MV Obsession

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


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The Mayflower II ~ Restoration and Launching…

My interest in the Mayflower is more than historical, it’s personal as well.

My ancestors, William and Susanna White and their baby Peregrine White were on the first voyage of the Mayflower in 1620. Baby Peregrine was born on the Mayflower while it was moored in the harbor,  he was the first English baby born in New England.

Four years ago in 2015 I visited the Mayflower II in Plymouth, MA before it began it’s journey to be restored.   Please CLICK HERE to read that post.  https://mvobsession.com/2015/10/18/plymouth-ma-the-mayflower/

This ship, the Mayflower II set sail from Plymouth, England on April 20, 1957, with a crew of 33 men. On June 13, after 55 days at sea, the ship arrived in Plymouth, USA, to the cheers of 25,000 spectators.  Since then, more than 20 million people have boarded the iconic ship, and millions more have viewed her from the shore. Today, even as Mayflower II undergoes a necessary restoration to fulfill her educational mission for years to come, she has lost none of her luster. (CLICK HERE to read the article how this replica came to be.)

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Two months after I was there in Oct 2015 in December 2015 the Mayflower II left Plymouth, MA to sail to Mystic, CT for restoration, to replace timbers, planking, structural frames and beams that have deteriorated from saltwater and exposure over the past six decades.  You can read the full article by CLICKING HERE.

On Saturday, September 7, 2019 The official launch and recommissioning of the restored Mayflower II took place.  The Mayflower II was lowered into the Mystic River where it will float while refitting work is finished.

It will leave Mystic Seaport in the Spring of 2020 making its way north to Boston for a 6-day maritime festival (May 14-19).  The replica of the ship in which the Pilgrims sailed to the New World is scheduled to arrive in Plymouth Harbor on May 21 – in time for the town’s 400th anniversary commemoration of the original landing, a homecoming celebration is planned with a series of events and activities.

So off I went to Mystic, CT on Saturday, Sep 7, with my daughter Deb, honorary daughter Dawn and our friend Sam to see the launching, the rechristening, hear the speeches and enjoy the festivities.

The Mayflower II

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It was an absolutely gorgeous day,  mid 70’s, light winds and sun and some clouds. There were hundreds of people there and since we didn’t buy seats we would have to stand in the area behind them to watch everything.  The ceremony was to start at 2pm sharp and we were advised to get good spots early… which we started to do.. and then we noticed that at the very back of the standing area there were some huge cement blocks that people were starting to sit on.  Ah ha, great idea so we scurried over there around 12:30 to stake out our spots.   While sitting there I was spotted by a BBC TV reporter who saw my shirt that said ‘Mayflower Descendant’ and asked if she could interview me on camera. I was a bit nervous but it was fun doing it.  That’s the first and second pictures below.

The third picture is my daughter Deb, Dawn, me and our friend Sam on our concrete perch.

The fourth picture is not mine as it’s taken from the Mayflower II but it does show the seating area, the standing area and then at the very back on the right side by the red building is where we were sitting, with, I might add, a great view.

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The ceremony started exactly and 2pm and it was really very nice, or at least what I saw of it !  Only about 20 minutes into it I sort of um, wound up in an ambulance for about an hour!  Sitting in the sun for 2 1/2 hours with not enough water caused me to pass out.  So I missed the actual launching into the water of the Mayflower II which was mostly our reason for going to the event.  But on the other hand I met some terrific EMT’s who took great care of me.

All in all it was a really nice day with people I care about, and celebrating the Mayflower II which holds a special place in my heart and in my heritage.

 

 

 


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Illumination Night On Martha’s Vineyard…

Every few years I post about my favorite summer event on Martha’s Vineyard…

Illumination Night

Illumination Night this year is Wednesday, August 14, 2019

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It has always been my favorite event of the summer… going to Illumination Night is a thrill for me no matter what my age.

I think I was 2 and 1/2 the first time I went to Illumination Night.  I’m embarrassed to say that even with my annoyingly good memory, I don’t remember it. My first memory of Illumination Night involves wearing a particularly pretty dress so I’m thinking I was around three or four, which would have been around 1946.

My dad, mom, god-mother and I would have an early supper and then walk to the Campground. My dad and I would stroll around looking at all the beautifully decorated gingerbread houses while my mother and god-mother would chat with friends and relatives.

At 8 o’clock the Vineyard Haven Band would begin playing and the always fun community sing would start. Patriotic songs like, America The Beautiful, Yankee Doodle, Battle Hymn of the Republic are always stirring and emotional. It took me a couple of years to learn the words to all the songs and I still get messed up on a couple of the rounds like John Brown’s Baby. The band playing the Star Spangled Banner and the rousing Stars and Stripes Forever are always a crowd pleaser.

But as much fun as that was it was only a precursor to the main event. The Tabernacle and Campground go dark… the crowd cheers. The lighting of the first lantern and then all the gingerbread houses are simultaneously aglow with Japanese lanterns.

 

Everyone oohs and ahhs and stream out of the Tabernacle to walk through the magical fairyland the Campground has become. My dad would carry me on his shoulders so I could see everything… I felt like I could touch the stars.

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After seeing all there was to see we’d head out onto Circuit Ave to either the Frosty Cottage for ice cream or Darling’s for popcorn, a tasty ending to a perfectly enchanting night.

No matter your age, Illumination Night is fun for everyone, I myself morph into an 8 year old.

 

If you’re on the Vineyard this Wed, Aug 14, 2019 you should go and experience Illumination Night.  101_3011

 

 

 


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Honoring My Great-Grandfather On This Memorial Day 2019…

 Joseph Pettey Littlefield

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My great grandfather Joseph P Littlefield was injured in the Civil War. He was a member of Co. C, 9th Maine Regiment. He was wounded at the battle of Cold Harbor in Virginia and sent home to Maine to die. He died on Sep 3, 1864 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 we found it and 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.

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Take a moment to remember the original reason for Memorial Day and the men and women who fought for, and gave their lives for our country.

 

 


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Memories of the Ferry Islander…

The Islander was retired in the winter of 2007 and the last time I sailed on her was that February.

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Even though not sleek or graceful, for 57 years the Islander brought her own special beauty to the waters surrounding the Vineyard. The Islander will continue to exist through paintings, photographs and in the memories of those who loved her.

Early morning …

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The beloved work horse of a ferry, the Islander plied the waters between Woods Hole and Martha’s Vineyard  for 57  years before retiring in the winter of 2007.   There was just something about this tub of a boat that endeared her to all who sailed on her…  she wasn’t a great beauty but she had a regalness about her.

Her blue plastic outdoor seats  certainly weren’t known for their comfort, but comfort wasn’t necessarily what one was after for the 45 minute sail from America to the Vineyard, which was more of a transition from the everyday to the magicalness awaiting you.   The Vineyard is many things to many people and in many hearts the Islander was the emotional connection.

Fond memories ❤


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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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The Sisters First Christmas…

The sisters first Christmas, 52 years ago.

Patty and Debbie became sisters on Nov 6, 1966 but they did not meet until Dec 21, 1966.

Dec 1966.. Patty & Debbie

Patty was almost 2 1/2 when Debbie was born.   Deb, who was due the end of December arrived 7 weeks early and didn’t come home from the hospital until Dec 21, the first day of winter, 1966.

As you can see from the picture Patty was delighted and happy to be a big sister.  Debbie, I’m sure was happy to finally be home.

Patty was a terrific big sister right from the beginning.  She helped me take care of Debbie and when I would give Deb her bottle Patty and her new dolly would join us.   Her doll was almost the same size as Deb, Debbie had been only 3 lbs when she was born and had to be 5 lbs before she could come home… so yes, she and the doll were almost the same size.

Since it was so close to Christmas when Deb came home I wanted her to be a surprise to her grandparents when they arrived on Christmas morning.   Patty was under instructions from Santa Claus not to tell anyone that her new sister was home, and since the request was coming from the big guy himself she didn’t utter a word to anyone.

However…   my mother called one evening and just at that moment Debbie, who was in the same room with me, began to cry.  Oh oh.   My mother asked if that was a baby and I said no.  She said she didn’t believe me.  She asked again… ‘is that baby home from the hospital?’   I said yes but that I had wanted to keep her a surprise until Christmas.   My mother kept her composure but I could hear the crack in her voice when said how happy she was but that we shouldn’t tell my father… let him be surprised on Christmas morning.

So Christmas morning arrived, along with a 24 hour stomach bug which hit me pretty hard. I managed to get out of bed long enough to greet my parents at the door. Patty was all bubbly and happy to see her grandparents and they were showering her with plenty of attention.

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Then my dad glanced at the tree.   He looked closer.  I could see his eyes moisten when he realized that the baby in the baby carrier under the tree was NOT a doll but his new granddaughter Debbie.    My dad wasn’t one to let his emotions out or show on his face… but he did that morning.

It was definitely a very merry, happy and blessed Christmas that year.

Christmas morning 6 years later in 1972, my favorite Christmas picture of Patty and Debbie…

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Merry Christmas everyone and especially to my girls ❤ ❤

 


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Our Santa…

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My dad was a police officer in Newark, NJ. For many of his years on the force he worked in the Emergency Squad division. During the long hours between calls the guys would keep themselves busy in various ways like cooking. Near the Christmas holidays they always came up with a special project, like candle making for instance.

In 1956 they made Santas.  I still have ours.  Santa stands about 3 and 1/2 feet tall and is made from press board. After the outline was drawn the guys cut out the Santas and my dad set to work drawing the features, clothing and bag of toys.  At that point our Santa came home and my mother and I painted him.  I’m not sure how many coats of paint we used but Santa was spread out on our kitchen table for about a week before he was completely dry.  I don’t know what kind of paint we used either but here it is 59 years later and he’s not chipped or faded.  This was the only time I ever remember the three of us doing a family project together.

I love everything about this Santa, even the buttons being on the wrong side… but the thing I love the most is that he looks like my dad… a self portrait so to speak.

My creation

Below is my daughter Patty age 2 and 1/2 in 1966…… and her daughter (my granddaughter) Tiffany age 2 and 1/2 in 1991.

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Here’s to Christmas memories, old and new. ❤