John Saunders, a former slave, brought Methodism to Martha’s Vineyard in 1787, 48 years before the Wesleyan Grove settlement that established the Oak Bluffs Tabernacle grounds. Mr. Saunders — with half-white wife Priscilla — was brought from Virginia by Captain Thomas Luce, hidden beneath corn that Luce was transporting. A plaque dedicated to Mr. Saunders is on the African American Heritage Trail at the Pecoy Point Preserve, where he preached at Pulpit Rock to the “coloured” and original people in the Farm Neck neighborhood. Mr. Saunders and his wife lived in Eastville until 1792, when they moved to Chappaquiddick. She later died, and he married Jane Diamond, a member of the tribe, whose members killed him, aggravated about his race and religious teachings. Some stories have happier middles than beginnings or endings, which makes me think about what a happy ending it would be if someone would officially designate a single rock as Pulpit Rock. Right now, confusion still reigns as to which of two specific rocks is Pulpit Rock.

East Chop Pittsburghers Ron and Judy Davenport celebrated 50 years of love and laughter, pride and joy — raising three Ivy League-educated children and sharing seven grandchildren who have summered together in Oak Bluffs for the most recent 37 years of the Davenports’ storied union. Friends from here, near and far joined the family for a Jaime Hamlin-catered dinner while entertained by Platinum recording artist Jeffrey Osborn, followed by luscious desserts and dancing to deejay Steve McCullough. When not meeting and greeting Islandwide friends and supporting their many causes and charities, the Davenports’ Sheridan Broadcasting Corporation owns and operates American Urban Radio Networks. It is the country’s largest black-owned daily news and communications media, with over 300 affiliated radio stations and its own seat in the White House Press office. Thanks to the Davenports, many professional black broadcasters — including me — received a first opportunity to become media executives; I worked for them on two occasions for many years. Congratulations on the first 50 years of marriage, friendship and accomplishment! On Wednesday, August 15, the Davenports play host to an Obama 2012 fundraiser with actors from HBO’s The Wire.

Circuit avenue C’est La Vie shop owner Roger Schilling says Oak Bluffs business is consistent with past years and typically better Thursdays to Sundays. His best seller was a “For Obama Then/For Obama Now/4 More Years” hat with the inscription, “Yes we can . . . again” on the brim. He sold all 366 and can’t get more as they take six months to produce — some lucky folks wound up with collectibles. JB Blau reports the new Dreamland entertainment enterprise is going very well and that Comedy Nights are amazing.

I pestered Priscilla Sylvia (Mrs. Sylvia to all she taught before retiring from the Oak Bluffs school), one of the original members of the Friends of Oak Bluffs (, about how many benches they’ve placed over the last 20-plus years. The friends group is a volunteer organization charged with town beautification. They provide flowers in Post Office Square, at the SSA and the harbor, improvements of the sidewalks, the wading pool and the bandstand in Ocean Park. Funds are raised through donations of memorial bricks around the bandstand and light poles along Circuit avenue, Lake avenue and the harbor and the benches that Mrs. Sylvia credits Richie Combra’s parks and highway department for installing (under the watchful eye of office administrator Nicole Morey). A proposed project is a replacement railing along Seaview avenue — again, through donations. The design hearkens back to the Oak Bluffs Land and Wharf Company’s, and you can see a sample on the website. And thanks to Nicole Morey for the information; the Friends of Oak Bluffs are responsible for 310 (and counting) donated benches.

Divas Uncorked hosts a wine sip at Cousen Rose from 5 to 7 p.m. this evening in advance of their four-course wine event at the Beach Plum Inn tomorrow night; go to for information.

The Jones-Haywood School of Dance of Washington, D.C., was created in 1941 by Doris Jones and Claire Haywood, who also developed the Capitol Ballet Company. The school performs at the Built on Stilts Festival at 7:30 p.m. at Union Chapel tonight.

On Sunday, Farm Neck is the venue for 44 on 44, a conversation about excerpts from 44 African American writers on the election of the 44th president, Barack Obama, presented by Atlanta’s National Center for Civil and Human Rights. Vernon Jordan is a featured speaker, along with writers Sonia Sanchez and Michael Simanga from 6 to 8 p.m.

My buddy Karen Achille, president of the board of Hospice of Martha’s Vineyard (, reminds all that the annual Soiree is Tuesday, August 14 at Farm Neck to raise funds for Island patients and families. In addition to Jaime Hamlin’s catering, there will be wine and raw bars and sports-related live and silent auction items, highlighted by two tickets to each Boston/New England sports team; Bruins, Celtics, Patriots, Red Sox and the Revolution.

Next Wednesday Oak Bluffs Harvard professor Charles J. Ogletree moderates the Martha’s Vineyard Community Forum program, Between the Lines: Race and Gender in Sports in the 21st Century, with films, tributes to legends and a panel discussion starting at 9:30 a.m. at the high school Performing Arts Center with free admission.

Remember the Arts Stroll tomorrow from 4 to 7 p.m. on Dukes County Road, just past Tony’s Market.

Congratulations to Deer Run’s David Whitmon, of the Quest velomobile (the low slung yellow bike you see passing mopeds and keeping up with cars) for traversing a record breaking 1,013 miles in the month of July.

Thanks to Chappaquiddick columnist Peter Wells, who hosted the columnists for a full moonlit Edgartown Harbor ride on the On Time II ferry last Thursday evening.

Warm celebrations of life were held for revered Island nature photographer Julian Robinson and his sister-in-law Carolyn Teixeira at Farm Neck Sunday and Kathy Allen (one of the beloved Dowdell ‘Sisters’ with Millie Henderson and Ruth Bonaparte) at Hooked Monday; never forgotten, resting gently.

With all the great beautification work by the Friends of Oak Bluffs, perhaps we could give them the still-unopened Strand Theatre and the never completed laundromat eyesore at the other end of Circuit avenue?

Keep your foot on a rock.