A toast to the past

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You have a week or two left to see the antique toaster display inside the Vineyard Haven library. Gilbert Lorenzoni, former owner of a little French restaurant in Vineyard Haven, Cafe du Port, has collected many antique kitchen tools over the years, and has 15 or so toasters dating back many decades.

“I collected old things from restaurants, antique tools and accessories,” Lorenzoni said. “A long time ago I was at an antique fair … it was huge — I love those things — I saw them there and then little by little, I began to purchase vintage toasters, and I think they are amazing. All these toasters, they all work. You just plug them in and they hardly ever break. You have to watch them carefully or the toast will burn.”

Library director Amy Ryan said they’re happy to have the display. “He’s a regular patron and he has this collection,” Ryan said. “He came in and set it up, and we’re glad to have him use the space.”

Originally from Nice, France, Lorenzoni worked at a top New York City restaurant, Le Pavillon, before he moved to Martha’s Vineyard approximately 50 years ago. The food he used to serve at his Vineyard Haven café was unpretentious, he said.

“The food was pretty simple, nothing complicated,” Lorenzoni remembered. “Today, really, I think it’s a gimmick today, the food.”

He’ll soon turn 78, Lorenzoni said, and he has plenty of memories of all the patrons who used to frequent his café — Mike Wallace, Lillian Hellman, William and Rose Styron, among others. He’s hoping other people will appreciate something from the past as well.

“This little exhibit of toasters, some people might be interested knowing it exists,” Lorenzoni said. “I was setting it up at the library and trying to figure out which tablecloth to use with the toasters, and this man looks at it … he was maybe in his 20s … and he said, ‘What are they, radiators?’ Well, in a way they are.”