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F R E E S P E E C H A N D B I K E PAT H S That led to funding for the Milestone Road bike path, which he when they came to Nantucket in the 1920s. One day in 1927, he looked inspired and promoted. It was the first leg of Nantucket’s beloved across the harbor at Monomoy, which had been cleared years earlier and still growing web of island bike paths. “Nantucket doesn’t need for sheep- and cattle-raising and was still sparsely populated with only more roads,” he observed. a few houses, and mused, “That would be a good place to have a On another matter of principle, government censorship of books, house.” All his friends in town thought it was crazy, remembers his he became famous to generations of literature lovers when he granddaughter Debbie (who still lives on island), “because of all the successfully argued before the U.S. District Court to get James Joyce’s mosquitoes, and it took the northeast storms on the nose.” Even Anne Ulysses, the groundbreaking novel of the twentieth century, admitted Congdon, who owned the 600-foot vacant waterfront lot he wanted, into this country. Until he won that case in 1933, Victorian-era tried to warn him. He couldn’t stop winter storms, but he could deal obscenity laws permitted the federal government to decide what with mosquitoes, so he bought the land and got the mosquito people could and could not read. It was a matter of principle for commissioner to dig a drainage ditch and let the water out of the Ernst: the right to free speech. swamp. The house he built at 64 eRnst wAs one of the most Monomoy Road was modeled on the significant public intellectuals in White Elephant and designed by its the 1920s and 1930s, and a architect, Edward Ludwig. It was a familiar presence on Nantucket, decision he would not regret: “Every with a home in Monomoy. He dollar I put into that house would was a force, full of ideas and have been lost in the stock market.” always working to make them It was followed by three smaller happen, remembers his friend cottages, for each of his children. “I Bob Mooney, then a rising local can visit you at any time,” he lawyer. “You ought to do announced to them. “You can come this. . . . ” was one of his favorite when invited.” Over time, he expressions. became one of three major The idea for a bike path came landowners in Monomoy Heights, from President Eisenhower’s along with James H. Gibbs and physician, Paul Dudley White. Frederick A. Russell. When he died White instructed his famous in 1976 at 87, the Inquirer and patient to get some exercise and Mirror wrote that “Nantucket has get back on the golf course after lost one of its best known and most his heart attack while in office in loyal longtime summer residents. 1955. Until that time, doctors For some fifty years Mr. Ernst has advised their patients to stay taken advantage of every quiet, often in wheelchairs, and opportunity to escape from the city rest. The energetic Dr. White to spend maybe only a weekend, generated publicity for exercise and maybe a couple of months, at his Morris and Margaret (Maggie) Ernst enjoying a sail. a healthy lifestyle by riding his bike home in Monomoy, where he could SCAN GIFT OF DEBBIE NICHOLSON, SC873-1 everywhere. Newspapers loved relax, indulge in his favorite pastime— running photos of the biking Massachusetts General Hospital sailing—and greet his friends at leisure.” cardiologist. A self-tAught sAiloR, he learned navigation from a book. His But when he vacationed on Nantucket for several summers, sailing started with a Crosby 12 or 14 catboat. “He used to hit all the White found no good, safe place to ride. Bob Mooney had been boats going in and out, learning to sail,” says his son Roger. The elected to the State House of Representatives, so he and Ernst started catboats were replaced by a Wianno 25 gaff-rigged schooner, which to work together with Dr. White. “Oh dear, is this biking again?” said he used to cruise to Maine, including visits with New Yorker writer E. White’s secretary when Mooney called for an appointment. “That’s B. White, Thomas Lamont of J. P. Morgan, and Connecticut Governor all he talks about.” The first bill Mooney proposed—in 1957—was for Chester Bowles. Sailing to Campobello to visit President Franklin the ’Sconset bike path, along Milestone Road, the first one funded by Roosevelt, he was accompanied by his wife, Margaret, a true the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Dr. White testified for the bill, Southern lady who wore a dress even on the sailboat, and had came to Nantucket for the opening, and cut the ribbon. Afterwards, become close friends with Eleanor Roosevelt. Ernst, “a flaming liberal,” in Mooney’s words, took White to the His fleet grew successively with a 39 ketch, a 35 cutter and, after airport. They talked biking, and he thanked the doctor for keeping Ike World War II, a 33 Hinckley. Along the way, he persuaded men working alive—and “keeping that Nixon [Eisenhower’s Vice President] out of on the ship channel to dredge a five-foot channel to his dock. Since he the White House.” couldn’t get into the Nantucket Yacht Club at that time (a nonobservant Ernst and his wife, Margaret, first stayed at the White Elephant Jew, he also represented the non-theistic Ethical Culture Society as its 18 | Historic Nantucket

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Historic Nantucket Spring 2012  

Historic Nantucket is a publication of the Nantucket Historical Association. Themes as diverse as whaling, genealogy, and folk art are explo...

Historic Nantucket Spring 2012  

Historic Nantucket is a publication of the Nantucket Historical Association. Themes as diverse as whaling, genealogy, and folk art are explo...