JANE N. SLATER
Chilmark welcomed May with a cheery sunny day. Lots of fruit trees are blooming and the last of the daffodils and tulips are still nodding but in a lot less wind than last week. In a more innocent time in Chilmark, the 1st of May was marked by the hanging of May baskets on the doors of popular young people. The tradition was an old one and carried into the 20th century. Baskets containing candy and flowers were placed on doorsteps or hung on doorknobs. Groups of friends would prepare and deliver the basket after dark. They knocked on the door then ran off and hid in the nearby yard. The recipient would then have to chase and find each one before hosting a cocoa and cookie evening. This description of the once popular event is in the Lucy Vincent diaries, and date by her account to the early 1900’s.
All the talk recently about summer houses and the concern about the sizes of houses in Chilmark leads me to some recollections of how it was in the Chilmark of my youth. On the first crisp and sunny April day, my mother would announce that it was time to open the camps. The camps were four small cabins that stood in what we called our lower field behind our house on State Road. The camps were all within a short walk of our house and in view of each other in the field. My grandfather and I would walk down to the first one carrying a jug of kerosene and a pail of water. The water to prime the pump, which was the only plumbing, and the kerosene to start the three-burner stove. We would remove the mattresses from the rafters, there to protect them from the mice, and place them over furniture out on the sunny side of the camp. My job was to heat water and wash all the dishes, windows and the lamp chimneys. It was an all-day job and one I didn’t cherish, but it’s what we did. The camps were rented for the summer to what we affectionately referred to as the New York schoolteachers. They enjoyed a Chilmark without indoor plumbing, without running water, without telephones or electricity and with no autos, and they liked it enough to stay all summer! All four camps were rented for many years to the same people and eventually sold to them. To this day, three of the four are still owned by the same families and none has grown except to add plumbing and maybe another bedroom.
Congratulations to our town clerk Jennie Christie who conducted the dual elections at the community center this week. The counting was done before 10 p.m. Please make note that the special state election will be at the community center from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on June 25.
Congratulations to Andy Freed, son of Norman and Diana Freed of State Road, who has been made a full professor at Purdue University in Lafayette, Ind. Andy and his wife Melissa and sons Orion and Calvin live in West Lafayette and are frequent visitors to Chilmark.
The Yard has posted its summer schedule of events for this year. Please look for them online or call 508-645-9662. Jan Buhrman’s Kitchen Porch, Martha’s Vineyard Culinary Experiences for Spring 2013 is available online now. She has included some recipes. Emily B. Gadd of Colorado is due here this week at her Abel’s Hill home. She is looking forward to planting her gardens. Emily anticipates help from her assistant gardener, Noah Lipnick of New York city, due to arrive soon also. We hope Emily’s travel plans aren’t affected by the late snow storm in Colorado. She will have winter storm stories to tell this year! Steve Judge and Jim Skelton of Boston and Fulling Mill Road have opened their main house for the season. They are frequent visitors to their Chilmark home and look forward to the busy summer ahead. We send best wishes to Roberta Morgan who had a knee replacement this week at Falmouth Hospital. She is looking forward to returning to Martha’s Vineyard Hospital for her recovery. We hope to see her out and about soon. Valerie Murphy will open Roberta’s shop, the Harbor Crafts Shop, on the weekend.
Martha Solinger of Pelham enjoyed an early spring weekend at her newly purchased Chilmark home on North Road. She entertained friends Beth Anisman and John Dubek of Connecticut.
Betsy Larsen will have her popular fish market open for business before you read this as she is opening on Thursday this week. A most welcome sign of spring and summer!
Erich Greenebaum is coming from Vermont to enjoy some of the spring at the family home in Menemsha. His dad Ed Greenebaum and Joan Caulton have headed back to Bloomington, Ind. after enjoying a winter in Chilmark. They will be back in October.