Naming the day: Albion Hart
The State of Massachusetts, on the occasion of Cottager Albion Hart's 100th birthday, has officially proclaimed April 9 Albion Hart Day.
From his pink trimmed 1862 cottage in the Trinity Park circle where he's spent 96 summers, Mr. Hart remains modest and rather surprised by all the attention.
One of his many admirers, Renee Balter, on the board of the Oak Bluffs Association, served with Mr. Hart on the Oak Bluffs Historical Commission. She recalls the years he managed the information booth at the bottom of Circuit Avenue, and remembers in the mid-1990s, when he was named Martha's Vineyard Hospitality Person of the Year.
Bob Falkenberg, who served on the Martha's Vineyard Camp Meeting Association board, describes how effectively Mr. Hart meets and interviews prospective Cottagers. "He just loves people," he says. "The bus tour guides seek him out," he says. "He's a remarkable man. His mind is so sharp."
And John Newsom, a realtor with Lawrence Realty who's been a neighbor and friend of Mr. Hart's for years, calls him "a treasure - an icon in the Campgrounds," adding, "The man has forgotten more than I'll ever know about the Campgrounds."
Ever since Mr. Hart's wife, Cora, died in 2006, he lives alone. His is a full and involved life: up every morning before 7 am; feeding his cat, Pinkletink; preparing meals; completing a daily crossword puzzle; and driving to Oak Bluffs to do errands. (His new license driver's license is valid until 2013.)
His memories go back to the years when he stayed with his grandmother while his parents, who met on the Vineyard, worked at the Highland House hotel on East Chop. But when asked to describe the biggest difference between now and then, Mr. Hart says his first teaching job paid $1,000 a year; his first car, a fancy Chevy sport convertible, cost $400, and for five years, he made monthly payments of $15.
He grew up in Fall River, and remembers sitting next the infamous Lizzie Borden in church. His father, an educator turned successful businessman turned newspaper editor ("The Spectator" in Somerset), fought in the Spanish American War. Mr. Hart (Wesleyan University, Class of 1932) says he and his late sister Margery Cory, who resided at Windemere, had a happy childhood. "We were fortunate children."
Interviewed last year by The Times, Mr. Hart recalled a conversation with Dr. Tsikitas, who told him longevity is a matter of attitude.
"I do believe that Cora and I had a very positive attitude towards life," Mr. Hart said. All that is left to accomplish, he said, is, "to be pleasant with my fellow man. Every once in a while I say to myself, what the heck is all this about? But I am not looking for death. I still enjoy life. I enjoy people. I have no regrets."