MV Obsession

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


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My Great-Uncle, Louis A Young … The Incredible Man With No Hands…

 

Louis A Young 1887 – 1952

When he was 14 years old in 1902 Louis lost both his hands in a chemical explosion in Newark, NJ where he lived.  One arm gone above the elbow, the other several inches above the wrist.  A devastating accident but did it stop Louis from living a full and productive life… absolutely not.

He dressed himself, played baseball, boxed, he shoveled snow and coal for exercise. He  was an avid fisherman who could rig his own line and reel in his fish without any help.  He also supported a wife and family and his father.  He could use artificial appliances but did not advocate them which he believed to be too heavy and rendered muscles insensitive. Instead he used a simple leather strap, between the strap and his arm he placed the object he intended to use, such as a knife or fork and by tensing his muscles he could hold it firmly.

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By vocation he was a news dealer in New York City.

His newsstand at Union Square.

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He was a volunteer instructor at The Institute for Crippled Men in NY and for the U.S. government in its rehabilitation work among soldiers.

He was an amazing man and although he was my great-uncle I never knew about him until recently.  He was one of my paternal grandmother Josephine’s brothers, but she never talked about her family… that generation seems to have been very closed mouthed about a lot of things unfortunately.

But… along comes Ancestry and all kinds of  information becomes available.  I want to take a moment here to thank Ancestry and our new found cousins for the opportunity to not only know about this particular uncle but in gifting us with new family members 🙂

Back to our story.    My daughter Deb got notification from Ancestry about a possible match. The match is Louis’s grandson, Bob Jr whose father, Bob Sr is Louis’s son. Bob Sr was turning 89 in July and would we be interested in meeting the family and celebrating Bob Sr’s birthday with them???????? Um… yes, very much so.

On a beautiful Sunday afternoon in July off we went to Long Island to meet the family and what a wonderful day it was.

 

So not only have we found out about our incredible relative, Louis Young, but we have also met the nicest people you could imagine…and… they’re family… how terrific is that.

It is great to connect with new found relatives and to find out about ancestors, but also, in my opinion, is finding out the stories about them.   With Louis Young it’s an awesome story about fortitude, bravery, perseverance and optimism and I’m glad and proud to know his story and pass it on.  🙂

 


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Ups and Downs Of The Vineyard…

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The eastern half of Martha’s Vineyard is called Down-Island and the western half is called Up-Island. Why you ask? To confuse you, that’s why. Not really, at least not on purpose. There is a very logical reason and here it is according to the MV website.

” Up-Island is the western area, which comprises the three rural towns of Aquinnah, Chilmark and West Tisbury. Down-Island is the eastern portion, home to the larger historic villages of Edgartown, Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven (also known as Tisbury). The two terms come from the rich seagoing tradition of Martha’s Vineyard, which once sent its whaling ships circuling the globe heading “up” in nautical terms takes you “west” because it’s further from zero degrees of longitude in Greenwich, England, home of the Prime Meridian.”

Well then, according to the Guide to Martha’s Vineyard we have this explanation. “When a ship sails in an easterly direction, it is decreasing or running “down” the degrees of longitude toward zero at Greenwich, England. A westbound vessel, on the other hand, is running “up” its longitude. Thus the Down-Island town are those on the eastern and northeastern end of the Island. The Up-Island communities are at the western end. A ship moving through Vineyard Sound sails “up” to New York and “down” east to Maine.” Ah ha.

OK, I’m still confused but I do know how to get from Down-Island to Up-Island and not get lost… it’s an Island, how lost could one get anyway.

Got all that… me neither 🙂

But that’s not the only confusion about the Vineyard … she had an identity crisis at one time involving Massachusetts and New York.

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Martha! Martin! New York! Massachusetts! How many aliases and states have claimed this 100 sq mile island? The Wampanoags named it Noepe and that stuck until Bartholomew Gosnold came along in 1602.

No one seems to know who the Martin was whose name was once attached to the Vineyard… so let’s move ahead to Martha whose identity is still shrouded in myth. Was she one of Gosnold’s daughters, or his mother, or the name of an English royal. Whoever she was her name stuck and in my opinion has a nicer ring to it then Martin’s Vineyard.

According to the book “The History of Martha’s Vineyard” by Arthur R. Railton, in 1664 Charles II gave NY, NJ and the islands to the east to his brother, the Duke of York. In 1670 Thomas Mayhew, Jr and his grandson Matthew of Massachusetts traveled to NY to ask Gov Lovelace which colony his Island was under… New York or Massachusetts. Gov Lovelace made Thomas Mayhew “Governor for Life” of Martha’s Vineyard and gave him the authority to collect rents from all who lived within its bounds. Voila, Martha’s Vineyard Massachusetts. History lesson over. 🙂

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Once Upon A Time There Was A Train To MV …

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

100_8757The 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.

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.

(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 I would watch every day for the Railway Express truck to arrive.

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and then summer on the Vineyard would officially be under way 🙂

 

 


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NYC Matinee Day …

My daughter Deb, our friend Dawn and I went to NYC last Saturday to see…tah dah… the funniest, most hysterical musical comedy I think I’ve ever seen… and despite the title… it was not rotten 🙂  Come along and join us on our matinee day in the city.

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After getting coffee we headed to Times Square…

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You can always count on seeing a lot of characters roaming Times Sq, for example take a look at the characters in the last picture, crazy looking bunch 🙂

You might even see a proposal taking place, although I wonder if the one we saw was a real one or staged since there was a camera crew there !  At any rate it picture worthy.

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 Next up was lunch.. Junior’s Restaurant & Bar was our choice and it was a good one… we all chose sandwiches which were huge and delicious, the side dishes of pickles and also beets were great…but the icing on the cake, or in this case the blueberries on the cheesecake was oh so good… one piece shared 3 ways was perfect.pizap.com14531643690312

and now the main event…  I present …’Something Rotten’..

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Inside before the magic, and the laughter began…

IMG_2035And of course way too soon the laughter, the music, and the magic ended and it was out into the cold evening with memories of a fantastic, not rotten, matinee day in the city 🙂

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Walking Over The River …

Recently on my daughter Deb’s birthday we went for a walk over the Hudson River on the beautiful Walkway Over The Hudson,

(the above photo is from Google, all others are mine)

The walkway is in Poughkeepsie, New York… it was a former railroad bridge built in 1889, the bridge deck stands 212 feet above the river’s surface and is 1.28 miles long, making it the longest, elevated pedestrian bridge in the world.  The day we were there was sunny, cloudy, breezy, windy and as you can see still lots of beautiful foliage.   Here we go…

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pizap.com14471878998221Deb & Chappy                                        Deb & best friend Dawn

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view up river …
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down river towards NYC which is approximately 85 miles away…

IMG_1663 looking straight down …

pizap.com14475459731561half way point…

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barge coming up river…

pizap.com14475461502601After we had lunch and rested for a bit we started back across the bridge..

I want to give honorable mention to 14 year old granddog Chappy who never once slowed down and enjoyed every moment of the bridge walk. IMG_1696
One last look…
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This was so much fun and if it were closer than almost 2 hours from where I live I’d walk it more often.

Here are links to Walkway Over the Hudson:

http://www.scenichudson.org/parks/walkway

http://nysparks.com/parks/178/details.aspx


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End Of Summer Travels …

It was always sad when my summers as a child on the Vineyard would end… it’s still sad for me when I have to leave the Island

My parents and I always left the day after Labor Day, we sailed from Oak Bluffs, and usually on the Nobska.

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Back in the 1950’s my parents and I traveled to and from Martha’s Vineyard by train… the New York, New Haven and Hartford railroad’s Cape Codder went from Pennsylvania Station in NYC right to Woods Hole… or vice versa at the end of the summer.

Day Cape CodderThe 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 the photograph below.  It was literally only steps from boat to train.  Train service ended in the 1960’s.


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I loved riding on the train, still do. The trip to NYC took about 5 hours and then we arrived in Pennsylvania Station in NYC.

 But we weren’t done with our train travels yet, we still had to take a train from Pennsylvania Station in New York to Pennsylvania Station in Newark, New Jersey.  From there I think we took a taxi home.

We traveled light on our way home, I would have my favorite doll, Beverly, and my teddy bear with me and my parents 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 home and I would watch every day for the Railway Express truck to arrive.

It was bittersweet seeing that truck as I was happy to have my toys and things back but it also meant the official end of summer for me.

There were always dreams of the next summer and the next one and the next one…


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NY State Sheep & Wool Festival 2014 …

… otherwise known in knitting and spinning circles as ‘Rhinebeck’ (no pun intended)

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Saturday, Oct 18…7:30 sunrise…

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9:30 a.m. arrival at Rhinebeck… already a jagillion cars there…

 

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and people…

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even though it was mostly cloudy and even spritzed a few times the foliage as usual was beautiful…

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these friendly looking folk caught my eye…

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My creation

they were in front of the museum which I had never been in …  the exhibits included old milk wagons, baby carriages, wash tubs, and a man making caned seats…

My creation

 

there’s more to the sheep and wool festival than livestock and yarn…there’s a lot of other things to be looked at, admired and coveted..  for years I denied myself the small, orange, felted pumpkins… and then 2 years ago I got one… and then last year another one… and this year a third one….

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but they’re not the only thing I had my eye on… there were these baskets too… my daughter had one, friends had them, almost every third person walking around Rhinebeck had them… they were great to put stashes of wool in, or food, or a small animal even… so this year my first stop… after coffee… was a basket…

here’s my treasures from 2014 Rhinebeck.. 🙂

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the sky on the way home at 4:30 was just as beautiful as the morning sky was…

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Memory Correction …

Few years ago I put up this post:

I was in New York City and visited Grand Central Station, mostly to take photos of this magnificently restored building.  I thought I had never been there before…but in looking around something clicked in my brain !

When my mother and I would go to MV every summer we would take a train from Pennsylvania Station in Newark, NJ to, as it turns out, Grand Central Station in NYC where we would change trains.

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.

Day Cape Codder

100_8757The 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.  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.

The ferry, the Nobska/Nantucket would take us to MV.

We’d land here in Oak Bluffs and our relatives would be there to greet us, and three glorious months on the Vineyard would begin.

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Well it turns out I was wrong !!!!  I don’t like  being wrong, even worse I don’t like admitting it… but I have to set the record straight because I know at least one person who did these trips as well and he’ll spot the mistake.

Recently I was watching the PBS program The American Experience about the ‘The Rise and Fall of Penn Station’    and I realized it wasn’t Grand Central Station we had taken the train to Woods Hole from…. it was Penn Station !!

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.

  Functional but not beautiful 🙂

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The person I mentioned above is my life long friend Will Jones.  His parents Bill and Bertha owned the bowling alley in Oak Bluffs which was across from the Flying Horses.

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You might enjoy reading about our moms who grew up on Martha’s Vineyard and our dads who grew up in Newark, NJ …

 My friend Will Jones and I were always looking for things to keep us busy and out of trouble during our summers on MV.  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 moment 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 how to get the yarn off the forks to make the little flowers…

                  

 Will had carried those forks from his house way on the other side of Oak Bluffs …

  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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(Will’s mom – my mom)

Our moms were childhood friends, as were Will and I.  Our moms graduated from Oak Bluffs High School together (long before the regional high school was built).  Our moms moved to Newark, NJ after graduation and it was there that they met their future husbands, our dads, who were also childhood friends.   (In 1907 Will’s mom, Bertha Carter, was the first girl baby born in Oak Bluffs after its name change from Cottage City.)

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(my dad – Will’s dad)

Will and I spent every day of the summer together. We went swimming, rode the Flying Horses, read, drove our parents crazy and were inseparable. For many years his parents owned a bowling alley in Oak Bluffs across from the Flying Horses.  Long before automation the pins had to be set by hand, I even did it from time to time myself.

Being a summer kid on the Vineyard was the best thing in the world… it still is.

Will and I live near each other in NJ and when we see each other we do a lot of talking about the Vineyard.

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Ahh, memories… whether they’re right or wrong I’m not telling 🙂


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The Top Of New Jersey …

HIGH POINT STATE PARK,  which is the highest point in  New Jersey is located in Montague in Sussex County. At 1,803 feet above sea level it is the highest peak of the Kittatinny Mountains.  At the peak of the highest point is the 220 ft High Point Monument– from the top you can see New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.

It’s been 40 years since I’ve been there so on a recent summer-like day in March my daughter Patty, granddaughter Tiffany, and I decided to go exploring.

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There are 291 stairs to the top.  I climbed it on my first visit to the monument in Sept, 1972.. I snapped this picture because I knew I’d never do it again.  The monument isn’t open for the season yet so I didn’t have to find out if I would or not.. I like to think I would have tried.

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Same view today but from the base of the monument.

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Views of New Jersey

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New York

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Pennsylvania

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With a little help from this…

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… you can see really, really far…

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There are hiking and biking trails, picnic areas and a lake.

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As the name of my blog implies yes, I am obsessed with Martha’s Vineyard… but I am also proud of my home state of New Jersey.

(There may have been some liberties taken with a few of the photographs… can you guess which ones?)  🙂