From the Vineyard Gazette edition of July 17, 1979:
Every region of the Vineyard, and for an Island of a hundred square miles in area, there are a surprising number and a variety of regions, enclaves, realms, provinces and natural districts, is a repository of its own variety of summer experience. In sum they would make a patchwork of history as uncontrived and as interesting as an old time patchwork quilt. Some of these summer experiences were broadly public, some sequestered and private, and many of them are already forgotten.
Some of the patterns of earlier generations have been defined geographically, as when the camp meeting landing was at Eastville and the summer crowds reached Wesleyan Grove, as it was then, by wagon road leading into Clinton avenue. That arrangement meant a particular set of vacation circumstances so obscure that now they are not remembered at all.
It is still of common lore that the crossing between the present Oak Bluffs harbor and Sunset Lake was referred to as “over Jordan” but the old name of New York avenue is pretty much blank. This was Kedron avenue, although biblically it should have been Kidron, “the book,” derived from the valley east of Jerusalem through which torrents flowed in the time of spring rains.
The scene shifted. Clinton avenue was closed off, not one but two wharves were built for Oak Bluffs arrivals, the Baptist landing and the worldly landing where the band played as the sidewheeler was warped in. Memories were evolved around such circumstances, then enshrined, and then lost except to a few with whom they finally died.
So there could be a particular value in a history or anthology of the varieties of vacation experience.
The Cape Pogue Lighthouse, known as the only extant shingled lighthouse in the United States, is getting too much attention from vandals. Its remoteness, exposure and general character make it particularly susceptible to the casual inroads of summer destroyers. This is a pity, because the lighthouse is of interest to historians, artists and architects and should appeal to the public generally more in its completeness than in fragments.
The original tower was built in 1802, marking the southerly side of the eastern entrance of Vineyard Sound, through which thousands of vessels traveled yearly. This tower, a white cone with black lantern, stood about 54 feet above mean high water, but it has been moved inland several times to avoid erosion of the cape point, the easterly reach of the Vineyard.
To lose the Cape Pogue Light would be a grievous thing, but to have it wasted away, or torn apart, or carried off in fragments by vandals would be humiliating as well as grievous.
Along with the humidity, summer has a high degree of ambiguity. What day was it that Bert and Louisa asked you to come to their place for a cocktail party? First they said Wednesday, but I think they changed it to Friday. No, they called up later and said it would be Wednesday after all.
Six-ish, they said, or was it 5:30? Summer invitations are cordial and so offhand. Your friends and acquaintances do want you — come any time, bring cousin Gertrude if she’s with you now. The invitations take in all outdoors and the freedom of land and sea besides, but when they are winnowed out, exactly what do you write in your engagement book or calendar?
Chances are that you forget to write anything down, and the ambiguity of the invitation is compounded by the doubt in your own mind — a case of ambiguity all around. But, wife tells husband, you were in the shower when Peggy called, and I was fixing the plants. The calendar was upstairs, and what did you expect me to do? Note: the wife is always the most ambiguous figure in all of this.
Well, I think this was the day. Why don’t we get ready and just drive by to see if there are any cars in front of Peggy’s and Luther’s house? If the place looks deserted we can go on to the club and sit in the cool breeze until dinner.
There are quite a few cars almost in front of Peggy’s and Luther’s house, but the Pfeisters live in this same block, and the puzzled husband suddenly remembers that the Pfeisters talked of entertaining on this very day, and probably the Pfeisters intended to invite them.
“Oh, Charles,” says the wife, “why do you always make things so complicated?”
“Let’s drive around the block once and see if the situation makes better sense,” says Charles.
They drive around the block, and finally they decide to try Peggy’s and Luther’s house. There really is a party going on there, to which the frustrated couple presumably were invited; anyway, cordiality reigns. But afterward they drop in at the Pfeisters’ also, and are glad they did because Cassius Pfeister was supposed to have invited them and his wife has been telling him he must have forgotten.
Oh, summer! Oh, the ambiguity of it all!
Compiled by Hilary Wall