My family, extended and otherwise, has been a part of Martha’s Vineyard, and Oak Bluffs in particular, since the 1920s. My memories and youthful experiences are still quite vivid. As the saying goes, getting there was half the fun. In those days we took the New Haven Hartford Railroad from South Station in Boston to the ferry. The Steamship Authority (although it was not called that then) had in its fleet four steamboats. The first motor car ferry was an old East River, N.Y. ferry.

Upon arriving in Oak Bluffs, one was confronted with the block-long Tivoli building, where the police station and offices now stand. The Tivoli building had open balconies on three sides and a very large dance floor. Directly across the street on the corner, where now we have the Santander Bank, was an open roller skating rink called The Sea Breeze where one could rent skates and attempt skating on a severely tilted track.

Directly adjacent was Bill Jones Bowling Alley 10. I believe the price was 20 or 25 cents per string. I attempted setting pins for .07 cents per string when I was 14 years old, taking my life, bruises and insults as they came. The pin setter sat on a small bench behind the pins in a pit. My mother made me quit as I was having nightmares at night, yelling “lookout” and “duck.”

Adjoining the Bowling Alley, where the Chowder House is now, was the Sea Breeze Garage, which I had the opportunity to purchase with Anthony Rebello. My uncle Jerry Barmakian — an aristocrat in his own mind — would call the garage and the attendants would clean and shine his car and deliver it directly to the Boston House which he owned.

Continuing westward was the Strand Theatre, in about the same state of disrepair then as now. Across the street was Alpha Leonards Texaco Gas Station, now Jim’s Package Store. I worked there two summers with Alan “Red” McPherson, pumping gas and refurbishing fishing rods. Alpha was a classic Damon Runyon character and quite frugal. He used to drain residue from used quarts of oil and could salvage a quart from 10 used quarts. He also washed his paper bills, usually single dollars only, and let them dry in the window.

Church’s Pier was where the smaller fishing boats came in. The bulkhead on the harbor had not been built and clamming and quahogging was ongoing. The harbor was not yet contaminated.

The pier was a busy place. Joe Pina operated a paddle boat fleet there, which he purchased from the 1939 World’s Fair, and Doc Amaral, the dentist, would go swordfishing from there every Sunday morning, weather permitting. If he caught one, he would sell them to Uncle Jerry to serve at the Boston House. My twin brother Diran and I would use a little red wagon to make the delivery to my uncle.

Our Market was still in its current location back then, although much smaller. It was owned by Brad Church but managed by Amos Amaral and two slightly overactive sons. Further around the bend, where now stands the Ocean View Restaurant, was a small hotel owned by Joseph Sylvia, the former State Representative for whom State Beach was named (then called Sylvia Beach).

I used to sweep the inside of the Island Theatre with my friend Donnie Glenn for about 75 cents per hour. Up the street a bit, adjoining the Boston House, was the epitome of temptation, Darling’s Salt Water Taffy. For many years Darlings was owned and operated by Mr. and Mrs. Arnold Carr.

Adjoining Darlings was an auction gallery operated by the Matarr family from Hot Springs Arkansas, and next store was an ice cream soda fountain, and then came Mr. and Mrs. Kligler’s fruit and produce store. Beyond Kliglers was a very fine Japanese gift and apparel store. Unfortunately, the proprietors were extricated and sent to a Japanese detainment camp because of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Across the street, DaRosa’s print shop has been an eternal fixture and fortunately so. Next came Stan Garland’s Red and White meat market.

Phillips Hardware was smaller back then, and the Herald Drug Store was really only a long ice cream and soda fountain operated by two rather comical New York City transplants. Next was Clayton Hoyle’s Clothing and Apparel store, above which was the Rod and Gun club, wherein some private stock was isolated per patron and some raucous personal gambling ensued. Beyond Hoyle’s was the Victorian Metropolitan Hotel, a true white elephant as we say today. It was perhaps built in the 1880’s and unoccupied. It was purchased by my Uncle Jerry, he did circulate. Later, the hotel was knocked down and in its place today stands the Corner Store, the Post Office, Back Door Donuts etc.

Ritchie Giordano’s grandfather and grandmother operated the original Giordano’s restaurant opposite where Back Door Donuts exists today. There were about six or seven booths all painted with enamel orange and black. On one side of the store front was a white metal statuette. Every June, Mrs. Giordano would place a long length of macaroni there. By August it would dehydrate and fall, never to be replaced as it was too close to end of season.

The journey continues on to Frye’s Shoe Repair, Dr. Glenn’s Medical office, Guy Clement’s Gift Store and Buddy Pease’s Ritz Bar, smaller then but up to the standard of a true gent’s pub.

Today, Giordano’s Restaurant and Clam Bar anchors the corner spot. The property was previously occupied by a seafood restaurant. Across the street and always in flight was and is the Flying Horses. A tall and rangy fellow I knew drew a record 13 rings at one pass. Back then a ride cost five cents and they always had penny candy. I’ve always felt moderately guilty that I kept two rings and still have them to this day. Should return them? Who would know?

My journey to the past could continue on and on, but I feel an awake audience surpasses a sleeping one, at least most of the time. Questions and vagaries are always welcome and are perhaps of valid concern.

Vaughn Barmakian lives in Winchester and Oak Bluffs.