Writing a column about Oak Bluffs has its surprises, like a week ago when a guy walked into the office with his wife to see if I knew a friend of his and I found out he’s a famous football coach who used to live in Oak Bluffs.

Dave Ritchie stayed at his family home here until he moved for business to Canada. Later his folks sold the house to obviate the expected sibling ownership quarrel. Business for Dave was football —he played and coached football for 53 years in four countries. On a seemingly homesick visit, hearing I might be someone who would know, Dave inquired if I knew the whereabouts of an old associate of his.

Shocked by my announcement that I knew less than a little about sports, his wife chimed in about his extensive career. It turned out that Sharon Ritchie had good advice for the wives of professional coaches like Dave. One: football is your life during the season, and if it isn’t, you may have the wrong spouse; two: learn to quickly unpack and pack; three: you never know where you might end up; four: learn to multi-task, five: stand by your man (or woman); six: be prepared for the worst of times, and seven: rejoice in the best of times. Good counsel and sound thinking, particularly for a guy like Dave who, when he attended the University of Cincinnati, was named the starting fullback on the All-Ohio Team in 1956. Afterwards, he applied his skills to coaching at Fairmont State, the Greenbrier Military School, Marshall, and Brown. Joining the Canadian Football League in 1983, Dave became coach of the Montreal Alouettes, B.C. Lions, and Winnipeg Blue Bomber teams. Twenty-six of his players are in the Canadian Football Hall of Fame. Dave is seventh on the all-time win list for head coaches in the CFL and his coaching record in the pros is 129-83-3. His teams won the prestigious Grey Cup in 2006 and he was inducted into the Winnipeg Football Club Hall of Fame in 2014.

On this visit back on the Island he was looking for Ronnie Brown, the young man he discovered while playing basketball at the courts in Oak Bluffs when Mr. Ritchie was assistant coach of Brown University’s football team. Outstanding Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School athlete Ronald A. Brown was offered an education at Harvard, Rutgers and Dartmouth but chose Brown where he went on to be a two time all Ivy defensive back, described as one of the greatest defensive backs in the university’s 106-year football history.

After graduation, Ronnie tried out for the Dallas Cowboys, but a shoulder injury put an end to his football career. His and Dave Ritchie’s story is well documented in Martha’s Vineyard Basketball: How a Resort League Defied Notions of Race and Class by Bijan C. Bayne. Mr. Ritchie presently lives near Pittsburgh and retired from football in 2008. I don’t know if he and Ronnie ever hooked up, something that would make another great Oak Bluffs story.

Today Ronnie is the associate head coach of running backs for Youngstown State (thanks to Bijan Bayne).

Martha’s Vineyard Museum’s See This Far by Faith exhibit closes on Oct. 10. It explores camp meetings, like ours in the Tabernacle, and compares differences and similarities between traditional African American and white meetings. Tickets are modestly priced, less if you’re a member of the museum.

Jim Pringle alerted me that the Cozy Cooler was made like a frappe with lemonade and lemon sherbet and rumored to have been enjoyed with vodka. The equally prized egg creams (ain’t no egg, ain’t no cream) were made with milk syrup and soda water and accompanied a rumor of being good for hangovers. It’s a long weekend, thanks to someone who ain’t found America — try them both.

To the person who put the plant and planter at the end of the wall, brilliant. Thanks.

Keep your foot on a rock.

Send Oak Bluffs news to sfinley@mvgazette.com.