Four years ago one of Oak Bluffs’s favorite citizens, Charles H. (Cee Jay) Jones was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal acknowledging the segregation of African American Marines at Montford Point at Camp Lejeune in 1943. A Congressional Gold Medal is the highest civilian award and President George Washington and Martin Luther King Jr. are among the fewer than 350 recipients of this most prestigious award.

For over 20 years Cee Jay held court at the Information Booth at Farland Square at the base of Circuit avenue answering a never-ending stream of useful questions about bathrooms, beaches and breakfast—and, no doubt, thousands of the dumb ones often centered around “Oaks Bluff,” none of which ever seemed to faze or cause him to answer with a less than gentlemanly response. Coming to Oak Bluffs for the first time in 1942, Cee Jay moved here permanently in 1989, becoming a popular personality—if not celebrity – to children and adults alike.

Always neatly attired, the outgoing Mr. Jones has a kind word for all, seemingly knowing everyone in Oak Bluffs, with a twinkle in his always-smiling eyes as warm as a hug. He has a knowing wink, too, that many have seen as an aside when he asks someone if they’d like to play a little pool. Cee Jay never played a “little” pool – he’ll leave that to you while he runs the table.

Born in Winston-Salem, N.C., Cee Jay attended Talladega College in Alabama, moved to Harlem in 1942 and joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1943. He retired after 39 years of working for the U.S. Postal Service and has five grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren and six great-great-grandchildren.

Memorialized in Jill Nelson’s book Finding Martha’s Vineyard about African Americans on the Island he has also been painted by Oak Bluffs artist Harry N. Seymour. Having made friends with the children of the children of friends over the years, Cee Jay has been quoted saying that “being blessed is better than being rich,” a comment made by someone wealthy with friends.

In a recent Vineyard Gazette article acknowledging the discrimination he faced, he is quoted as saying, “I believe you should enjoy life and stay positive. Negativity will get you nothing. But positivity lessens the pain.”

I was happy to see Cee Jay last summer and gave him a call to check in last week. He passed along his good wishes—he’s living back in Winston Salem with a favorite granddaughter, as he says, “Where he should be and wants to be.” Sounding happy, comfortable and cared for, it’s unlikely we’ll see Cee Jay this coming summer but while he may not be in Oak Bluffs, Oak Bluffs is certainly in him.

David and Margaret Oliveira attended daughter Alicia’s graduation from the Field Artillery Officer Basic Leadership Course that was only recently opened to female officers. She was one of seven women in a graduating class of 121. Congratulations to Second Lieutenant Alicia Oliveira who is stationed at Fort Shafter in Oahu, Hawaii.

Celebrate Earth Day on Friday, April 22 and support environmental protection even if you have to Google it.

The Martha’s Vineyard Museum is hosting a reception Friday, April 22 from 4 to 6 p.m. in honor of the opening of their newest exhibit, In the Giant’s Shadow — Whaling and Martha’s Vineyard. Admission is free for members, $8 for non-members. Stop by and sign up for membership.

Next Wednesday, April 27 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Martha’s Vineyard Community Services is hosting a session on Parenting: Tackling Difficult Topics with Jeanine Hay. Subjects will include money, relatives, discipline styles and tidiness/cleanliness, among others. Meet other couples with young children and share the challenges of child raising. Dinner and childcare are provided, and you must register — call 508-687-9182.

The planning board is still looking for completed surveys about town hall. They are available at town hall and the senior center. I understand there are about 350 surveys completed—and while that’s statistically excellent (more than attended town meeting) we have about 3,900 voters whose opinions would be valuable.

The Vineyard Gazette is looking for old movies depicting life on the Island. Contact Tom Dunlop at, who will duplicate and return those old 16mm and super 8 films in a closet or drawer you haven’t seen in years. You may see portions of your family movies at a local theatre soon.

This Friday, April 22, 2016, happy 99th birthday to Charles H. (Cee Jay) Jones. Ta-ta and apple pie.

Keep your foot on a rock.

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