Next week will mark the 399th Christmas since 1614 when Sir Ferdinando Gorges returned Epanow, the kidnapped son of the Nunnepog Sachem tribe, to his home in Ogkeshkuppe, now known as the town of Oak Bluffs. Gorges had the dubious distinction of being the father of English colonization, the ironies of which are simply delicious from just about any perspective. Indeed, Oak Bluffs’ character has been formed in the crucible of historic irony. Once an island—called ‘Nantucket,’ the biggest small town, the town prohibiting prohibition, the one that successively seceded after the south did not, the one with a statue of a southern Confederate soldier painted northern blue and the newest old town — glaring inconsistencies consistent with the ironic hegemony of Oak Bluffs versus the rest of the Island. The 28 stores and shops remaining of the 36 that used to be on Circuit avenue 100 or so years ago remain heirlooms of our robust Christmases past.
Other revered iconic structures include the Union Chapel, built in 1870; Tony’s Market, serving the public since 1877; the Tabernacle built in 1879 (the same year as the Wesley House); the Flying Horses that moved here in 1884; the Old Variety Store, owned by Janie Peters’ family since the early 1900’s; Phillips Hardware since 1928; Giordano’s since 1930 (formerly the Magnolia Restaurant); Reliable Market from 1947 (open 362 days a year — not Easter, Thanksgiving or Christmas); MV Printing at DaRosa’s from 1935; Debettencourt’s Service Station since 1946 (before that Wormsley’s Garage from 1928 – 1946 and built by the Deitz family in the early 1900’s); Mary’s Linen from 1948 and Cousen Rose has been doing business since 1979 going on 35 years in 2014 — just to mention a few old businesses we still love today.
We in Oak Bluffs represent the loudest of silent majorities. We’re silent, for example, when others resist changes like the roundabout. We’re loudest when proclaiming “Proud to Be from OB” in good times and bad. We’re proudest in periods like now when plans work, when focus is upon positive change, when it becomes affordable for our past to meet our present like at the North Bluff and soon, downtown.
It’s the last chance for shopping for Christmas with literally five days to go. Featherstone Center for the Arts has handmade heirlooms to be left to your grandchildren, and downtown is gaily decorated with sales galore for the holidays.
My Christmas list hasn’t changed. Built in 1926, the art deco, 600-seat Strand Theatre, according to a website report in September, has no electric and is used for bicycle storage. In understanding changing consumer passions along with the substantive costs of digitizing an old medium, it remains unreasonable that there is a sign at the center of our remarkable town lacking a T and an R.
Wow, many thanks to the Moses and Alvin Strock families for the gift to the land bank of 1,000 feet of beachfront on Lagoon Pond in Oak Bluffs by the bridge. How selflessly thoughtful!
Hearty congratulations to Oak Bluffs police chief Erik Blake, a true renaissance man, who was recently elected president of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association by his peers. Chief Blake — ever the professional, overly considerate and always a good neighbor — is also president of the Martha’s Vineyard NAACP, the irony of which is typical of only the town of Oak Bluffs — where the Polar Bears are black.
The Federated Church invites all to join them for a special service Sunday at 10:30 a.m. when Rev. Terry Martinson, the new interim minister, will be preaching with Rev. John Schule, pastor emeritus, doing the readings. On Christmas Eve, the Federated Church has two services, one at 5 p.m. focused on children and another at 10 p.m. that is the traditional candlelight. Since his recent retirement after 14 years, Jerry Fritz’s shoes are big ones to fill.
You’d better watch out – you better not pout – he knows if you’ve been bad or good . . .
I hope you’re in a position of health and wealth to give as much to as many as you can this Christmas, sure to be Merry.
Keep your foot on a rock.