As I write this, it is possible to drive a vehicle between Chappaquiddick island and Martha’s Vineyard island via dry land. By the time that you read this, that may not be true. Mother Nature seems indecisive about that stretch of beach.

I will no longer be updating the sign at the ferry indicating the likely date when only one ferry will be in service. No need, that last date shown came true. Now it is just the little On Time II taking care of all of the traffic alone. Very early last Saturday the On Time III made the voyage to Vineyard Haven. I am usually not inclined to get out of bed before dawn but I was certainly rewarded that morning. The crescent moon low in the eastern sky was aligned vertically with two very bright planets. As the sun arose the underside of the few clouds turned the color of new copper.

Last Sunday the Edgartown Fire Department (which includes the Chappy fire brigade) conducted live fire training exercises in the former Ed and Bea Self house at the Hickory Cove Land Bank property. After making a total shambles of the place we burned it to the ground and thus ended an era that began a half century ago. The house first came into Self ownership in 1965 when Bob Marshall transformed the Tickle/Simpson hunting shack called Duck’s Nest into Chappy’s first “show house,” Cove Meadow. Countless parties, four weddings, many Thanksgivings and Christmases were celebrated there. Granddaughter Rachel watched the spectacle from her home on Cape Pogue, coming in for a closer look after only the chimneys remained standing. She was happy to see that the moss -covered cobblestone garden walls were still standing. Rumor has it that these will be preserved. Nearly two-thirds of a mile of once private shoreline is now open for the enjoyment of the public.

Elsewhere in this publication is the obituary of Bill Pinney Jr. Mention is made of his closest relatives. I happen to know that he is related to many more here on Chappy either by birth or marriage. I sent out a single email inquiry and a flood of names came back. He was a fourth generation Chappaquiddicker through his father, Pete Pinney.

He was both the first and the last of the Chappaquiddick Gostenhofer First Cousins. The first because he was the first to come to Chappy and the last because he outlived all of the others. The saga of the Chappaquiddick Gostenhofer First Cousins started in the early 1920s when Pete Pinney married Margaret Gostenhofer. They introduced Bill and his little sister Olive to Chappy. Pete and Margaret did not stop with their own children; they introduced all of Margaret’s extended family to Chappy as well. Margaret and her brother Charles and sisters Adelaide Trench and Dorothy Turnbull had nine children among them. Six of them, the Chappy Gostenhofer First Cousins, developed integral lasting relationships with Chappy. Olive Pinney married Hal Tilghman, George Gostenhofer married Lucille Ryan, Peggy Turnbull married Curry Jones, Jane Turnbull married Dick Knight and Beum Turnbull married Art Phinney. Margaret’s other sister Julia did not have children but at least one boat and one descendant child carry her name.

In that generation of second cousins are: Bill and Peggy Pinney; Ruth, Tom, Peter, Frank and Lois Tilghman; Laura, Karen, Eric, David, Krista and Linda Gostenhofer; Robbin, Michael, Dick, Laura, Margaret and Dorothy Knight; Chris, Terry, Jonathan and Sue Phinney; and Bart, Peter, Stephen, Carol, Jane and Marianne Jones.

The majority of those cousins have added to the next generation of cousins and there are already a couple dozen children in the next. Two of them, Milo and Ramona Tilghman-Osborne, are Wasque year rounders. Milo is a member of the seventh generation of this line of Chappaquiddickers to catch a sand shark in Katama Bay.

Bill also had many relatives on his father’s side of the family who still call Chappy summer home, Alex, Kitsy, Charlie, Billy and Posey Bass. Some who have been gone many years include Diana Bird Vauclain and the Childs family. Even Michael Kidder and Lindsay Allison are related by marriage.

Bill was the last of the Chappaquiddick First Cousins to pass away. His passing represents the end of an era that started almost 100 years ago. Two spouses of First Cousins are still with us: Art Phinney and Lucille Gostenhofer. Members of all succeeding generations continue to live on Chappy both year round and summer. It’s comforting to me that half of my Chappy friends are members of one huge family.

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