MV Obsession

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


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Illumination Night On The Vineyard…

Illumination Night this year is Wednesday, August 16, 2017

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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.

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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.

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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.

  Illumination Night as described in the Vineyard Gazette:

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If you’re on the Vineyard this Wed, Aug 16, 2017 you should go and experience Illumination Night.  101_3011

 

 

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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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The Magic of Movies…

Because today, February 26 is Oscar night I thought I’d post about my movie memories of Martha’s Vineyard.

Movies have been a big part of Island entertainment since the early 1900′s.

The Island Theatre (Eagle Theatre) circa 1910.In 1927 the Island Theatre in Oak Bluffs was showing the talkie ‘Wings’ starring the ‘It girl’, Clara Bow.  The price of admission was 50 cents on a Saturday night, 30 cents if you sat in the balcony.

At one time there were as many as 8 theatres down-Island… of those only the Island, The Strand and The Capawock remain.

Unfortunately the Island theatre  has been condemned and is likely to be demolished.  Sad to see a place of so many memories fading away… or as they say in the movie busines ‘fade to black.’

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The Strand (2009) – Oak Bluffs has been refurbished and had a grand re-opening a couple of years ago. (CLICK HERE to read Vineyard Gazette article).

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The Capawock (1996) – Vineyard Haven has also been refurbished and re-opened in May 2015.  (CLICK HERE to read Vineyard Gazette article).

For me, as a summer kid on the Vineyard in the 1950′s, a night at the movies was a very big deal. The movies I remember the clearest are the musicals, like “Summer Stock” with Judy Garland, and “Showboat” with Howard Keel.

But before even getting to the theatre there was a stop at …

…Darling’s on Circuit Ave for popcorn. A bag would be fine for an afternoon treat but for going to the movies the choice was always a popcorn bar in such flavors as chocolate, strawberry,vanilla, caramel, and butterscotch.

After the ‘show’ a stop at the Frosty Cottage on Circuit Ave for a pistachio ice cream cone finished off the evening.

Many nights on the way home I morphed into a singing, dancing movie star…at least in my head 🙂

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The Christmas Box(es)…

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T’was Christmas morning and all through the house,

Everyone was stirring, even the mouse,

Lots of smiles, joy and merriment,

And of course a new ornament.

Patty opened her box and Deb’s turn was next,

The look on her face was very perplexed !

The box was empty, no ornament inside…

I felt terrible and almost cried.

Deb rose to her feet and headed to the

tree,

And hung the empty box where the ornament should be.

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The following year I searched all around,

A perfect ornament for Deb must be found,

It was, it was just meant to be,

A box ornament for our Christmas tree.

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We hang them each year and remember with glee,

How an empty box (filled with love) came to decorate

our tree.

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Christmas 1966…

The sisters first Christmas, 50 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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Christmas over the years…

My creationMerry Christmas, with love, to my girls ❤ ❤

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Abandoned Fairy Tales…

Fairy Tale Forest - Oak Ridge, NJ

Fairy Tale Forest – Oak Ridge, NJ

Driving through Oak Ridge, NJ with my daughter Deb we passed Fairy Tale Forest which used to be a thriving, magical and popular family spot.  It was built in 1957 by hand by German immigrant Paul Woehle.  CLICK HERE to read about the park.

The property is now owned by a storage company but as you can see some of the attractions are still in good shape.  It is rumored the park will reopen in 2017 !

A lot of memories are contained within this park, my daughters were there when they were little as were my grandchildren.

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In comparison to the condition and optimistic future of Fairy Tale Forest, The Land of Make Believe has been truly abandoned and left to ghosts of fairy tales.   Take a look.

In the town of Hamburg, New Jersey stands an old mill and a gingerbread castle.

Wheatsworth Mill and Gingerbread Castle.

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The Gingerbread Castle sits silently at the end of this driveway,  surrounded not by a moat but by barbed wire fencing and ‘do not trespass’ signs.

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Come closer and take a look…

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My creation

Once upon a time, back in the late 1920’s, the Gingerbread Castle was the centerpiece of an amusement park built next to the Wheatsworth Mill.  The Gingerbread Castle  was in continuous operation until 1978… it reopened briefly in the ’80’s and then closed for good in 1989.

Fairy tale characters used to abound here… now, sitting alone on his wall only Humpty Dumpty remains.

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The Gingerbread Castle is slowly fading away…

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Sadly eventually only memories will remain.

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There you have the story of two fairy tale themed parks… one with a hopefully happy ending, the other with no happy ending, just the end.

CLICK HERE to read about the Gingerbread Castle and Wheatsworth Mill)


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Chappy 2001…

It’s only been 4 months since we lost Chappy in April 2016 but today, Aug 25 of 2001 is fresh in our memories.

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15 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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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.  We also stopped at McDonald’s where he caused quite a commotion with his cuteness.

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At long last we were home and settling in very nicely with family and toys.

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I love this picture…

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and this one 12 years later in 2013.

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Thank you Chappy for being in our lives, we miss you and love you ❤