The Tivoli building… Oak Bluffs, Martha’s Vineyard (circa 1920)
The two story, full block Tivoli Dance Hall stood from 1901 until 1964. 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’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.
After arriving on the Vineyard each summer of my childhood one of the first orders of business was going to the Flying Horses the oldest carousel in the United States, they came to the Island in 1884 from Coney Island.
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.
The picture below was taken during the autumn when the Flying Horses had closed for the season but it didn’t mean I didn’t get a picture of them though. I positioned my camera close to the window and clicked…I got the horses… I also got the reflection of the camera and the reflection of the building across the street. I think it’s pretty neat.
The last time I flew on the Flying Horses my granddaughter Tiffany was with me. I thought it might be my last time ever to ride them (I think that every time anyway)… and as my horse came around to the arm shooting the rings out I could see that the next one, the one waiting for me was the GOLD ring. What a fantastic way to possibly end my Flying Horses ride.
But I missed it … my fingers slipped and I couldn’t grab it. But… right behind me was my granddaughter and she got it 🙂 She offered me the free ride but it meant more to me that she should have it. Perfect ending, if indeed it was.
Rings of gold are good luck I’m told…
as for riding Flying Horses you’re never too old 🙂
Mid-June every summer of my childhood my mother and I would start our trip to the Vineyard.for the entire summer There was no I-95, not that we had a car anyway… no, our train travels would begin in Newark, New Jersey and end in Woods Hole. Yes, WOODS HOLE, trains used to go right to the ferry.
We would take a train from Pennsylvania Station in Newark, NJ to Pennsylvania station in New York city where we would have to run from one end of the station to the other to board the New York/New Haven & Hartford’s train on the Old Colony line called the Day Cape Codder, which would take us all the way from New York City to Woods Hole, MA. That’s right, all the way to Woods Hole. Pennsylvania Station was built in 1910, covered nearly 8 acres, extended 2 city blocks and was one of the largest public spaces in the world. Its 3 year demolition began in October 1963. It was replace with another Penn Station which Madison Sq Garden sits atop… it’s functional but not as beautiful as the original 🙂
The trains had dining cars with each table dressed in fancy tablecloths and crisply ironed napkins. The waiters and conductors were always the same and seemed to remember me from year to year… made me feel special and grown up. Train service to Woods Hole ended in the 1960′s.
The 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 this photograph. It was literally only steps from train to boat. A comfortable and luxurious way to travel in the days when lots of people didn’t have cars and the road system left a lot to be desired anyway.
(Woods Hole circa 1890’s) (circa 1950’s)
The ferry, the Nobska/Nantucket would take us to MV.
We’d land in Oak Bluffs and our relatives would be there to greet us, and three glorious months on the Vineyard would begin.
We traveled light, I would have my favorite doll, Beverly, and my teddy bear with me and my mother 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.
It took days for the rest of our things to arrive and Beverly and I would watch every day for the Railway Express truck to arrive at our house…
…and then summer on the Vineyard would officially be under way 🙂
Memorial Day was borne out of the Civil War and a desire to honor our dead. It was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic. “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land,” he proclaimed. The date of Decoration Day, as he called it, was chosen because it wasn’t the anniversary of any particular battle.In 1971, Congress established Memorial Day as the last Monday in May and as a federal holiday.
On my mother’s side of the family, my paternal great grandfather, Joseph Littlefield fought in the Civil War and died because of his wounds. He was wounded in the Battle of the Wilderness in 1864. He was sent home to Maine to die. He died of typhoidal pnemonia on Sep 30, 1864, he is buried in Rome, Maine. Unfortunately his wife and his 3 oldest children died of the same thing shortly thereafter, leaving my grandfather, Charles Littlefield at age 10 the oldest of the four remaining children.
Below is a photo of the veteran’s section in the Fairmont Cemetery in Newark, New Jersey, where, on my father’s side of the family my great great paternal grandfather, Stephen Freeman is buried. Stephen did not die in the Civil War but was wounded in the battle of Antietam in 1862. He was sent home, lived another 29 years and died on May 30, 1891, which ironically was Memorial Day.
Take a moment to remember the original reason for Memorial Day and the men and women who fought for, and gave their lives for our country.
Have a great Memorial Day and enjoy the weekend whatever you’re doing.
Maude Louise Littlefield
Born in Waterville, Maine
Raised on Martha’s Vineyard
my mother, Maude Louise and grandmother, Albra Mae – Oak Bluffs, 1924
Moved to New Jersey after high school graduation and met a Jersey boy, Joseph Albert (Al)…
married him and had a Jersey girl (me)
The next to the last Mother’s Day I spent with my mom was May 1975. My parents were vacationing on the Cape and she was unaware that we were driving up from NJ to surprise her for the weekend. I gave her the book ‘Mostly On Martha’s Vineyard, A Personal Record’ by Henry Beetle Hough, as I knew she’d know some of the people mentioned in the book. I am so glad I did that because after reading the book she decided she wanted to sail over to the Vineyard to visit her mother’s grave. It turned out be her last trip to her beloved Vineyard.
Can’t let Mother’s Day pass without pictures of my sweeties…
Daughters Patty and Debbie…
Grandchildren Tiffany and Tyler…
Why this picture? Is it a double exposure or is it not. So what’s the story !!!!!!
My daughter Deb is a twin. Her sister Susan was only with us for a few hours.
Katy (Katama) was Deb’s first Boykin Spaniel. She was our first dog to go on vacation with us, no big surprise that it was to MV. Katy left us after 20 months and we feel that she’s now with Susan.
Below is Chappy (Chappaquiddick) who was Deb’s next Boykin Spaniel.
We took lots of pictures of Chappy’s first trip to the Vineyard in 2002, especially on the beach and in the water. He really enjoyed splashing about and barking at waves. These pictures show a little of his fun at the beach.
And then there’s this picture:
Is this a double exposure ! Or is it Deb and Chappy with Susan and Katy ? You be the judge. Just let me say that my non-digital camera had never, until that day, taken a double exposure and never did so afterwards !!!!