The title of this essay is Nancy Merjos’s Camp Ground. First the back story:

Bookstore owners, like mothers, aren’t supposed to have favorites, but during my days of running Sun Porch Books I had beloved customers. One of them was Manhattanite Nancy Merjos, who reminds me of the Anne Bancroft character in 84 Charing Cross Road (a three-hanky movie for four-books-a-week readers), not so much in looks but in that feisty New York directness combined with a passion for the printed word.

Our first conversation involved our love of The New Yorker magazine, but when I mentioned to Nancy I’d recently let my subscription lapse, she came down on me like my great-aunt Mary the time I broke her glass candy dish.

“You can’t EVER let your subscription lapse! Think of all the marvelous articles you’re missing!”

Now Nancy and her husband, Connie (must be short for Constantine; I never had the nerve to ask), have one of those unconventional marriages that sounds like a dream come true, i.e. not too much time together. They have a house in the Camp Ground, a brownstone in New York and a condo in Puerto Rico. Their individual comings and goings mean, I’m sure, there are occasions when they need to haul out their calendars and see what’s what, but it seems to work like this: Nancy spends, loosely, May through October in Oak Bluffs, a couple of non-consecutive months in New York, and some of her winter in Puerto Rico. Connie lives most of the year in Puerto Rico, and not only for the fun ’n’ sun.

He’s a professional gambler.

His original occupation was that of a classical musician, a bassoonist. But somehow love, luck and talent combined to make gambling profitable, and wherever in Puerto Rico that pursuit is followed, there you’ll find Connie Merjos, in a state of unqualified bliss. Now if by some crazy chance the Methodists of the Camp Ground ever decide to replace the Tabernacle with a casino, then I’m sure we’ll find the Merjoses together more often here in Oak Bluffs.

So this past Tuesday, with autumn afternoon rays coming in at a slant that makes everything in the Camp Ground look even prettier than it already is, Nancy and I set off on a leisurely stroll with the intent of seeing the magic village through her eyes. She told me that the first she heard of Martha’s Vineyard was from her niece, Betsy, who’d vacationed there with a friend. “She said ‘The whole Island smells of fried clams!’”

That was enough for Nancy and Connie, who had married in 1958, to start renting in the Camp Ground in 1964 where, indeed, heavenly fried clam smells issued from the funky clam shack that was the original Nancy’s on the harbor. After three summers of renting, the Merjoses bought their cottage for $4,500.

As we strolled up one of the winding, narrow lanes, Nancy recalled older owners telling her it wasn’t until the 1930s that cottage owners began to install indoor bathrooms. The kitchens were originally lean-tos on the sides of homes. “Everyone cooked and ate together in one big lodge.”

When we passed one of my favorite dwellings, the three story charmer called Tall Timbers, Nancy pointed out how large beams ran all the way up the sides of the exterior. “These cottages were made without studs. Once a carpenter told me the only thing holding them up is rusty nails and paint.”

Nancy told me something I didn’t know – the original pulpit from 1835 was located on Clinton avenue. Then I was able to pass along information that had surprisingly escaped Nancy: The lovely pale yellow cottage that faces the harbor some 50 yards back from the Wesley House, in the late 19th century belonged to the famous singing and dancing midgets, Lucy and Sarah Adams, who toured the country with Tom Thumb’s performing troupe.

Nancy brought me around to the western side of the Circle and pointed out the house (pink with a square tower) that the Tabernacle architect himself had designed. “He repeated the line of the clerestory windows from the Tabernacle onto the tower of the house, but in the last couple of years, the owners changed them to more conventional windows.” She mentioned this with a slight sniff, as behooves a person who would never, but never, allow her New Yorker subscription to lapse.

When we circled back to Nancy’s unadorned white cottage with pale grey walls and white and black trim, we wished each other a good winter. This is the hardest part of our otherwise gorgeous fall season on Island, saying goodbye one by one to our favorite summer friends. Nevertheless we’ll stay in touch the old-fashioned way – Nancy doesn’t lend any credence whatsoever to e-mails, cell phones, Twitter or Facebook. So if she wants to keep up a correspondence by postcard or letter, the ballpoint pen’s in her court.

Here’s one you do not want to miss: Sunday, Oct. 2 is the auction (live and silent, bargains abound) at Farm Neck to help the Oak Bluffs School’s eighth graders. Festivities begin at 6 p.m.

Conroy’s OB offers flu shots today, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Saturday 9 to 5.