MV Obsession

ALL MARTHA'S VINEYARD, ALMOST ALL THE TIME …


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Vineyard Februaries …

I’ve been to Martha’s Vineyard in February and I love it.  I love it any time but February is as different from summer on the Vineyard as you can possibly get.

There’s a  cold crispness in the air, the colors are more vivid, the Island is quiet and yet speaks volumes to those who take the time to look, listen and drink in the beauty and wonder that is the soul of Martha’s Vineyard.

February 1989…  a light dusting of snow made everything look like powdered sugar had fallen all over the Island.

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February 1995…  no snow that trip but bitter cold.  Did not stop me from visiting the Gay Head cliffs in Aquinnah on the western most tip of the Vineyard… or hiking through the woods of Christiantown to visit the tiny chapel there.

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I also  experimented a bit with black and white film. From top left… Edgartown harbor, Christiantown stone wall..Sengekontacket Pond and South Beach.

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February 2007… bitter cold, dusting of over night snow, icy ponds and harbors… and brilliant sunsets.

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My birthday is in February and sadly the only one I’ve ever spent on the Vineyard was in 1950 when my beloved godmother, Gertrude Norris passed away.  But I’m not anywhere near done having birthdays so who knows what the future will bring :)


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One Vineyard Christmas …

I’ve been to Martha’s Vineyard around Christmastime but to my recollection there is only one time in my life that I actually spent Christmas on the Vineyard. I was probably around 5 or 6 and my mother and I went to MV to be with my godparents.

Edward and Gertrude Norris (Nana and Pop) were my godparents. They lived part of the year in their house in Oak Bluffs which is where I spent my childhood summers. The other part of the year they lived in Newark, NJ downstairs in the same house we lived in. They were the most important people in my life besides my parents. They never had children of their own and they thought of us as their family. When my mother graduated from high school on MV she moved to Newark, NJ to live with them and to find work.

One Christmas, in the early 1950’s, when Nana and Pop were elderly, having health problems and living year round on the Vineyard and missing us, my mother decided she and I should go and spend Christmas with them. I was too young to realize this might be the last Christmas for one or both of them, all I knew was that I was going to wake up Christmas morning ON THE VINEYARD. How great would that be. The only glitch was that my dad couldn’t get off work to come with us but he insisted we go. Talk about being torn.

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I seem to remember there was a dusting of snow on Christmas morning… even if there wasn’t I like to think there was.  There were presents… one in particular I remember because I asked for it every year. A nurses kit. It was a white square box with a red cross on the side. Inside were band-aids, gauze bandages, a wooden thermomenter and a stethescope, a name tag… and the most important article.. a nurses cap. I spent the most of the morning bandaging people up whether they wanted to be or not.

All of a sudden I heard a faint knock on the front door !! I ran to open it and let out a shriek… it was my dad standing there with a big smile and a shirt box. A shirt box !! Yes indeed that’s all he had with him. No suitcase. No duffle bag. Just a shirt box with a couple of clean shirts and other essentials inside it. He liked to travel light.

It turned out to be one of the most wonderful Christmases of my childhood.

A few years ago I found this letter that my Pop had written to me for my 6th birthday in 1948. After Nana died he pretty much lived alone except for the two summer months we spent with him. I loved to listen to his stories of working on the steamships in Massachusetts and later being a bank guard in NJ. Pop couldn’t walk without the aid of a cane and even then couldn’t walk far, certainly no further than the front or back yard. Almost everyday we’d have our lunch together under a tree in the backyard and then in the evening we’d listen to the radio together. He liked programs like ‘The Shadow’ which scared the bejeebers out of me and made it hard for me to walk down the dark and seemingly endlessly long hall to my upstairs bedroom. The hardest part of my summers was saying good-bye to him… I wouldn’t cry in front of him but the tears spilled out of my eyes the moment we left the house. I still find it sad and emotional to leave the Vineyard and I’m sure those moments from long ago have a bearing on it.

I am blessed to have the memories of that one Christmas on Martha’s Vineyard and of Nana and Pop, two people who were such an important part of my life.

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….and happy holiday memories to all.


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Tripping New England Part 2 …

Or rather part one as this part came before Newport !!

 In October of 1995 my daughter Deb and I went to MV and Newport, Rhode Island for an autumn get-away.We were supposed to leave NJ on Saturday for Martha’s Vineyard but due to the forecast of heavy rain we left around 3 on Friday afternoon after Deb got home from work. We would stay over night in Mystic, Ct and continue to the Vineyard on Saturday morning as originally planned. Things were going smoothly for oh, at least an hour and then 7 or so miles before the dreaded Tappan Zee Bridge things came to a dead stop.  We decided to get off at the next exit and wend our way through the smaller back highways and eventually rejoin good old route I-95.  Sounded like a good plan.  Actually a lot of motorists thought so too and before we knew it we were stuck in a worse traffic jam.

And…. that rain that we were trying to avoid…well, it came early and it was heavy and oh, it was also getting dark !  Nine hours later at 11:30pm we arrived in Mystic, Ct… a drive that should have only taken 3 or 4 hours at the most.  And so our adventure had begun.

The next morning we arrived in Woods Hole and got an earlier ferry to Martha’s Vineyard… we like when that happens.

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We checked into the inn and spent the day walking and relaxing.  After supper it began pouring,  I half kiddingly said we should take a walk in the rain and before I knew it that’s what we were doing.  I never like walking in the rain, especially in the dark, but for some reason it just seemed the right thing to be doing.

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The following day after breakfast we rented bikes.

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Mind you it had been years since I’d been on a bike and I’d never used hand brakes… but how hard could they be !!   Off we trotted to the bike shop by the harbor in Edgartown. 101_5363  After a few instructions … most of which I’d missed we got on our bikes and headed out of the shop.   Somehow I wound up not on the road but heading for a hedge of flowers and before I knew it had made contact with them… it was all in slow motion so it seemed like an eternity until I hit the ground. 101_5364 I laughed and so did the rental guy, my daughter though, after showing concern for my well being was convinced I’d want to turn in the bikes and forget about our ride.  But no, I was determined to carry on after we’d gone back to the inn however so I could bandage my cuts and bruises.   So back on the bike I got and we headed to the inn just a block or so away.  I was doing pretty well until I turned into their driveway and sort of, well, bumped into one of the cars in their lot.  Finally    got myself put together and once again started off on our bikes… my daughter still wasn’t convinced we’d make it out of Edgartown.   I eventually got the hang of the hand brakes even though I automatically was using my feet too… sometimes dragging them on the ground as a back up maneuver. The road between Edgartown and Oak Bluffs is 6 miles of scenic beauty… for most of the ride the ocean is on one side…

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and Sengekontacket Pond is on the other.101_5368

It’s one of the prettiest bike paths (or roads) on MV.   We stopped several times to take pictures and for me to catch my breath.

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At one point the bike path changes from one side of the road to the other… there are big signs telling you about this…  I missed them.   When I saw my daughter move across the road I figured I should follow suit… as I have a problem turning my neck I didn’t see the truck that was coming down the road.   I made it to the other side still not aware how close the truck had come… I do however remember the scared and horrified look on my daughter’s face.   She claims to this day that I gave her several grey hairs… I say, turn about is fair play.

It was a fun day… the company, the weather, the experience of hand brakes… I’m glad we did it ……. once.

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The following day was spent driving around the Vineyard.  Not too much walking was done due to the sore leg muscles one of us had… not mentioning names but I’m sure after reading about our bike trip that you can guess who it was !  Tuesday was also the most normal of our four day get away… a ploy perhaps to coax us into a false sense of security!  That remained to be seen as you read in part one about Newport :)


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My Yearly Illumination Night Post …

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Illumination Night is Wed, Aug  19, 2015

It has always been my favorite event of the summer… going to Illumination Night is a thrill for me no matter what my age is.

 

  I think I was 2 and 1/2 the first time I went to Illumination Night.  I’m embarrassed to say that even with my annoyingly good memory, I don’t remember it. My first memory of Illumination Night involves wearing a particularly pretty dress so I’m thinking I was around three or four, which would have been around 1946.

My dad, mom, god-mother and I would have an early supper and then walk to the Campground. My dad and I would stroll around looking at all the beautifully decorated gingerbread houses while my mother and god-mother would chat with friends and relatives.

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  At 8 o’clock the Vineyard Haven Band would begin playing and the always fun community sing would start. Patriotic songs like, America The Beautiful, Yankee Doodle, Battle Hymn of the Republic are always stirring and emotional. It took me a couple of years to learn the words to all the songs and I still get messed up on a couple of the rounds like John Brown’s Baby. The band playing the Star Spangled Banner and the rousing Stars and Stripes Forever are always a crowd pleaser.

But as much fun as that was it was only a precursor to the main event. The Tabernacle and Campground go dark… the crowd cheers. The lighting of the first lantern and then all the gingerbread houses are simultaneously aglow with Japanese lanterns.
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Everyone oohs and ahhs and stream out of the Tabernacle to walk through the magical fairyland the Campground has become.
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My dad would carry me on his shoulders so I could see everything… I felt like I could touch the stars.
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 After seeing all there was to see we’d head out onto Circuit Ave to either the Frosty Cottage for ice cream or Darling’s for popcorn, a tasty ending to a perfectly enchanting night.

No matter your age, Illumination Night is fun for everyone, I myself morph into an 8 year old.

  Illumination Night as described in the Vineyard Gazette:

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If you’re on the Vineyard this Wed, Aug 19, 2015 you should go and experience Illumination Night.  101_3011


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The Flying Horses Of The Vineyard …

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The Flying Horses, the oldest carousel in the United States, are housed in this building at the intersection of Circuit and Lake Aves in Oak Bluffs. They came to the Island in 1884 from Coney Island. DSC_0037

The Flying Horses are not a carousel, or a merry-go-round, they don’t go up and down just round and round. They are flying horses, like Pegasus, and fly to wherever you can imagine . They don’t actually have wings, but as you make the first circuit you feel like you’re about to fly out the open windows.

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I flew on these beautiful horses every day when I was a little girl. The ticket taker was a young man who would never take my tickets ! We tried everything to get him to take them… we brought him candy and cookies and tried slipping the tickets in with them… nothing work. At the end of the summer I said I wanted to buy him a gift, so off my mom and I went to purchase what I thought was a novel idea .. a tie. I was 5 years old, what did I know about buying gifts for men… he, by the way was about 13 but in my eyes he was a grown up. We put the tie in the box with all of summer’s uncollected tickets. As he came around to NOT collect my ticket I handed him the box. He smiled. Ah ha, success… or so I thought. As we were leaving the Flying Horses he came over and thanked us for the tie and as we turned to leave he handed us the tickets. I won’t say who he is, just that he turned out to be an official in Oak Bluffs in later years… and someone I’ve never forgotten.

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