Oak Bluffs, the biggest little town on the third largest unconnected island on the east coast, is not the only one to have a song named after it. (New York and San Francisco come to mind.) Little information is available about Etta Godfrey, who wrote The Oak Bluffs Galop [sic] in 1872, which highlighted the Victorian pastime of “bluffing,” moonlight strolls down the boardwalk to Lover’s Rock. I have the sheet music of the song — I’m pretty sure it’s a waltz — and hope to hear someone play it one day. Thanks to a recent generous donation to the Martha’s Vineyard Museum I’ll probably get to hear another famous Oak Bluffs song sooner: Tivoli Girl by Will Hardy. Mr. Hardy was a composer and band leader and ran our famed Tivoli ballroom from 1915 to 1931. His grandson Sterling Smith gave the museum the Tivoli Girl Album of sheet music of 14 waltzes including such favorites as Vineyard Isle, That Wonderful Island of Mine, Here Comes the Sankaty With My Best Girl on Board and the endearing, all-time favorite Tivoli Girl. Well, there’s some hyperbole there, never having heard it, but I’m sure I’ll love it. Chief curator Bonnie Stacy says the museum will display the beautiful album covers in the Spotlight Gallery at its summer opening party from 5 to 7 p.m. on June 14 – and plans are afoot for a live performance of the music, free and open to the public. I’m going to give Bonnie the Oak Bluffs Galop and see if they’ll play that, too.
Built in 1907 and torn down in 1964 to make room for the new (now old) town hall, the Tivoli was home to a myriad of activities, the best known being a ballroom and our first theatre. It hosted questionable activities like bear and midget fighting too and no doubt lent itself to Oak Bluffs’ honky tonk moniker. Hey, maybe the band at the museum’s opening night will play Bill Doggett’s Honky Tonk in our honor!
The late Oak Bluffs homeowner Frederick Douglass Patterson (October 10, 1901 – April 26, 1988) was included in the New Rochelle, N.Y. Walk of Fame on April 27 along with Jay Leno, Carl Reiner and E.L. Doctorow among others. Mr. Patterson, a veterinarian, was president of Tuskegee University where he helped establish the Tuskegee Airmen and founded the United Negro College Fund for which President Ronald Reagan awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 1988, he was awarded the Spingarn Medal from the NAACP. Thanks to Liz Slaughter for the news.
I am delighted about comments on the column, thank you one and all — and while I have responded individually there have been some of particular interest. Speaking with Stuart MacMackin’s daughter Cindy Meisner, I found she, too, worked at the Gazette and hope to meet her soon. East Chop’s Terry Appenzellar of Bridge avenue and her husband John Caldwell own the former Eben Bodfish home, transferred to him in 1925 and to his widowed wife Elizabeth J. Bodfish in 1948. Sixty-one-year Oak Bluffs native Renee Logan told me Tomahawk Corner is the fire station intersection of County and Wing Road, not the roundabout, and that there used to be a sign saying so. Tomahawk Corner is where Henry Franklin Norton’s home was.
Congrats to Red Cat Kitchen’s manager Ben DeForest, rocking it at Ken n’ Beck.
Prepare to be impressed in June when the new MVTV offices and studios open. General manager Stephen Warriner gave me a quick tour of the fabulous new facility, which is bright, spacious and state of the art in capacity and design. More details when opening day is closer.
Featherstone’s Garden Tea Party and Fashion Show are tomorrow from 2 to 6 p.m. Shout out to one of the models, the luscious Karen W. Finley, who married me 42 years ago last Monday. Congratulations to me!
Mary’s Linen Store is open for the 64th year. Stopping in to say hello to Louis and Elena Iacoviello I found that Elena’s mom, who founded Mary’s, was married to Angelo Tuccelli the vegetable man! My dad always said Mr. Tuccelli’s tomatoes were the best in the world, sold from his stand at the corner of Pocasset and Uncas avenues. He was right, they were.
The Oak Bluffs Inn is open for its 15th season. Well maintained by the Albert family, the towered and architecturally significant inn was built in 1888 and may be the most spectacularly beautiful structure remaining on Circuit avenue. It’s located at the other end of the block from our theatres, the yet-to-be-updated Island and the sorrowfully disconcerting Sand theatre.
Keep your foot on a rock.