On Sept. 7, 1956 the Vineyard Gazette reported that folks sang and danced at Church’s Pier the night after Labor Day accompanied by fireworks signifying that autumn had begun. It was a revival of a long-held celebration in Cottage City some 70 years past when volunteer performers supplied the dancing music Monday afternoon and evening at the Wesley House and the porch of the Island House. A broadcasting company taped it and the recordings were sold to raise money for the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital.

Those were the days of the cakewalk, the “wild and roistering dance that caused the oldsters of the period to declare that the world was going to hell,” but of course the crowd enjoyed the revelry. Prizes were given for colorfully-dressed partners whose skill delighted the crowds. This marked the end of the official vacation season, and a scant 24 hours later, Oak Bluffs would be closed and boarded up for the ensuing winter. The fade-out, as the article called it, was “brilliant as an autumn sunset, with joy unconfined, the simple fun and spur of the moment amateur concert drew a welcoming crowd that loved it, showing old time appreciation for one more summer gone by.”

Ours hasn’t quite yet gone by – but boats are more filled going than coming. Like many who grew up in Oak Bluffs during the summer I continue to congratulate myself on the brilliant idea to choose to live here year round. Every spring I have come to believe that decision has taken 10 years off my age and added another 10 to my life span. That’s of course before my summer friends for the last 60 years return. Now folks come for a week or three in July or August or perhaps just the weekend Daddy boat trips on Fridays and Sundays, like our fathers did. It’s an endless arrival of folks trying to catch up on summer. Everyone’s excited to see one another to share stories on how hard it was to get here, how much things cost, and regretfully now that we’re all aging, who’s left.

The blueberries we used to pick now come from Reliable and we’ve traded bike rides to the bakery for standing in line at the Back Door. Although we’re older and smarter about what we consume, that all disappears for the 60 days of the high season when we’ve apparently reverted to high school practices, the days when clams and pizza from Giordano’s and ice cream from Ben and Bill’s were food groups. Was it our parents who made “cocktailing” a verb or us? Have we really traded dinner for wine and cheese? When did hors d’oeuvres become “apps” and at what point did we consider them sustenance? I seem to recall when sunrise was when one went home, not moonrise after dinner with friends. My guess is that in 10 months — presuming a visit to Betty Ford becomes unnecessary — I’ll be happy to see all my childhood friends come back again. Right now though I’m delighted to see them go. No, summer’s not over — summer ends upon my last outdoor shower — but teetotaling and cable TV beckons. I’ve never been one to place an expiration date on friendship but those of us blessed to stay here need time to recuperate. Along with more great memories, we’ve had some spectacular sunsets and a couple of shooting star skies to look back on framed by great weather. Since someone has to leave though, I’d rather it be you — Happy Trails, if so.

The Martha’s Vineyard Theater Foundation has announced plans to repair the roof of the Strand and install a handicap lift for the 2016 season. That requires another $45,000 and your thoughtful donation will go a long way toward bringing that to fruition. You can give at mvtheaterfoundation.com.

Congratulations to Meadow View Farm’s Bob Crews, winner of Vineyard Golf’s men’s senior challenge championship!

President Olivia Baxter reminds to save the dates between August 10 and 13 next season for the myriad celebrations for the 60th anniversary of The Cottagers Inc., the venerable group of Oak Bluffs ladies who join to raise funds for Island charities.

Keep your foot on a rock.

Send Oak Bluffs news to skip@mvgazette.com.