It would be hard for many Islanders today to understand that 40 years ago Edgartown was a vibrant year-round village. The post office was on North Water street, where Murdick’s Fudge is today. On Main street, the Fishers ran the Edgartown Hardware Store, Brandy Harrison ran the Edgartown Market, and Gino Courtney had the paper store. Also on North Water street, in the store front that once was Jordan’s Barbershop was the Barbershop Deli run by Robert M. (Coo) Cavallo.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Barbershop Deli was a center of daily Edgartown social activity and the place to go for lunch or coffee any time of day, stopping in before or after getting the mail. You could spend 10 minutes or an hour. There was always someone to talk to, whether it was just Coo at a quiet time of day, or any of the regulars.

Even though there were only five small tables, two by the front window, Coo’s steady customers included Edgartown’s finest. They included Chief Bruce Pratt, George Searle, John Rogers, Chris Gompert and David Steere and John Edwards the harbor master, with stories of the latest rescue or misadventure on the waters.

There were politicians like Ted and Bob Morgan, or Rick Prada, stopping in for coffee from oil deliveries, his daughter Mary, the summer meter-maid, his brother Ed Prada and Ed’s daughter Cathy Ward. There was Coo’s childhood friend from New York, Norman Rankow. George and Susan Gamble were regulars. There were electricians like Jimmy Brown and Mike Dolby, dockbuilders Jack Carbon and Steve Ewing, Steve’s brothers Doug, Colin, Scott, and their father, Harvey Ewing, the Cape Cod Times reporter for the Vineyard.

Other regulars included Huck and Peter Look and their children, Andy and Paul Thurlow, Don and Eric Kip, Hank Smith, Faye and Geoff Kontje, Jackie Shaw, Susan Reidy, Mel and Joan Dunayer, Will Ware, Tuna Ross, Paul Bagnall and his sisters Gina and Noel and their mother Queenie, Coo’s second wife, Donna Goodale, Katie Nevin and her sister Barry and brother Rob, the McCarrons, Tom Engley, David Alton, Dennis and Sandra Arnold, Bob and Gail Avakian, Bob Enos and his sister Cindy, George Brush when he was a housepainter, Coo’s brother Puppy, Ivory Littlefield, Elaine Allen, Froggie Greene, Fran and Debbie Davis, John Donnelly, who looked like Blackbeard the pirate and ran the Square Rigger restaurant and bar, Jamie Gaspar, Timmy Thomas, Donny Benefit, Dick Hathaway, Patti Linn, Louis (Jim) Goodwin and his father, Louis — and Mel Levinson, who ran the Edgartown Cafe where the Wharf Restaurant is now.

My brothers John and David were also regulars; David recalls that Coo used to let him run up a tab at the beginning of the summer when he would come to work at the Shiretown Inn. The list could go on and on with town employees, the tradesmen and local shop owners and others from around the Vineyard. I know I have forgotten many.

The day’s conversation was local politics, gossip, the weather, the fights the night before upstairs in Lou’s Worry, a bar next door, what the fishermen were catching, construction jobs. And then there was sports. Coo was from New York and a Yankees fan and loved to argue baseball with the Red Sox fans. Reggie Jackson and his team kept Coo happy for many years. I grew up in New Jersey, so I enjoyed the ribbing and shared a suspicion of Boston sports fans. Coo once told the Martha’s Vineyard Magazine for a story: “Most Red Sox fans are really Yankee haters rather than true Red Sox fans.”

There could be old stories, such as the time Bob Morgan told me how he took apart Sonny Norton’s old camp at Short Point and towed it in pieces across Edgartown Great Pond to build a house at Katama off Herring Creek Road in the late 1950s or early 1960s.

Lenny Marchant, in his later years, would shuffle down Main street from his sister Betty Sanchez’s rooming house across the street from the Dr. Fisher House. Lenny would come into the Deli and Coo would hand him his broom from over the counter. Lenny would sweep the sidewalk out front, earning his free cup of coffee from Coo. Lenny had a limited vocabulary, but if you said, “Nice day Lenny,” he would always agree and reply: “It certainly is.”

In the summer, there was Coo holding court with the tourists, answering their questions, with banter often for the benefit of us year-rounders already seated. He charmed the ladies, young and old. He loved to gesticulate and tap his large carving knife on the top of the stainless-steel deli meat cooler for emphasis as he talked.

In those days, for many of us in Coo’s generation, our social life was in the Barbershop Deli by day and the Square Rigger by night, especially Thursday nights. Breakfast at the deli was English muffins or bagels and cream cheese. For lunch there were Reubens, Scissors or Monte Christos.

There was always a smile on Coo’s face. He was present for you. He never missed a beat. His bright shining eyes and his generous personality, full of heart, drew us to the deli to hang out with him and with each other.

By the mid-1980s, the post office moved out of town, the beginning of the decline of the tight-knit Edgartown village community. Eventually, Coo shut down the deli and worked for the sheriff’s office. He later bought Mel Dunayer’s Edgartown Paint Store on Upper Main street. I moved to Vineyard Haven along the way and saw less of him in recent years, but enjoyed every minute when I did.

I don’t know whether Coo would rather make sandwiches or sell paint in heaven, but, when I find him there, I will ask for at least one more Reuben sandwich with mustard (hold the Russian dressing), just like the good old days at the Barbershop Deli.

Eric L. Peters is an Island attorney, formerly of Edgartown, living in Vineyard Haven.