Starbuck Neck, 2008
Many years ago I agreed to help a friend go around and pick up items people had donated to a church bazaar on the island of Martha’s Vineyard.
The church rector, a great garrulous man of Falstaffian girth, came to get us in his beat up old tank of a Jeep Wagoneer. The Jeep was a point of some pride for Jack. He and the Catholic priest in town had a rivalry going to see who could have the most creative car horns. The priest drove a stately Cadillac that played church hymns when he tapped the horn. Jack’s Jeep, on the other hand, had the most obnoxious collection of calliopes, oogas, klaxons and cowbell sounds. He loved to tap on the horn and rattle the crowds of summer tourists on Main Street in Edgartown.
Jack was the kind of friend and spiritual counselor who was sought out, trusted and beloved by most who knew him, both youth and, as he described them, “the sequined sweater set.” He lived life to the fullest and died too soon. I’ve not met another like him.
That afternoon we cheerfully went about our duty of collecting the various items of junk that people were tossing out hoping to win, we supposed, a few extra brownie points in heaven for donating the junk they didn’t want to the church.
At one point we came to one the grand old summer homes on Starbuck Neck. While Jack was greeted like a long lost relative by the old lady of the house, my friend and I were directed like servants to the basement to collect some ancient wooden folding chairs, a table, a worn out couch and a colossal old console television set.
Upstairs, Jack kept company with the old widow, who explained apologetically that since she was closing the house for the winter, “Cook” had already returned to New York. She didn’t have any fresh baked goods for the bazaar—after all, what can one be expected to do when “Cook” has been sent back to open the winter home?—so she’d stopped by the bakery and bought several bags of cookies to donate to the bazaar food tables. I think Jack even had a glass of wine with the lady while my friend and I did the heavy lifting.
As the three of us piled back into the front seat of the pickup to leave, we all had a good natured laugh about the old lady being left alone in the big house without “Cook.” Ah, the travails of the rich!
We’d barely driven out of the lady's driveway when Jack reached across the seat, tore into the bakery bags and stuffed cookies into his mouth, gleefully proclaiming, “THE LORD’S WILL BE DONE!” as we barreled down the lane to the next pick up.