Welcome. Edgartown News was born from the simple fact that I have ink and Dektol in my veins and I need to write and photograph more than I need air or food, and from my love for this little town where I grew up and raised my family, the town I have left a few times but can't quite shake for good. Here you will find wanderings and musings, photographs and commentary; the people, places, and happenings - past and present - of a small island town: my home town.
A bird I saw a couple of days in a row last week but didn't have my camera with me (a Great White Heron - never leave home without a camera! - which I managed to track down yesterday), plus a few incidental birds; a boat whose lines I happen to like; and a boy - well, just because I needed another B and I happened to have had a boy handy, fresh from this morning's dirt pile.
Tomorrow I start on the Cs.
The Great White Heron, also known as the The Great Egret.
A happy reminder of my scalloping/early married/young motherhood days.
One of my boys, pausing - mid-dirt-filled-shovel - to watch a helicopter fly by.
As part of my move back home I've been sorting through the archives and came across a little story I wrote about Dot West, a piece that appeared in the February 19, 2004 edition of the Martha's Vineyard Times.
Dorothy Mae Gazaille West is an Edgartown farm girl. Born on Edgartown's Great Plains, on the shores of Edgartown Great Pond, the second-youngest of Joseph and Mary Gazaille's seven children, Dorothy West grew up in a world of fields and ponds and open land where neighbors in every direction, from the Vincents to the Salvadors to the Wallers to the Pradas, were farmers who knew each other and were quick to help each other out. The years of Dottie West's childhood were years of no car, no electricity, and a hand pump in the kitchen; a large family pitching together to raise all of their own food, in the days when an evening's entertainment consisted of a conversation around the dinner table.
Dottie West, who reached the venerable age of eighty on January 2, is a handsome woman. Her face reveals a life well-lived; a life of hard work and of losses; a life of determination and independence, and much joy. Dottie's conversation is freely filled with laughter, and her blue-hazel eyes twinkle - with mischief, with wisdom, and with life.
"I was born in the Square Rigger, the Old Wilson place, where the town landing is now. They moved the house [to the Triangle, its present location]. Mrs. Salvador delivered me. She stopped by to visit and my mother was in labor. I was born before old Doc Nevin [William] got there. I lived there until I was four, then we moved across the street to Meetinghouse Way. Growing up, my father was very strict. We had no car, and we had to be in the house for dinner - or else. At night, dad read out of the Bible and said the Rosary, and we discussed the day. If we wanted to go to town, we either walked or took a horse and buggy. Dad did a little of everything - he was a gardener and a plumber, and we grew our own vegetables, cut our own wood, and had our own animals; we were up at 4:30 to milk the cows. We had a hand pump in the kitchen and a well with a bucket outside. Mother made bread and butter and hung the laundry on the line - there were no Pampers in those days.
"Growing up on a farm is the best teacher in the world; it teaches responsibility and dependability. We kids all worked on the farm. It was during the depression, we would pick blueberries and strawberries - we had to pick ten quarts a day. If we wanted spending money we could pick more.
"It was a different world. It was all open space, and there was no such thing as 'no hunting or fishing;' you could go anywhere, we had free run of everything. If you were putting hay in the barn your neighbor was there to help you. We had big barn dances, lots of square dancing. My father was a fantastic caller and my mother was a fantastic dancer. It's different out here now [Dottie still lives in the neighborhood, on the ten acres she bought when she was nineteen years old, West Acres, where she and her late husband, Bob, raised their five children], I'm rubbing elbows with the elite, with David Letterman."
On January 10, in honor of her birthday, Dottie's children, Wayne; Nanette Lynch; Ronnie; and Cindy Sequiera hired a hall - the American Legion Hall in Edgartown; a band - the Ray Band; and invited friends from near and far to what was originally planned as a surprise party.
"Who told me?" Dottie's eyes twinkle, she laughs her deep, infections laugh, and says, "I'm not telling. I'll never tell. I went and had my hair done, and Donna [Honig] said, 'Who told you?' I danced every dance. My legs were so sore the next morning I couldn't move. I love to dance. It was a fantastic party. I wasn't counting, but Nanette says there were around 150, from all over; from New York, New Hampshire, Maine, Connecticut, California, Canada, New Bedford.
"What keeps me going? Being active, driving the taxi [her son Wayne's Stagecoach Taxi]. In the summer, it's seven days a week; early morning runs, tours. It's a fantastic job - believe me - meeting different people like President Clinton and Walter Cronkite - now there's a gentleman. I'll keep driving as long as I'm able. I have my health and a wonderful family. I thing it's wonderful to be eighty and healthy and alert. My advice is to stay active; once you give up you don't live."
Almost nine years later, closing in on 89 years with ten grandchildren, ten great-grandchildren, and number eleven on the way, Dot is as cheerful and chipper as ever, and is still pushing her "stay active" mantra. She told me today, "I walk 3-4 miles a day. You gotta keep moving. A body in motion stays in motion, a body at rest stays at rest."
A quick stretch of the legs - and the mind - after spending most of the past five days with three babies all under the age of three - have loved every minute! not complaining! heaven! - but even grandmas need a break once in a while.
We have enjoyed at least as many days of perfect Vineyard September weather - an annual gift to islanders, I think, for having endured the (at times) oppressing heat, humidity, and crowds of summer, and this morning I found my usual route - down Main Street to the harbor - to be a study of serenity, with a healthy spattering of locals on hand, including fishermen (Mohawk Bolin, Mike Jackson), workers (Dennis Arnold), and wanderers in search of breakfast pastries (Barry Nevin, Marty Nadler).
It's always great to see old friends - and downtown is a little like old home week this time of year with lots of folks resurfacing now that it's safe to leave our houses - and especially great that we all have time to stop and talk to each other.
Dennis, whose usual gig is South Beach, was helping out at Memorial Wharf this morning.
A fishy ice sculpture.
Mohawk, getting ready to head out "beyond cell-phone range" to do a little pleasure fishing, a welcome change from his usual break-neck commercial fishing routine.
Marty is back, after being off-island for the summer. I've missed Marty, but can you believe this guy has the nerve to flaunt his Circuit Avenue t-shirt on Edgartown's Main Street?
Maybe it's because I spent the past ten years commuting every week between Edgartown and Brookline, or maybe it's because I woke up one day and realized that I have every single thing I need or want at home, but these days, I hardly care if I leave Edgartown ever again. I've never loved driving - much preferring walking or biking; seeing people face to face, taking in my surroundings while at the same time staying fit - and my aversion is even stronger now. Thankfully, living on Main Street, I can walk to just about everything. If it's not in Edgartown, I probably don't need it. And yes, I'm a throw-back to the days when Edgartown was Edgartown and Vineyard Haven was Vineyard Haven and rarely did the 'twain meet (except when it was time to head up to Brickman's for new school shoes). The one reality that I cannot change, however, is that the daily mass that is conducted one block from my house during July and August at St. Elizabeth's - which is so close that I can practically walk out my front door as the town clock begins ringing the nine o'clock hour and be in the pew before the last gong - switches over to the parish center in Oak Bluffs after Labor Day.
Oh well, I can't imagine there being a prettier fifteen-minute drive on one's way to pray anywhere in the universe than Beach Road between 7:30 and 8am - let's just call it preparation.
My beloved Bend-in-the-Road Beach.
The marshes and moors of Anthier's.
Sarson's Island with Felix Neck beyond.
The Derby is on.
I have photographed this little boat, Cassandra, from many angles and in various lighting conditions. I'm not sure what attracts me to her. Maybe because she seems abandoned and alone and somewhat neglected; some days she seems on the verge of sinking; all of the above describing the way I feel sometimes.
Somehow, I've gone all summer without seeing Todd Bassett and the Magic Carpet. Probably because I've barely left my property, which suits me just fine during July and August. I love summer - the crowds and the energy; strange but true - but it's also nice to now have a little breathing room. I really must get out a little more before winter sets in.
Todd Basset, putting the Magic Carpet to bed for the night.
Apparently, I did not have the market cornered on photographing Todd and Lee and their magnificent classic wooden yawl.
There's something so immediately poignant and perfect about stepping out of 5pm Sunday Mass and being greeted by a double rainbow, this being the second time in about a month this has happened - hello? - is someone trying to tell me something? This was the nicest and longest lasting double rainbow I've seen in a while. People were taking pictures all over the place, as if we've never seen a rainbow before. Well, each one is magic.
Feeling a little antsy, also wanting to enjoy Edgartown in the early morning hours - something I haven't done enough of this summer - I headed out for a fast-paced walk down to the lighthouse and back. Early morning Edgartown did not disappoint.
Still hoping to find the time to do a little more writing. In the meantime, I hope the photos will speak for themselves.
We're back to this, are we?
Here's one of the things I've been missing by not getting downtown early in the morning: Tom Haddad, holding court from his bench outside the paper store. This morning we had a lively conversation about history and religion. People like Tom, as well as Neal Condlin, whom I had encountered in front of the library and with whom I also had a great conversation, always make a walk through town very enjoyable and well worth the trip.
Does this woman look nervous? No? Well, she should - she's getting married today. Best wishes, Kara, and congratulations, Brad. Have a great day!