“Proud to be from OB” is a modest claim compared with past articles. In one Vineyard Gazette article a writer opined, “People have said that there would not be any Vineyard summer resort without Oak Bluffs. Whether or not there is general agreement on this, history has thus far shown that is largely true.” Another Gazette article from May 6, 1955 noted: “People Flocked There as If It Were Elysium.” For those whose interest, education or willingness to Google may be lacking, the Elysian Fields were a mythical place with admission for those chosen by the gods to live a blessed and happy life after death. That level of superlative was surpassed by a headline in the May 9, 1958 Gazette that read, “Shores Frequented by Live Mermaids.”

The hyperbole was about our water, sea breezes, fairyland-like homes, religious freedom — and diversions. From the late 1800s to the early 1900s Oak Bluffs was a Disneyland for the middle class. The Samuel E. Winslow Skating Rink survived from 1878 to 1892 before it burned up. It was adjacent to a harness race track and the Tivoli Dance Hall was built across from it. They had in common movies available to the public, the Tivoli showing its first in 1907. Albert E. Holmes, a former vaudeville performer who became the Oak Bluffs postmaster before he died in 1953, staged boxing matches at the Tivoli and had established the Seabreeze Theatre in the old skating rink. Dreamland, in past days a garage, also had a movie theatre — at times with a dance hall and casino above it. At the other end of Circuit avenue, the Oakland Hall, built as a movie theatre, became the Noepe until the Denniston family bought it for the Bradley Memorial Church. We had bowling alleys, too, one where the Santander Bank is (where the skating rink was) and another beneath the Odd Fellows Hall. The Pastime movie theatre was where the Big Dipper ice cream shop is. Michael J. Keegan bought the Pastime in 1915 and later, the Odd Fellows across the street. He renamed it The Strand and moved the bowling alley to the Pastime.

Throughout the 1950s and 60s there was another bowling alley and pool hall where the Sand Bar & Grill is now.

Which brings us to today, 50 years later, when The Loft, the new game lounge, debuted this week and our new bowling alley, The Barn, opens soon.

Thanks to the efforts of hotelier and entrepreneur Mark Snider and the contributions of many, which now exceed $500,000, there’s an excellent probability the Strand Theatre will open once again. Oak Bluffs’ Gwendolyn Adams Norton has joined the board of the new Martha’s Vineyard Theater Foundation. Gwen is a former banking executive with a background in community development and board experience in the nonprofit sector. She was a senior vice president for Wachovia Bank and is on the board of the Georgia First Union Foundation. Gwen has a bachelor’s degree from the College of William and Mary, is a trustee at Spelman College and is on the board of directors of the University of the Virgin Islands. An amateur photographer and art aficionado, it was thanks largely to Gwen that the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital received some work from the late Lois Mailou Jones. She is married and resides with her husband Peter in Manhattan when she’s not here in Oak Bluffs.

Wednesday, March 11, marks the debut of the Campground Cafe in Trinity Park with a crab cake supper at 6 p.m. For $15 one gets two crab cakes with sweet potato fries, herb focaccia, homemade citrus coleslaw and a cold drink. Dessert is another $2. Alternatively, you may have a hotdog meal for only $5, all courtesy of the United Methodist Church. Abigail McGrath’s Renaissance House, the Oak Bluffs writers’ retreat, has run into an unusual problem. Innocently paying three years rent in advance for a nearby home on Pennacook avenue for housing aspiring writers, Ms. McGrath found the rented home was placed into foreclosure. That causes the dually problematic predicament of not having either the money advanced or a place for guest writers. If you have thoughts or solutions, contact Abigail at renaissancehse.com.

Please make a tax deductible contribution to the new foundation — the Strand will be able to show movies, host musical and community events and is planned to have a hospitality upgrade from just popcorn and candy. Contributions of any amount may be sent to Martha’s Vineyard Theater Foundation Inc., c/o Winnetu Oceanside Resort, 31 Dunes Road, Edgartown, MA 02539. Thank you.

Keep your foot on a rock.