Friday, August 21, 2009

Beating Obama to Martha's Vineyard

I took the Island Queen (a small local ferry) from Falmouth to Oak Bluffs on Martha's Vineyard yesterday, ahead of Barack and Michelle and the kids. Me and several hundred tourists, that is. The island of Martha's Vineyard lies just a few miles off Cape Cod. We can see the towns of Vineyard Haven and Oak Bluffs clearly from the Falmouth shore, and ferries travel back and forth all year long.
I was born in Oak Bluffs at the island hospital, grew up in Vineyard Haven and went to high school there. I met my wife, Dee, on the island. We were married there and our son Marcus was born in the same hospital. We left the island in 1981 for journalism and social work in New Mexico, then moved from there to northern Virginia. Ten years ago we moved here to the Cape, where I now live within sight of my childhood streets and beaches. It's an odd living situation, knowing the landscape of my first 30 years is so close, but rarely seen.
This time I met up in Oak Bluffs with Susan Elena Esquivel, art director of Martha's Vineyard Magazine when I was the editor, and her partner Andrew Sovjani, his daughter Mika and his parents. All were renting a house on the island for a week's vacation. Susan is a fine potter and clay artist ( and Andrew ( makes exquisite black-and-white photographs. They live in Conway, Mass., out in the western part of the state, near Northampton.
Downtown Oak Bluffs in August is a hot, sweaty and crowded town of t-shirt shops, ice cream parlors, t-shirt shops, restaurants ... Susan and I spent an hour in the local brew pub, with a homemade IPA, a double-garlic pizza and conversation, while the rest of the family went sightseeing. Then we met up with them and pushed our way through the narrow sidewalks to Ben and Bill's ice cream joint. Then we said goodbye. I strolled a bit of the harbor edge, stopped in at the open-air Tabernacle, where I went to summer Bible School as a 10-year-old, then caught the Island Queen back to Falmouth.
Some day I'll have to write more clearly about the strangeness of dropping into and out of my old landscape.
Anyway, here are some photos of the Oak Bluffs waterfront, the interior of the Tabernacle and the water between the island and the mainland.


Anonymous said...

I love your photos of the Vineyard. I've been going there all my life. My mother was raised in Oak Bluffs many, many years ago :)
Thank you for the beautiful picture of the Tabernacle windows and the chairs. I love those chairs. I have a few shots of them piled up on the stage during the winter about 15 years ago.
Joan from...

Hollis Engley said...

Thanks, Joan. I was raised "many, many years ago," too. Who's your mother?

MVBLH said...

You are a brave, brave man venturing to MV this week! Glad you made it back before the winds/waves arrive. Did you happen to know the Hughes family? Ellen was my MV neighbor; she has an older sister, Pat…and there are 2 more. Their mom was a PE teacher at the Tisbury school.

Thanks for posting Susan's web site!

Hollis Engley said...

Yes, I knew the Hughes family.They lived in my neighborhood in Vineyard Haven. Skiff Avenue/Edgartown Road area. I knew Pat and worked with her brother Jack as an oil truck driver for a while. Their dad, John, ran the lobster hatchery for years.