MV Obsession

My obsession with Martha's Vineyard.. phototography..genealogy and life in general and this and that…


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Newport, RI – Part 2 – The Breakers…

The Breakers – if you only have time to see one mansion/summer cottage, this the THE one to visit.

From wikipedia: ” The Breakers is a Vanderbilt mansion located on Ochre Point Avenue, Newport, Rhode Island. The Breakers was built as the Newport summer home of Cornelius Vanderbilt II. The Breakers is the architectural and social archetype of the ‘Gilded Age’ a period when members of the Vanderbilt family were among the major industrialists of America. Vanderbilt was the President and Chairman of the New York Central Railroad, and was the grandson of Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt. The Commodore made the family fortune in the steamship and railroad industries.In 1895, the year of its completion, The Breakers was the largest, most opulent house in the Newport area.”

CLICK HERE to read more….

This was the original Breakers which was destroyed by fire in 1892.  A modest summer cottage…

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Vanderbilt commissioned famed architect Richard Morris Hunt to rebuild it and  insisted that the building be made as fireproof as possible and as such, the structure of the building used steel trusses and no wooden parts.

And this is the Breakers in 1895… somewhat different from the original, wouldn’t you say.

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Great hall …

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Around the ‘cottage’… 2 sitting rooms – music room – library – bathroom – dining room.

In the library the fireplace, taken from a 16th-century French chateau  bears the inscription “I laugh at great wealth, and never miss it; nothing but wisdom matters in the end.”

mosaic2d3c178bc4b28b48496f16dc95b9f9c94d6d87e4Back of grand staircase – ceiling – gilded door – portrait – platinum wall paper – chandelier.

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‘The kitchen, unlike others in the time period, was situated on the first floor away from the main house to prevent the possibility of fires and cooking smells reaching the main parts of the house.’ You can understand why after the original Breakers burned down that they’d want the kitchen further away. This kitchen is gorgeous, it could even tempt me to whip up a cake or something.  Maybe.

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The grounds … you never know what you might see out there 🙂

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The Breakers is amazing… not just in its beauty and opulence but in the thought and foresight that went into building it.

Just a few more pictures, really, just a few 🙂

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If you haven’t been to the Breakers I hope you get to go.  In the mean time CLICK HERE for the Breakers and HERE to find out more about Cornelius Vanderbilt II.

Coming next … what mansion came within weeks of being torn down !!

(photographs by my daughter Deb and myself)


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Newark, New Jersey (Banks)…

The above pictures (thanks to Google) are of The Howard Savings Institution bank in Newark, New Jersey. I’m guessing that these pictures are from the early 1900’s !   The Howard Savings Institution received its charter in 1857 and met its demise in Oct 1992.  (That’s a whole other post).   I worked at the Howard in the mortgage department from Feb 1960 until Feb 1964.

Last weekend I was in Newark and I took the following pictures of what this once beautiful and stately bank building looks like now… it’s very sad.

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IMG_2292The columns are gone and the Howard Savings Institution is gone from the front of the building but look closely along the top… the lion heads of different colors remain !

The next time I go back to Newark I think I’ll go inside the store that’s there now and see if any remnants of the inside of the bank remain ! I think not though.
IMG_2290Wandering a little further down Broad Street we come to the National Newark & Essex bank building which is where my mother worked.

      The following information was taken from an article on Google – “The beginning of the rebirth of the 744 Building, now referred to as the “National Newark Building” began in November 1997 when the Helmsley estate sold the 744 Broad Street building to Cogswell Realty Group, which announced that it would restore and reconstitute the building to its former glory.

The end result was a $55 million total renovation of the building and the integration of 21st century technologies that converted the building into an ideal and inviting modern office environment.

Among the new improvements were 1,500 new openable thermal windows, 15 high speed elevators, removal of the escalators, and the lobby given a complete facelift with restored 25 feet high plaster ceilings and grand chandeliers.

The classical style facade in the lobby was scrubbed and repainted and the art deco interior and giant mezzanine level murals restored.”

The restored building slowly has been regaining its earlier popularity and has been referred to as the “crown jewel of Newark’s renaissance.”

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IMG_2288The details on this building are incredible… look at the door handles on the front entrance…

IMG_2293 The article that I cited before also mentioned..”Among the new improvements were 1,500 new openable thermal windows, 15 high speed elevators, removal of the escalators, and the lobby given a complete facelift with restored 25 feet high plaster ceilings and grand chandeliers”.

I remember those chandeliers from my childhood when I used to visit the bank with my mother.

IMG_2285I am hoping during my next trip to Newark that I can go inside the bank which was closed the Saturday I was there… and see if I can step back in time.

I’m also looking forward to doing future posts about more of the rebirth of my home town, Newark, New Jersey


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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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NYC Matinee Day …

My daughter Deb, our friend Dawn and I went to NYC last Saturday to see…tah dah… the funniest, most hysterical musical comedy I think I’ve ever seen… and despite the title… it was not rotten 🙂  Come along and join us on our matinee day in the city.

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After getting coffee we headed to Times Square…

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You can always count on seeing a lot of characters roaming Times Sq, for example take a look at the characters in the last picture, crazy looking bunch 🙂

You might even see a proposal taking place, although I wonder if the one we saw was a real one or staged since there was a camera crew there !  At any rate it picture worthy.

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 Next up was lunch.. Junior’s Restaurant & Bar was our choice and it was a good one… we all chose sandwiches which were huge and delicious, the side dishes of pickles and also beets were great…but the icing on the cake, or in this case the blueberries on the cheesecake was oh so good… one piece shared 3 ways was perfect.pizap.com14531643690312

and now the main event…  I present …’Something Rotten’..

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Inside before the magic, and the laughter began…

IMG_2035And of course way too soon the laughter, the music, and the magic ended and it was out into the cold evening with memories of a fantastic, not rotten, matinee day in the city 🙂

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Plymouth, MA – This and That …

Part 4 of our trip..

This is the National Monument to the Forefathers

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The monument lists the names of the Mayflower Pilgrims and also on the four buttresses are seated figures emblematical of the principles upon which the Pilgrims founded their Commonwealth; Morality, Law, Education and Liberty.

According to Wikipedia : {The National Monument to the Forefathers, formerly known as the Pilgrim Monument, commemorates the Mayflower Pilgrims

 CLICK HERE

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And this is the Pilgrim Hall Museum ..CLICK HERE

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The nation’s oldest continuously operating public museum, Pilgrim Hall Museum houses an unmatched collection of Pilgrim possessions telling the story of brave and determined men and women building lives and homes for themselves and their children in a new world. See William Bradford’s Bible, Myles Standish’s sword, the only portrait of a Pilgrim (Edward Winslow) painted from life, the cradle of New England’s first–born, Peregrine White, the great chair of William Brewster, and the earliest sampler made in America, embroidered by Myles Standish’s daughter.

The only thing we were allowed to photograph were these beautiful stained glass windows

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And that….  that’s two of the most delicious, mouth watering, , heavenly New England lobster rolls… 🙂

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This concludes part 4 of our Plymouth, MA trip.. actually it may conclude this series all together, or it may not !!  Hope it’s been as enjoyable to read about as it was to have experienced it 🙂

(pictures are mine and Debs)


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Plymouth, MA – Standish and Alden …

Part 3 of our trip into the past to visit the Myles Standish Burial Ground and the John & Priscilla Alden House.

Our first stop in the charming and historic town of Duxbury, Massachusetts was the Myles Standish Burial Ground, the oldest maintained cemetery in the United States.

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It’s not a large cemetery, only 1.5 acres.  It is the resting place of several of the original Mayflower Pilgrims including Myles Standish and John & Priscilla Alden.   I felt a kind of peacefulness as I meandered around.  I felt respectful and humbled, it moved me more than I anticipated.

The Myles Standish grave site

pizap.com14454779088691The John and Priscilla Alden grave site

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Second stop in Duxbury… the Alden House Historic Site… CLICK HERE

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We arrived at the house only to find out that tours had stopped at the end of September so unfortunately we weren’t going to be able to go inside the house !

We wandered around and took some pictures  but of course it wasn’t like being inside.

pizap.com14454824657531As we were leaving we noticed two cars in front of the administration office so decided to walk over and say hello.   We were SO glad we did.  Not only were the two young women pleasant and smiley and full of information but… they said they’d give us a tour even though the house was closed.  Golly, wow.   So off we went… back into the past into the house of  John & Priscilla Alden.  I don’t know what they a actually looked like but I like this painting of them.  He was 21 and she 18 when they married.  They had 10 children.

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mosaica87ee7b48553477f85f6c668a051d66c06edb741Our tour guide (Trish) was terrific, she peppered historical facts with humorous family stories.  Why wasn’t history like this when I went to school… it was all about names and dates and not about people’s lives and adventures.

For instance the reason for wall paper and newspaper on the walls in this small closet, or as they called it, a clothes press.  The walls were covered with newspaper to protect clothing from getting snagged or caught on the rough walls.  Later on someone covered the newspaper with wall paper.  I believe our guide said the newspapers were from the time of the War of 1812.

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We did some quick gift shopping and Deb joined the AKA (Aldin Kindred of America) while we were there.   We hated to leave but we alas we had to come back to the 21st century.

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🙂  🙂  🙂

This concludes part 3 of our trip and I thought this was going to be the last installment… but no, there’s a bit of ‘this n that’ still to come !!

(pictures are mine and Deb’s)


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Plymouth, MA – Plimouth Plantation …

Part 2 of our trip into the past to visit our ancestors..Plimouth Plantation…

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DSC_0092Our visit to Plimouth Plantation was interesting and fun, I wish history had been this alive to me when I was in school eons ago 🙂

According to Wikipedia:

{Plimoth Plantation, founded in 1947, is a living history museum in Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA, that shows the original settlement of the Plymouth Colony established in the 17th century by English colonists, some of whom later became known as Pilgrims. They were among the first people who immigrated to America to avoid religious persecution and to seek religious separation from the Church of England.

In the 1627 English Village section of the museum, interpreters have been trained to speak, act and dress appropriately for the period. At Plimoth Plantation they are called historical interpreters, and they interact with their ‘strange visitors’ (i.e. the modern general public) in the first person, answering questions, discussing their lives and viewpoints and participating in tasks such as cooking, planting, black smithing and animal husbandry.}

Let’s begin…

Before we got to the Pilgrim settlement we stopped at the re-creation of a Wampanoag home site where modern day Native People from a variety of nations, dressed in traditional dress demonstrate how their ancestors lived and interacted with the settlers.

pizap.com14452951552681Onward now to the village, founded in 1947,  where we see how the Pilgrims lived…

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and talk with some ‘historical interpreters’…

Governor William Bradford and friend

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William Brewster, Ruling Elder of the Plymouth Church

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and Myles Standish

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 We sat down to rest and two ladies walked by and smiled and said we looked so happy and would we like them to take our picture… tah dah…

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🙂 🙂 🙂

This concludes part 2 of our trip… next up… Miles Standish burial ground and the John & Priscilla Alden House…

(pictures are mine and Deb’s)

 


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Plymouth, MA – The Mayflower…

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Part 1 of our trip into the past to visit our ancestors.

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My daughter, Deb, our friend Dawn and I headed to Plymouth, MA to visit, and to learn more about our ancestors who came to America on the first voyage of the Mayflower, or as I like to call it, the mother ship 🙂

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We recently learned that we are descended from Peregrine White who was born on the Mayflower in Cape Cod Harbor, he was the first English baby born in New England.   It had always been family legend that we came on that first voyage but having documented proof made it finally seem real.  I had a teacher once who told me I was wrong, that everyone who had relatives or ancestors in New England claimed they came on the Mayflower and that they actually didn’t.  Talk about squelching a dream.  So I put the information in the back of my mind and now, many many years later it turns out my mother’s legend was right. The girls and I did so much in our 3 days away that I’m going to break it down into a few posts rather than try to get it all into one very, very, very long post… you’ll thank me for this later 🙂 So… let’s begin…. welcome aboard the Mayflower II

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 We all know that the Mayflower landed in Plymouth in 1620 and that there had originally been 102 Pilgrims on board.  But something I didn’t know is where the Mayflower II replica came from !  According to Wikipedia in 1954 Warwick Charlton from England conceived the idea to construct a reproduction of the Mayflower to commemorate the wartime cooperation between the United Kingdom and the USA as a symbol of Anglo-American friendship….

To read more of this article CLICK HERE please

Let’s start our tour…

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pizap.com14451126844141Going below deck we met some of the crew members who told us many stories of the voyage of the Mayflower… 102 passengers and a crew of 25-30  began the journey, only 51 survived it.  Two babies were born, Oceanus Hopkins while at sea and Peregrine White (our ancestor) when the ship was anchored in Cape Cod Harbor.

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pizap.com14451252144451It’s hard to imagine life on board the Mayflower II no matter how vivid an imagination I have.  The cramped quarters, the noise and smells, the sickness, the lack of privacy.  But they made it and there were still more Pilgrims to come in future voyages.  I feel kind of empowered knowing somewhere deep inside of me I might have that kind of fortitude.

If you’re interested in knowing more about life on board, the history of the ship itself and about the voyage… CLICK HERE to read about the Mayflower…

The Mayflower Compact... signed by Myles Standish, John Alden, and Deb and me 🙂

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 You can’t visit the Mayflower without visiting Plymouth Rock as well….

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This concludes part 1 of our trip… next up… Plimouth Plantation.

(pictures are mine and Deb’s)


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Tripping New England …

I’m taking a girl trip later this month to New England with my daughter Deb and our friend Dawn and there will be a post or so about it… but in the meantime I want to re-post  part of a trip Deb and I made 20 years ago to Newport, Rhode Island.

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We had spent the earlier part of the week on Martha’s Vineyard but that’s a re-post for a later date.  We left the Vineyard and headed for an over night stay in Newport, Rhode Island, a place Deb had never been to and I raved about.

I had made reservations at a bed & breakfast, which is NOT pictured here… this is the beautiful Rosecliff mansion.

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We figured we’d check in and then go have lunch by the harbor.  The best laid plans often go astray as we were finding out

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We pulled into the circular driveway of what once had been a gorgeous mansion.  The operative word here is… once.  The first thing we noticed was the roof being torn off and being tossed onto the driveway.  OK, a little renovation is a good thing.

There were no other cars in the driveway (an omen perhaps).

There were spider webs by the front door, not such a good thing, even if Halloween was only days away.

The door was bolted so we rang the bell.

Lurch opened it.  All right, it wasn’t Lurch, but this man was big and wore an eye patch and had a low gravely, grumbly voice.  OK, maybe there wasn’t an eye patch but there should have been.

 We entered with trepidation what at one time years ago had been a beautiful mansion but was now drab, threadbare, and frankly creepy.  The beautifully carved wood circular staircase was  covered by the most horrible ugly green carpeting imaginable.  We signed in and were lead  upstairs to our room (cue ominous music). I think on the way up we were warned told not to ever venture into the east wing !  Or maybe that was from ‘Beauty and the Beast’… at any rate I remember hearing some words of caution, or welcome, or whatever.

Walked into the room… it was large, there was a queen size bed, also a cot, the floors were bare, nothing matched,  everything was worn out looking, it was dusty and unwelcoming, there was also the constant banging on the roof, or was it coming from the closet !

I didn’t want to put my suitcase down, I paced nervously around clutching my bags.  Deb looked at me and I at her mumbling things like “I don’t know about this”  “I don’t like it here” “this is spooky”.  She asked if I wanted to go home? I nodded.

We made a beeline down the stairs, mumbled a few words to the owner, flung open the seemingly stuck front doors, threw our luggage in the car and high tailed it out of there.

We did however have one of the best lunches ever.  We drove to the harbor and ate outside at the Mooring.  The whole time we were eating we were laughing and talking about the weird B&B and the seemingly spooky owners.  Our waitress came over to ask the usual “how is everything” question and before I knew it I was telling her about our … um, episode at the B&B.  She told us she’d heard some weird stories about the place.  We agreed we’d definitely made the right decision in leaving.

We left Newport with 3 minutes to spare on the parking meter and headed home to NJ.  This trip was one for the books.

Wonder what our upcoming girl trip will bring in the way of adventure.. perhaps a visit to the past !!!


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End Of Summer Travels …

It was always sad when my summers as a child on the Vineyard would end… it’s still sad for me when I have to leave the Island

My parents and I always left the day after Labor Day, we sailed from Oak Bluffs, and usually on the Nobska.

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Back in the 1950’s my parents and I traveled to and from Martha’s Vineyard by train… the New York, New Haven and Hartford railroad’s Cape Codder went from Pennsylvania Station in NYC right to Woods Hole… or vice versa at the end of the summer.

Day Cape CodderThe train stopped at what is now the staging area for cars waiting to get onto the ferries. The tracks ran under the overpass in the left corner of the photograph below.  It was literally only steps from boat to train.  Train service ended in the 1960’s.


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I loved riding on the train, still do. The trip to NYC took about 5 hours and then we arrived in Pennsylvania Station in NYC.

 But we weren’t done with our train travels yet, we still had to take a train from Pennsylvania Station in New York to Pennsylvania Station in Newark, New Jersey.  From there I think we took a taxi home.

We traveled light on our way home, I would have my favorite doll, Beverly, and my teddy bear with me and my parents would have a small suitcase with a few belongings in it, the rest of the things… like ALL my toys we sent to and from the Vineyard by Railway Express.

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It took days for the rest of our things to arrive home and I would watch every day for the Railway Express truck to arrive.

It was bittersweet seeing that truck as I was happy to have my toys and things back but it also meant the official end of summer for me.

There were always dreams of the next summer and the next one and the next one…