MV Obsession

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


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Martha’s Vineyard Trip February, 1989…

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.

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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.

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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.

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Then to Aquinnah to see the Gay Head cliffs.

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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 …

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shot after I closed the camera … I’ve always kind of liked it… can’t do this with a digital camera …

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After a long first day headed back to Edgartown but not before stopping at Sengekontacket Pond for the sunset…

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Edgartown …

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I love the Vineyard no matter what the season but there’s a quiet, ethereal beauty in the winter.

 


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Maine – Meanderings and Museums Part II…

After spending the night in Waterville, Maine we headed to Portland.  It was too cold and windy to meander around so we went to the Portland Museum of Art which was lovely.

Good-bye to Portland and onward to Kennebunkport where meandering was a little warmer and less windy.  First stop was a coffee shop where we had tea and shared a delicious piece of blueberry crumb cake.  Kennebunkport is quaint and sweet, lots of nice little shops to poke around in should you be so inclined.

Leaving there we headed back to Ogunquit for our last night in Maine.  We stayed this time at the gorgeous Gorges Grant Inn. The room was lovely and our decision to have breakfast in their restaurant ‘Raspberries’ was a smart one. Yum.

After a good night’s rest it was time to say good-bye to Maine and head home to New Jersey.  But wait… who said we had to go directly home, how about a stop in…. Salem, Massachusetts. Woooooooooo.

First stop… the Salem Witch Museum which I found very interesting (and not scary at all)  🙂   Second stop… Jolie Tea Company.  The little cafe was a gem of a find, the tea was excellent as were the pastries… the staff was friendly and informative, we really enjoyed our short time there.  Did bring home some tea and also ordered more from them.

This trip was all I hoped for and more thanks to my daughter Deb ❤


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Maine – Cemeteries and Meanderings Part I…

My daughter Deb and I made a recent pilgrimage to Maine, not only to enjoy the beauty and crisp autumn weather but to visit the graves of our relatives.

Our first night was spent in Ogunquit at the beautiful Colonial Inn.

 

You cannot go to Maine, or Ogunquit and not do these two things… have lobster roll and maybe blueberry pie too, which we did at Barnacle Billy’s.  Yum.

 

…and walk on Marginal Way and down on the beach.

 

One of the main reasons for our trip was to visit this tiny little cemetery in Rome, Maine where my great-grandfather Joseph P Littlefield, my great-grandmother Martha Jane Ellis and their 3 oldest children (they had 8), Margaret, Adison and Atwood are buried.

My great grandfather Joseph P Littlefield was injured in the Civil War at the Battle of Cold Harbor, he was sent home to Maine to die, which he did, not only of his massive injuries but also of typhoidal pneumonia. His wife and the 3 oldest of his 8 children died within months of him from it as well leaving my grandfather Charles G Littlefield at age 9 the oldest of the five remaining children. A tragic story and once we learned about it felt compelled to find their graves and honor them. Their small plot is off the beaten track in Rome, Maine but Deb found it and we traipsed through the brush to get to it. Worth the trip indeed.  This was very emotional in that Joseph, Martha Jane, Margaret, Adison and Atwood have become very real to us and we feel very close to them.  We weren’t able to bring them flowers but left 5 pennies to indicate we were there and remembering them.

That’s Deb’s car parked on the side of the road by the telephone sub station box, the path to the cemetery is where the flag is.

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From Rome, Maine we headed to Waterville, Maine where my mother was born and where my above mentioned grandfather, Charles G Littlefield is buried in the Pine Grove Cemetery. Although my grandmother’s name, Albra Mae Littlefield is on the stone she is actually buried on Martha’s Vineyard with her third husband.

Also in this plot is my mother’s sister Tessa Mae Littlefield Robertson Poulin,  her husband Joseph Ezra Poulin, one of their daughers, Helen Brown and her husband Laurence Brown.

 

Thus ends our first full day in Maine and our cemetery visits.


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Memories of October 1995…

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.

IMG_3918 The next morning we arrived in Woods Hole and got an earlier ferry to Martha’s Vineyard… we like when that happens.

2503091152_e4b6b53cb0_m 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.

MV-Dawn (74) 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.

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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.

15407899186_d80c1f1912_m 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.

IMG_2922 (2)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 🙂

 


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MV 1982…

 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.

   Then: 1982

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 (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).

Now:

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We drove into Edgartown and checked into the Kelley House.  The Kelley House hasn’t changed much at all.

Then: 1982

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Now:

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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

Then: 1982

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2009 (below)   lower Circuit Ave                                               Circuit Ave 2017

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Ocean Park… the Flying Horses.. and yes, I did take a ride on them 🙂

Then: 1982

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Now: 2017

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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.

Then: 1982

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Now: 2017

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After 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.

Then: 1982

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2013:

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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.

Then: 1982

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Now: 2017

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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.

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Now:

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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.

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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.


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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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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 🙂

 

Day Cape Codder  

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.

(Woods Hole circa 1890’s)                                         (circa 1950’s)

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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Looking Back At April 2009 (Dog Sitting)…

April 2009…A friend of my daughter Deb’s asked us if we’d like to dog sit for their two Labs, Silas and Balou.  So Deb, her dog Chappy and I set out for MV .No matter how many times I go to the Vineyard my heart skips a beat or two when I see the above sign and the rotary welcoming you to Cape Cod. This was our first time sailing on the then new ferry, Island Home. Seven miles and 45 minutes later we touched tire in Vineyard Haven. We were about to start an Island adventure like none before.

100_8616 (2) Here is Deb surrounded by a happy, friendly threesome. Chappy on the left, Balou in the front and Silas being petted. We have never met nicer dogs, they are well behaved, sweet, gentle and loving, patient and fun. There wasn’t one moment that we didn’t enjoy being with them. Oh, okay, maybe when Balou was trying so hard to tell us things and we just were too slow on the uptake… but generally speaking (or woofing) things went very, very well.

100_8636 Except for the weather. Two of the days we were there were wet… very, very wet. And when they said soaking rain they meant it.

100_8646 (2) This picture was taken from inside our dry car looking out at Edgartown Harbor. Wet, wet, wet. It was windy too. And wet.

But there were times of no rain and actuall brilliant sunshine and so off on our walks in the woods we would venture. The 4 leggeds were happy to be out and about sniffing, walking, and being together.

In all too short a time our dog sitting adventure came to an end and it was time to head home.

Chappy is waiting to say goodbye to his new friends. He had a great time with Silas and Balou.

The Island Home is waiting for us and all too soon we are setting tire in Woods Hole and back to reality.

This of course is my take on our dog sitting adventure but Chappy himself made a guest appearance on the blog and really, you should read his… CLICK HERE

Here’s a little bit of what Chappy eloquently had to say:

*’a friend of my mom’s invited us to dog sit… I didn’t actually notice anyone sitting like a dog (except my dog friends) but humans have weird jargon sometimes. I just go with the flow and don’t ask questions.

And….

Oak Bluffs is another of our favorite towns to walk around in.  If you look really really close you can see mom and me standing outside the movie theatre on the corner.  She’s taking photos and I’m trying to keep one eye on her and one eye on gram who wandered off to the other side of the information booth.  Man, keeping them together would be so much easier if they were both leashed.


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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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October On The Vineyard, Part I …

October is speeding along too quickly and if I’m doing posts about October on Martha’s Vineyard I’d better get going on them.

I was lucky enough to spend 5 glorious days on the Vineyard with my daughter Deb and our friend and honorary family member, Dawn.   We packed a lot into the days we were there including meeting a new step-cousin and visiting with a dear friend as well.

In this first post let’s visit the

Hope you enjoyed this autumn walk through the Campground.

Stay tuned for upcoming exciting, fun-filled and picturesque adventures. 🙂

Links…

Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Assn

history of the Campground

the Tabernacle