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This is the beach in Oak Bluffs, this is where we always went when I was growing up. I remember one time in particular when I was there with my parents when I was about three or four years old. After playing in the water with my dad and digging in the sand with my mom we started gathering up our blanket and things to leave. All of a sudden my mother gasped and yelled for my father… “my diamond ring is gone” she said in alarm. My dad immediately took charge of the situation by telling me NOT to move, just stay put. I quickly rushed over to the people nearby and told them my mother had just lost her ring in the sand and my father was going to find it. So much for listening. They, along with other beach goers who had heard me, started to get up to help my father look for the ring. “No” he said.. “don’t walk on the sand, if the sand is disturbed any further the ring will sink lower, I think I might have only one chance to find it.” We all held our breaths as he surveyed the situation and then after what seemed like an eternity (especially to me who was staying still) he scooped up a handful of sand. Miraculously there, shining out from the sand was my mothers diamond engagement ring. I’m still amazed that he found it, how did he know where to look, how had my running through the sand not made it sink lower. I’m sure that ring was being watched over somehow.
Fast forward to a year or so ago when Deb lost a necklace on one of our neighborhood walks. She discovered the necklace was missing as we neared our house so we retraced our route in hopes of finding it. The street was littered with autumn leaves which made our search difficult and we finally gave up looking for it. The next day on our walk Deb looked skyward and said “how about a little help here grandpa!” She no sooner said those words then she looked down and there was the necklace. It had been run over and the clasp was flattened but the beads were all intact… it was fate. She sent the necklace back to the woman who had made it and she put a new clasp on it and it’s good as new.
We don’t call on my dad everytime we lose something but if it’s jewelry we know he has the knack for knowing right where to guide us to look.
This picture of Gay Head lighthouse was taken by me around 1960. I believe the building is the Coast Guard station which was being removed as it was too close to the edge due to the erosion of the cliffs. (Seamond can you verify this).
This picture is from 2006.
According to the book “Guide to Martha’s Vineyard” the original lighthouse was one of the first revolving ones in the country; often the wooden works became swollen in damp weather, and the keeper or his wife was obliged to turn the light by hand all night long. In 1856 this was replaced by a larger steel structure that housed a stronger light with a Fresnel lens. In 1952 the present automatic light was erected, and the old lens was given to the Vineyard Museum.”
The Fresnel lens from the outside… and inside.
On this Thanksgiving weekend I want to thank my mother (she’s on the right) for bringing Martha’s Vineyard into my life and the lives of my family. Little did she know when she set me down on this beach for the first time what an important and life defining occasion it was.
My entire family has been to MV with me at one time or another but never all of us at the same time. That’s okay though as the Vineyard is a different experience depending on who I’m there with. Or if I’m with no one at all… and that’s nice too.
We’ve all been to the beach… it’s an island, you can’t not go to a beach.
My husband Bob is not much of a beach goer… he’d rather be golfing so I rarely get him to MV in the summer. This obviously is not a summer picture… it’s in October on our anniversary a few years ago on the beach at Aquinnah.
Passing the Vineyard to new generations is a tradition for lots of families and mine is no different. Here at State Beach in Oak Bluffs in the early evening one May is my daughter Deb and her dog Chappy.
My daughter Patty and son-in-law Mike at Aquinnah… actually on a beach in the summer.
The next generation appears. My grandchildren Tiffany and Tyler at Edgartown lighthouse during their first trip to the Vineyard. It was the month of May, not swimming weather but good for collecting shells and rocks and seeing the ocean for the first time.
Their next trip was in the month of August… ideal for their first dip in the ocean.
Thank you mom.
This is Katy (Katama) our Boykin Spaniel, she was our first dog to go to Martha’s Vineyard… actually our first dog to ever go on a vacation with us. Here she is on the Islander looking happy and eager to get on with her adventures.
She enjoyed her first dip in the ocean… running and barking and trying to catch an elusive wave or two.
At Katama/South Beach, the place she was named for she was a little unsure of the waves so she mostly romped along side of them.
A quiet morning at Edgartown lighthouse was nice after all the beach going, shopping and meeting people. Unfortunately it was Katy’s one and only trip to MV… a year later she was hit by a car and died at only 20 months old. She was a sweetheart and we miss her and still love her.
And then along came…
Chappy (Chappaquiddick) our second Boykin Spaniel and our first boy dog. His first vacation at age 10 months was of course to MV. He of course loves the beach too.
And Sengekontacket pond which is a little calmer then the ocean.
Relaxing at Vineyard Haven harbor is fun too… watching the ferries arriving and leaving and sometimes meeting an Island dog to chat with. This by the way is his mom’s favorite picture of him.
Chappy had to visit the place he was named after too so here he is with his mom on Chappaquiddick. Chappy has made seven trips so far to Martha’s Vineyard and looks forward to many more.
Not many places accept pets but the Island Inn does and it’s a great place to stay with or without your pet. Chappy says a few of his favorite places are - Good Dog Goods in Oak Bluffs… the treats there are wonderful (especially the cheese ones and the peanut butter ones) and the people always remember him and sometimes get down on the floor to play with him. He also recommends the Black Dog for their dog biscuits… he says they’re droolicious.
Since it’s the middle of November and we’re having snow showers where I live I thought, what a good time to talk about beaches ! I have not been to all of the beaches on MV… not the nude beach and not the private beaches. Everyone loves a beach, whether for swimming and splashing… or walking and collecting stones and shells… or just letting your dolls and stuffed animals out for a good romp. Beaches are most popular in the summer but I find the beauty and solitude of an autumn or winter beach very enticing.
I love all of Martha’s Vineyard but I find that most of my favorite places and favorite things to do are in Oak Bluffs. Maybe it’s my growing up there as a summer kid. Maybe it’s because it’s the most eclectic of the six towns on MV. Maybe it’s all of the above and more.
An editorial a year or so in the Vineyard Gazette asked “which town is the wealthiest on the Island?” It goes on to say that ” there are two varieties of affluence — the wealth that is concentrated in private coffers, and the wealth that enriches the public arena.” “The leaders of Oak Bluffs often complain that their town lacks such high-tax properties as the waterfront hotels of Edgartown and the vast estates of Chilmark, but instead is home to many of the Island’s public, nonprofit facilities — the regional high school, ice arena and hospital. To this list, we would add a public park system which is arguably the jewel of Oak Bluffs, unparalleled anywhere else on the Island, and also the national treasure of the Camp Ground. None of these things are great generators of tax revenues — but think how improverished the Island would be without any of them.”
You can take a flight of fancy on the Flying Horses the oldest platform carousel in the United States… shop along eclectic Circuit Ave… or eat in many of Oak Bluffs restaurants and cafes.
Oak Bluffs is a party town and yet a family town… it’s hectic and lively and yet quiet and serene. You certainly won’t find a more interesting town on Martha’s Vineyard then Oak Bluffs.
My daughter Deb and I decided in June of 1993 to treat ourselves to The Taste of the Vineyard. It’s put on every year by the Martha’s Vineyard Preservation Trust. Restaurants, caterers and beverage purveyors from around the Island gather under tents to present some of their specialities to be tasted. We’d never gone before and it seemed like a fun and different thing to do. Off we went to the Vineyard for a glorious long weekend of eating, shopping and tasting. The weather turned brutally hot all along the Eastern seaboard, it verged on 100 degress which is unusual for mid June. A few hours before the Taste was to begin welcomed thunder storms rolled in and dropped the temps about 25 degrees. The evening was cool and clear and perfect.
We donned our new outfits and headed over to the grounds of the Preservation Trust which are located at the Dr Daniel Fisher house in Edgartown. The house is a beautiful Federal style home surrounded by lush gardens. It’s gorgeous.
We gingerly and hungrily entered the tents where the foods were. Lots of eager tasters were already there but we managed to get our dishes and start wending through the crowds. We found seats and set about our tastings. The tables were set with crisp white tablecloths.. in the middle of the tables were mounds of sand with seashells and rocks scattered about and a large hurricane lamp with candle sitting in the middle of the sand. Simple and tasteful, much like the occasion. The bite sized portions of appetizers and entrees were just satifyingly enough. Had to leave room for the abundance of dessert samples after all.
But… the thing that mostly interested me was trying for the first time the Frozen Cappuccino from Espresso Love one of my most favorite places on MV. I returned to our table with my cup, eager to taste what smelled and looked delicious. I set it on the table… or at least I thought I had… but no, I had sort of placed it precariously near the edge and it landed in my daughters lap, almost the entire cup of cappuccino!!!!! On her new skirt !! One that she loved and had hoped to wear many, many times. I felt awful, I still do… it was an accident. I mean after all I myself had gotten a drop or two on my new shoes. We cleaned her up as best we could and I believe she went and got me a second cup of frozen cappuccino. I set it down on the table and… it hit the rocks and there before our eyes it oozed from the rocks and sand onto the table cloth. It looked like the tide had come in… it wasn’t pretty but it was embarassing. Could it be that maybe the third time would work! I had to find out so off I went for the third cup of frozen cappuccino. I walked carefully back to the table, avoiding being bumped or nudged. I approached the table… Deb grimaced… I held the cup tightly in both hands… I bent to set it down… and… I did it, I made solid contact with table. I then raised the cup to my lips and actually got to taste the frozen cappuccino and I have to tell you… it was good, it was very very good, it was joy to my tastebuds. I loved it and I still do, I try to have one at least once during every trip to MV. And of course I feel compelled to apologize each time to my daughter for her long lost beautiful skirt.
There are five lighthouses on Martha’s Vineyard and I chose to talk about West Chop first because I have a personal interest in it. My dear friend Seamond grew up here in the 1950′s. She was the daughter of the last lighthouse keeper of West Chop lighthouse. Imagine living next to this beautiful lighthouse on the harbor in Vineyard Haven… the ocean and stunning views right outside the door and the busy harbor only a few feet away. A few years ago I was lucky enough to go inside the lighthouse and the view was breath taking. I’m looking forward to reading her comments… if anyone should be writing a book about MV it should be Seamond… she’s rich with interesting and informative tales.
The lighhouse itself was built in 1817 of wood. It was replaced in 1838 with the current brick one. As far as I know it’s been moved back from the edge of the cliff twice, once in 1848 and then in 1891. If you can add to this information Seamond please do