Years ago while staying at the home of Ms. Ora McFarlane I read a story in the Vineyard Gazette written by Della Brown Hardman. I decided to call the Gazette to find out some information on Ms. Della. By serendipity the lady who answered the phone was Ms. Della’s granddaughter, Kim Coaxum, who was staying in Ms. Della’s home for the summer. She told me Ms. Della knew everybody on the Island and that she and Ms. McFarlane were extremely close.
Ms. McFarlane invited Ms. Della over to the house to meet us. Ms. Della hurried on over, introduced herself and began asking all of us questions — my wife Yolonda and I, and our friends, Scottie and Tanya. Through her investigative interviewing, Ms. Della found out that we were all longtime close friends of the Frames, Janice and Leo, who were both residents of the Vineyard for almost 40 years, and teachers at the regional high school. Leo, Scottie and I were alums of the same school, Centennial High in Compton, Calif.
Ms. Della was vibrant and invigorating with her wonderful personality as was Ms. McFarlane — they made a great pair. Ms. McFarlane and I shared the same teaching experience, we taught American history. She introduced me to the Southern Poverty Law Center (a hate group watch center) of which she had been a member, and told me about her Boston busing experience.
“They (the anti-busing parents) threw bricks at our bus as we went through the neighborhood,” she said. “It was the worst thing I ever experienced in all my years in the Boston School District.”
Ms. McFarlane also told us about the history of her home in Oak Bluffs.
“Two sisters, my aunts, had bought the two houses on Circuit from the Methodist church, the two houses that are on the Oak Bluffs history tour.” She said they were acquired for the use of housing the domestic ladies who worked for the social elite in Edgartown. “They could now stay in Oak Bluffs and not have to ferry back to Woods Hole and have to commute back to Boston every week,” she said.
Ms. Della and I shared the journalistic knack as I had once written news for NBC and like her, my college major was also journalism. I loved Ms. Della’s persistence in finding out everything she wanted to know about us in this short interview.
Ms. Della passed away in 2006 and later that same year Ms. McFarlane did also. They were two wonderful friends who lived and fulfilled their pursuits of happiness in Oak Bluffs and left wonderful memories that I always reflect on each year as I jog past the McFarlane house, 23 Circuit avenue. As I go by, I turn and once again see Ms. Della and Ms. McFarlane on the porch, still talking and asking questions like they did on that day, the 25th of August, 2005.
Ed Hamilton taught eighth grade history in Los Angeles. He lives in L.A. and Oak Bluffs.