From the Cottagers’ Corner column in the July 1969 editions of the Vineyard Gazette by Dorothy West:

On Saturday past the Cottagers club opened its season when some half dozen of its members gave a benefit affair at Twin Cottage, the great old maze of a house where Fred and Liz white are in summer residence.

Cottagers Olive Bowles, Doris Jackson, Gloria Pope, Miriam Walker, and Liz White were the planners of the party. They are all inventive, they are all competitive. The evening was called Bahama Holiday. Their lighting of the grounds and the turreted house, their decorations — in particular an evergeen tree festooned with gay and witty summer hats, their table of plenty, where an elegant ornamented cheese was a conversation piece — gave the night its style and grace.

Color was the motif, great splashes of startling colors, and the music, midway the evening, began to spiral into Calypso colors, sending an excitement through the crowd that dissolved whatever self consciousness might still be lingering in some lagging spirit.

But the colors of colored people en masse are more than a modest pen can describe, the golds, the bronzes, the olives, the browns, the ebonys, and the indescribable shades that are indescribably beautiful. Some of the guests came in authentic African dress, the robes and kaftans or regal blacks, others were in the most modish of western dress, see-through dresses and extravagant pants suits.

This affair is the first of several events that various groups of Cottagers are planning in their efforts to raise their share of pledged money for their new center, the Cottagers’ Corner, which was formerly known as the old town hall in Oak Bluffs. It is a fine building, and the Cottagers hope to make it an outstanding center of service in the town,

Through their president, Maggie Alston, the Cottagers extend their greetings to all who wish them well, and hope to widen this circle of friendship in the weeks ahead.

A recent conversation with a young reporter from the Boston Globe, who was here in search of a story on the black summer colonists, whose numbers now give them a social significance of current interest to a growing number of publications, made this writer very aware of the black involvement in the life of the Island, and the challenge it offers the Cottagers, whose 100 members from all sections of the country have established a style of leadership that exacts their commitment to excellence.

Several of the charter members are the third and fourth generation to summer here. There was a time when those cottage owners who were black numbered less than a dozen — indeed it was a gala summer when that number was achieved. Their buying power made almost no ripple in the Island’s economy, and they, themselves, had no wish to make waves. But they had importance as forerunners. These early vacationists from Boston were among the first blacks anywhere to want for themselves and their children the same long summer of sun and sea air that a benevolent Island provided to others who sought it. These first blacks made later generations vacation-minded and Island-oriented.

The Cottagers are a blend of the young, and the mellow, of the new, of the experienced. In this summer of their building fund, and the programs, now being outlined, to serve the community, it takes all talents to achieve these goals.

Posters are already up for the Cottager auction to be held this month in Oak Bluffs under the chairmanship of Barbara Townes. Chances are in circulation, and in popular demand, for a 7-day Bermuda holiday for two, a project devised by Maggie Alston, Cottager president. One enterprising and energetic Cottager sets up a table wherever two or more are gathered together, and sells from a variety of attractive articles she brought from Ohio.

Though the Cottagers’ Center still has some dangling ends of renovation, the Cottagers and the growing number of friends of the center have begun classes, outlined a lecture series, instituted dance nights and game nights for teens, inviting their participation in planning, and are reducing problems to manageable size.

The most gratifying happening of this Cottager week was Tuesday’s opening art class for sub-teens, 5 to 10, not excluding a neighborhood towhead of 4, who came in on his own invitation to paint a blue truck. His charm gave him a seat at the table, where he drew what more nearly resembled a blue cat. When advised by the teacher, he agreeable added a long and flourishing tail, and was then overcome by his achievement.

More than twice as many children as had been expected came to this first class. The Cottagers are very grateful to Gertrude Smith, a teacher in the Boston schools, who is giving her services in return for the gratification of seeing the glowing, absorbed faces, and the images they transmit from their minds. All children are welcome. These children are at an age when color is a thing of delight not division.

Compiled by Hilary Wall