When I was a kid, the Tuesday after Labor Day, you couldn’t buy an ice cream cone or a T-shirt with words on it in all of Edgartown. You would have to purchase ice cream and cones separately at the A&P on the corner of Main and North Summer streets. You could buy a white undershirt at Alfred Hall’s clothing goods store next door. We did both. We had to get new sneakers to wear to school since the ones we wore all summer had been marinated in saltwater on the mudflats around Shear Pen Pond. We frantically thumbed through the books on our summer reading list. A couple of years our house on Simpsons Lane was rented out into the first two weeks of September and we started the school day with a motorboat ride in from Cape Pogue. That made starting school again almost bearable. The only thing that we missed about moving back into town after spending an entire summer out at Cape Pogue were the ticks. Even though the only disease we thought they carried back then was Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, getting the embedded ones out of our skin was unpleasant. Pulling the grape-sized ones off our Beagle without popping them provided a satisfying challenge.

Back in March, when our Island schools sent the kids home for good, my granddaughters were very disappointed. I was jealous. Why couldn’t that have happened when I was in grade school? For my buddies and me, that would have been an answer to all of our prayers and the granting of all of our birthday candle blowing out wishes. We cherished snow days, parent-teacher conference half days, fire drills, walking home for lunch — anything to get us out of that building. From my grown-up perspective, I can appreciative the great effort that our teachers put into molding us into educated responsible humans. But at the time, it was the last thing we valued.

Back in the sixties, only a fraction of the houses in town were occupied during the winter. We could roam through backyards freely. We would dare ourselves to get from one end of town to the other without walking along a side walk and only crossing streets perpendicularly. With all of the free time that we had on our hands, we figured out ways to climb up and over unoccupied buildings. We derived a great deal of amusement observing the unaware world below from various roof tops.

Back then, the big ferries to the Vineyard and Nantucket both ran out of Woods Hole in the off-season. People told horror stories of realizing too late that they were on the wrong boat. Back then, the Chappy Ferry stopped for the lunch hour. I was well aware, even back then, that when I was older I would miss those days.