Tis the season for partying, and since time immemorial Oak Bluffs has earned our prized honky-tonk reputation. Well, time immemorial may be a slight exaggeration. It was in the 1700s that our first neighborhood, Edgartown’s Eastville/Farm Neck area, was called the Barbary Coast.

Our original settlement was located in the general area of the hospital, across from what was one of the Island’s main docks and the nearby the Eastville Inn, our first tavern. It is said that the Pilgrims on the Mayflower brought more beer than water on their way to a new freedom in the New World, understandable since its alcoholic content made it safer to drink. Along with being an early analgesic, alcohol tended to enhance the quality of life and make hard work easier. So the English heritage of drinking was passed along to its progeny, here on the Island.

The Eastville Inn was one of several places to get a drink. Others taverns were named Claghorn, Cunningham, Cousins, Pease, Davis and Smith, also located in the Eastville area near the docks where sailors and seamen met to eat, drink and be merry when ashore and in between passages. While there were taverns in Edgartown, Oak Bluffs was oft ignored by our southern betters. Still an outpost, no one seemed to care about the public wassail until the Methodists arrived in 1835. It wasn’t long before the Oak Bluffs Land and Wharf Company’s new development frightened the non-secular community enough to fence it in and Circuit avenue out. Fifteen new hotels, accompanied by restaurants and bars, appeared almost overnight despite the efforts of temperance espoused by groups like the Women’s Christian Temperance Union looking for total abstinence as their lifestyle in 1874. Of course it didn’t work as seafarers came to the realization that Martha’s Vineyard, an Island, was a perfect place to develop an enterprise of not just running rum to other locales but selling it right here. When Edgartown decided it was time to tap into Oak Bluffs’s newfound economic growth we repaid being ignored with secession in 1880.

The growth didn’t last, but the ideals survived. So, of course, there is little evidence that Oak Bluffs was a participant in Prohibition from 1919 to 1933 despite the Volstead Act having been the law of the land — over in America. Little wonder then that our town, Oak Bluffs, is the Island’s party town. The holidays are a time to celebrate, hopefully a great year past and a better one forward, or to mitigate either in between. The holidays are a good time to reflect as well, and this year let’s hope that reflection includes moderation, as well as continuing to be proud to be from OB.

The Friends of the Library host their holiday party this week on Saturday, Dec. 12, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. They’re hoping you can stop by the Oak Bluffs Public Library to visit with Santa, make winter crafts, enjoy sweets and spread holiday cheer with friends. All ages are welcome. Next Saturday, Dec. 19, you can decorate a jar to fill with cocoa mix as a gift to someone too young or not so inclined to imbibe alcoholic beverages. The decorating starts at 10 a.m.

To the delight of many, the Oak Bluffs Library continues to amaze with unique activities. Books on Tap is a non-traditional book club moderated by reference librarian Allyson Malik, and held at local Oak Bluffs bars each month. The sessions are designed to bring books to the adult public in venues where opinions (and language) can flow as freely as beer on tap. This month’s discussion of Terry Pratchett’s Hogfather is scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 16, at 6 p.m. at the Barn Bowl & Bistro. Following, the library staff encourages everyone to stick around and cheer for the library bowling team. Ensuing sessions will be hosted by other Oak Bluffs drinking establishments. What a great idea!

Featherstone Center for the Arts is having its holiday gift show and sale every day from noon to 4 p.m. through Dec. 20. With handmade gifts by Island artists priced from $5 to $250 you can shop high quality products locally. Please do support our artists, town and Featherstone.

Tower Ridge neighbor Ewell Hopkins is campaigning to become the Cape and Islands state representative and next Friday, Dec. 18, he is hosting a gathering at the Art Cliff Diner from 6 to 9 p.m. to share his plans.

Keep your foot on a rock.

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