The busy summer of 1908 in Cottage City’s second year as the town of Oak Bluffs ended that Labor Day weekend with balloons over Lake Anthony, sponsored by the Wesley House Hotel, and fireworks that evening with the Banda Rosa playing during the display. Oak Bluffs was the hotel town, the beach town, the first with electric lights, with movies, a skating rink, a carousel, a bowling alley, a dance hall, horses, bikes and cars. America’s Great Watering Place had risen to the occasion, providing visitors and homeowners with diversions generally unavailable to America’s burgeoning middle class. Newspaper reports indicate that in the rush to recreate, the enthusiasm for the new and spectacular left something out: there was no nostalgia for the old days. Summertime in Oak Bluffs was exciting with the best of its days ahead.

Dorothy West spent her first year in Oak Bluffs in 1908. She was brought here at age one by her parents Rachel and Isaac. Isaac was a successful wholesale fruit merchant — the Banana King of Boston. The Wests were among the first dozen black seasonal residents, and Dorothy, who became one of the last members of the Harlem Renaissance literary movement, authored several books. One of them, The Wedding, was adapted to became a movie starring Halle Berry. I liked her book The Living is Easy best, and loved growing up reading her column, which she wrote from the 1960s to the 1990s here in the Vineyard Gazette.

On August 30, 1968 she wrote, “There was a time when a definition of black power seemed elusive or illusional, or, in its most irrelevant phase, no more than a hiss of hatred in front of a television camera. There was a time, too, when it seemed the exclusive property of the have-nots, who seized upon the untested words as a buttress for their sense of hopelessness. Again, it was proclaimed, and only impatiently explained, by the firebrands who were, and are, and have to be the irritants of confused and lagging consciences. Now the passage of time has made the compelling phrase part of the working vocabulary of a significant spectrum of blacks, and in many arenas of black competence the words have a solid and applicable meaning.”

Ms. West, in her elegant, erudite column went on to write about the meaning of black power with Samoset avenue’s Dr. Charles Pinderhughes, at the time an associate professor of psychiatry at Tufts University, who had then just taped a show for CBS about “the Negro condition.” Last Saturday at the 50th commemoration of the March on Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s I Have A Dream speech, Harvard law professor Dr. Charles Ogletree spoke briefly. As eruditely as Dorothy West might have done, he singled out the Trayvon Martin killing, but Mr. Ogletree also spoke of his belief that his granddaughters would have a better life. This season, Mr. Ogletree, Charlayne Hunter Gault and Henry Louis Gates Jr. exhibited their collective devotion to hope and keeping our eyes on the prizes of fairness and equality by hosting several events, panels and movies. They acknowleded that there has been change — but not yet enough. Thank you. Mrs. Hunter Gault, one of the first black people at the University of Georgia, joined NBC’s coverage of yesterday’s Let Freedom Ring commemoration with anchor Lester Holt and White House correspondent Chuck Todd.

Dorothy West was noted as saying that the Inkwell was named by light-skinned black folks in the 1950s who wanted others to know they, too, were black, proud ahead of their time. Others say the name has lasted since the late 1800s as a result of the seaweed that still gets caught between the jetties after storms causing it to resemble an inkwell. Caroline Hunter said the name had come up once again at a Polar Bear session one recent morning. What’s important is that it remains one of the best-known beaches. This is the last week for the Polar Bears this season. I hope all the members spend the end of the season enjoying their new “Michelle arms.” By the way, you can join Dawn Davis’s new The Inkwell Book Club at

I hope you caught at least some of the incredible performances of On The Vine last week, produced with the express goal of raising money for research to cure kidney disease. I’ll admit — due to my age — I’m particularly partial to Smokey Robinson whose music is the soundtrack of my life. Thanks to my and his friend Bob Crews, I was able to speak with Smokey before his show. Among other things, we talked about his poetry, especially my favorite, his Black American poem from HBO’s Def Jam series where he says “I love being black, I love being called black, I love being American, I love being a black American.” Smokey Robinson lives to perform and performing is how he parties. He, Angie Stone, Baby Face and Natalie Cole treated us to a great party in the Tabernacle last week in On The Vine’s major league, professional events.

If Labor Day weekend marks the end of your busy 2013 summer, you know the words, so sing along: “Happy trails to you, until we meet again . . . ” For many of us though, summer’s not over until that last outdoor shower. Monday is a holiday — have a great one and travel safely.

Having a dream helps make it come true.

Keep your foot on a rock.