It all began with this little snippet in the Vineyard Gazette 29 years ago in September of 1990. My daughter Deb liked Harry Connick Jr and I’m a huge fan of Carly Simon, I have been even before I knew of her Vineyard connection. This seemed like a perfect weekend getaway for us but how could I manage to get tickets when I live in NJ and they were only on sale on the Vineyard !
I did it. I was determined and when it involves the Vineyard my determination is un-stoppable. So off we went. There were a few glitches along the way concerning MV accommodations and ferry reservations so we decided to stay in Falmouth on the mainland and just go to the Vineyard for the day of the concert.
It was a spectacular September Sunday afternoon on the Vineyard, the Campground was filled with happy concertgoers bustling around..
Before the concert began we were talking with a woman sitting next to us who was going on and on about how excited she was to be seeing Carly Simon. She said she had chatted about it with her seat mate on the small plane she had flown over to MV on that afternoon. She told him she had no idea who Harry Connick Jr was but that she was mainly there to see Carly.
When Harry stepped onto the stage she gasped and said ‘oh my god, that’s the young man I was talking to on the plane.’
At 3pm the concert began. Harry’s band was fantastic and Harry’s voice velvety smooth. After about an hour or so of great music the lights were turned off. The only illumination was the sun shining through the stained glass windows around the perimeter of the Tabernacle. And then… out stepped Carly.
I was beside myself, in actuality though the person beside me was Carly’s mother. I have seen Carly in concert several times since then but seeing her on the Vineyard and at the Tabernacle was something special for me.
Harry and Carly sang a few songs together, their voices meshed beautifully. Carly did a few songs alone and then way too soon it was over. What a fantastic day, one we’ll never forget.
The reviews of the concert were glowing, much like the talents of Carly Simon and Harry Connick Jr as they stood side by side on the stage of the Tabernacle.
After the concert we had ‘drinks’ with the band at the Oyster Bar in Oak Bluffs.. us and about 100 other people. Afterwards we headed to Edgartown for dinner.
Too quickly our lovely day on the Vineyard was coming to an end. We drove back to Oak Bluffs for one last look at the now darkened Tabernacle.
We had booked a late ferry and it’s one of the few times I’ve sailed at night. The sky was star filled, a cool breeze was blowing and a young man on board was strumming his guitar and singing softly. Perfect day.
I’ve seen Carly 6 or 7 times but this was the first time and there couldn’t have been a more perfect place.
My interest in the Mayflower is more than historical, it’s personal as well.
My ancestors, William and Susanna White and their baby Peregrine White were on the first voyage of the Mayflower in 1620. Baby Peregrine was born on the Mayflower while it was moored in the harbor, he was the first English baby born in New England.
Four years ago in 2015 I visited the Mayflower II in Plymouth, MA before it began it’s journey to be restored. Please CLICK HERE to read that post. https://mvobsession.com/2015/10/18/plymouth-ma-the-mayflower/
This ship, the Mayflower II set sail from Plymouth, England on April 20, 1957, with a crew of 33 men. On June 13, after 55 days at sea, the ship arrived in Plymouth, USA, to the cheers of 25,000 spectators. Since then, more than 20 million people have boarded the iconic ship, and millions more have viewed her from the shore. Today, even as Mayflower II undergoes a necessary restoration to fulfill her educational mission for years to come, she has lost none of her luster. (CLICK HERE to read the article how this replica came to be.)
Two months after I was there in Oct 2015 in December 2015 the Mayflower II left Plymouth, MA to sail to Mystic, CT for restoration, to replace timbers, planking, structural frames and beams that have deteriorated from saltwater and exposure over the past six decades. You can read the full article by CLICKING HERE.
On Saturday, September 7, 2019 The official launch and recommissioning of the restored Mayflower II took place. The Mayflower II was lowered into the Mystic River where it will float while refitting work is finished.
It will leave Mystic Seaport in the Spring of 2020 making its way north to Boston for a 6-day maritime festival (May 14-19). The replica of the ship in which the Pilgrims sailed to the New World is scheduled to arrive in Plymouth Harbor on May 21 – in time for the town’s 400th anniversary commemoration of the original landing, a homecoming celebration is planned with a series of events and activities.
So off I went to Mystic, CT on Saturday, Sep 7, with my daughter Deb, honorary daughter Dawn and our friend Sam to see the launching, the rechristening, hear the speeches and enjoy the festivities.
The Mayflower II
It was an absolutely gorgeous day, mid 70’s, light winds and sun and some clouds. There were hundreds of people there and since we didn’t buy seats we would have to stand in the area behind them to watch everything. The ceremony was to start at 2pm sharp and we were advised to get good spots early… which we started to do.. and then we noticed that at the very back of the standing area there were some huge cement blocks that people were starting to sit on. Ah ha, great idea so we scurried over there around 12:30 to stake out our spots. While sitting there I was spotted by a BBC TV reporter who saw my shirt that said ‘Mayflower Descendant’ and asked if she could interview me on camera. I was a bit nervous but it was fun doing it. That’s the first and second pictures below.
The third picture is my daughter Deb, Dawn, me and our friend Sam on our concrete perch.
The fourth picture is not mine as it’s taken from the Mayflower II but it does show the seating area, the standing area and then at the very back on the right side by the red building is where we were sitting, with, I might add, a great view.
The ceremony started exactly and 2pm and it was really very nice, or at least what I saw of it ! Only about 20 minutes into it I sort of um, wound up in an ambulance for about an hour! Sitting in the sun for 2 1/2 hours with not enough water caused me to pass out. So I missed the actual launching into the water of the Mayflower II which was mostly our reason for going to the event. But on the other hand I met some terrific EMT’s who took great care of me.
All in all it was a really nice day with people I care about, and celebrating the Mayflower II which holds a special place in my heart and in my heritage.
Every few years I post about my favorite summer event on Martha’s Vineyard…
Illumination Night this year is Wednesday, August 14, 2019
It has always been my favorite event of the summer… going to Illumination Night is a thrill for me no matter what my age.
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.
The Islander was retired in the winter of 2007 and the last time I sailed on her was that February.
Even though not sleek or graceful, for 57 years the Islander brought her own special beauty to the waters surrounding the Vineyard. The Islander will continue to exist through paintings, photographs and in the memories of those who loved her.
Early morning …
The beloved work horse of a ferry, the Islander plied the waters between Woods Hole and Martha’s Vineyard for 57 years before retiring in the winter of 2007. There was just something about this tub of a boat that endeared her to all who sailed on her… she wasn’t a great beauty but she had a regalness about her.
Her blue plastic outdoor seats certainly weren’t known for their comfort, but comfort wasn’t necessarily what one was after for the 45 minute sail from America to the Vineyard, which was more of a transition from the everyday to the magicalness awaiting you. The Vineyard is many things to many people and in many hearts the Islander was the emotional connection.
Fond memories ❤
February 1989 was the first time back to the Vineyard in winter since I was a child. Following are excerpts from my travel log about that trip and also pictures taken with a non-digital camera… which does have relevance in this post. So come join me in a trip down a cold, snowy very wintry memory lane.
Picture of the Islander in dry dock in Woods Hole from aboard the ferry, Eagle.
One of my favorite places is the Campground in Oak Bluffs. I love the gingerbread cottages but most of all I really really love the Tabernacle… every time I’m on the Vineyard I take a few moments…or hour… and sit quietly there and enjoy just being. Winter is no exception and cold as it was it was warm in my heart.
Let’s wander through Oak Bluffs a little … notice Christmas tree is still in the Bandstand.
Christmas trees along the dunes at South Beach/Katama where they are brought after the holidays.
Then to Aquinnah to see the Gay Head cliffs.
excerpt from travel journal : ‘it was cold on the cliffs, maybe 26 degrees…but off I went to see them anyway. Down the road I traipsed over the dunes and onto the beach… what a sight. Thousands of rocks all shapes and sizes, and there in the distance… the cliffs… I was very excited. Took some shots and scurried back to the warm car. Noticed camera had opened a bit, closed it and didn’t think much about it. After lunch in Edgartown I rode out to the ‘bend in the road beach’ to take some pictures and noticed that the picture counter on the camera said #1 !!!! When I had gotten in the car in the morning it had said #16 !!! Something was wrong. I turned around and headed for the camera shop. Everything seems to be okay with the camera but maybe it got too cold and lost its memory and reverted to #1… or perhaps when the camera opened just that little bit it caused it to revert !! At any rate I’m having what was in the camera developed.’
The following day I picked up my photos and not only were they all fine, there was this one…. actually, these two…
shot of the cliffs taken before camera opened …
shot after I closed the camera … I’ve always kind of liked it… can’t do this with a digital camera …
After a long first day headed back to Edgartown but not before stopping at Sengekontacket Pond for the sunset…
I love the Vineyard no matter what the season but there’s a quiet, ethereal beauty in the winter.
I repost this post often 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)
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.
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.
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.
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 camera, not a digital one, had never, until that day, taken a double exposure and never did so afterwards.
Happy Halloween !!!
In October of 1995 my daughter Deb and I went to MV and Newport, Rhode Island for an autumn get-away.
Part 1 – Martha’s Vineyard
We were supposed to leave NJ on Saturday. Due to the forecast of heavy rain my husband suggested she and I leave Friday after Deb got home from work and stay over night in Mystic, Ct. Deb got off from work early and we left around 3pm. 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 our 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. 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. 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. You’ll be happy to know that I was finally getting 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… 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!
Part 2 – Newport, Rhode Island
Our plan called for us to stay overnight in Newport, RI… a place Deb had never been to and I raved about.
I had made reservations at a bed & breakfast, which is NOT pictured here. 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… this part of our trip was no different.
We pulled into the circular driveway of what once had been a gorgeous mansion. 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). The spider webs by the front door, not such a good thing, even if Halloween was only days away. The door was locked 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. Maybe there wasn’t an eye patch but there should have been.
We walked into what at one time had years ago must have been a beautiful mansion but was now drab, threadbare, and frankly creepy. The circular staircase was beautiful wood covered by the most horrible ugly green carpeting imagineable. We signed in and were lead us upstairs to our room (cue ominous music). Walked in… it was large, queen size bed, a cot, bare floors, nothing matched, high drafty ceilings with no lights, everything was worn out looking. I didn’t want to put my suitcase down. Deb looked at me and I at her mumbling things like “I don’t know” “I don’t like it here” “this is spooky”. She asked if I wanted to go home? 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. Another slightly askew incident in our adventure.
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 bed and breakfast and the strange owners. At one point 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 stories about the place that were on the weird side. 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. Since we were coming home a day early it was only fair to give my husband a heads up. We called him from a rest stop, no answer so we left a message on the machine to alert him to our earlier arrival. We called once more to update him and drove happily along. Meanwhile, at home he hadn’t bothered to listen to the messages and was completely surprised when we arrived a day early.
Thus ended a slightly off kilter, lovely and very memorable trip 🙂
The song is: ‘Never Been Gone’ by Carly Simon.
Every trip I make to Martha’s Vineyard this song plays in my head when I’m on the ferry because I truly feel like I’ve never been gone. Carly Simon actually wrote ‘Never Been Gone’ on the ferry Islander on her way home to the Vineyard 🙂
36 years ago in 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.
(The pictures 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.
Unpacked, rested maybe 10 minutes and then back to Oak Bluffs to see the sights and maybe do a little reminiscing… maybe a lot.
Oak Bluffs – Lower Circuit Ave… and Circuit Ave
2009 (below) lower Circuit Ave Circuit Ave 2017
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.
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.
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.
But I truly 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.