The 1900s saw the Oak Bluffs economy faltering. As the religious and resort business in Oak Bluffs contracted, land earmarked for development was instead sold as farmland — a proposition welcomed by the newly-arrived Portuguese who also brought farming skills with them. The resulting commerce they established helped to increase and stabilize the year round community. Island-bred Azoreans found Oak Bluffs to be appealing, and by the 1920s a new neighborhood emerged near Wing Road affectionately called Fayal, after one of the major islands in the Azores archipelago. The area included farms on land once owned by the town’s first white settler, Joseph Daggett. I have poignant memories of my folks taking us to visit their friends, the Bergeron’s on Wing Road whose yard in the 1950s had the most mouth-watering fruit imaginable.

Another nearby community called “little Portugal” was at the western end of Vineyard avenue — near today’s popular Portuguese American Club. The P.A. Club, as everyone calls it, is not just a social venue but one that has service as its mission. Founded in 1930 as the Holy Ghost Association honoring Portugal’s 14th century Queen Isabella, who sold her jewelry to give food to the poor during a famine, the club raises funds for charities, scholarships and Island people in need. Fish frys are held each third Thursday and breakfasts each third Sunday are monthly fund raisers. The majority of workers are volunteers, and membership includes over 1,000 well-meaning citizens. The Portuguese Genealogy Project of Martha’s Vineyard’s website ( is dedicated to the history and genealogy of Vineyard folks from the Azores, the Cape Verde Islands and the Madeira Islands, and is quite amazing. The Portuguese have made, and continue to make, huge contributions to Oak Bluffs.

We might consider giving more credit to people who devote so much time and effort to managing our town. Born in Springfield and raised in New Haven, Kathy Burton, chairman of our board of selectmen, was an elementary school teacher before becoming a professional computer analyst. Ms. Burton has been coming to the Island since her college years. Along with being a real estate broker, Kathy renovates homes for fun and funds. She also enjoys cooking and sailing. Serving as a selectman since 2009, what she likes most about Oak Bluffs is its diversity, its spirit and the way all feel welcome here. Kathy, thanks for your work on our behalf.

New Yorkers Ed and Joanne Rhodes of the Pequot avenue tribe welcome new grandson Wallace Kamal Jackson, who was born Oct. 11 to their daughter Nia and her husband, Tunde Jackson. Congratulations, “grand” is a great club!

Martha’s Vineyard Gourmet Bakery (oh no, Back Door Donuts!) closes tomorrow, Hooked closes Sunday and Skinny Fat’s (the Reuben! Tuna Sub with cheese!) on Circuit avenue announced it is staying open year-round.

Next Friday, Oct. 26 is the annual fundraiser for the high school Minnesingers at Farm Neck. There will be hors d’oeuvres, dessert and cash bar for $25 beginning at 6:30 p.m., with a mini concert and live auction at 8 p.m. The silent auction has started online at The Minnesingers choral group is raising money to visit Croatia this spring to sing in schools and churches in the Balkans.

The remarkable Dorothy West, who wrote this column from 1967 until 1993, was born in 1907 — the same year Cottage City was incorporated as Oak Bluffs. On Oct. 21, 1988 she wrote: “Autumn comes in red and gold layers, and the Island calms down to an even tempo. Now there are no amiable crowds to obscure familiar faces. And those faces light up whenever year-rounder’s meet, their eyes conveying the assurance that they will nurture each other through the winter months ahead. Here, in this enchanted place, there are very few barriers between rich and not rich, white and not white, erudite and not. Whether it is magic or some other potent that has made these conditions come to pass is something to be pondered. It is my frequent saying that this Island is a microcosm of what the rest of America should be like.”

The plaque on the rock in (and attempting to rename) Waban Park has been replaced by one that spells Oak Bluffs correctly — with the L. Let’s see if the T and the R from the Strand movie theatre reappear.

Keep your foot on a rock.