Dorothy West (June 2, 1907 - August 16, 1998) who wrote this column from 1967 to 1993 was born in the year Oak Bluffs seceded from Edgartown. A member of the Harlem Renaissance, she was a prolific writer whose view on almost everything was warmed by rose-colored lenses.

In her Friday, March 27, 1992 column 23 years ago, she addressed the mystery of the Inkwell — an often quietly asked question — with this story: “For the past few years, Louis Sullivan, President Bush’s Secretary of Health and Human Services, has spent his summer escape from the seats of power on this peaceful Island. His walks with a camera trailing him, and a young Gazette reporter beside him, have become a tradition. One recent summer, the write-up included a mention of the stretch of water opposite the Sea View Hotel before its conversion to condominiums. Secretary Sullivan was told quite correctly, though perhaps unnecessarily, by some gossiper in the small crowd following him, that that body of water was called the Inkwell because of the many black Cottagers who swam there. That is not untrue, and it’s true that color played a part, but for just the opposite reason. Some 30 years ago it was so named by the most beautiful group of young, black teenagers who rejoiced in being colored (which was the descriptive word then), because most of them didn’t look colored — or didn’t fit the stereotype of what blacks looked like. They wanted to flaunt or celebrate their origins. Three of them were members, so I know firsthand. Their parents did not share that area; they rode down the Beach Road towards Edgartown to the seventeenth or eighteenth pole. It was a secret code known only to the ‘right’ group. But the men in the group used every excuse they could think of to run back to town for some forgotten item — cigarettes, boat schedules or whatever — to sit along the beach wall and enjoy the view. This tale is to reassure those who were offended at the term, the Inkwell. It was a celebration of the teenagers’ race. When I was a child I was small for my age, and when that was pointed out to me, I stoutly said, ‘But I’m big inside.’ And so what these young people were proudly proclaiming was: ‘I’m black inside.’”

The diminutive Ms. West was, indeed, big inside, and I enjoy the memories of her.

Off-season so many people show up at the post office in pajamas that it shouldn’t be surprising that Saturday is Pajama Day at the Oak Bluffs library where, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., folks are invited to curl up with a good book to celebrate mystery month. There’s a scavenger hunt, trivia game, and voting for the best staff pjs. Tea, cookies and hot chocolate will be served. Next Saturday, April 4, is the Spring Egg Hunt for kids at 10 a.m. Baskets or bags are needed for the haul and the hunts will be divided by age group. Every week Tony’s Market provides coffee and goodies for coffee time on Wednesdays from 10 to 11:30 a.m.

Congratulations to Timothy Millerick who was recently sworn in as a member of the Oak Bluffs police department after graduation from the Plymouth Police Academy in February. Having earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Utica College, Officer Millerick has been a special police officer with the Oak Bluffs police department since summer 2012.

The old town is slowly springing awake this week. The plywood at Seasons has been replaced with three new retail stores to be named later, the building next to Ben & Bill’s is taking shape and the Lookout Tavern opens Thursday, April 2, along with the Red Cat Kitchen on Kennebec.

In two weeks on April 10, the Martha’s Vineyard Museum debuts the Bradley Memorial Church/Denniston family exhibit, I Was a Stranger and You Took Me In — Bradley Memorial Church and the Family that Built a Community.

The following week is a big one for Oak Bluffs when the annual town meeting takes place on April 14 at the high school and town elections follow on Thursday, April 16. There may be some information on the town website before then, but it behooves you to become informed as best you can as soon as you can. Change abounds.

Have you donated to the Martha’s Vineyard Theater Foundation yet? Part of abounding change will be seeing the Strand restored to its former glory. Visit — please make a contribution.

Keep your foot on a rock.

Send your Oak Bluffs news to: