MV Obsession

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


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1982 August Trip …

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.

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 (All pictures in this post are 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). 

We drove into Edgartown and checked into the Kelley House.  The Kelley House hasn’t changed much at all but the buildings that we saw from our window definitely have.

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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.

Lower Circuit Ave… and  Circuit Ave

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

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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.

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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.

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.

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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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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.

I 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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Winking and Dancing …

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

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The two story, full block Tivoli Dance Hall stood from 1901 until 1964 where the Oak Bluffs Town Hall is today.  The bottom floor housed shops and an ice cream parlor.  My godmother worked in the ice cream parlor and I always enjoyed visiting her there… one time in particular jumps to mind.

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I was 3 years old and had newly mastered winking and was anxious to put it to use.  Sitting at a table behind my mother and facing me was a sailor.  Being that I was wearing a sailor dress I figured we had something in common and so I began winking at him… it did not take long for my mother to notice.  She turned around and as she did the young sailor headed for our table.  He smiled and said he was alone on the Vineyard for the day and wanted to tell my mother how charming he thought I was (blushing here).  Not only did my mother invite him to join us at the table but she invited him home for dinner (this was mid 1940’s). I was amazed at how powerful this winking thing was.  I don’t think we kept in touch with him but obviously I’ve never forgotten him… I do however keep the winking thing to a minimum.

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The entire second floor of the Tivoli Dance Hall was just that, the dance hall.  It was huge, at least in the eyes of a 4 year old being dragged there against her will for a dance lesson.  I did like all the windows and how far you could see out of them, I liked the clicking sound my shoes made on the floor, I loved the brand new sundress I had on …
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… but, I did NOT like the group dancing part.  I remember reluctantly getting in line with the other victims children, but my feet did not move, they planted themselves firmly in one spot and stayed there.  Everyone danced around me but I did not care to join in, not only didn’t I dance I wouldn’t talk to anyone either.  My mother was not happy with me… we did not stop for promised ice cream at the Frosty Cottage on Circuit Ave for ice cream and we didn’t come home with a sailor for dinner either.


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Trinity Circle, Trinity Park and Bells …

In the town of Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard, in the Methodist Campground are Trinity Circle and Trinity Park.

Sharing Trinity Park for almost 140 years are the Tabernacle (erected in 1879) and Trinity Methodist Church (built in 1878).

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Over the years both have undergone changes. This is just one of the changes for the Tabernacle.

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A major transformation for Trinity Methodist Church

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DSC_0034  A look inside the Tabernacle and Trinity Methodist Church

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Tabernacle from inside Trinity Methodist Church… I love this picture.

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Trinity Park is a perfect place to enjoy some quiet time… to indulge in some contemplation, read, maybe snooze, enjoy a game of catch, or wander around with a camera.

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100_0643According to the Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Assn. website:

“The original layout of Wesleyan Grove was a simple formation of a circle enclosing the preaching area and the society or church tents.   In 1859 a road, now known as Trinity Circle, was built which encircled that area.   In 1864, the Association purchased the 26 acres it had been renting.   As the area continued to expand (additional grounds were purchased in 1866), it developed in a radial-concentric pattern which was little used in America at that time.   Paths radiating from Trinity Circle led to smaller circles where large groups of tents had been located – County Park (Wesleyan Grove), Forest Circle, Washington Park (Victorian Park), Cottage Park Avenue (Cottage Park), Crystal Park (Vincent Park), Washington Avenue (Butler Avenue), Rural Circle and Clinton Avenue, which, at one time, had been the main entrance to the Campground.   The smaller circles, some surrounded by larger circles, had small paths radiating from them leading to other circles or parks.   The method of the grounds layout was an additive one of discrete neighborhood units, each built around small various shaped parks.   Some street and park names (current names are in the brackets) have been changed for various reasons over the 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.  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 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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A Review Of “The Vineyard We Knew” …

If you’re looking for a summer read about the adventures of a summer kid growing up on the Vineyard in Oak Bluffs  in the 50’s and 60’s…. this book is for you.

Even if you’re not on the Vineyard and just want to read a really, really charming,  and interesting book, this book is for you.

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My creation

I just finished reading this book “The Vineyard We Knew: by Kevin Parham . I enjoyed it immensely because like Kevin, I too was a summer kid on the Vineyard in Oak Bluffs during the 50’s and early 60’s. Our paths never crossed, and even though I’m quite a bit older than Kevin, we did do some of the same things and go to the same places. Flying Horses, Darling’s popcorn, Oak Bluffs beach (now known as the Inkwell) but I only knew it as … the beach … lol. If you enjoy stepping back into time little bit and reading about Martha’s Vineyard the way it used to be then treat yourself to Kevin’s book.
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** (photographs used by permission of Kevin Parham)

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Here’s a little of Kevin’s introduction which pretty much says the way I feel about the Vineyard too :

“The Island of Martha’s Vineyard is a magical place filled with enchantment and wonder.  For more than half a century I have been under its whimsical spell – one that continues to lure me back year after year.

Just as  a migrating bird is compelled to return to a specific geographic region each spring, I gravitate back to the Vineyard.  I do this not only to reconnect to a time gone by, but also to reenergize my soul so I am inspired to reach the full potential of my life’s purpose.

Those who visit Martha’s Vineyard for the first time often develop an irresistible urge to come back, an urge most people don’t readily recognize, perhaps because it resides at the subconscious – or even deeper molecular – level.   Just as is true when one is addicted to a powerful drug, once you are hooked you reach a point at which you can no longer do without it.

I have long since crossed that line of demarcation in my relationship with Martha’s Vineyard. “

**  (excerpt used with permission of Kevin Parham).


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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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Tivoli Memories …

Saturday Sep 14, 2013 is Tivoli Day in Oak Bluffs. For anyone who doesn’t know, or remember the Tivoli building in Oak Bluffs, I’m reposting a blog entry below of my memories of it.

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Every year in September, Oak Bluffs hosts its annual street fair and block party known as Tivoli Day. Where did the name come from… and where can you find the Tivol on MV ! You can’t, only memories of it remain.

The two story, full block Tivoli Dance Hall stood from 1901 until 1964 where the Oak Bluffs Town Hall is today. The bottom floor housed shops and an ice cream parlor. My godmother worked in the ice cream parlor and I always enjoyed visiting her there… one time in particular jumps to mind. I was 3 years old and had newly mastered winking and was anxious to put it to use. Sitting at a table behind my mother and facing me was a sailor. Being that I was wearing a sailor dress I figured we had something in common and so I began winking at him… it did not take long for my mother to notice. She turned around and as she did the young sailor headed for our table. He smiled and said he was alone on the Vineyard for the day and wanted to tell my mother how charming he thought I was. (Blushing here). Not only did my mother invite him to join us at the table but she invited him home for dinner (this was the mid 1940′s). I was amazed at how powerful this winking thing was. I don’t know if we ever kept in touch with him but obviously I’ve never forgotten him… but I do keep the winking thing to a minimum.

The entire second floor of the Tivoli Dance Hall was just that, the dance hall. It was huge, at least in the eyes of a 4 year old being dragged there against her will for a dance lesson. I loved all the windows and how far you could see out of them, I liked the clicking noise my shoes made on the floor, I liked the brand new sundress I had on… but, I did NOT like the group dancing part. I remember reluctantly getting in line with the other victims, er children, but my feet did not move, they planted themselves firmly in one spot and stayed there. Everyone danced around me but I did not care to join in. My mother was not happy with me… not only didn’t I dance or even talk… but we didn’t even come home with a sailor for dinner.

(CLICK HERE for Tivoli day info)


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Horses Through The Window …

The Flying Horses weren’t open while I was on the Vineyard last month. Sigh  😦

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Didn’t mean I didn’t get a picture of them.   I positioned my camera close to the window and clicked…

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I got the horses… I also got the reflection of the camera and the reflection of the building across the street.  Neat huh.

CLICK HERE to read about me and the Flying Horses the summer I was 5 years old.


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Tabernacle Mosaic …

These are just a few of the bazillion pictures I’ve taken of the Tabernacle.  Seriously, a bazillion of them.

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

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

Many events take place at the Tabernacle.  There are of course religious services held during the summer months. The Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School holds its graduation there. There are concerts also and what a magnificent setting for a concert. Three that I particularly enjoyed were… Harry Connick Jr and his special guest Carly Simon in Sep 1990  and two Boston Pops concerts.

One of the best events of the summer is Illumination Night  in the Camp Ground… it’s a magical fairy land and for me it’s hard not to become 8 years old again. The evening starts with a rousing community sing… the band plays… the whole Campground is alive with the sounds of happiness and joy. All the gingerbread houses are decorated with Japanese lanterns… many of them handed down from generation to generation and some still being lit by candles. Suddenly all lights are extinguished and the ceremonial first lantern is lit…. it’s walked up the aisle of the Tabernacle and illuminates it… as that happens all the gingerbread houses come alive with lanterns… it takes my breath away every time.

So there it is… a little bit about my favorite place on MV.  I shall end this post by simply saying… amen.

(Click for Through Jersey Eyes)