Each fall, when all that green begins to turn brown, the burning bushes (Euonymus alatus) and Japanese maples (Acer palmatum) distinguish themselves with a last gasp of bright red to herald the end of the summer season. Summer itself is usually reserved for other colors, but one Oak Bluffs summer in the early 1900s that cycle was broken, according to Henry Beetle Hough in his 1936 book, Martha’s Vineyard Summer Resort.

That was when the “Woman in Red” appeared almost as an apparition at the Oak Bluffs Bathing Beach. She was a young, striking beauty in a red bathing suit with a knee length skirt, “her stockinged lower limbs exposed as a charm to onlookers.”

Evidently, there were scores of onlookers, and the girl’s daring red outfit made the hearts of men beat faster.

Her name was Nellie Sands and her Titian red hair, brown eyes and perfect skin elicited jealousy, admiration and the gaze of worshipping admirers. Supposedly a modest young lady from New York — less than 20 years of age — she seemed unspoiled to all, and perhaps unaware of her beauty.

One man in particular took notice. He had left the Vineyard years before to make his fortune and returned aboard his own yacht at age 50. Capt. Joseph Raphael De Lamar became the man lucky enough to take the Woman in Red’s hand in marriage — upon his contribution to her mother of a half million dollars, it was said.

The two became items worldwide. Mrs. De Lamar was declared the most beautiful woman in America, and later heralded in newspapers as one of the four most beautiful in the world.

Alas, after just five years of marriage, upon finding several incriminating letters, Captain De Lamar sued for divorce. But their money lived on. Upon his death, Captain De Lamar’s estate of $20 million was split up, with half going to the medical schools of Columbia, Harvard and Johns Hopkins University, and half going to the daughter of Captain De Lamar and Nellie Sands.

In more current news, Martha’s Vineyard Community Services hosts an electronic disposal this Saturday at 10 a.m. for all the detritus that when plugged in no longer works.

Setting the mood for Halloween, the Oak Bluffs library features a dramatic reading of Edgar Allen Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart on Thursday, Oct. 29, at 6:30 p.m. with some scary refreshments, too.

I regret to inform that Dr. Beny Primm, who recently published his first book, The Healer: A Doctor’s Crusade Against Addiction and Aids, died last Friday. His funeral services were scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 21, and I’m sure there will be acknowledgements in his memory.

Dr. Primm was an advisor to five presidents and a world-renowned authority on addiction and HIV/AIDS. With multiple degrees from around the country and the world, he helped found the Addiction Research Treatment Corporation and discovered his first case of HIV in 1981 before the illness had a name. He represented the U.S. at international conferences, and was widely published and lectured at Columbia, Harvard and New York University. An avid art collector, Dr. Primm exhibited a part of his extensive collection of Lois Mailou Jones work at the Martha’s Vineyard Museum this summer. The quiet and accomplished gentleman will be missed by family and many others.

Congratulations to all who helped out at Niantic Park last week to build the playground. The fantasy ferry, lighthouse and gingerbread cottage structures are things of beauty. Funds are still needed for other portions of Oak Bluffs’ latest treasure on Tuckernuck avenue. Mail donations to the Town of Oak Bluffs, Niantic Park Fund, P.O. Box 1327, Oak Bluffs, MA 02557

The shiny new red doors on the fire and safety building suggest it will soon be completed. I hope there’s a plan to paint the town red at a party for its opening.

Keep your foot on a rock.

Send Oak Bluffs news to sfinley@mvgazette.com.