From the Cottager’s Corner columns in the July 1972 editions of the Vineyard Gazette by Dorothy West:

The Cottagers are now in summer assembly. This diversified group of women, some older and maybe wiser than others, some younger and maybe more keen of heart, are again making an investment of their time and talents at Cottagers’ Corner on Pequot avenue in Oak Bluffs, the center of their commitments.

This year they have a new constitution, which enlarged upon and clarified the goals of the first constitution, the document which gave direction to the original group of Cottager women.

They were small in number and stout in spirit. They raised money for charitable causes, kept the group together through summers of shifting interests, and began a steady expansion toward community involvement.

The new constitution makes an eloquent statement in the section detailing the purpose of the organization. It is worth recording here for its precise language, which answers whatever questions the years have raised.

These are the Cottagers’ priorities: To promote and help support financially worthwhile charitable and educational projects which improve the quality of living in the community; to promote interest in and to cooperate with other agencies in programs designed for community development, and to enjoy the fellowship inherent in the friendly association of the membership.

Mrs. Menta Turner, a charter member of the Cottagers, and one who has made impressive contributions to the spirit and intent of the club, is largely responsible for the shaping of the new constitution. Elizabeth White and Maggie Alston, past presidents, were the committee members who worked the many sessions with her.

The slate of new officers serving this year are Lillian Denniston, president; Betty Jennings, building fund treasurer; Mallaviere Smith, assistant; Ethyle Lymas, membership treasurer; Edna Monthero, assistant; Constance Conveney, financial secretary; and Eva Van Leesten, corresponding secretary.

The Cottagers wish all of them well, for as the membership has grown from an initial 30 to a packed house of 100, the pressures on the officers have demanded all their skills, and a generous measure of dedication.

The trash and treasure sale held on July 8 had a bright and profitable day. Eda Lindsay was general chairman of this annual event, Maggie Alston, by nature an activist, was involved in every phase of the day; Dorothy Allston and Dorothy Tanneyhill were coordinators; and Catherine Scott and Mediel Hoskins were cashiers.

Barbara Townes and Wilhemina Newton were in charge of the lovely display of antiques. On jewelry were Winnie Cumberbatch, Roberta Denniston and Ruth Scarville. At the miscellaneous table were Theodora Roberts and Betty Jennings. Edna Monthero took charge of the flower mart and Thelma Smith’s boutique table was the joy it has come to be. Helping were Odaris Carter, Veine Howard, Helene Wareham, Inez Lucas and Menta Turner.

At the food table, succulently stocked, were Mildred Frasier, Wilhemina Marshall, Lucille Lippman, Delilah Pierce and Mildred Henderson. Arnice Dancy cheerfully assisted. The handsome cake baked by Irby Jones was awarded to Odaris Carter. Without Irby Jones, the trash and treasure sale would lose a vigorous personality and a heavenly platter.

The Cottagers include many woman whose families have been summer regulars over a span of time that began with the beginning of the century, and in a few instances, in the 90s. Those who came later, in the boom years of the second World War, have the same unselfconscious acceptance of their rights and privileges.

These are people who were proud of being black long before the phrase was invented, and are still astonished that the young have had to learn it by rote. Their black experience was always a human experience, more intensified by the restriction of those who would have denied them their humanity because of their color. Their strength shaped their suffering into a refinement of the soul.

They were nearer to slavery than the present generation. They could not afford the indulgence of self-despair. They had too many miles to run to catch up with their ambitions. They would let the generations that came after them examine the structure of their lives and limitations, and find the flaws and search again and find the truths. And in finding the truths find tolerance. If we cannot tolerate each other, it is an intolerable world, not worth the price of admission.

Young Ken McClane, elder son of Dr. and Mrs. Kenneth McClane, has written a sheaf of poems, Running Before the Wind, which are as haunting as words can make them. His gifts seem great, his feeling deep. He is a student at Cornell and summer resident since babyhood. The Island is everywhere in his poems. The children who spend their summers here are forever touched with wonder.

Compiled by Hilary Wall