The president’s visit popularized Oak Bluffs and made for national headlines as newspapers described every event, activity, church service and meal Ulysses S. Grant had on his visit in 1874, a story about other U.S. Presidents retold over the years and that will be told again, starting tomorrow when President Barack Obama, the leader of the free world, arrives with his beautiful family. President Grant slept in the Camp Ground’s Bishop Gilbert Haven cottage (located ironically enough on Clinton avenue) for three nights but spent little quality time on the Vineyard, and indeed showed little interest in it or its people, unlike President Bill Clinton. Grant traveled to Hyannis, Naushon and Nantucket while here.
It was said that President Grant had come to Oak Bluffs for political reasons, contemplating running for a third term. A comment attributed to him was that there were three political parties in America back then, Republicans, Democrats and Methodists. And there were Methodists aplenty in Oak Bluffs in 1874 although Grant only attended one Sunday service. One evening the president and his entourage were paraded around Oak Bluffs to experience Illumination. Led by a brass band, the president and his party arrived at the Tucker cottage where they watched a spectacular fireworks display with 30,000 others. There were no pictures of Grant smiling during his trip and the Gazette noted the few words he spoke on a trip to the Cape: “I thank you for your cheering greeting. No doubt you are tired and sleepy, as I am, so I will not detain you. Good night.” His wife Julia said she was “delighted with this Island.” The president made his usual bow and they departed, but thanks to Grant’s stay, in August 1874, Cottage City — Oak Buffs — became the town people think of when they say Martha’s Vineyard.
August 2013 in Oak Bluffs will prove to be filled with art, music, talks and of course talk about a more famous presidential visit.
On Sunday I had the pleasure of meeting a lesser known politician whom Mayor Thomas M. Menino said would make national news if she wins the upcoming Boston mayoralty race, Charlotte Golar Richie. At an event at Valerie Mosley’s home (the Joseph Overton House on the African American Heritage Trail) co-hosted by Vineyard friends Bob Hayden, Richard and Kathy Taylor, Kern Grimes, Bennie Wiley and my sometimes fishing buddy Dr. Charles Ogletree, Mrs. Golar Richie spoke about her reasons and background for running for mayor. Since Mrs. Richie is a black woman, after hearing her speak, I think Mayor Menino is right. Val Mosley is tireless, having arrived from Israel the day before in pursuit of interest in kidney disease research. She is one of the many supporters of the On The Vine music experience at the Tabernacle August 22 to 25 featuring Smokey Robinson, Angie Stone, Natalie Cole and Babyface among others with the goal of raising money to conquer kidney disease.
Congratulations to the winners of the All-Island Art Show in the Tabernacle Monday, especially first place Oak Bluffs winners, Pennacook’s Doug Peckham for acrylics, Pond View’s Harry Seymour for mixed medium and those I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting.
MV Summer Madness is a weekend of activities around the music industry, beginning with a Big Daddy Kane show tonight at Dreamland followed by a conference tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The keynote speaker is Kedar Massenburg, president emeritus of Motown Records, and the master of ceremonies is longtime Oak Bluffs seasonal kid Gary Jenkins, now a successful entertainment attorney. Panelists include record executives and promoters, attorneys and radio people like me. On Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. there is a chicken and waffle jazz and gospel brunch at Hooked with a live performance by Julie Hall, another lifelong seasonal kid, and the Evan Hall Trio.
Built on Stilts, the exciting dance troupe of local and national choreographers debuted at Union Chapel last evening and performs until Sunday. They return for an encore August 15 to 18. Don’t forget the Oak Bluffs Arts District stroll tomorrow evening from 4 to 7 p.m. Neighbor Myrna Morris opens at Cousen Rose Gallery tomorrow night from 7 to 9 p.m.
The Cottagers Inc., arguably the Island’s oldest African American organization, is a sorority of black women whose events raise money for Island charities. The annual clambake is from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Sailing Camp Tuesday. For more information stop by Cottagers Corner on Pequot avenue or visit their website (cottagerscornermv.org).
Last Thursday morning I was tickled to see Dr. Louis Sullivan on the bike path on Beach Road walking with headphones and probably listening to some cool tunes. Dr. Sullivan, former secretary of health and human services in the George H. W. Bush administration, will be 80 on Nov. 3. Apparently he’s following his own advice for daily exercise. I hope to be doing the same at that age too.
Marie Doubleday joined Aunt Bess (Elizabeth Hinton) a longtime Oak Bluffs seasonal resident of New York avenue, for her 107th birthday with friends and family at a party on Sunday July 28 in Brockton. Aunt Bess’s niece Helen Robinson, also an Oak Bluffs seasonal resident, was with Marie who said it was wonderful and has pictures to share. Congratulations!
Welcome back, Mr. President. We hope you and your family enjoy your stay, and above all we need you to . . .
Keep your foot on a rock.