BETTYE FOSTER BAKER
Attention all children and adults who are unafraid to believe in things unseen! As founder of the Perpetual Children’s Society, I am one of you. I received an important all-Island bulletin today on Vanessa, our sea serpent who lives in Farm Pond.
The Barveniks and the Kendalls of Farm Pond, whose family launched Vanessa, sent me the bulletin:
“In case you had been wondering where Vanessa the Sea Serpent has been, here is the real story. Vanessa had broken her tail last year (more on that later). She then rode the Gulf Stream to Nova Scotia where she has been convalescing with distant relatives. She immersed herself in the healing red muds of the Minas Basin at the head of the Bay of Fundy. A diet of dulce and Irish moss brightened her green coloration. She then rode the tidal bore out of the bay and caught a ride on the Labrador Current back home. En route she stopped in Scituate, Massachusetts at Amelie Loyot’s Sea Serpent Beauty Spa, where she acquired a new look, with bright golden scales. On the night of August 10, she slipped quietly back into her home on the pond while listening to the sweet music of the Martha’s Vineyard Festival in Ocean Park.”
Welcome back Vanessa! Life is good now that you are back. I hope all the Island children and Perpetual Children’s Society members will come down to Farm Pond and welcome you home.
What a weekend! The brightly lit stores and galleries on Circuit avenue were magical as night life twirled into full swing and the town filled with tourists and summer folks dining al fresco style under lighted umbrellas, gorging on gigantic, triple-dipped ice cream cones and going for the latest music scene. Hundreds came to the Tabernacle to hear Marty Nadler, comedian, give a rousing sketch of our town; most left in stitches. Those out for the evening felt the excitement of the high season in Oak Bluffs where next week we will again celebrate summer with fireworks and Illumination night at the fairy tale Martha’s Vineyard Camp Ground. This is our time and we love it.
The Divas (friends with a purpose) were not only uncorked but became the darlings of the Vineyard with their weeklong activities that stretched from Cousen Rose Gallery in Oak Bluffs to Outerland, culminating in a spectacular afternoon brunch at Lola’s. I spoke with Karen Ward, ABC host of City Lights and a Diva, and we agreed that the Divas Uncorked are creating a new generation of wine and food enthusiasts in partnership with the innovative, nonprofit Island Grown Initiative.
Then there was the marathon Martha’s Vineyard Festival which began in the afternoon and went on endlessly in Ocean Park, attracting hundreds to an evening of great music, lawn chair viewing and porch parties. At times the crowds were impassable on the boardwalk and they continued to come.
Finally, even the Islanders took time out to view the spectacular opening of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. My, how things have changed, and for the better. It was 40 years ago at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City that John Carlos, Bronze medalist in the 200 meters, made his famous protest along with Gold medalist Tommie Smith (who broke the Olympic and world records with a time 19.83) raised their fists high in the Black-Power salute on the podium to protest racism, poverty and oppression in America, creating a firestorm. John Carlos’s words today are a metaphor for those who recognize there are times when we may not be able to distinguish between fate and faith. “I always liked the idea that God would go to the beach and pick up one grain of sand, and he picked my name and said: ‘You can do something. You don’t have to, but you can.’ I’m glad that I was strong enough and wise enough to have the vision to do what I thought was the right thing.” (New York Times Sports Magazine, August 2008).
Monday morning was dark, the wind blustery and the sea moved menacingly if not furiously toward the shore in huge, rhythmic waves. A storm was in the making. This did not stop a few 70-plus-year-olds and younger confident swimmers from braving the waves as they have done for over a half-century. Car doors opened and closed; people got out holding in their hands delicious foods; the table was set and spread with blueberries, cantaloupe and honeydew, meat and egg dishes and breads. The smells were divine. It was a special day for a lifelong Polar Bear — the surprise 60th birthday beach breakfast for Judge Ed Redd celebrated by that group of stalwart swimmers and friends, the Polar Bears. Then the rains came furiously and we were all suddenly soaked, but not our spirits. Each carried a dish to the gigantic wrap-around porch of that lovely blue cottage on Penacook — and the celebration began. After a prayer by the Rev. Larry Green, singing Ode to the Polar Bears, written by Dr. Fran Gaskin, and the traditional happy birthday song sung to Ed, the feast began. By now it was only 9 a.m. Ed’s wife, Dr. Shirley Redd presented Ed with a magnificent birthday cake frosted in blue icing with embedded photos of Ed in court, at home and on the Island. His only lament was that his daughters were not present. But the 30 or 40 Bears and friends who were there decided that rain was only a brief interruption of what turned out to be another joyous Monday with the Polar Bears. Happy Birthday Ed!
The most exciting week in Oak Bluffs is upon us — Illumination night in the Camp Ground on August 20 and the Fireworks at sea on August 22. For years people from all over the Island have descended on our little town for these celebrations that reveal the uniqueness of what began as America’s great watering hole where people came to pray and play. Today these celebrations produce excitement in the hearts of every child who may believe that some of those make-believe characters they read about in fairy tale books still live in those quaint little cottages lit with colorful Chinese and Japanese lanterns that are simply magical. The sing-along begins at 7 p.m. and lanterns are lit at dark.
When darkness comes and the first volley of fireworks stretch up and across the sky, dissipating before our eyes in multicolored splendor, as music fills our senses and cheers rise from the crowds in Ocean Park, we will sit on the porches of those magnificent cottages surrounding the park and down Seaview avenue and beyond to celebrate another amazing summer as it nears end. I can only say I will remember a hidden truth: the promise of tomorrow is today. Enjoy.
Dr. Thelma Baxter and her husband Bill Baxter attended the French Open in Paris with their two daughters Dana and Dawn. All are avid tennis players, fans and affiliate with the Island Tennis Club. Now that they have returned, the Baxters will be welcoming guest Dr. Michael Gillespie, associate dean of academic affairs at the Borough of Manhattan Community College in New York city. Congratulations to Thelma on the recent publication of a chapter in the newly released book: Understanding and Teaching Today’s Students, edited by Merriman and Nicoletti, National Catholic Education Association. Thelma wrote the chapter on teaching African American students.
Cousen Rose Gallery will feature Glenn Tunstull’s oils and watercolors on August 16. The reception is from 7 to 9 p.m.
The Cottagers’ annual open house will be held on August 21, from 5 to 7 p.m. All are invited to Cottagers Corner at 57 Pequot, (off Circuit avenue). This is the time when the Cottagers Inc. thank the community for support of their fundraisers for Island charities. There will be food and entertainment.
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority will host their third Luncheon on the Island at the Cornerway Restaurant in Chilmark on Friday, August 22 from noon to 2 p.m. The cost is $45, prepaid. RSVP by Wednesday, August 20. For reservations call Thelma Baxter at 508-693-7827, Johnny Marshall at 508-693-9464 or Sheila Harley at 508-696-6293.
Delta on the Vineyard of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority will host their annual brunch on August 23 from 11 to 2 p.m. at the Sailing Camp on Barnes Road. Call 508-696-8892 for details.
On Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m. at the high school’s Performing Arts Center, Prof. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. of Harvard will speak on the topic of African American Lives at the eighth annual summer signature event sponsored by the Martha’s vineyard Branch of The Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. A $15 donation is suggested to defray the cost of the branch’s educational programs.
The senior center in Oak Bluffs will host Friday Conversations on August 23 from 10 to 11:30 a.m. The speaker will be Mev Good. His topic: “Where Did Your Family Come From” should be interesting and provocative.
There will be an interfaith service at Union Chapel Sunday at 10 a.m. Dr. Geshe Lobsang Tenzin from the Buddhist Drepung Loseling Monastery will speak.
If you are planning a wedding, anniversary, family reunion or have guests coming, let me know. This column shares memoriesand all that’s new and exciting in Oak Bluffs. And, don’t forget to open your gifts.