From the August 12, 1969 edition of the Vineyard Gazette:

Barn House, that “tiny tribe or colony of writing and painting and thinking folk” on the South Road in Chilmark, though thriving healthily through the years in a privacy not much differentiated from freedom, celebrated an occasion on Saturday which demanded mention in the public prints. Barn House, to put it simply, observed its golden anniversary, with Miss Dorothy Kenyon, a founder, clad as a golden yellow Pierrot, moving happily and zestfully among the members and their guests.

On hand were such stalwarts of both old and new Chilmark days as Edward and Dorothea Greenbaum, Roger N. Baldwin, the Dwight Salmons and — of course ­­— Mrs. Lucy Vincent as an honored guest, and also of course, Ted Kenyon, Judge Dorothy Kenyon’s brother.

Max Eastman first visited Barn House in 1929 and Mrs. Eastman had a special place in the gathering. Mr. Eastman’s nephew, Jeffrey E. Fuller, is a new member.

A dynastic succession of Barn House chore boys, most and possibly all of them red-headed and Haskells, was present, descendants of the late Adam Haskell, a founder who, with Mrs. Haskell, still visits the Island, was a kind of presiding genius for a period.

Another founder was the artist and cartoonist, Boardman Robinson, known to his Island friends as Mike. When he died in 1952, Miss Kenyon recalled him as “one of our most beloved and colorful members. His red beard on the South Beach was something that, once seen, never could be forgotten.” A painting or two in the Barn memorialize him.

The quotation with which this report begins is from Max Eastman’s autobiography. It was in 1929 that the Eastmans were invited by Mike and Sally Robinson to a Barn House weekend.

“Stanley King, who on graduating from the Barn House became president of Amherst College, knocked me out in a game of cockfight on our first night there,” Mr. Eastman’s reminiscence continued. “And along with that I cherish an image of him on the beach in a pair of blue trunks, standing on his head for five consecutive minutes, an achievement never rivaled, I believe, by any other New England college president. I mean only to indicate that it was a gay as well as a thoughtful crowd at the Barn House, and a wonderful introduction to the Island we were destined to love.”

The Arther Besses were first drawn to the Island through the Barn House, and among the present members are the Donald Lampsons. Mrs. Lampson has a new book on the Houghton Mifflin list, Few Are Chosen, a study of American women in political life today.

Among the more or less privy secrets of Barn House is the graceful and gracious field which opens vistas of spaciousness through the widely opening doors of The Barn. The premises, as well as the members, deserve their golden 50 years.


The jellyfish were “as thick as tapioca” east of Gay Head, it was reported last week. Some of them were silver-dollar sized clear ones, perhaps aurelia, whose other name is moon jelly — rather timely arrivals in view of the moon landing — if that, indeed is what they really are.

There is also a purplish jellyfish about with tentacles that are only about two inches long.

It was apparently the same troublesome southerly winds that, for so long a period of time brought fog and rain that brought the jellyfish, too, in from the Gulf Stream.


When August came, we spoke too soon of the cicadas — where are they now? And the fireflies? One uneasily suspects that DDT, used for mosquito control, may have done them in; pressing the war against his enemies, man is careless of his friends, insects and others, and year by year continues to risk a lonely world.

But if the cicadas few and mostly silent, and the fireflies regrettably absent from summer’s lengthening night darkness, August is advertised once again by the blooming of the rose of sharon. This, of course, is in the yards and gardens of the towns, not out yonder where goldenrod, cattails, joe-pyeweed, and all the rest are trooping through the days of the calendar.

August is not only advertised but memorialized with slow lavender lament by the rose of sharon, known also as althea and, botanically, as hibiscus syriacus. Lavender seems the most usual Vineyard Color, though there are other hues, all verging poetically on the elegiac ­— dark red and white, modestly starched pink, light blue.

Althea is not the rose of sharon of the Bible — “I am the rose of sharon and the lily of the valleys” — but the name cannot be dissociated completely from scriptural implication. The flowers become the shrub’s vestments, and they tell of the summer’s approaching end. This is not an unhappy reflection but something implicit in the maturity of almost all things; fullness and ripeness are not really final qualities; they are recurring, and in order to recur they must pass, and August, in passing, provides its own recessional spirit which also is rich in satisfaction.

Compiled by Hilary Wallcox