On the Nashawena end of Waban Park, a weathered bench sits in almost solitary form. It was dedicated some years ago to Ethel Smith Hardaway, the mother of Alton L. Hardaway Jr.

Bright flowers, a sturdy lectern and an urn with Alton’s remains stood under a weather-protected tent this past Sunday as approximately 200 people braved the winds and assembled to pay their respects to Alton.

Several speakers paid tribute to this much-loved man who had a big presence, considered opinions and a fun-loving personality. His nephew Lamine Hardaway shared many life experiences that were learned at the feet of Alton when he and his brother worked construction with him over many Vineyard summers.

Money management, attention to details, love of family, carpentry skills and some cooking and cleaning were all part of advancing from youthful exuberance to manhood for Lamine in the school of Uncle Alton.

Rev. Deborah Finley Jackson, who has served as a valued trustee at Union Chapel for years, provided spiritual comfort to those assembled. She quoted Greek philosophers and verses from the Bible to describe the many cherished friendships that Alton shared across different sectors of the island. Alton was a central figure in the Age of Brooke when house parties, late-night boozing and loud music were routine weekend activities in Oak Bluffs.

Longtime friends from Roxbury, especially Mission Hill, came to spend the afternoon with their childhood friend from “back in the day“ when his father owned a gas station in Jackson Square.

The Saturday of Indigenous People’s Weekend has, for many years, seen the summer closing gathering on the Inkwell Beach. Covid was the main cause of the cancellation of this legendary celebration this year. In his own inimitable way, Alton convened the picnic crowd and more and lifted our spirits with tears of joy and laughter.

In years to come, when we once again celebrate the summer ending, it will now include a toast to Alton Hardaway Jr. A true Island legend who left his footprint in our sands and hearts!

Lee Van Allen and the Shearer family are planning to expand the number of cottage beds at the historic Shearer Cottage from six to 15. They ask that letters of support for the needed expansion should be sent to the attention of Alex Elvin at the Martha’s Vineyard Commission.

Longtime Vineyard residents Louise Johnson, Rachel Browne and Rev. Minyard Culpepper were on hand at Roxbury’s Nubian Square for the dedication of Justice Edward O. Gourdin Park. This groundbreaking event honored the accomplished life of the state’s first Black and indigenous superior court judge. The park will contain an eight-foot (2.4 meter), bronze-cast statue of Gourdin and 10 bas-reliefs representing Black soldiers in 10 wars, starting with the American Revolution.

Gourdin, a Seminole, became a judge in 1958 and served until his death in 1966. He won a silver medal in the long jump in the 1924 Olympics held in Paris and obtained the rank of brigadier general in the National Guard. He graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School. Major funding for the statue was provided by Island fixture Fletcher “Flash” Wiley, a graduate of the Air Force Academy and also of Harvard Law School.

Paradise on earth is living the Vineyard experience. Enjoy it as life is fleeting!