MV Obsession

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


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Thank You …

Thanksgiving is a week away but I’m thinking today of the person to whom I am thankful for bringing Martha’s Vineyard into my life, and the lives of my family.

My mom, Maude Louise Littlefield Freeman.

Born March 11, 1907 in Waterville, Maine but raised on MV and through her we’ve all come to love the Vineyard.

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Mom and me 1946.

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   Little did she know when she set me down on this beach in Oak Bluffs  for the first time in 1943 what an important and life defining moment it was.  CLICK HERE for more about my mom.

Same beach 2010

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Passing the Vineyard to new generations is a tradition for lots of families and mine is no different.

  Here at State Beach in Oak Bluffs in the early evening one May is my daughter Deb and her dog Chappy.

My daughter Patty and son-in-law Mike at Aquinnah.

  The next generation appears.  My grandchildren Tiffany and Tyler at Edgartown lighthouse in 1996 during their first trip to the Vineyard.   It was the month of May, not swimming weather but good for collecting shells and rocks and seeing the ocean for the first time.

My entire family has been to MV with me at one time or another but never all of us at the same time. That’s okay though as the Vineyard is a different experience depending on who I’m there with.

My creation

I hope she knows how grateful we all are to her for the gift of the Vineyard she gave to us…. thank you Mom

This post was prompted by a ‘small world’ cyberspace meeting this week with someone with ties not only to the Vineyard but to my mom. Thank you B for urging me to dig out old photographs and stories to share.


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When I’m 64 …

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This is Fluffy.   He is 64 years old this year.  I’ve had him since I was around 8 years old.  Fluffy came from Germany, he used to be completely covered in rabbit fur but over the years a lot of it has been petted away.  Fluffy is a little hard of hearing as one of  his ears falls off  from time to time.  He is my dearest childhood possession.

Fluffy sort of has a Vineyard connection… but doesn’t almost everything in my life 🙂  Ethel Souweine, who was a relative of my mother’s lived on Massasoit Ave in Oak Bluffs.   Her two sons, William and Leon, and her daughter Vivian Carole were all in the army in the 1940’s and 50’s.  Every time one of them would be stationed in, or visit a foreign country, they would bring back a toy for me and for their niece Carolee.   Fluffy was one of those gifts.

Look at that face … his eyes look so real to me.

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Nowadays Fluffy lives with the other animals and dolls in a comfy basket on a trunk.  They’re a very close group

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Fluffy doesn’t get out much but a case of wanderlust hit him the other day and he thought it would be fun to surprise Chappy by visiting him.

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Seeing eye-to eye and nose-to-nose.

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After exchanging pleasantries for awhile Fluffy decided to nap before his trip back to his basket family.

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Back home with the gang.

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Maybe an upcoming post on some of the other basket gang members.


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I Can Bake ! …

It took me 51 years but I finally made a cake from scratch.  Why did it take this long?  I’m not sure… laziness, thought it was too hard or time consuming… I could think of a lot of excuses.. and did.

For my daughter Deb’s recent birthday and I wanted to surprise her with something she would not expect… and a homemade cake would definitely be that.

So, I gathered my stuff together and began my new experience.

This ‘new picture’ Betty Crocker Cook Book by the way isn’t all that new.  It was given to me by my dad 51 years ago.  You can tell by the loose binding that it has been used, even by me from time to time.

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I decided to make a pound cake in a bundt pan.

I mixed all ingredients, well, except for one which I couldn’t find in the pantry and figured it wasn’t all that important … how much of a difference could a tsp of baking powder make anyway.   Whirr, whirr, scrape, pour… it was actually looking pretty good… I felt encouraged.

 I even melted some chocolate to add to the pound cake…  thought it would give it some oomph and who doesn’t like at least of dash of chocolate in a cake.

Got the cake in the pan and polished off what was left of my coffee…by then I was exhausted.

My creation

I only peeked at the cake once during the hour it was in the oven.  It was rising and browning so I was encouraged.    Tah dah… it was done… now to see if it would come out of the cake pan in one piece !  Tah dah again… yay… it did.   Applause, applause.

Look at that, isn’t it beautiful…. see how happy and pleased I am with myself.

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It was another hour or so until Debbie came home… it was hard for me to control my anxiety.  I knew she’d be surprised but would she like it ?  Time would tell.

She did look surprised.   A beautiful cake yet to be tasted but certainly making a good impression.  Looks like a birthday cake now that it had candles on it.   And finally, the taste test !  The consensus was that it was good… maybe could have been a little taller but I like to think of it as a petite pound cake.

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It was a success and, don’t tell anyone, but I might even do it again.  I said might 🙂


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Still Unexplained …

I repost this post almost every year as it touches me deeply.

My daughter Deb is a twin. Sadly her sister Susan was only here for a few hours.

One of my favorite pictures of Debbie (age 3)

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Katy (Katama) was Deb’s first Boykin Spaniel. She was the first dog to go on vacation with Deb and me, no big surprise that it was to MV. Katy left us after 20 months and we feel that she’s now with Susan.  Here’s Deb with Katy at Sengekontacket Pond on Martha’s Vineyard.

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My creation

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Chappy (Chappaquiddick) was Deb’s next Boykin Spaniel.  Here they are enjoying the window seat at the inn we were staying at in Oak Bluffs.

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We took lots of pictures of Chappy’s first trip to the Vineyard, 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.

 

Chappy

My creation
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And then there’s this picture:

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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 camera, not a digital one, had never, until that day, taken a double exposure and never did so afterwards.

Happy Halloween !!!


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Chap-A-Versary …

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13 years ago today, Aug 25, 2001, Chappy came home to NJ to live with us.

It was a dark and stormy night… no wait, that’s another story.   It was actually a beautiful sunny, white puffy cloud, mild August day when Deb (his mom), and I traveled to Kittanning, PA to pick him up.   We had been there two weeks prior to look over the litter of new Boykin Spaniel puppies and to sort of reserve the one that would be coming home with us today.    We thought it went well, Deb chose the future Chappy and the breeder put a red mark inside his ear… he has since been referred to by us as… yes, red ear.

In the two week interim preparations were made for Chappy’s arrival… bedding, toys, food & water dishes, toys, crate, pillows, toys… you get the picture.

So off Deb and I went on Friday, Aug 24th to drive the 6 hours to Kittanning, spend the night and then pick red ear, oops, Chappy up in the morning.   Deb had spent the day at work  being anxious to get the day over with and get on the road.  Deb didn’t feel well that night, stress, the long drive, the anxiety of picking up Chappy, it all took a toll.   Soon morning rolled around and after a quick breakfast off to the breeder’s we headed.

The puppies were awake and adorable, they were playing and yipping and being all sorts of cute.

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Except one…. he was off to the side looking all unsure of everything… yes… it was indeed ‘red ear’…. oh dear.

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The breeder told Deb she was not under any obligation to take him as he wasn’t sure this puppy was adoptable at the time.    And that’s when I saw my daughter fall apart.    We thought we had it all worked out and would walk in, pick up the future Chappy and leave, well it wasn’t going to be that easy.

In the meantime other folks were coming in to pick out puppies and to be honest it was quite annoying that they would pick one up… look at it… say yes or no and be off.  How were they doing that… was there some kind of pup-telepathy that we didn’t have ?

As we stood there and mulled over the situation two of the puppies scampered over to us and pretty much wore themselves out vying to be Deb’s choice.

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I knew pretty much right off the bat which one I would choose and I really tried to hide my choice from Deb and let her make her own decision.   She says she could read on my face which one I liked best and I’m sure she could.   She was so distraught that at one point I blurted out that she could bring both of them home !!!

And so the competition continued… Mr Personality vs Mr Adorable.  Mr Personality was sleek and energetic and was quite lovable.  Mr Adorable was fuzzier faced and a little smooshed nosed and also energetic and lovable.

Which one did Deb choose, or rather who chose her.  Why it was Chappy of course, or formerly known as… Mr Adorable.  By the way, he was my choice from the very beginning… just saying.

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This is Chappy saying good-by to his parents Buddy & Tawny.  He looks a lot like his mom and has her sweet personality.

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With the traumatic morning behind us we headed on our 6 hour trip home.  Chappy slept in Deb’s lap for most of the ride only awakening when big scary trucks rumbled past or when we stopped for food or gas.

His first McDonald’s where he caused quite a commotion with his cuteness.

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At long last we were home.

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I love this picture…

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and this one 12 years later…

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Happy anniversary Chappy ❤


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Meeting A Vineyard Celebrity …

In size the biggest Vineyard celebrity would have to be Clifford the Big Red Dog.  No one, either two or four-legged comes close to him in stature… or in popularity with the younger set.

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In 1996 as time was approaching for my granddaughter’s (then age 7) and grandson’s (then age 3) first trip to Martha’s Vineyard I wanted to do something special for them. I know, just going to MV is special enough, but I wanted something different that would be impressive.

I knew that Norman Bridwell, the creator of Clifford, lived on MV so I decided to send him a letter telling him about my long time connection with MV and how my grandchildren would be making their first trip there in a few months.

100_6469 Lo and behold a few weeks later I got a letter from him saying he’d be delighted to meet us. He told me what date would be good for him and gave me his phone number… to me, a complete stranger.

I told my daughter Patty what I had done and she and I decided to keep it as a surprise for the children. That was very hard for me.

When I arrived on MV a few days before my family there was a message waiting for me where I was staying… it was from Norman Bridwell making sure I’d gotten to MV safely and that our get together was still on. On top of that he also phoned me. How nice was that.

The second day of their trip to MV we went for a walk in Edgartown. While walking down a particular street I said to my granddaughter Tiffany “that’s the house where the man who draws Clifford the Big Red Dog lives.” Her face lit up and she smiled. Grandson Tyler was interested in collecting leaves at that point. I said to Tiffany, “why don’t you go ring the doorbell and see what happens?” She looked at me like I’d lost my mind, then glanced at her mom who agreed that we should give it a shot. So up to the door we went. Ringgggg….ringgggg. The door opened and there stood Norma Bridwell, “hello there, come right in, I’ll get Norman for you.” Tiffany stood wide-eyed at the door and then inched her way in. Tyler discovered they had a cat and scurried in to play with it.

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Norman Bridwell stepped out of his office, greeted us and asked us into the living room. He’s a delightful man, full of interesting stories and he made us all feel quite at home. Since my daughter Patty and I knew we were going to be visiting the Bridwell’s she came bearing Clifford cookies and two Clifford books for him to sign for Tiffany and Tyler. I often wondered if they were suspicious of the cookie thing … like how did their mom just happen to have Clifford cookies at the ready !

It was a memorable morning, I’m so glad I took the chance and wrote that letter. 🙂

 


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A Vineyard School House …

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My mother’s step-cousin was born in this house in Indian Hill in 1911. He lived in this house, built in 1752, until he died. He was quite a guy. He was a master at building things and he could fix absolutely anything. Over the years he added on to the family homestead, and when there wasn’t anymore he could do there he turned his sights to –

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— the one room school house up the road where he’d gone to school. He purchased the school house and set about renovating it.

When his daughter got married she and her husband moved into it. I had the pleasure of going there for dinner and I was in awe. The original wooden floors had been beautifully restored, but more than that, you could see clearly the marks where the desks had once been. A couple of the desks had been salvaged and were part of the living room. The closet was, of course the former cloak room with, the original coat hooks. And to top things off the school bell was once again working. I hardly ever enjoyed being in a classroom quite as much as I did that night at dinner many years ago.


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To My Mom …

Today would be my mother’s birthday.

Maude Louise Littlefield Freeman

born March 11, 1907 in Waterville, Maine

She’s the reason MV is in the lives of my family. Although born in Maine she was raised on MV and through her we’ve all come to love the Vineyard.

Her father died when she was 3 years old, her mother remarried and that husband died when my mother was around six.  At that point my grandmother, Albra Mae met and married a Vineyarder named Arthur Baird, Sr and so my grandmother and my mother Maude came to live on Martha’s Vineyard in Oak Bluffs  and thus began our connection to, and love of the Vineyard.

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After my mother graduated from high school she moved to New Jersey and..

married a Jersey boy…. and had a Jersey girl 🙂

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My first trip to the Vineyard was when I was less than a year old…  here I am on the beach in Oak Bluffs with my mother and godmother…

My entire family has been to MV with me at one time or another but never all of us at the same time. That’s okay though as the Vineyard is a different experience depending on who I’m there with.

My creation

I hope she knows how grateful we all are to her for the gift of the Vineyard she gave to us…. thank you Mom

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Although I’ve tried to say how deeply I feel about my mother and the Vineyard, no words I could find could say so beautifully what my daughter Deb wrote below about her grandmother.

Please take a moment to CLICK HERE and read Deb’s post.


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A Christmas On The Vineyard …

To my recollection there is only one time in my life that I 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. I’m not sure of the actual connection to them except that Nana was my grandmother’s best friend when she moved to the Vineyard. When my mother graduated from high school on MV she moved to Newark, NJ to live with them and to find work.

One Christmas 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 in it… he obviously 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. 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.

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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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Our Cross Stitches …

My mother did these two counted cross stitches over 80 years ago.

Gay Head Lighthouse still had the lighthousekeepers house attached to it.

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Only 4 lighthouses instead of 5 on the Vineyard map – do you know which one is missing?

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My counted cross stitch of Gay Head lighthouse done in 2004.

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My map done in 1993.  Which lighthouse is missing on mine ?

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(Edgartown lighthouse is missing on moms.. East Chop on mine)