President Obama and his family stirred life up on Main Street, Vineyard Haven, when they made a brief visit to the Bunch of Grapes Bookstore early Friday afternoon.
There was little indication that the president’s motorcade was about to arrive at what has become a favorite stop for presidents vacationing on the Vineyard.
Close observers might have noticed a car that parked illegally in a crosswalk near the bookstore. Two people left the vehicle and went into the bookstore, even as police ignored the obvious infraction.
About 12:30 pm, Tisbury and State Police blocked access to Main Street. A member of the security team in plain clothes walked a black Labrador around the perimeter of the area.
It was a hot, humid afternoon, on a day when most people were working, at the beach, or attending the 150th Ag Fair.
People began lining the sidewalks in anticipation of the president’s arrival. Then the motorcade arrived, eight black vehicles in a row.
As the black Suburban carrying the president and his family pulled up, the crowd, which continued to grow, cheered and waved.
Daughters Sasha and Malia left the vehicle first, followed by their father, and they entered the bookstore. A member of the security team walked over to the corner of Main Street and Cromwell Lane. Times managing editor Nelson Sigelman, who had stepped out for a stroll, was standing on the corner along with a small group of people.
“Who wants to be lucky and meet the President,” an agent said. “We can take 30 people.”
One by one the group was scanned with an electronic security wand and lined up from the sidewalk to the waiting vehicle to greet the president when he left the bookstore. “Stand strong,” one man said as he shook Mr. Obama’s hand.
“Nice to see you,” Mr. Obama said as he shook Mr. Sigelman’s hand. “Nice to see you, too, welcome to Martha’s Vineyard,” the newspaperman replied.
“Four more years,” some members of the crowd began to yell.
Mr. Obama moved along the crowd shaking hands and engaging well-wishers in brief conversation. Following one last wave he joined his daughters and sped away in the presidential motorcade.
With the street empty of black Suburbans, the press crowd, which had been kept at a distance, descended on the people who had greeted the President inside and outside the bookstore, grasping for any sound-bite morsel. “Did you talk to the President,” a reporter followed by a cameraman asked one woman.
Interviews were hastily conducted. It was not quite 15 minutes of fame, but it was enough to please all those asked and provide fresh fodder for a beat that often lacks any significant news.
Melody Fuller of Oakland, California, a seasonal Vineyard visitor since 1997, was in the bookstore because she is a new author and wants to keep abreast of the latest titles. “I also had an intuition he might be there today,” she told a Times reporter.
Initially, she kept her distance as the President shopped. She asked a Secret Service agent if she could say hello to Mr. Obama. The female agent gave her okay.
“I’m Melanie Fuller from Oakland, California,” she said to the President.
“He shook my hand and said, ‘Hello, Melanie Fuller from Oakland, California,’ with a big smile,” Ms. Fuller said. “How exciting is that?”
Ms. Fuller said she attended the President’s inauguration. “It meant a lot for me to meet him in person.”
Karen Harris, a bookstore employee, said she was asked to keep the Obama family’s purchases private.
“We’re not telling what titles they bought; we’ve been asked not to,” Ms. Harris said. “He has a right to read whatever he wants. He bought eight books, nothing too wild.”
Saturday, the White House revealed that in addition to some books he purchased for his daughters, President Obama bought The Bayou Trilogy, a collection by Daniel Woodrell; and Rodin’s Debutante, by Martha’s Vineyard seasonal resident Ward Just.