November 18, 2011
NANTUCKET – the kitchen is the gathering spot of the Perrys' inviting Nantucket home, set in the Surfside section of the island. Parents, children, aunts, uncles, cousins and assorted friends – it doesn't matter, all are welcome.
Be it winter, summer, spring or fall, the door is always open. Joe and Stacey Perry have made sure of that.
There's always food for the hungry. and plenty of conversation, of course, for what good is a home wrapped in silence?
And stories, too. What would any family be without its stories?
This time of year, football tends to monopolize conversations.
It's Island Cup week – Martha's Vineyard vs. Nantucket. the old rivals will meet again for the 64th time Saturday afternoon on Nantucket.
The Vineyard has won the last seven Island Cups, but Nantucket comes in with a 9-1 record. the Whalers are champs of the Mayflower Athletic Conference Small and have already clinched a berth in the Division 5 Super Bowl.
Naturally, the talk around the Perry table is about football, as it is at most homes on both islands with a smidgen of a connection to the Cup.
“When the family gets together, I hear the stories about my dad's 1980 Super Bowl team,” Nantucket senior running back/linebacker Codie Perry said. “the other day my dad searched the house looking for the picture album for that team. My uncle, Greg Lawrence, was over and they were going through it and talking about all the players.”
Joe Perry was a junior on that Super Bowl team. He had been dating Stacey Topham, a field hockey player, for about a year. It's doubtful that they foresaw, 31 years and four sons later, how successful they would be in continuing the traditions while building a solid family.
That's what they've done. Joe, who played football at Westfield State, is head of grounds at Nantucket High School. Stacey, who went to Bay Path College and Central Connecticut, has a catering business.
Shane Perry, 24, is with the Nantucket Fire Department, joining six months ago after getting a degree in Fire Science from Anna Maria College in Paxton and working with the Paxton FD. He played football at Nantucket and now is back living with his family.
Codie Perry is a senior and a captain in football, hockey and lacrosse. He's a member of the National Honor Society and very involved in community service.
Dylan Perry is a junior, also a top student and three-sport athlete, following in his brothers' footsteps.
Morgan Perry is a freshman. Joe calls him his “little spitfire, trying to keep up with the others.” He's a quarterback on the junior varsity team, though in one early-season game he did get on the varsity field with his two brothers.
Also a top-notch student, he's planning to play hockey and baseball.
The comfortable Perry home was built on what was Joe Perry's grandparents' farm. the land was subdivided so that two more Perry family members could have homes close by – Joe's sister, Melissa, and brother, Richard – in what is jokingly referred to by islanders as the “Perry Compound.” A cement basketball/hockey court was put down and football games are played on the lawn.
Stacey's Topham family is also large with deep island roots. there is support wherever a Perry boy turns.
But it all starts at home.
“It's Joe's presence,” said Stacey. “He's very patient with the boys and very kind. He'd do anything for them.”
Joe and Stacey said they set a moral standard and expect the boys to follow. “they are all great, great people,” said Nantucket football coach bill Manchester of the Perrys. “they treat everyone how they want to be treated. they have a sincere kindness. Walk into the cafeteria and you'll see Codie sitting with kids who might (otherwise) get picked on. obviously, this has been passed on for generations. We benefit as a team, and so does the school and the community.”
“It definitely begins with my parents,” Codie said. “give them all the credit. they molded my brothers and me.”
Codie was recently named winner of Nantucket's Daughters of the American Revolution good Citizen Award, recognizing the qualities of dependability, service, leadership and patriotism to an outstanding degree.
His goal is to get into missionary work and run an international relief organization. Sacred Heart University, Holy Cross and Boston College are his three college choices at the moment, where he hopes to pursue a business degree.
The 6-foot, 205-pounder paints a Rockwellian picture of the life he's lived.
“It's a home filled with love and compassion,” Codie said. “My mom is always cooking. My dad is one of the hardest-working men I've ever seen. He grew up without a father and he's always trying to do his best for us.
“you don't fear him,” Codie said of his dad. “you respect him.
“We eat dinner at the family table every night,” he added. “Some nights it might not be until 7. A lot of memories shared, some good arguments, all centered around the dinner table.”
Dylan is a strapping 6-1, 190-pound running back/defensive back who is thinking of becoming an elementary school teacher. He talks about his mother's influence – how encouraging she always is and how vocal she is at games.
He calls his dad the disciplinarian, but doing the right thing is not out of fear discipline. “you don't want to disappoint him,” said Dylan. “That's the worst thing.”
If it all sounds a tad idyllic, a little like the TV Waltons and John Boy, well, this is the way the Perrys try to live. That's one thing Stacey wants to get straight.
“It's not perfect,” she said. “We don't always get along.”
But everyone knows where they stand. “A lot of it is old-school,” she said. “if you don't follow the rules, there are consequences.”
“Raising the boys, we tried to keep it to basics – a good work ethic, integrity and morals,” Stacey said. “We try to stay grounded. We make it important to the boys to help others. We tell them it's not just about you, it's about others. When you're on the field, help your teammates. When you're in the grocery store, hold the door.
“the biggest thing is to stay humble. It's not a big deal for the boys (as individuals) to be going to the Super Bowl. It's more about what the team accomplished.”
Joe Perry likes to start his stories by saying, “Back in the day ...”
“When you say that, it always brings a smile to your face,” he said.
“Thirty years from now, when my boys go, “Back in the day,” I hope it's all good.”
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<a href="http://www.capecodonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20111118/SPORTS/111119795/-1/sportstag:news.google.com,2005:cluster=http://www.capecodonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20111118/SPORTS/111119795/-1/sportsFri, 18 Nov 2011 07:28:15 GMT">In the Zone: Home cooking