a little differently. Go out to where you were in Utah--Lowell?
SCHMID: That was up in Logan.
ANDERSON: Logan. Go out to Logan. And suppose there's a group in Logan, Utah that thinks that the holocaust is a fabrication by the international ____, and decides that they're not going to include anything on the holocaust ____. The kids in Logan, Utah won't read anything about the holocaust.
ANDERSON: Suppose you're in Mississippi or Alabama, and the school board there thinks that the whole civil rights business should be forgotten. [Sound is poor.] ____, so we're not going to include anything on the civil rights movement on the ____ test. ____. That's what happens when they turn it over to politicians, take it out of the hands of education.
ANDERSON: It becomes an implement for brainwashing ____.
SCHMID: Propaganda, yeah. That's a good point. That's a very good point!
ANDERSON: I am truly opposed to it! I don't trust ____.
SCHMID: Alright. Well, that's pretty much all the questions I have, you know. ____ about your work with the school committee.
Oh, we had something ____. We're having fun! Yeah,
we're having fun. I had a call about that just the
other night. Somebody wanted to know how I felt
about an issue that's ____ come to light ____. But
I was on the school committee ____. The school committee
ran the school. For better or worse, they ran the
school. And we had a totally incompetent superintendent.
[Laughter] So, we did. We had fun! David Vorhees,
Jeannette Topham, and that's about--and me! We pretty
much did-- We couldn't-- We tried to get a school
built. Space needs were out of sight. The elementary
school library-- Elementary had a library under
the stairs in the hallway. That was the elementary
We put kids everywhere! We had kids on the light ship learning marine vocation. We had-- We rented Harry ____ old garage and made it into an ungraded four through six. John Miller was down there--Carol ____--worked together down there. It was wonderful! We had the kindergarten in the academy--the conference room. We had kids all over the place. And consequently we were in--oh, in a position ____.
ANDERSON: We were in a position to really have some influence on what was happening. We couldn't get teachers to come here. I'm sure you know by this time that the school system lost its accreditation back in the sixties when the John Birch Society got ____ the other side of Nantucket, you know--very reactionary right-wing society that's still here. That's, you know-- They still get the racist graffiti from time to time. And it does make ____.
ANDERSON: I think one of the most outstanding achievements of this community has been the smooth, uncontroversial way the ____ network came into being and continues to serve, because there's a lot of really negative stuff. But anyway, back to wherever I was.
SCHMID: You were talking about the school committee and how you were able to--
ANDERSON: Ha! Yeah, yeah. I went up to Keen State up in New Hampshire, yeah, where they had a job fair for teachers Northern New England. And I was looking for teachers for several subjects. I remember one of them was girls' gym. Couldn't get anybody interested come down here and teach that. I got 117 candidates! [Laughter] We got one that was-- Oh, geez! She was terrific! She was an athlete; she was beautiful; she was intelligent! The kids loved her! Unfortunately, she was beautiful, she was intelligent, she was an athlete, but of course, a month after she was here, she announced she was going to move off the island and get married! [Laughter] So that didn't work very well. But Linda Hurland[sp?]. So that's where Linda Hurland got here, and several others came through that job fair. They were good teachers! I remember hiring Bob and Val Hall. And I guess-- We worked hard! And we were very much involved. And in those days, if we put in a budget, the town had to buy that budget. You know, we-- You know, the finance committee could fight with us, but we had fiscal autonomy. But now that's been taken away, and a lot of the things that used to be in the hands of the school committee are now in the hands of the superintendent. And I'm not sure that's entirely worked out as-- That's the way it is! I would not be interested in being on the school committee now, because I think they just, you know, like tits on a bull, but not much else. People think they can do a lot of things, but they can't do it. Their hands are-- Their responsibilities are very limited.
SCHMID: Yeah. And the AIDS Network-- Now were you one of the people who started.
ANDERSON: Yes, I was! Yes, I was! I think it was one of the best things I ever did! The AIDS Network-- The Food Pantry was started about the same time.
SCHMID: So you felt there was enough need on the island for-- ?
ANDERSON: There was enough need. Yes, there was. And it-- A young woman died of AIDS on the island, and a young man died of AIDS here. And at the Cemetery right over here, and in her service I promised her mother that we would do something ____. And I said to myself, "This opportunity probably won't come along again for awhile. Here we have someone who's not only a gay man, but here's a mother and a local person who has just died of AIDS. This is the time to start." And I had just lost two. The hospital ____. [Sound is poor.] The hospital didn't have any policy on AIDS at all. And I talked to Father Davenyoung[sp?]. They said ____ brought to the hospital, meet with the board, ____ the policy on AIDS.
SCHMID: Who was that, now?
ANDERSON: Phil Davenyoung, the Catholic priest.
SCHMID: Catholic, okay.
ANDERSON: And he said, "Sure." So he and I went up there, and we presented this policy--____ actually ____. I'm embarrassed by it, now.
ANDERSON: Well, it's so old and dated, you know. If you can imagine-- We knew very little about AIDS except that it was killing a lot of people. And it hadn't been-- It hadn't reached the point where there was a political correct--politically correct language in which to describe ____. ____ academic and so on and so forth. It was--later on became ____. But anyway, the hospital board was, you know, just rubber stamped, the way they usually do. Whatever's presented, they rubber stamp. And then I got the Interfaith Council to sponsor a pot luck supper for the Christian people to discuss doing something. It was an open agenda. And at that pot luck supper the Nantucket AIDS Network was born. And it's critical. And because of that--the backing of the Interfaith Council--the right-wing religious fanatics--anti-gay fanatics--kept their mouths shut!
SCHMID: They weren't able to stop it, or try to throw a monkey wrench in it?
ANDERSON: No. It all went very smoothly, whereas, other communities have an awful time getting ____.
SCHMID: Alright, well, that's about all I have for now. I'll shut this down.
[End of Interview]