A tourists’ guide published in Boston on June 1, 1897 unabashedly praised our favorite town. “It is probable that the great majority of people who make reference by voice or pen to Martha’s Vineyard are thinking when they do so, only of Cottage City, that place being the grand centre of attractions and interests for the whole Island, and, indeed, the summering centre, par excellence, of all the land and water thereabouts.”

While most of us denizens would agree, we also understand how serendipitous it is that Oak Bluffs would, of course, have been the home of the Vineyard Lodge, Independent Order of Odd Fellows No. 223. The Vineyard Gazette issue of Oct. 11, 1923 remarked that “If anyone presumes to think that Oak Bluffs “goes dead” the minute the “summer crowd leaves, let him either join or watch” the IOOF where every Monday night there was something going on at their rooms at the Herald Building. The Herald Building on Circuit avenue was approximately where Phillips Hardware is, nearest to Reliable Market. There were often social hours and turkey dinners following meetings. This particular occasion, 19 of the members had accepted an invitation by the Falmouth branch and the lively group left Oak Bluffs at 8:25 p.m. for a 45-minute boat ride followed by a delicious lobster dinner—and the camaraderie of like fellows. They returned to Church’s pier at 1:15 a.m.

“Odd Fellows” was somewhat of a misnomer. Started in England in the 18th century, it was odd to find people organized for the purpose of giving aid to those in need, which is why the gentlemen formed such groups. And of course for the socializing. The Oak Bluffs Odd Fellows had only been in the Herald Building a short time, the building having been home to the Cottage City Star and its successor, the Martha’s Vineyard Herald. Originally, the Odd Fellows Hall was located in Farland Square, in the building with a bowling alley in the basement, the soon to be reopened Strand Theatre. The reopening and renovation heavily depends on donations and tax deductible contributions from folks like you, if you’re of a mind to help Oak Bluffs return to those halcyon years of being “the summering centre, par excellence, of all the land and water thereabouts.”

Perhaps appearing odd to some, the Martha’s Vineyard Theater Foundation’s public/private partnership model is in fact an elegant solution benefiting everyone involved. Used widely in the restoration of historic theaters countrywide, this is the way to complete the renovations of the Strand Theater and the Capawock in Vineyard Haven. Please consider a contribution to this worthy cause on the website www.mvtheaterfoundation.org or via mail c/o Winnetu Oceanside Resort, 31 Dunes Road, Edgartown, MA 02539.

Learn how to make a magnet from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Oak Bluffs Library Friday and bring your lightly-used books tomorrow for the book drive at noon. From 10 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday there is, surprisingly, an April showers party and the request to wear rain gear for rainy day crafts and games. Surprising because, as of this writing, there’s no rain in the forecast. Of course with those cool, colorful, creative kids at the library, one never knows.

Thursday, April 30 from 6 to 7 p.m. stop by the library for a lecture and slide show about the lives and history of horseshoe crabs. The Martha’s Vineyard Environmental Education Alliance in conjunction with the Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary are hosting a citizen’s science survey project for the next few months to collect data and learn more about these creatures. Considered living fossils as a result of their origins 450 million years ago they are more closely related to spiders than crabs. Retired teacher/naturalist Susie Bowman and Dr. Fred Hotchkiss, founder of the Marine and Paleobiological Research Institute, are leading this interesting and educational study, and they can use your participation. The lecture is entitled A Story of Beach Trysts and Blue Bloods, go hear why.

The Campground Café’s World Cuisine Saturdays is hosting A Taste of the South Saturday at 6 p.m. with a meal of fried chicken and waffles, peach compote, collard greens, potato salad, a fresh garden salad, beverages and pineapple coconut butter cake for only $15.00, with discounts for seniors, Island Club cardholders and kids. Sounds affordably yummy.

Back Door Donuts last week, Giordano’s Clam Bar and Pizza this week. All’s right with the world.

It’s no longer odd to pursue projects in the community’s interest.

Keep your foot on a rock.

Send your Oak Bluffs news to sfinley@mvgazette.com.