Thursday, April 17, 2014

O is for Oak Bluffs

Oak Bluffs Beach and Harbor (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Oak Bluffs is the home of both the gingerbread cottages I wrote about in my "G" post and the Flying Horses featured in my "F" post. It is also known as the party town of Martha's Vineyard.

In keeping with New England's Puritan beginnings, many of the towns on Martha's Vineyard are "dry," meaning no alcohol can be purchased in them. Diners who go to restaurants in these towns are invited to bring their own wine or beer to dinner but they will not find any alcohol on the menus. Oak Bluffs is one of the exceptions to this rule.

As a result, Circuit Avenue, the town's main street, is lined with bars. If you are looking for night life on the island, Oak Bluffs is the place to go.

But the town is not just about partying. It is also a diverse community that has been the preferred summer resort for many African-Americans for generations.

Oak Bluffs has been called the "Black Hamptons," and it has been a vacation destination for wealthy African-Americans since the 1800s. A popular beach in the town is known as the "Inkwell," reportedly named by Harlem Renaissance writers who visited the town and were inspired by its beaches. One of the Renaissance writers, Dorothy West, wrote a novel about the Oak Bluffs community called The Wedding, which was made into a movie starring Halle Berry and produced by Oprah Winfrey in the 1990s.

The African American Heritage Trail of Martha's Vineyard chronicles the history of African-Americans on the island and runs a tour dedicated to this effort. Dorothy West's home is included on the tour, along with 15 other sites of historical significance.



My A-Z of Martha's Vineyard theme is inspired by my book, The Ghosts of Aquinnah, which is set on the island. Click here for all the info on the book.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

N is for Net Result



The Net Result is, as you can see from the bumper sticker above, an "upper-scale" fish market on Martha's Vineyard.

One of the things most people love the most about the island is the fresh seafood. I've always been in the minority because, for the most part, I hate seafood. The smell of fish markets is enough to make me gag and I always have to wait outside while others go inside the market to buy the fish they want.

But I do love shrimp, and The Net Result has some of the best I've ever tasted. It also has fantastic flounder which is excellent fried.

As fish markets go, I'm a fan of The Net Result. And I was especially grateful for its existence this month because I couldn't think of a post for N to save my life! So thank you, Net Result. :D




My A-Z of Martha's Vineyard theme is inspired by my book, The Ghosts of Aquinnah, which is set on the island. Click here for all the info on the book.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

M is for Menemsha


Source: Wikimedia Commons

After Aquinnah, Menemsha is my favorite place on Martha's Vineyard. It's a working fishing village in the town of Chilmark and is located at the intersection of Menemsha Pond and Vineyard Sound.

Menemsha is known for its spectacular views of the sunset. In the summer, hundreds gather every night on the beach and watch the sun slowly descend into the water. My grandparents loved Menemsha, and my family always made sure to go watch the sunset at least once each year when we were on the island. One of my main memories of those summer evenings is a saxophonist who came to the beach each night to play Taps after the sun finally disappeared into the sea.


When I was a kid, I loved the jetties which line the beach and the channel that separates Menemsha from Lobsterville. Now that my dad is gone, I cherish this photo of him holding my hand while I was making what was probably my first trip out on the jetties in July of 1972.


These rocks hold so many memories for me that I featured them in The Ghosts of Aquinnah in what proved to be a pivotal scene for the book's main characters Christopher and Stella. It was fun to imagine my characters in the place I love, especially as the Vineyard has a timeless factor to it. Menemsha doesn't change much, and doesn't look that different now than it did back in the 1970s. It wasn't a stretch to think that it probably didn't look much different in the 1880s either.





My A-Z of Martha's Vineyard theme is inspired by my book, The Ghosts of Aquinnah, which is set on the island. Click here for all the info on the book.

Monday, April 14, 2014

L is for Lobsterville


Lobsterville is a two mile stretch of beach along the calm waters of Vineyard Sound, which is the section of the Atlantic Ocean that separates Martha's Vineyard from Cape Cod. In my experience, Lobsterville is one of the quietest and most peaceful places on the island. Parking in the area is extremely limited, so that could be a reason why.

I took my dog Clancy to Lobsterville when he made his first trip to the island in 2013. In spite of the fact that the water is about as calm as ocean water gets, Clancy was scared to death of it. His body language said it all.


Perhaps because it is so quiet, Lobsterville is a nesting area for the island's many seagulls. I love seagulls and would love to see them nesting, but either they are hidden or I haven't been to Lobsterville at the right time of the year. I suppose the birds would not want me or anyone else disturbing their nests anyway.

While I was doing research for The Ghosts of Aquinnah, I learned that a few survivors of the wreck of The City of Columbus, which opens the book, came ashore at Lobsterville. The ship sunk in January, 1884 off the coast of the Aquinnah cliffs, which are located at the tip of the land shown in the photo below. One of the survivors lumbered ashore at Lobsterville and went in search of help. It's impossible to imagine how terrifying that night must have been when standing on Lobsterville Beach on a perfect summer day and seeing nothing but calm and clear blue water. 

 


I'm also over at Untethered Realms today for our A-Z of Fantastical Creatures. I'm sharing the story of a mythological dog named Laelaps. Please come and visit with us over at our blog. :)




My A-Z of Martha's Vineyard theme is inspired by my book, The Ghosts of Aquinnah, which is set on the island. Click here for all the info on the book.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

K is for Katama


Katama is a beach on the south shore of Martha's Vineyard. I've always preferred the southern coast of the island because it is open ocean and I love the sounds of the surf.

I've also always liked the name Katama, which comes from the language of the Wampanoags, the native tribe on the island. But when putting together this post I learned that it means "crab-fishing place." I hate crab and I had hoped that the word had a slightly more exotic or pleasant meaning. Still, Katama has a much nicer ring to it than crab-fishing place.

The area has been a popular summer resort since the late 1800s, when it was the end of the line for the Martha's Vineyard Railroad, which ran the along the eastern shore of the island between Oak Bluffs and Katama.

In addition, Katama was part of the American national defense efforts during WWII. Artillery shells and rockets were fired out into the ocean from the beach, which was also as a bombing practice area for military squadrons. More than forty years after the war, live bombs from the war were unearthed by waves pounding on the receding beach. Katama was closed for more than a year while the military removed all remaining shells.




My A-Z of Martha's Vineyard theme is inspired by my book, The Ghosts of Aquinnah, which is set on the island. Click here for all the info on the book.

Friday, April 11, 2014

JAWS and Game of Thrones

Source: Wikimedia Commons

As I mentioned in my "E is for Edgartown" post, Stephen Spielberg's 1975 blockbuster JAWS was filmed on Martha's Vineyard, a fact that made the movie much more frightening to me when I first saw it. JAWS was re-released when I was about 12 years old, and it absolutely terrified me. I spent more time covering my eyes than I did actually watching the screen in the movie theater.

In the years since I've seen JAWS more times than I can count as I always stop on it when I'm flipping channels and see it on television. I love seeing the scenes of the Vineyard.

The fishing shack owned by Robert Shaw's character Quint was located in one of the my favorite places on the island, the fishing village of Menemsha.



I've always loved the long shot of Menemsha as the Orca heads out to sea to do battle with the shark.

A few years ago before visiting the island I read about a rash of shark sightings in the area. I can't deny I immediately thought of JAWS. I was happy to stay on the beach instead of going in the water.




Since today is Friday, it's time to Celebrate the Small Things with Vikki at Scribblings of an Aspiring Author. If you'd like to join in on the hop, visit Vikki's site here.

This week I'm celebrating the return of my favorite show Game of Thrones. I love this show so much even the opening theme makes me excited. :D



I can't wait for Season 4 to unfold.

Happy Friday and weekend, all!




My A-Z of Martha's Vineyard theme is inspired by my book, The Ghosts of Aquinnah, which is set on the island. Click here for all the info on the book.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

I is for Illumination Night

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Each year on the third Wednesday in August the gingerbread cottages I wrote about in my "G" post are lit with Chinese and Japanese lanterns for the Grand Illumination Night.

The Illumination Night has been held since the 1800s and was originally conceived as a promotional tool to lure potential buyers to properties in the area. As the years went on the community rallied around the event as it grew larger and more festive.

In the present day, the Grand Illumination is one of the biggest events of the summer and includes a band concert and a community sing-along. At 9:00 the streetlights go out and the paper lanterns come on so spectators can walk through the narrow streets and enjoy the cottages.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

According to my mom I've been to an Illumination Night but I can't say I remember it. Someday I hope to go again, although I'd skip the sing-along. Anyone who has ever heard me sing would know why. :D




My A-Z of Martha's Vineyard theme is inspired by my book, The Ghosts of Aquinnah, which is set on the island. Click here for all the info on the book.