MV Obsession



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.


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.


The following day after breakfast we rented bikes.


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…


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.


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.


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 …



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.


  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.
Everyone oohs and ahhs and stream out of the Tabernacle to walk through the magical fairyland the Campground has become.
My dad would carry me on his shoulders so I could see everything… I felt like I could touch the stars.

 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:


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


The Flying Horses Of The Vineyard …


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.



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.



1982 August Trip …

August 1982 was my first trip back to the Vineyard in too long a time.  I was excited, anxious and also looking forward to showing my family the place I love so much. Both my teenage daughters were supposed come, however, my older daughter Patty decided she didn’t want to, so that meant my younger daughter, Deb would have to face the vacation alone with her parents.  Not a situation a teenager really looks forward to, especially when your mother turns into a crazy woman for most of the trip. Talk about embarrassing, I was the definition of it in her eyes… and quite frankly, I was a tad embarrassing once in awhile. Deb survived the trip mainly by escaping into her books… she can tell you what she was reading and where we were at the time… she still does that.

Aug 1… We drove to Falmouth and stayed there overnight.  Why?  I don’t know.  The fact of being so close to the Vineyard and not actually on it seemed like torture.  We actually drove to Woods Hole that evening just so I could look at the ferries and see the Vineyard.

Aug 2 – 6… I awoke early, okay, not really awoke since you can be sure I didn’t sleep much at all.  After a quick breakfast, we drove to Woods Hole to await the arrival of the ferry.  I was thrilled to be landing in Oak Bluffs, the town I grew up in as a summer kid.

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 (All pictures in this post are from 1982, the originals are 3×3.. they are somewhat blurry and the colors are not vivid.  I took pictures of them with my digital camera today and have not altered them). 

We drove into Edgartown and checked into the Kelley House.  The Kelley House hasn’t changed much at all but the buildings that we saw from our window definitely have.


Unpacked, rested maybe 10 minutes and then back to Oak Bluffs to see the sights and maybe do a little reminiscing… maybe a lot.

Lower Circuit Ave… and  Circuit Ave

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Ocean Park… the Flying Horses.. and yes, I did take a ride on them :)


Then into the Campground where seeing the Tabernacle for the first time in so many years was kind of emotional for me.  Anyone who reads reads my blog or knows me knows I have a deep attachment for the Tabernacle.


After dragging leading my little group around town for quite awhile I took pity on them and back to the hotel we went to relax.  It had been a long first day and there were still 4 more to go.  Yippee.

The next morning we headed Up-Island to see Gay Head.  Look closely at the pictures to see the difference in the cliffs from 1982 to 2010.  There’s been erosion and the colors have changed but they’re always an awesome sight to behold.






On our excursion the next day out to Menemsha we drove past my mother’s relatives house in Indian Hill.  This is where I unknowingly at the time, embarrassed my daughter Deb.  I wanted to get a picture of the house and while doing so notice a man in the backyard I thought I knew.  To get the picture of the house I was standing half in the car and half out… I thought I was being inconspicuous. The man in the back yard didn’t see me but my daughter did and buried her nose deeper into the book she was reading.   I can safely say she laughs about it now, but back then, major mother embarrassment.

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On arriving on the Vineyard I was thrilled to find out we’d be there for Illumination Night.  It had always been my favorite event of the summer (still is) and I was beyond excited to be there for it.  (Cue another embarrassing moment or two) When the community sing began I was amazed at how quickly the words to all the songs came back to me.  I sang, clapped my hands, and was 8 years old again… and my daughter sat as far away from me as she could get… can’t say I blame her, I was a little on the excited side.    I cannot believe I only took ONE picture.


Our four days on the Vineyard came too quickly to an end.  I was sure that I would never get back again… I still feel that way after each trip.

Was I a little on the frenzied side?  Yes.  I had dreamed about being back on the Vineyard for a long time and the reality of it was intense for me.  Quite frankly I still get a touch of it each trip.  My heart still beats quicker the closer to Woods Hole I get and try as I might I just can’t not burst into smiles.

Has my daughter Deb gotten over the embarrassment of her mothers behavior?  Yes she has.  She and I have made more than 20 trips to MV by ourselves and she smiles at, and enjoys my Vineyard persona.

Did my daughter Patty ever make it to the Vineyard?  Yes, finally in 1996 she, her husband Mike, their daughter Tiffany, and son Tyler joined me on the Vineyard.  I loved showing them everything and passing my love of the Vineyard on to my grandchildren.

I cannot believe the paltry  number of pictures I took in ’82… I mean really. ONE picture of Illumination Night.  ONE picture of the Tabernacle.  ONE picture of Gay Head.  Well, things have definitely changed and now with digital cameras I can snap up a storm… and I do… and sometimes with two cameras.


Winking and Dancing …

The Tivoli building… Oak Bluffs, Martha’s Vineyard (circa 1920)



The two story, full block Tivoli Dance Hall stood from 1901 until 1964 where the Oak Bluffs Town Hall is today.  The bottom floor housed shops and an ice cream parlor.  My godmother worked in the ice cream parlor and I always enjoyed visiting her there… one time in particular jumps to mind.


I was 3 years old and had newly mastered winking and was anxious to put it to use.  Sitting at a table behind my mother and facing me was a sailor.  Being that I was wearing a sailor dress I figured we had something in common and so I began winking at him… it did not take long for my mother to notice.  She turned around and as she did the young sailor headed for our table.  He smiled and said he was alone on the Vineyard for the day and wanted to tell my mother how charming he thought I was (blushing here).  Not only did my mother invite him to join us at the table but she invited him home for dinner (this was mid 1940’s). I was amazed at how powerful this winking thing was.  I don’t think we kept in touch with him but obviously I’ve never forgotten him… I do however keep the winking thing to a minimum.


The entire second floor of the Tivoli Dance Hall was just that, the dance hall.  It was huge, at least in the eyes of a 4 year old being dragged there against her will for a dance lesson.  I did like all the windows and how far you could see out of them, I liked the clicking sound my shoes made on the floor, I loved the brand new sundress I had on …

… but, I did NOT like the group dancing part.  I remember reluctantly getting in line with the other victims children, but my feet did not move, they planted themselves firmly in one spot and stayed there.  Everyone danced around me but I did not care to join in, not only didn’t I dance I wouldn’t talk to anyone either.  My mother was not happy with me… we did not stop for promised ice cream at the Frosty Cottage on Circuit Ave for ice cream and we didn’t come home with a sailor for dinner either.


Trinity Circle, Trinity Park and Bells …

In the town of Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard, in the Methodist Campground are Trinity Circle and Trinity Park.

Sharing Trinity Park for almost 140 years are the Tabernacle (erected in 1879) and Trinity Methodist Church (built in 1878).


Over the years both have undergone changes. This is just one of the changes for the Tabernacle.


A major transformation for Trinity Methodist Church

DSC_0034  A look inside the Tabernacle and Trinity Methodist Church


Tabernacle from inside Trinity Methodist Church… I love this picture.


Trinity Park is a perfect place to enjoy some quiet time… to indulge in some contemplation, read, maybe snooze, enjoy a game of catch, or wander around with a camera.

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100_0643According to the Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Assn. website:

“The original layout of Wesleyan Grove was a simple formation of a circle enclosing the preaching area and the society or church tents.   In 1859 a road, now known as Trinity Circle, was built which encircled that area.   In 1864, the Association purchased the 26 acres it had been renting.   As the area continued to expand (additional grounds were purchased in 1866), it developed in a radial-concentric pattern which was little used in America at that time.   Paths radiating from Trinity Circle led to smaller circles where large groups of tents had been located – County Park (Wesleyan Grove), Forest Circle, Washington Park (Victorian Park), Cottage Park Avenue (Cottage Park), Crystal Park (Vincent Park), Washington Avenue (Butler Avenue), Rural Circle and Clinton Avenue, which, at one time, had been the main entrance to the Campground.   The smaller circles, some surrounded by larger circles, had small paths radiating from them leading to other circles or parks.   The method of the grounds layout was an additive one of discrete neighborhood units, each built around small various shaped parks.   Some street and park names (current names are in the brackets) have been changed for various reasons over the years”.

 I spent my childhood summers on Martha’s Vineyard and many of those summers I spent my mornings at Bible School in the Tabernacle.  As was the custom a girl and a boy would be chosen each morning to walk from the Tabernacle to Trinity Church and ring the 8 o’clock bell.  I waited almost all summer to hear my name called, I didn’t think it was ever going to happen.  Finally it did and off across the lawn my partner and I scampered.

Inside the vestibule tied to the staircase railing was the thickest rope I’d ever seen.  The rope was attached to the bell way, way, way up in the steeple and the longer we stood there and pondered the situation the higher up the bell seemed to get.

First though we had to untie the rope, it did not go well, we fumbled along and finally the rope was free from the railing.   Time was ticking but neither of us were aware of how close to 8 o’clock we were coming.

Now all we had to do was pull the rope and the bell would ring and … well, that did not go well either.  Neither one of us had enough weight to pull the rope hard enough to ring the bell.  Rope burn was the least of our problems though as now we were sure it was after 8 o’clock and we’d failed our mission.  With what strength we had left we both grabbed the rope, stood on one of the steps and jumped.  Just as our teacher walked in the door to see what the problem was we heard… bong, bong, bong… it was ringing, the bell was peeling loud and strong, we had succeeded…  we had only missed the 8 o’clock bell by… oh 10 or so minutes.  Who would notice!


  When I got home at lunch time the first thing my mother said was “the 8 o’clock bell was a bit late this morning, do you know who was ringing it this morning?”  I said it had been me…  she shook her head slowly and said nothing but I did notice a little smile.  By the way, I was never asked to ring the bell again.



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