2016-04-28 / Opinion


A Tribute to a Teacher and a Gentleman

To the Editor:

Some years ago, I was strolling along a pathway out at Ft. Adams when I came upon a group of young children surrounding an elderly well-dressed gentleman who was teaching them a game of some kind. I recognized the gentleman immediately but had to move closer to identify what they were doing.

The elderly gentleman was about 90 years of age (give or take), yet he moved adroitly among the children as he instructed them in the art and technique in properly throwing a monkey fisted heaving line. As many know, these are generally used to send a bowline to the pier when a ship comes into port. I stayed back and observed from a discreet distance as the children took turns heaving the line to a targeted area some 20–30 feet away. The children lined up taking turns and returned to the group after taking their turn to receive some advice and guidance from their instructor who, if truth be told, was clearly teaching them more than throwing a line. I’m not sure who was having a better time, the children or their teacher.

At times, the line would go off in an unintended direction or frequently end up twisted around the legs of one of the children. Not to worry, all was kept in good order and progress was made, slowly and surely, with the instructor and the children doing better each time. They were all having a ball laughing and commenting on each toss. I finally left, believing I had intruded long enough. I can still recall smiling about what I had witnessed as I left the park.

Recently, the obit of the elderly gentleman, Vice Adm. Thomas Weschler, appeared in our local newspapers. I thought back to that time when I came upon Adm. Weschler and the children and couldn’t help smiling again. We all know his impressive record: WWII veteran, Commander of Cruiser- Destroyer Force Atlantic, Tall Ships Chairman numerous times, Oliver Hazard Perry chair, board member and chair of many local organizations and recipient of countless awards and decorations and on and on, quite incredible.

In essence, however, he was at his very core a true American hero and a gifted teacher. That day years ago, the children also knew. They always do.

Dave Wixted

Tell Primary’s Whole Story

To the Editor:

Little Rhode Island – and Newport County – made political news on Tuesday.

Ours was the only state to vote against Hillary Clinton and to add another state to Bernie’s tally. It was a huge achievement against an overwhelming array of Rhode Island officials and political types who supported her, from the governor to our senators on down the line, and it couldn’t have come about without the vision and volunteer work of committed supporters.

To look at local headlines on Wednesday morning, one wouldn’t have known that Sanders won Rhode Island or the vote in the Newport County area. Nowhere do you even see the words “Rhode Island” or “Sanders.”

Rhode Island was in fact important enough to garner this headline on the “Election 2016” page of The New York Times on Monday, April 25: “Small Rhode Island Suddenly Has Big Role in Presidential Primaries.” Within the text, there is this quote from Larry Berman, aide to the Statehouse Speaker: “Rhode Island’s primary actually matters.”

We agree. It does matter. Tuesday was a surprising upset and one that should tell us a lot about the mood of our state and our county if looked at carefully.

Hilary Stookey

Hold Schools Accountable

To the Editor:

Middletown’s government-operated and managed schools fail to provide affordable education. They also fail in being accountable to and considerate of taxpayers.

Last week you pointed to the Middletown Town Council’s continuing disgust with the department’s highly questionable spending of $1 million on technology and the resulting tax increase (“Contract to Hike Tax Rate,” April 21). On November’s ballot, we’ll probably see a Middletown School Department request for a $10 million facilities bond.

I urge the Middletown Town Council to provide independent review of the School Department’s projects and oversee the department’s expenditures of proceeds. Without independent review and oversight, there’s a high risk of more questionable spending by a handful of people who have a track record of shameful behavior.

Paul E. Mankofsky

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