What is it about our Island that has attracted U.S. Presidents and their brainy entourages for over a century? In 1874, President Ulysees Grant came to Oak Bluffs as the guest of Bishop Haven who lived in the Methodist Camp Ground, now the historic Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association. President Clinton placed his stamp of approval on the Island in the 1990s with returned visits here for several summers. He and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton have deep ties here, so much so that in 2008 when she was a presidential candidate she held a blockbuster fund-raising event at the Tabernacle drawing huge crowds and the support of many Islanders. This past week President Barack Obama, the first lady Michelle Obama and their children, Malia and Sasha, arrived for a 10-day vacation. We are honored that he and his family chose to return for yet one more summer vacation with us. We interpret his return visit to mean that he is comfortable here and we couldn’t be happier.

Yes! The rumors fly as to his every location. Yes! We want to see him in Oak Bluffs again after hearing he had dinner at the Sweet Life Café Monday night. Maybe next year if he comes again he will come to the historic Cottagers’ Corner, the club building of the 55-year-old Cottagers, Inc., the oldest African American philanthropic organization on the Island. So many friends and supporters are in his corner rallying for his success, united in a belief that a rested president is a more effective decision-maker and we want him to let his brain go “barefoot” if only for a few days and relax in the pristine environment of West Tisbury; walk and skip rocks with his girls along the water’s edge; watch the Menemsha sunset with Michelle over a bottle of champagne, and find that place of renewal and connectedness for which he is so deserving and which we who summer here have come to cherish.

It’s true, not just presidents, but some of the most interesting and exciting personalities on the planet come to Martha’s Vineyard because over time they have come to experience a kind of freedom that is nonexistent in most vacation spots. The late Jackie Onassis comes to mind. She was the Random House editor for Dorothy West’s book, The Wedding. When she visited her in the Highlands in East Chop for a work session, word spread like wildfire that she was in the neighborhood and it was a cause célèbre. Shortly after the book was published, I visited Dorothy West, the last surviving member of the Harlem Renaissance, in her cottage and she told me personally of the encounter. She said Jackie inquired where she should sit. For those who visited Ms. West, they knew she had papers and books e verywhere except the ottoman or rocker, where she sat. She existed around writing and reading; that was her life. Ms. West further described her meeting when Mrs. Onassis asked if the floor would be all right. She said, “I told her perfect. That was just the place for her.” And so Dorothy West worked on her edits with Jackie Onassis sitting on the floor and the rest is history.

The rich, the famous, and sometimes the ugly, come here year after year following their bliss, some in areas inaccessible to most folks and others who live among us who feel confident that we will not tread on their privacy. It’s a local rule, see them, but don’t see them, and for God’s sake don’t bother them.

We see Spike Lee over the course of the summer at the Niantic Park basketball courts, at the Gourmet Bakery and at the Inkwell; the late Walter Cronkite and Patricia Neal walked down Circuit Avenue; Carly Simon, Mike Wallace, Diane Sawyer, Alan Dershowitz and Vernon Jordan, who routinely plays golf at Farm Neck Golf, are familiar faces. We allow these special people the space and privacy they require, and for that reason many come and remain a part of our summer family, relaxed and unassuming.

The renowned Geoffrey Fletcher, who won the Oscar for Precious, based on the novel Push by Sapphire, was the keynote speaker at the Taste of Road Scholar this past week where he discussed the elements of the film and took questions from the audience. He is the son of longtime Island resident Dr. Bettye Fletcher, president of the Fletcher Foundation. Taste of Road Scholar is an international educational travel program and is managed by associate vice president Kathy Taylor of Boston, an Island summer resident.

The wedding reception brunch of Dawn Baxter and Derrin Woodhouse, hosted by the bride’s parents, Dr. Thelma Baxter and William Baxter and held at the Sailing Camp on Sunday, August 22 could not have been lovelier. The bridegroom’s parents, Beverly and Arthur Woodhouse, joined in the festivities and family and friends were treated to an exquisite array of food. Dawn is employed as the music manager for the entertainment marketing department of Nike. Derrin is director of consumer marketing for Vevo, an online music site owned by the Universal Music Group.

Inspired by first lady Michelle Obama’s national initiative to fight childhood obesity in the next generation, Let’s Move Martha’s Vineyard will kick off Saturday, August 28. Water aerobics begin at 8:30 a.m. at the Inkwell town beach followed by ocean canoeing at 10:30. For a full schedule of events go to

On August 24 Diane Welburn and members of her bible study group held an exquisite Christian high tea at Cottagers’ Corner. Hostesses were Diane Welburn, Dr. Ezola Adams, Dr. Thelma Baxter, Rhenda Brodnax and Joan Byrd. White tablecloths with embroidered white toppers covered each table and each hostess used her own tea set. A lovely two-tier milk-glass serving tray laced in black grosgrain ribbon was the centerpiece for each table filled with cranberry and plain scones. Each member created her own table decorations and foods from a menu. The 50 guests were treated to delicious scones, tea sandwiches, delicious wild green salad and shared aspects of their bible study with the group.

Today at 11 a.m. at Union Chapel the family of Irma Wheat will hold a memorial service in her honor. Irma was 96, a Cottager and Polar Bear for many years and a longtime resident of Oak Bluffs.

The popular preacher Dr. Charles G. Adams Sr. will speak this Sunday at Union Chapel. This is his third appearance at the chapel. Dr. Adams is pastor of Hartford Memorial Baptist Church in Detroit, Mich. He brings with him the Hartford Male Chorus as a guest choir. The chapel is located at the south end of Kennebec and Circuit avenues in Oak Bluffs. The nondenominational service begins at 9:30 a.m.; all are welcome.