Actually read the times this week. I used to read it all the time and not sure why I rarely do anymore. Could be the awful font they switched to. Could be the way one of the editors lambasted us for closing our beach gates even though we were told by police it was the only way to curb the kids from hanging out and then vandalizing the property. Then only to get no press after they vandalized the course yet again. Could be I spend too much time reading other stuff and watching too much TV? But in this weeks paper there were three death notices that had a Mink Meadows connection so I thought I would explain how. They may not be direct connections and more of a seven degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon thing so try to follow the theme. In fact as I started to write this there became a Lindy Drew connection to all three so allow me to weave this story together for you and indulge in a bit of storytelling.
The first was the step-mother to one of our Ladies group members and landowner Nancy Morris. Some of you may know that Nancy is a Cronig. Nancy was also the first Mink Meadows Landowner president I worked for when we took over road maintenance. Lindy and Nancy went to high school together if I remember correctly.He worked at the market when it was on Main Street as a kid and told me stories of delivering groceries on his bicycle out to west chop and the original owners house Robert Bigelow, (his Daughter-in law Kay Bigelow is one of the obituaries this week). We planted a Linden tree in his memory it is behind the second gold/white - blue/white tee in a raised bed. As part of the ceremony we had one of our regular winter members Howard Wall play the bagpipes. Howard's death notice was a shock to me and inspired me to write this post.
Howard was one of the nicest people you would ever meet on the golf course. I did not know him outside the golf course but had many conversations with him in on the course and he was always complimentary, kind and soft spoken. His daughter was around my son Josh's age and I would see him at school functions and at recitals they both played. Howard told me he took up the bagpipes as a way to connect with his Scottish heritage. It brings a tear to my eye and a smile to my heart to remember hearing him play at sunset after a round of golf. It just seemed so right to hear the melodious sounds of the instrument echoing over the course. It pulled me away from what I was doing to step outside and hear it more clearly and, like the crowd after a Menemsha sunset I was always inspired to applaud. He would often say he was not that good and needed to practice more and thanked me for allowing him to play at the course. That was Howard. I assured him as bad as he thought he was it was my and anyone lucky enough to hear hims pleasure. Later, after Lindy's death, I asked him to play in the service we planned. He lamented he was not ready for public play and would find a replacement. I told him it was planned for spring and worked him hard to accept. He later thanked me as it gave him the excuse he needed to practice. Thank-you Howard for the wonderful memories. If there is a heaven surely there is golf and I hope you are enjoying both the game and the pleasure of playing the pipes on the property.
The last tie in is to our founder and visionary Robert Bigelow. As mentioned above his daughter-in-law Katherine W. Bigelow passed away. Her parents owned property on the Edgartown great pond where the proposed golf course was declined a few years back. That would have been an interesting golf history for the island to have. For many years after I arrived there was a constant bemoaning of the fact that we were only nine-holes and what could be done to become 18. This is probably common for 9-hole courses. I worked hard to make the course as good as it could be and get people to embrace the holes we had whatever the number. It worked to a degree. People enjoy the course and I hope since the 75th and introduction to some of it's history will continue to cherish the course for what it is and not what it could be. The story is in our archives and what exactly Mr. Bigelow's ultimate plans were for the property he owned may never be known. The entire parcel is immense. It is all of what is Mink Meadows the course, private landowners, roads, common land, beach and then all of the Tashmoo Woods Condominium complex. Enough room for several 18 hole courses. We were designed to be 18 and the original routing plan by our architect Wayne Stiles is hanging in the clubhouse. It was Stiles' last course and at the tail end of the classical era of golf architecture in 1936. It remained as a nine hole course in the middle of this wild acreage until the 60's when the Bigelow's sold and Leroy Goff and others purchased the property formed the association and saved the course from development. It has always been open to the public and remains as one of Martha's Vineyard's best kept secrets.