Jerimiah Pease’s summer of 1835 when he identified the location of our City in the Woods must have been magical. I would have liked hanging out with Lucy Vincent Smith in the summer of 1869 to watch Oak Bluffs being built, but maybe not as much as seeing “that summer of 1874” about which Arthur Railton waxed so eloquently when it was finished. The summer of 1907 when we became Cottage City had to have been liberating, and Stuart MacMackin’s 1920s summers as a Circuit avenue street kid must have been hard to beat.
Maybe those summers weren’t as wonderful as your first trip to Oak Bluffs, meeting your betrothed here or catching the first brass ring. You probably remember the first time driving Circuit avenue yourself and may have other memories of other firsts that happened once returning home to the Bluffs. The week before Memorial Day we patiently await the season, but excitement abounds over in America. Youngsters are panting to cross the Bourne Bridge, smell that salty pine air, rock across the back seat through those rotaries and tease one another about never having “sipped a wisset” like my kids seemed never to tire of, knowing the next stop after the town so named was the ferry ride home. Adults, perhaps anticipating rocking chairs, hot days and cool starry nights, have a quieter but no less delicious excitement all but ready to break out.
The summer of 2014 in Oak Bluffs may set new records for memories and Circuit avenue has come alive in ways not seen since the halcyon years of Pease, Smith and MacMackin. The new Lampost fits. It blends in, adding character to the next door Ritz and always appealing Giordano’s. The Secret Garden is being repainted Cottage City-style, reminding us of our heritage. The Glimpse of Tibet building has renovations with two stories of decks seemingly beckoning parades. A peek through the window beyond a sign offering over a dozen new jobs at the new Beetlebung coffee house/cafe shows a sleek, serpentine, zinc-colored bar. The new Ocean Day Spa in B Tru’s old spot has a sign proclaiming “it’s all about you,” across the street from the Schilling’s C’est la Vie, it’s balcony sign reads “It’s all about the Vineyard.” The Edgartown National Bank, where the Oyster Bar used to be, is almost open. Where it used to be — on Healey Square, next to Martha’s Vineyard Gourmet Bakery — Basic’s has expanded and built an open, mall-worthy addition to its store fronting on Circuit avenue.
If you’re here, take a ride — just about every building on Circuit avenue is being updated. If you’re longing for your return trip, it will be finished when you arrive. There will be lasting wistfulness about Season’s closing, but it remains neatly unboarded awaiting new owners with great ideas like Beetlebung, Basics or B Tru. Circuit avenue is going to look so good this summer that, for now, I refrain from comments on the T, the R and the word beginning and ending with those letters.
Mother’s Day was abuzz about Featherstone’s Garden Party and Fashion Show Saturday. The “50 Plus and Fabulous” theme struck a chord among ladies below and above that certain age. You couldn’t tell the models, whose strutting had everyone talking, from the ladies who brunched at Lola’s Sunday, dressed to the nines.
The Martha’s Vineyard Film Society features a free screening of Oak Bluffs’ Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Stanley Nelson’s new film Freedom Summer on Sunday at 4 p.m. The movie highlights the patient efforts of many who helped end segregation in 1964 Mississippi. Stan will be present for questions afterwards.
Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. the authors of the new book Martha’s Vineyard in World War II will present the new work at the library, speaking about how Vineyarders contributed to the war effort. Join writers Thomas Dresser, Herb Foster (yes, the jive-talking Herb Foster) and Jay Schofield, who will also recount the old days on Circuit avenue.
Remember, the Oak Bluffs library is having a luau beginning at 6 this evening. Roast pig is on the menu, grass skirts and Hawaiian shirts the dress code and ukulele music sets the atmosphere. Kids and family Luau Day is tomorrow morning at 11. Aloha, y’all.
Keep your foot on a rock.