MV Obsession

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


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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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Mothers and Grandmothers…

Happy Mother’s Day

       My mother & grandmother.   Me and my mother.    Me and my girls

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Me with my girls now… Patty and Debbie

Along came grandmahood via Patty with my two grands… Tiffany and Tyler

Tiffany 1989                                 Tyler 1993

Now

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But let’s back track just a bit to my mother who I am remembering on this Mother’s Day, Maude Louise Littlefield Freeman.

Born in Waterville, Maine

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Raised on Martha’s Vineyard

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my mother and grandmother – Oak Bluffs 1924

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After high school she moved to New Jersey and married a Jersey boy…

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and had a Jersey girl (me)…

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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 there 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.

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I never knew my grandmother, my mother’s mother, she died before my parents were married and I was born, but I’ve always felt a closeness to her through stories my mom would tell me about her and also the essence of her I feel when I’m on the Vineyard. She is buried on the Vineyard and I visit her every time I’m there.

Chances are she might have visited me a few years ago !!!!  Read on…

Here’s an excerpt from a post I did about the ‘spirits’ of my mother and grandmother.

100_0175    On the very haunted island of Martha’s Vineyard.. in the town of Oak Bluffs.. in a restored Victorian home was a restaurant called The Sweet Life Cafe.   In this house in the 1930′s lived a daughter and her mother.   In this house the mother passed away.   That woman was my grandmother and the daughter was my mother.

 A few years ago my daughter Deb and I decided to treat ourselves to dinner at the Sweet Life Cafe… we’d never eaten there but felt the time was right.   It was around 5 o’clock on a beautiful cloudless and breezeless May evening so we opted to sit on the patio in the garden as it was empty and peaceful.   We had a glass of wine and settled back to talk about our day and enjoy the pretty surroundings.   The tables were beautifully laid out and each had on it a small hurricane lamp with a candle in it.  We looked around and noticed that the candles on all the tables but ours were lit!   Our waitress re-lit ours.   The candle went out.   Again she lit it.  Again it went out.   She came back with a new candle.  Again out it went.   Again she re-lit it to no avail.  My daughter and I joked that our grandmothers were joining us and were definitely in a playful mood.

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Later that evening as my daughter and I were passing by the restaurant we looked in at the patio……   the candle on the table we had been sitting at was burning brightly !!

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Remembering Dog Sitting On MV…

Thinking about Chappy and how he liked to pop over to my blog to post from time to time. This was from our dog sitting adventure on MV in April 2009. Miss him.

MV Obsession

Hi, it’s me Chappy, the granddog.  I was here last year to guest post about my MV visit… click HERE to read that post.

Since I just did a fun post on my mom’s blogChappysmom I thought I’d bounce over here and help gram with one about MY adventure on MV a few weeks ago.

This was the first time staying in an actual house and it was so great.  Julie, 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.

My new dog friends, Silas and Balou were great hosts and I really enjoyed having dog friends to hang out with.  One of the best parts about hanging out with them were our walks in the woods.

I never…

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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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Summers On The Vineyard, Part 1…

After arriving on the Vineyard each summer of my childhood one of the first orders of business was going to the Flying Horses the oldest carousel in the United States, they came to the Island in 1884 from Coney Island.DSC_0037

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The Flying Horses are not a carousel, or a merry-go-round, they don’t go up and down just round and round. They are flying horses, like Pegasus, and fly to wherever you can imagine . They don’t actually have wings, but as you make the first circuit you feel like you’re about to fly out the open windows.

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I flew on these beautiful horses every day when I was a little girl. The ticket taker was a young man who would never take my tickets ! We tried everything to get him to take them… we brought him candy and cookies and tried slipping the tickets in with them… nothing work. At the end of the summer I said I wanted to buy him a gift, so off my mom and I went to purchase what I thought was a novel idea .. a tie. I was 5 years old, what did I know about buying gifts for men… he, by the way was about 13 but in my eyes he was a grown up. We put the tie in the box with all of summer’s uncollected tickets. As he came around to NOT collect my ticket I handed him the box. He smiled. Ah ha, success… or so I thought. As we were leaving the Flying Horses he came over and thanked us for the tie and as we turned to leave he handed us the tickets. I won’t say who he is, just that he turned out to be an official in Oak Bluffs in later years… and someone I’ve never forgotten.


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80 Years Ago…

80 years ago today on June 27, 1936 my parents Maude Louise Littlefield and Joseph Albert (Al) Freeman were married in Baltimore, MD.  They sort of eloped although apparently everyone knew.  Sadly there are no wedding pictures although in my minds eye I have created one.

These are my parents on their 25th anniversary in 1961 and their 30th in 1966

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And here, for your enjoyment (I hope) the story of my mother’s engagement ring.

This is the beach in Oak Bluffs, this is where we always went when I was growing up. I remember one time in particular when I was there with my parents when I was about three or four years old.

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After playing in the water with my dad and digging in the sand with my mom we started gathering up our blanket and things to leave. All of a sudden my mother gasped and yelled for my father… “my diamond ring is gone” she said in alarm. My dad immediately took charge of the situation by telling me NOT to move, just stay put.  I quickly rushed over to the people nearby and told them my mother had just lost her ring in the sand and my father was going to find it. So much for listening. They, along with other beach goers who had heard me, started to get up to help my father look for the ring. “No” he said.. “don’t walk on the sand, if the sand is disturbed any further the ring will sink lower, I think I might have only one chance to find it.” We all held our breaths as he surveyed the situation and then after what seemed like an eternity (especially to me who was staying still) he scooped up a handful of sand. Miraculously there, shining out from the sand was my mothers diamond engagement ring.

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I’m still amazed that he found it, how did he know where to look, how had my running through the sand not made it sink lower. I’m sure that ring was being watched over somehow.

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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 🙂

 

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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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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.

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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.

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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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Tripping New England Part 2 …

Or rather part one as this part came before Newport !!

 In October of 1995 my daughter Deb and I went to MV and Newport, Rhode Island for an autumn get-away.We were supposed to leave NJ on Saturday for Martha’s Vineyard but due to the forecast of heavy rain we left around 3 on Friday afternoon after Deb got home from work. We would stay over night in Mystic, Ct and continue to the Vineyard on Saturday morning as originally planned. 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.

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We checked into the 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.

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The following day after breakfast we rented bikes.

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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. 101_5363  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. 101_5364 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.   I eventually got 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…

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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.

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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.

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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 as you read in part one about Newport 🙂


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The Flying Horses Of The Vineyard …

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The Flying Horses, the oldest carousel in the United States, are housed in this building at the intersection of Circuit and Lake Aves in Oak Bluffs. They came to the Island in 1884 from Coney Island. DSC_0037

The Flying Horses are not a carousel, or a merry-go-round, they don’t go up and down just round and round. They are flying horses, like Pegasus, and fly to wherever you can imagine . They don’t actually have wings, but as you make the first circuit you feel like you’re about to fly out the open windows.

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I flew on these beautiful horses every day when I was a little girl. The ticket taker was a young man who would never take my tickets ! We tried everything to get him to take them… we brought him candy and cookies and tried slipping the tickets in with them… nothing work. At the end of the summer I said I wanted to buy him a gift, so off my mom and I went to purchase what I thought was a novel idea .. a tie. I was 5 years old, what did I know about buying gifts for men… he, by the way was about 13 but in my eyes he was a grown up. We put the tie in the box with all of summer’s uncollected tickets. As he came around to NOT collect my ticket I handed him the box. He smiled. Ah ha, success… or so I thought. As we were leaving the Flying Horses he came over and thanked us for the tie and as we turned to leave he handed us the tickets. I won’t say who he is, just that he turned out to be an official in Oak Bluffs in later years… and someone I’ve never forgotten.

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