After Glow

I’d like the memory of me
to be a happy one,
I’d like to leave an afterglow
of smiles when life is done.
I’d like to leave an echo
whispering down the ways,
of happy times and laughing
times and bright and sunny days.
I’d like the tears of those who
grieve to dry before the sun
of happy memories that I leave
behind when day is done.

The house was packed on August 9 when East Chop celebrated the life of Jean Kay. Jay Kay welcomed the guests on behalf of his two sisters, Kathy Kay and Carole Croteau. Rob Hammett read a poem by Elizabeth Frye about a person requesting mourners not to stand at her grave and cry because she is not there. She did not die. Eric Surface played a haunting violin meditation. David Stephens read After Glow. Jean had asked him to read it, and it was prophetic. Several spontaneous remembrances followed about a woman who wanted to leave “an echo whispering down the ways, of happy times and laughing times and bright and sunny days.” According to the stories, Jean achieved her goal. Each speaker brought laughter and applause in a living room filled with love.

On July 25 at 7 p.m. at the East Chop Beach Club memories of a different kind were celebrated. It was ECBC History Night: 1935–1948. Mimi Carroll introduced the event by thanking the committee that put it together: Joan Potter, Sharon Robinson, Dave Lawton, Anne Hazelton, Caryl Dearing, Ed Zephir, George Semler, and Rick Richardson. She singled out George Semler for assembling the slide show, and Rick Richardson for putting together a timeline from minutes of board meetings dating back to the beginning of the club.

Paul Hyzak then took over as master of ceremonies for the slide show. The first part of the show focused on Oak Bluffs from the late 1860s through the 1920s. There were pictures of Circuit avenue from horse and buggy days, the Flying Horses (moved from Coney Island in 1884), the Highland House (a large hotel located on our current parking lot), the Magnolia Restaurant (Giordanos now), and Darlings Candy in the 1920s. There were also amazing pictures of harvesting ice on Crystal Lake, the Rice Summer Playhouse, and the original East Chop Light.

The second half of the show focused on the founding of the Beach Club. A meeting was held at the home currently owned by Ann and Ted Lewis on August 28, 1931. George B. Dowley presided over the meeting, and the decision was made to purchase the property on which the Beach Club currently stands from the Vineyard Grove Company for $2,500. The clubhouse was built the next year for $14,000. George Dowley and friends provided the initial financing for the purchase of the land and the construction of the clubhouse. Mr. Dowley became the first club president.

At this point in the program a video produced by Brian Dowley was shown. In it Lal Dowley presented an excellent oral history of the events surrounding the club’s founding, and Joan Potter read highlights of a July 5, 1932 Gazette article covering the opening of the club.

The beach club is a special place, and I had two thoughts about why from attending this informative presentation. The first is that the overall look of the club and club facilities has changed little in 80 years. For one who is sentimental, this is important. The second came from Paul Hyzak’s reading of the minutes of early board meetings. The founders wanted the club to be inclusive, with a large membership. To achieve that goal, they kept club dues low. We owe these founding fathers and the beach club committee that put this impressive program together a large debt of appreciation.

Finally, I have two announcements. Patsy McCornack asked me to remind East Choppers of the Great Potter Bowl festival at Featherstone on Sunday, August 23 at 4:30 p.m. Come buy your bowl, have it filled with great soup, and enjoy the afternoon with drinks, dessert, and music. Craig Dripps asked that I announce a change in the East Chop Association meeting. The meeting will be held at the beach club at 10 a.m. on August 22.

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