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.
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 🙂
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.
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)
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.
It took days for the rest of our things to arrive and I would watch every day for the Railway Express truck to arrive.
and then summer on the Vineyard would officially be under way 🙂
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.
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.
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 the photograph below. It was literally only steps from boat to train. Train service ended in the 1960’s.
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.
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…
The Tivoli building… Oak Bluffs, Martha’s Vineyard (circa 1920)
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 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.
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 …
… 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.
Two more days and it will be autumn… my favorite season.
I enjoy everything about autumn .. the crisp air, the brilliant blue sky of October, wearing sweaters, the vivid colors of the turning leaves… but mostly I love pumpkins, those dots of orange on the landscape that make me smile 🙂 I like to photograph them, decorate with them and have a bit of pumpkin pie or bread from time to time.
Below are pumpkin pictures from Morning Glory Farm on MV in Oct 2012.
Warning, this is only the beginning 🙂
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.
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.
Look closely at the horse’s eyes, inside each one is a tiny hand carved animal.
(My picture didn’t capture the animal in the eye so I cheated just a little)
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.
In my opinion August is THE month to be on Martha’s Vineyard… not just because it’s the last full month of summer… but it’s jammed packed with special events.
My favorite is Illumination Night which this year is Wed, Aug 20, 2014. I did a post about my memories of Illumination Night… CLICK HERE to read it … and CLICK HERE for information on this year’s Illumination Night.
The 152nd MV Agricultural Fair is Aug 21 – 24, 2014 … CLICK HERE for information.
On Friday, Aug 22, 2014 you truly won’t want to miss the Oak Bluffs fireworks at Ocean Park. CLICK HERE to see video of previous fireworks.
These are just three of MY personal favorite things to do on MV in August… CLICK HERE to check out the MVOL.com calendar of events to see all the other fun and interesting things going on.
As a summer kid on the Vineyard August was always a special month for me. Although my mom and I would arrive for the summer in June it wasn’t until August that my dad joined us until Labor Day when we’d all come home to New Jersey.
In the 40’s and 50’s August was filled with days at the beach, nightly rides on the Flying Horses, ice cream at the Frosty Cottage on Circuit Ave, popcorn bars at Darling’s also on Circuit Ave, trips to my mother’s cousins home in Indian Hill, band concerts in Ocean Park and community sings every Wed at the Tabernacle.
In the 90’s and 2000’s it was about introducing my grandchildren to August on the Vineyard. Days at the beach, rides on the Flying Horses, ice cream at any number of places in Oak Bluffs and Edgartown, bicycle rides, miniature golf, and being together.