MV Obsession

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


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Church Bells Ring (or do they!)…

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In the Campground in Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard sits the Tabernacle, and across from it is Trinity Methodist Church. Trinity Methodist was built in 1878, a year before the Tabernacle was erected. They have shared the same grassy circle known as Trinity Park for over 140 years.

I spent my childhood summers on Martha’s Vineyard and many of those summers I spent my mornings at Bible School in the Tabernacle. As was the custom a girl and a boy would be chosen each morning to walk from the Tabernacle to Trinity Church and ring the 8 o’clock bell. I waited almost all summer to hear my name called, I didn’t think it was ever going to happen. Finally it did and off across the lawn my partner and I scampered.

 Inside the vestibule tied to the staircase railing was the thickest rope I’d ever seen.

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The rope was attached to the bell way, way, way up in the steeple and the longer we stood there and pondered the situation the higher up the bell seemed to get.

First though we had to untie the rope, it did not go well, we fumbled along and finally the rope was free from the railing. Time was ticking but neither of us were aware of how close to 8 o’clock we were coming.

Now all we had to do was pull the rope and the bell would ring and … well, that did not go well either. Neither one of us had enough weight to pull the rope hard enough to ring the bell. Rope burn was the least of our problems though as now we were sure it was after 8 o’clock and we’d failed our mission. With what strength we had left we both grabbed the rope, stood on one of the steps and jumped. Just as our teacher walked in the door to see what the problem was, we heard… bong, bong, bong… it was ringing, the bell was peeling loud and strong, we had succeeded, we were saved … we had only missed the 8 o’clock bell by… oh 10 or so minutes. Who would notice!

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When I got home at lunch time the first thing my mother said was “the 8 o’clock bell was a bit late this morning, do you know who was ringing it this morning?” I said it had been me… she shook her head slowly and said nothing but I did notice a little smile. By the way, I was never asked to ring the bell again.

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Flirting and Dancing At The Tivoli…

The Tivoli building… Oak Bluffs, Martha’s Vineyard (circa 1920)

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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.

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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.

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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 …

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   …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.

 

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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.

 

 


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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)…

 

                                         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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Weekly Photo Challenge: Favorite Place…

Prompt: Do you have a secret spot that you seek every now and then? A location in a faraway city that brings you joy? We all have connections to these kinds of places: places of solitude, of refuge, of wonder.

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Everyone who knows me knows my favorite place in the world is Martha’s Vineyard and here is my favorite spot to be when I’m in my favorite place.

I live in NJ but my heart and soul live on MV… and on MV they like to live here at the Tabernacle in the Campground . It is my favorite spot on the Island… an oasis of serenity and calmness in the middle of the Vineyard’s most bustling and lively town, Oak Bluffs. This magnificent iron structure was built in 1879… in 1979 was listed in the Natl Register of Historic Places… in 1999 a major restoration began, and in 2000 it became a project of Save America’s Treasures. Those are some of the facts of the building but not necessarily what constitutes the heart and soul of it.

Inside the Tabernacle is a banner that says “truly God resides in this place” and so he does. I am profoundly attached to the Tabernacle and visit it several times every time I’m on MV whether it’s in the heat of the summer, or the cold of the winter… I just magnetically gravitate there, I have no choice.

The Tabernacle.. Oak Bluffs, Martha’s Vineyard

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 These are only three of the memories I have of the Tabernacle.

DSC_0001As a summer kid I spent many hours here at Bible school…take a minu

te to read about my tussle with a church bell… CLICK HERE

pizap.com14711913349501 (2)The middle of August every year is Illumination Night.  It begins with a community sing in the Tabernacle and as the skies darken the Campground is transformed into a fairy land.  Every gingerbread house is decked out in Japanese lanterns… it’s a magical and special night.    CLICK HERE

100_6964 And then there was this concert, my very first time seeing my favorite singer/songwriter, Carly Simon who was appearing with Harry Connick, Jr.  What better place then on the Vineyard and in the Tabernacle.  I still get goosebumps.   CLICK HERE

 

 

 

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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.  (Christiantown link)

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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.

 

 

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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Weekly Photo Challenge: Beloved…

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This is Fluffy, he is my dearest childhood possession. He is 68 years old this year. 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 also a little hard of hearing as one of his ears falls off from time to time.

   A relative of my mother’s who lived on Martha’s Vineyard had two sons, William and Leon, and a daughter, Vivian Carole who 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 doll for me and for their niece.   Fluffy was one of those gifts.

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

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Their First Christmas…

The sisters first Christmas, 51 years ago.

Patty and Debbie became sisters on Nov 6, 1966 but they did not meet until Dec 21, 1966.

Dec 1966.. Patty & Debbie

 

 

Patty was almost 2 1/2 when Debbie was born.   Deb, who was due the end of December arrived 7 weeks early and didn’t come home from the hospital until Dec 21, the first day of winter, 1966.

As you can see from the picture Patty was delighted and happy to be a big sister.  Debbie, I’m sure was happy to finally be home.

Patty was a terrific big sister right from the beginning.  She helped me take care of Debbie and when I would give Deb her bottle Patty and her new dolly would join us.   Her doll was almost the same size as Deb, Debbie had been only 3 lbs when she was born and had to be 5 lbs before she could come home… so yes, she and the doll were almost the same size.

Since it was so close to Christmas when Deb came home I wanted her to be a surprise to her grandparents when they arrived on Christmas morning.   Patty was under instructions from Santa Claus not to tell anyone that her new sister was home, and since the request was coming from the big guy himself she didn’t utter a word to anyone.

However…   my mother called one evening and just at that moment Debbie, who was in the same room with me, began to cry.  Oh oh.   My mother asked if that was a baby and I said no.  She said she didn’t believe me.  She asked again… ‘is that baby home from the hospital?’   I said yes but that I had wanted to keep her a surprise until Christmas.   My mother kept her composure but I could hear the crack in her voice when said how happy she was but that we shouldn’t tell my father… let him be surprised on Christmas morning.

So Christmas morning arrived, along with a 24 hour stomach bug which hit me pretty hard. I managed to get out of bed long enough to greet my parents at the door. Patty was all bubbly and happy to see her grandparents and they were showering her with plenty of attention.

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Then my dad glanced at the tree.   He looked closer.  I could see his eyes moisten when he realized that the baby in the baby carrier under the tree was NOT a doll but his new granddaughter Debbie.    My dad wasn’t one to let his emotions out or show on his face… but he did that morning.

It was definitely a very merry, happy and blessed Christmas that year.

Christmas morning 6 years later in 1972, my favorite Christmas picture of Patty and Debbie…

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Merry Christmas to my girls ❤ ❤