MV Obsession

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


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The Flying Horses of Martha’s Vineyard…

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.

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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.

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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.

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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 🙂

 


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The Train To The Vineyard…

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.

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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 🙂

 

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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.

100_8757 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.

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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.

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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…

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…and then summer on the Vineyard would officially be under way 🙂

 


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Memorial Day 2018…

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Memories Of My Mom…

Maude Louise Littlefield

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Born in Waterville, Maine

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Raised on Martha’s Vineyard

my mother, Maude Louise and grandmother, Albra Mae – Oak Bluffs, 1924\

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Moved to New Jersey after high school graduation and met a Jersey boy, Joseph Albert (Al)…

 

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                                         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…

                                      Then                                                 Now

Grandchildren Tiffany and Tyler…

                                                        Then                                                  Now

 

 

 


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My Mom, Maude Louise…

My mother, Maude Louise Littlefield Freeman was born in Waterville, Maine on March 11, 1907.

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(my mother and her mother Albra Mae Flewelling Littlefield Grant Baird)

The picture below is one of my most favorite pictures of all time…

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Raised on Martha’s Vineyard… that’s my mother and grandmother at their house on Circuit Ave in Oak Bluffs, 1924

After graduating from Oak Bluffs High School in 1926 she moved to Newark, NJ where she met, and married a Jersey boy… Joseph Albert Freeman

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and had a Jersey girl (me)…

 

I have posted the above pictures etc several times here on my blog either on my mother’s birthday or on Mother’s Day so why am I doing it again this year ?   During the past several months my daughter Deb and I (90% Deb) have been digging into the ancestry of our family.  I posted back in October 2015 how my mother’s ancestors did indeed come on the first voyage of the Mayflower …. but since then Deb has discovered ancestors on mom’s side all over the place and going back many generations.  She’s also discovered facts about my grandparents on my dad’s side which has been amazing since we didn’t know anything about them at all.  But that’s a post for another time. Today it’s all about my mom, Maude Louise.

A friend asked me the other day to describe my mother…what was she like, what did she like to do. I pondered this question and found it was sort of a hard one to answer. To me my mother was funny and a little nutsy at times, a trait I’ve happily inherited by the way… she was kind and loving, a hard worker, she adored my dad, and me. She liked to crochet, she made tablecloths and doilies, and also made lace on handkerchiefs. She made one for my best friend to carry on her wedding day… when I got married I carried it as my ‘something borrowed’.. as did my daughter Patty when she got married.

She had her problems as well though, she went through a period of over a year when I was around 11 when she wouldn’t leave the house… at all… ever. She would wait for me to get home from school and then send me to the corner store for her cigarettes or milk or whatever. We didn’t know what to do about this but then the solution presented itself one morning when my dad was home and he took advantage of it. Mom was doing the wash in one of those machines that had wringers where you’d put the clothes through to get excess water off of them. Somehow my mother’s arm went half way through the wringer…she screamed.. my dad went running to see what was wrong. He quickly took the wringer apart and freed mom’s arm. She claimed she was okay but my dad being a policeman who had worked in the emergency squad division thought otherwise. And here’s where his genius solution to mom’s not wanting to leave the house came in. He said he was taking her to the hospital, she started up the stairs to get dressed (she was in her robe) and he said no, there wasn’t time for that. And then he took her to the worst, most crowded hospital in the city and left her there. He left her because I was due home for lunch break and someone had to be there. Of course when I got home I wondered why Mom wasn’t there and he said she’d gone shopping ! Shopping, really ! The woman hadn’t left the house in months and months and now she suddenly went downtown to go shopping. I was skeptical. When I came home from school later in the day there sat my mother all dressed up like she really had gone shopping. I, of course asked if she’d bought me anything.. hey I was 11 and very self involved.

But what my dad did was just what was needed to snap her back to herself.  She had been so embarrassed sitting in the hospital in her night clothes with so many people around that I guess she vowed to take her life back and do something other than sitting and crocheting all the time.

And she did…. a week later she went to the personnel office in the bank she had worked for before I was born, applied for a job as a bookkeeper and was hired on the spot.

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But there was a lot more to my mother than that episode above… the fact that she had the spirit in her to get herself back on track, I find myself calling on that spirit at times too.

She was a kook in her younger years and I’ve got the photo album that proves it.

The first page says ‘taken during the year 1926’.. most of the photos are of mom and her friends on Martha’s Vineyard…there are a few from NJ as well.   I love how she wrote in white ink on the black pages…and wow, what typical 1926 sayings she wrote.  My mother it seems was turning into a flapper… I love it.

For instance, the picture on the lower left says ‘The Oak Bluffs Sheik “oh daddy” “He’s a hound with the ladies.”  I’m 80% sure I know who that hound was but I’m not telling 🙂

It would have been fun to have known my mother when she was that age, to have hung out with her and her friends on the Vineyard, to be in on their inside jokes and what really went on in with the sheik of Oak Bluffs ! Okay, maybe not. Does one really want to know THAT much about their parents, some things are better left unknown 🙂

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Yes indeed, my mother was one of my favorite people to spend time with.  Some nights when my dad was working the night shift my mom and I would have our favorite supper and speak our ‘silly language’, which was to put ‘S’ in front of every word… not as easy as you think and certainly made for gales of laughter from both of us.

I feel that maybe I shouldn’t have spent so much time on the above story about her bout with, depression, and I was tempted to go back and delete it…but no, it goes to show that she was a strong woman, who lost herself for awhile and then found and reinvented herself…and I’m proud of her for that and like to think that I got some of that fortitude or spunk from her… I definitely got my quirkiness from her and I thank her for that.

Happy birthday mom… ❤

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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My One Vineyard Christmas…

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I’ve been to Martha’s Vineyard around Christmastime many times 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.

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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.

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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Our Santa…

 

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My dad was a police officer in Newark, NJ.  For many of his years on the force he worked in the Emergency Squad division.  During the long hours between calls the guys would keep themselves busy in various ways like cooking.  Near the Christmas holidays they always came up with a special project, like candle making for instance.

In 1956 they made Santas.  I still have ours.  Santa stands about 3 and 1/2 feet tall and is made from press board. After the outline was drawn the guys cut out the Santas and my dad set to work drawing the features, clothing and bag of toys.  At that point our Santa came home and my mother and I painted him.  I’m not sure how many coats of paint we used but Santa was spread out on our kitchen table for about a week before he was completely dry.  I don’t know what kind of paint we used either but here it is 61 years later and he’s not chipped or faded.  This was the only time I ever remember the three of us doing a family project together.

I love everything about this Santa, even the buttons being on the wrong side… but the thing I love the most is that he looks like my dad… a self portrait so to speak.

My creation

Below is my daughter Patty age 2 and 1/2 in 1966…

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… and then her daughter (my granddaughter) Tiffany age 2 and 1/2 in 1991.

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Here’s to Christmas memories ❤


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Vineyard Friendships…

Vineyard stories about friends…

Let’s begin with the two friends who pretty much started the Vineyard connection in my family.  My mother Maude Freeman (on right) and her best friend Bertha Carter Jones (on left).

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Childhood friends on the Vineyard, they graduated in 1926 from Oak Bluffs High School (pre-regional high school).  After graduation they moved to Newark, NJ and it was there that they met their future husbands.. who were also childhood friends.

My dad Al Freeman on the left, Bill Jones on the right.

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They grew up together in Newark, NJ and remained friends their entire lives.  The best times they had were on the Vineyard when both of our families were there for the entire summer.

For many years Bertha & Bill Jones owned a bowling alley in Oak Bluffs across from the Flying Horses.  They did not have automated pin setters so the pins had to be set by hand, I even did it from time to time myself.

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Then along came Will Jones and me… not only best friends because our parents were but because we knew each other from early childhood.  How early you wonder ?  We were only a few months old when we met,  Will is a month older than me by the way and I never let him forget it… even now 🙂

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The above picture has to be around 1947 or 48, it was during the month or so that I was taller than Will.

 

Will and I were always looking for things to keep us busy and out of trouble.  Someone showed me how to make little flowers by using yarn and forks… I immediately showed Will. We set about our tasks, me at my house, he at his.

The next morning Will’s mom called my mom asking if he was at my house ?  Seems she went looking for a fork and couldn’t find any !!! A few minutes later Will was at my door, and yes, he had all his mother”s forks with him and they were filled with yarn.  Seems I had neglected to show him ow to get the yarn off the forks to make the little flowers.Oopsie.

Will had carried those forks from his house on the other side of Oak Bluffs by the harbor.. up Circuit Ave to my house where we freed his mother’s forks of their yarn.  I have no recollection of what we did with the yarn flowers.

 

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Last but not least, my daughter Deb and her best friend of 42 years, Dawn Green.

 Dawn & Deb, July 1984 (Falmouth, Ma)

                                         Dawn and Deb, May 2017 (Cape May, NJ)

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In July 1984 I took the girls to Martha’s Vineyard, just the three of us.  The trip was a new experience in that I’d never been away alone with two teenagers and I had never driven to MV by myself.

We did a lot of things together but the girls also spent time doing their own things while I did mine.  It was a nice mix to togetherness and apartness (is that even a word)!

 

Aquinnah to see the cliffs.

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Out for fancy dinner one night.

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One incident that sticks out in my mind is dinner one night at the Wharf Pub & Restaurant in Edgartown.  We ate early and the restaurant was almost empty.  We were in the middle of our meal when our waitress came over and said…”you might want to eat slowly as Billy Joel & Christie Brinkley are on their way in and I thought the girls might get a kick out of seeing them!”  THE GIRLS… forget the girls, I was the one getting all excited. So we nibbled and waited and waited and waited and then THEY walked past the window next to our table and entered the restaurant.  As we left the restaurant and walked past their table Billy Joel smiled and waved at us.  We giggled all the way back to the hotel.

Whether with family or friends, Vineyard memories are always extra special.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Remembering My Great-Grandfather…

On this Memorial Day I am remembering my great grandfather, Joseph P Littlefield

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The following is copied from post my daughter Deb wrote … I couldn’t have said it better.

“Remembering: JOSEPH P. LITTLEFIELD of Rome, Maine. 40-years-old and father of eight children, my great-great-grandfather joined the Union army in the summer of 1864, just as the Civil War was grinding to its bitter, violent end. He was in Company C of the 9th Maine Regt, and badly wounded in the battle of Cold Harbor, shot through his left hand into his lower back. He was sent back home to Maine where he died two months later on 30 Sep 1864. According to his 24-year-old doctor, he died of “Typhoidal Pneumonia induced by wounds received in the Battle of the Wilderness, VA … the deceased soldier came to this death by reason of disease induced by a wound through the hand, contusion in his back, and subsequent exposure and fatigue in the field of battle, causing fever or “Typhoidal Pneumonia” from which he never recovered.” The pain must have been horrible.

Worse, adding insult to grievous injury, within a month of Joseph’s death, his wife and three oldest children also died, presumably from Typhoid or some other contagious fever. This left my 10-year-old great-grandfather Charles Littlefield the oldest of the five remaining children. I know how desperate both sides of the Civil War were by 1864 for men, but the idea that a 40-year old father of eight would sign up is appalling. And the fact that he not only died—horrible, but not unexpected for a soldier–but that he took his wife and three of his children with him?”

On this Memorial Day, remembering all who gave their lives for our country.


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Mothers and Grandmothers…

Happy Mother’s Day

       My mother & grandmother.   Me and my mother.    Me and my girls

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Me with my girls now… Patty and Debbie

Along came grandmahood via Patty with my two grands… Tiffany and Tyler

Tiffany 1989                                 Tyler 1993

Now

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But let’s back track just a bit to my mother who I am remembering on this Mother’s Day, Maude Louise Littlefield Freeman.

Born in Waterville, Maine

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Raised on Martha’s Vineyard

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my mother and grandmother – Oak Bluffs 1924

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After high school she moved to New Jersey and married a Jersey boy…

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and had a Jersey girl (me)…

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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 there 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.

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I never knew my grandmother, my mother’s mother, she died before my parents were married and I was born, but I’ve always felt a closeness to her through stories my mom would tell me about her and also the essence of her I feel when I’m on the Vineyard. She is buried on the Vineyard and I visit her every time I’m there.

Chances are she might have visited me a few years ago !!!!  Read on…

Here’s an excerpt from a post I did about the ‘spirits’ of my mother and grandmother.

100_0175    On the very haunted island of Martha’s Vineyard.. in the town of Oak Bluffs.. in a restored Victorian home was a restaurant called The Sweet Life Cafe.   In this house in the 1930′s lived a daughter and her mother.   In this house the mother passed away.   That woman was my grandmother and the daughter was my mother.

 A few years ago my daughter Deb and I decided to treat ourselves to dinner at the Sweet Life Cafe… we’d never eaten there but felt the time was right.   It was around 5 o’clock on a beautiful cloudless and breezeless May evening so we opted to sit on the patio in the garden as it was empty and peaceful.   We had a glass of wine and settled back to talk about our day and enjoy the pretty surroundings.   The tables were beautifully laid out and each had on it a small hurricane lamp with a candle in it.  We looked around and noticed that the candles on all the tables but ours were lit!   Our waitress re-lit ours.   The candle went out.   Again she lit it.  Again it went out.   She came back with a new candle.  Again out it went.   Again she re-lit it to no avail.  My daughter and I joked that our grandmothers were joining us and were definitely in a playful mood.

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Later that evening as my daughter and I were passing by the restaurant we looked in at the patio……   the candle on the table we had been sitting at was burning brightly !!

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