Saturday, August 7, 2010

Martha's Vineyard

The adventure to Martha's Vineyard began at 9:45 a.m. as we all climbed on the bus for the 90 minute ride to the ferry and then the 45 crossing of the Nantucket Sound. This 100 square mile island has a population of 100,000 residents during the tourist season but only 15,000 residents once the season is over.

Ellen is all ready to board the ferry. During the season (end of May through mid-September) there are about 30 ferry crossings each day between Woods Hole (on the mainland) and Vineyard Haven or Oaks Bluff (on the island). When the season is over, there are usually only 7 crossings daily. Did you know that the permanent residents of Martha's Vineyard call the mainland "America"? There are some perks for living on the island - for example, non-residents are charged $150.00 to bring a car over on the ferry while residents pay only $88.00. The trade-off is that cost of living on the island is about 30% higher than living on the mainland. One gallon of gas was $3.76!

So Ruth, our leader who consistently reshapes the meaning of "being literate" and brings exciting authors into our world, helps the purser track the number of "Literary Sisters" boarding the ferry. There are 44 of us on this expedition! These retreats are becoming reunions as we reminisce about how many, and which ones we've been on.

Charmaine and I are blood sisters AND Literary Sisters. We are on our third retreat together - San Franciso, Santa Fe, and now Boston. I've also gone to Virginia Beach and Washington, D.C. retreats with my Literary Sister, Caroline, who couldn't make it this time.

In Oak Bluffs, the historic African-America resort on Martha's Vineyard, we get on the tour bus. As always, Ruth has arranged a special experience for us.

Food! Great food! Atria offered mint iced tea, lobster mac and cheese, and super fresh seasonal fruit. Definitely satisfying. The meal is immortalized as the owners graciously created special menus with the group name and date. Less than 30% of the food consumed on the island is local grown. Once upon a time there was a winery - because wild grapes are indigenous to the island (hence the name vineyards - but the death of the owner and the reselling of the property brought an end to that amenity.

Several African-Americans own vacation property and are permanent residents on Martha's Vineyard. Many well-known authors, including Dorothy West lived and vacationed there. Ms. West wrote all four books there and server as a reporter for the local newspaper. There is the long standing African American community of Highlands. There are the Shearer Cottages developed since 1913 to provide vacation homes to the African American community. President Obama and his family have joined the legacy and will be returning for the second time on August 19, 2010.
Whaling, the foundation of the economy in its early history, had many African American crew members and captains including John Masters, who is buried there.

Among the famous and powerful African-Americans who owned propery on Martha's Vineyard was Adam Clayton Powell. Here the house, now a historic landmark, has been dubbed "The Bunny House" because he and his wife called each other bunny.

Six towns, but 10 police stations! Safety is guaranteed! Gloria, whose son is among Detroit's finest, poses for a picture.

Before getting back on the ferry for the ride back home, some of the young at heart took a ride, for $1.50, on the oldest operating carousel in America.

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