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The original Edgartown lighthouse was built on a small man-made island in Edgartown harbor in 1828. For the first year the only way to get to it was by boat until a foot bridge was built. The first structure was replaced in 1938 by one that was brought by raft from Ipswich, MA. Although the new light was placed on the original site, sand had filled in the area between the island and the mainland, and the current lighthouse stands on the shore.
This past year the Edgartown lighthouse, as well as the East Chop lighthouse, have undergone extensive renovations. As reported in the Oct 5, 2007 online issue of the Vineyard Gazette:
“Harmful peeling paint in the interior of the lighthouse has been sandblasted and hauled away. A new marine epoxy has been applied to the 80 cast-iron panels that make up the structure.” “Prior to the recent renovation work, only the beacon shone at night, and the windows below were covered by plywood and painted to look real. Following the renovation it will be open to the public.”
The renovation has been completed, click here to see the progress.
The sound of the Vineyard goes back generations to the music of the Native American Wampanoag’s and the sea chanteys and hymns of early English settlers.
In the 1950′s coffeehouses, like the Mooncusser Cafe in Oak Bluffs popped up as venues for popular folksingers. According to the pamphlet accompanying the Vineyard Sound CD, produced by Peter Simon:
“Around 1960 the Mooncusser became an adjunct to the commercial folk scenes of Boston and New York, drawing young stylists like Judy Collins. These new stars influenced the Vineyard kids who flocked to see them during summer vacations. James Taylor was one of them, along with his many musical siblings. Two girls from New York, Carly Simon and Lucy Simon, formed the Simon Sisters and honed their act at the Mooncusser and elsewhere on the Island. But they were just the ones who went on to become stars. In every Island town there were (and are) musicians who play only for love and friendship, writing new songs and dreaming of hearing them on the radio some day.”
Included on this two-CD set are many of the talented artists making music on the Vineyard. Carly Simon and her son Ben Taylor and her daughter Sally Taylor, whose father is James Taylor. Kate Taylor, sister of James Taylor. Entrain. Johnny Hoy and the Bluefish. Tom Rush. Maynard Silva. Jemima James. Judy Collins with the mother daughter duo of Lucy and Julie Simon. These are just a few of the many talented artists on the CD.
This CD is an eclectic mix of folk music, raggae and some soft rock… it perfectly captures the diversity of the singers and songwriters of Martha’s Vineyard.
Update: Jan 27 .. I was just informed that the CD, Best of The Vineyard Sound is currently out of stock but will be re-issued in April in a slightly altered form.
Of course there’s a vineyard on the Vineyard. In 1971 Chicama Vineyards, founded by Catherine and George Mathiesen became the first bonded winery in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
The winery is located a little outside of Vineyard Haven on State Road. The road to get there is a little… um, bumpy but well worth the trip. From Memorial Day to Columbus day there are daily tours available, the rest of the year when there are no tours you can still visit their tasting room and shops. It’s always best to check their website for times and days they’re open. Individual tours are available but for groups of 10 or more reservations are required.
Besides their selections of red and white wines they also carry speciality foods condiments like wine vinegars, mustards, chutneys, salad dressings and flavored oils, as well as jams and ice cream sauces. They also have beautiful gift boxes and baskets.
Having chosen your wine you might want to take a look at their accessories such as the Bootleggers Corkscrew, the oil lamps and beautiful wine glasses.
You’re pretty much all set now to drive to Menemsha and toast the sunset.
*****Chicama Vineyards has closed since this post was written.
The Martha’s Vineyard Fiber Farm is the first fiber CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) in the world! According to their website:
…If you’ve wanted to have your own sheep or goats but don’t have room in your tiny apartment or suburban home then a share in the MV Fiber Farm is the way to go. Buying a share is an investment in the next yarn harvest… you receive a shareholders certificate, weekly email updates and an invitation to the Shearing Day Celebration.
The money from shareholders is used for feed and hay and increasing the size of the flock. After the shearing is done and the mill has done their work shareholders will receive their share of the harvest. The number of skeins and yardage etc depends on the size of the clip. Shareholders can choose to take their share in one of a kind yarn or receive a sampler with each of the yarns the farm produces, including mohair, kid mohair, Cormo and Cotswold.
I am not a knitter or a spinner but my daughter Deb is and she was lucky enough to buy one of the shares offered this winter. When she received her stock share I was excited for her but a little jealous too. I bring many treasures home from MV but owning a share in a fiber farm, well that’s owning part of the Vineyard, that’s an ultimate treasure. And then today an envelope arrived for me addressed to Deb’s Mom !!
Inside was this note.
And these goodies. Two Peter Simon calendars, two Vineyard Sound CD’s and two Vineyard bumper stickers which say “Follow Me To Martha’s Vineyard”… wow.
Who sent them? Susan Gibbs, who along with Patrick Manning, is the owner of the Martha’s Vineyard Fiber Farm, that’s who. Deb had posted on her blog about my teeny tiny jealousy thing and Susan took it upon herself to make me… a non-knitter and spinner, feel like part of the Fiber Farm group. This is just another example of the generosity and friendliness of the Vineyard and internet community. Thank you so much Susan.
Whether you’re a knitter, a spinner or just interested in Martha’s Vineyard I urge you to visit the Martha’s Vineyard Fiber Farm website or Plum TV and take a look around, especially at the beautiful faces of the sheep and goats that live there with Susan and Patrick.
According to the Vineyard Visitor the East Chop lighthouse in Oak Bluffs was “Originally built in 1802 on Telegraph Hill, the lighthouse is on the site of the signal station that received semaphore messages from Woods Hole to indicate the arrival of homebound whaling ships. The current lighthouse was built in 1877.”
In the early 1870′s Silas Daggett built a lighthouse at East Chop and operated it privately until 1871 when it burned down and was rebuilt on top of a house. In 1875 the government bought it and removed Daggett’s structure. The new lighthouse was painted white at first but in 1880 was painted a reddish-brown color thus earning the nickname the “chocolate lighthouse.” It was repainted white in 1988.
The eastern half of Martha’s Vineyard is called Down-Island and the western half is called Up-Island. Why you ask? To confuse you, that’s why. No, not really, at least not on purpose. There is a very logical reason and here it is according to the MV website. ” Up-Island is the western area, which comprises the three rural towns of Aquinnah, Chilmark and West Tisbury. Down-Island is the eastern portion, home to the larger historic villages of Edgartown, Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven (also known as Tisbury). The two terms come from the rich seagoing tradition of Martha’s Vineyard, which once sent its whaling ships circuling the globe heading “up” in nautical terms takes you “west” because it’s further from zero degrees of longitude in Greenwich, England, home of the Prime Meridian.” Got all that ! Me neither.
Well then, according to the Guide to Martha’s Vineyard we have this explanation. “When a ship sails in an easterly direction, it is decreasing or running “down” the degrees of longitude toward zero at Greenwich, England. A westbound vessel, on the other hand, is running “up” its longitude. Thus the Down-Island town are those on the eastern and northeastern end of the Island. The Up-Island communities are at the western end. A ship moving through Vineyard Sound sails “up” to New York and “down” east to Maine.” Ah ha.
OK, I’m still confused but I do know how to get from Down-Island to Up-Island and not get lost… it’s an Island, how lost could one get anyway.
It all began with this little snippet in the Vineyard Gazette in early September of 1990. My daughter Deb likes Harry Connick Jr and I’m a huge fan of Carly Simon, I have been even before I knew of her Vineyard connection. This seemed like a perfect weekend getaway for us but how could I manage to get tickets when I live in NJ and they were only on sale on the Vineyard !
I did it. I was determined and when it involves the Vineyard my determination is un-stoppable. So off we went. There were a few glitches along the way concerning MV accommodations and ferry reservations so we decided to stay in Falmouth on the mainland and just go to the Vineyard for the day of the concert.
It was a spectacular September Sunday afternoon on the Vineyard, the Campground was filled with happy concertgoers bustling around.
At 3pm Harry stepped on stage and the concert began. His band was fantastic and Harry’s voice velvety smooth. After about an hour or so of great music the lights were turned off. The only illumination was the sun shining through the stained glass windows around the perimeter of the Tabernacle !! And out stepped…..
CARLY. I was beside myself. In actuality though the person beside me was Carly’s mother!! I have seen Carly in concert several times since then but seeing her on the Vineyard and at the Tabernacle was something really special for me. Harry and Carly sang a few songs together, their voices meshed beautifully.
Carly did a few songs alone and then way too soon it was over. What a fantastic day, one we’ll never forget.
The reviews of the concert were glowing, much like the talents of Carly Simon and Harry Connick Jr. as they stood side by side on the stage of the Tabernacle.
Edited to Add: Deb just reminded me of an interesting part of the day that I left out.
Sitting next to us was this woman who was going on and on about how excited she was to be seeing Carly Simon. She had chattered about it to her seat mate on the small plane that afternoon when she had flown over to MV. She told him she had no idea who this Harry Connick, Jr person was, but it was an excuse to see Carly etc etc.
When Harry stepped on stage she gasped and said “Oh my god, that’s the young man I was talking to on the plane.” Just a wee bit embarrassing
We also had ”drinks” with the band at the Oyster Bar… us and about a hundred other people.
No matter when you go to MV you need ferry reservations if you’re taking your car. You need tickets for your car and yourself as well as any passengers in the car. If you’re a walk on passenger then all you need are tickets, no reservations. Since the Steamship Authority (known as the SSA) is the only ferry service that accommodates cars that’s the focus of this entry.
The above reservation brochure can be obtained by mail or at the ferry terminals. It’s pretty easy to fill out your dates and times and get your tickets by sending in your requests. Or you can phone for them (508-477-8600). For quicker gratification you can go online.
pick your dates & times
Then just click to see if they’re available and order your tickets.
Pictured here is the ferry “Martha’s Vineyard” waiting to take you away to the joys and fun that is the Island of Martha’s Vineyard.
It’s obvious to anyone who’s read my blog that I love Martha’s Vineyard. There’s a poem that roams around my head that goes:
“I own an island in the sea… I do not own it actually… I claim it only by right of need… defying those who hold a deed… perhaps a truer phrase would be… there is an island that owns me.” (by anonymous) And own me it does.
The charms of the Vineyard are many. From the obvious, like the ocean and beaches. The restaurants and places to stay. The beauty of the landscape and the varied architecture of the houses. The friendliness and giving spirit of the Islanders themselves.
The Vineyard can be whatever you want it to be. Go and find out what it holds in store for you !