Authors Posts by Jamie Stringfellow

Jamie Stringfellow

Jamie Stringfellow
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Lana and Roger Shaefer tied the knot on Edgartown Harbor on September 7. — Photo by Roman A. Pena

Wednesday morning, an email arrived from Roger Shaefer.

“My wife, Lana Shaefer, and I, Roger Shaefer, were married last weekend [September 7] and thought it would be fun to share some of our more adventurous wedding photos with the Times,” Mr. Shaefer began. “We live in Oak Bluffs. Lana was just hired as the nurse for the Oak Bluffs Elementary School. I am the caretaker of the Boch Estate in Edgartown. We have lived on the Island for a while now, and we feel fortunate to be able to have had our wedding here, too.”

Roger attached some great photos from the wedding. We wanted to know more. “How’d you come to meet each other on the Vineyard?” we asked.

Roger said he’d grown up coming to the Island each summer and moved here year-round three years ago. Lana spent summers here working as a waitress at the Black Dog, while getting a nursing degree at the University of Maine.

“We met at a friend’s birthday/Fourth of July barbecue,” Lana wrote. “I’d been helping prep food…. Once people started arriving, I carried around a tray of hot dogs. Roger stopped me, never having met me before, and told me he needed to take my picture. After I walked over.., he and [his friend] Jason took a hot dog, and Jason blurted, ‘I think my friend just fell in love with you.’

“Roger and I were both taken a little aback by the comment until Jason pointed out he was referring to my earrings.”

Lana was wearing Kastmaster earrings made by her friend Keri Erley. Kastmasters are chrome-plated brass fishing lures that range in size from 1/12 ounce up to 4 ounces. Roger, a fisherman, noticed them immediately on Lana, and he loved them.

“So we chatted for a while at the barbecue. Then he took me out fishing at Hedge Fence a few days later, and the rest is history.”

The earring maker made Lana a new pair of fishing earrings for the ceremony, which Lana forgot (along with the rest of her jewelry). Roger’s sister ran to get them in time for the reception. The photo Roger took upon his first sight of Lana is now on their fridge.

On Sunday, they fished their first Derby together as a married couple, and caught a fish.

Got a good Derby romance story? A good “how we met” story? A fun wedding you want to share? Please send them to us: onisland@mvtimes.com.

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Circuit Ave was closed to vehicle traffic on Saturday, and opened to pedestrians and vendors. — Photo by Angelina Godbout

I moved away from the Vineyard 10 years ago. Not completely; I came back each summer. But our kids were enrolled in school far away, so I had to leave the Island before Labor Day each year, which seemed inhumane. About two weekends after Labor Day, I’d find myself thinking of Oak Bluffs, and Tivoli Day. Though I knew there had been rainy Tivolis, I remembered it as that perfect mid-September day — puffy clouds in a blue sky, the bright sun shining down on people dancing, laughing, celebrating their good fortune. I pined for that feeling of being one of the lucky ones who got to stay on the Island for our sunniest month when everyone else had (for the most part) left.

It was with some hesitation that I walked into town this past weekend for my first Tivoli in 10 years. So much about the Vineyard, and pretty much everything else, had changed in that decade that I wasn’t sure what I’d find.

Blissfully, it was the same old, same old. Bluefish blasting music, women selling quilts for good causes, guys in kilts taking shopping pauses, a thousand good-food smells wafting around. And of course, another perfect September day.

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Frederick "Rick" Huss gets a lantern out of storage. Mr. Huss's family has owned "Precious Porches" cottage for 100 years. Some of their lanterns are over 150 years old. — Photo by Jamie Stringfellow

It was colorful in Oak Bluffs today, as residents of the Martha’s Vineyard Campmeeting Association (MVCMA) cottages decked out their porches with paper lanterns for tonight’s Grand Illumination.

The first Illumination, sponsored by the Oak Bluffs Land and Wharf Company, was held on August 14, 1869, and was intended to promote the company’s new housing development around Ocean Park.

We think it’s almost as much fun to watch campground residents prepare as it is to watch the lights go on. Before the switch is flipped, there’s a singalong around the Tabernacle at about 6:30 followed by music by the Vineyard Haven Town Band.

For more information, visit mvcma.org

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A small crowd snapped pictures as President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama go into the Sweet Life Cafe for dinner Sunday evening. — Photo by Boston Herald/White House Pool

Updated 8:45 am Monday, August 12, 2013.

President Obama enjoyed an afternoon of golf at Farm Neck Golf Course and dinner out with friends at Sweet Life Cafe in Oak Bluffs Sunday, two places he has visited often during his Martha’s Vineyard vacations.

The President teed off at noon with White House trip director Marvin Nicholson, senior policy advisor on nutrition Robert Wolf, and White House chef Sam Kass.

Pool reporters and photographers observed President Obama approach the first green at Farm Neck, where he three-putted despite an enthusiastic effort to coax the ball into the hole with presidential body language.

The foursome finished the round shortly after 5 pm, and the president returned to his vacation house in Chilmark, according to pool reporters.

Just before 7:30 pm, the president and Mrs. Obama arrived at Sweet Life Cafe on Circuit Avenue in Oak Bluffs to dine with a group of friends.

President Obama waved to a small crowd of people gathered in front of the Oak Bluffs Inn across the street as he stepped out of his vehicle. He bounded up the front steps with a smile and joined a group of seven friends waiting in a private upstairs dining room. The president chose grilled swordfish from the menu, according to a restaurant staffer. The White House did not release any information about the first couple’s dining companions.

At about 9:15 pm, the president and first lady came downstairs, and spent about five minutes chatting with the restaurant staff and posing for pictures inside the front entry, before leaving the restaurant.

A sizable crowd gathered while the president and his friends had dinner, and they cheered as he left the restaurant.

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Alan Schweikert sold his first house in Oak Bluffs — a Victorian near the water — for $38,000. — Photo courtesy of Alan Schweikert

Alan Schweikert, owner and principal broker at Ocean Park Realty in Oak Bluffs, started selling real estate 40 years ago. He and his agents now sell more than a third of all homes sold in Oak Bluffs. We asked him a few questions about his four decades in O.B.

Q.: What year did you first arrive on the Vineyard?

Alan Schweikert: It was 1971. I got my MBA from BU [Boston University] and was living in Boston (I’m from New Jersey). My first job was at Brandeis University and the V.P. there had a connection on the Vineyard. He said “I have a guy who needs some help with management,” and they flew me down here and I went to work for Stan Snyder at Mattakeesett. I’d never been to the Vineyard before.

They offered me a job I couldn’t refuse — car, apartment. I was in charge of 25 18-year-old girls. I was probably 26 at the time. Stan Snyder said, “If we can reproduce this [Mattakeesett], we’ll put them in different locations around the country.” But there was a recession, so I went back to Boston, and took a trip around the world for a while.

When did you start selling real estate?

AS: Well, when I got back there was a note to call Peter Rosbeck. He said “I understand you know something about Martha’s Vineyard…” and I said, “Something.” He said, “Well, there’s a development down there that needs some help; will you go down there and represent me?”

So I went to Sengekontacket in 1973. I thought: here I am a striving MBA type; would I rather be selling Jello in the midwest somewhere, or down here clamming and fishing and learning how to do all the things I really love in life? So I just kind of mellowed out and enjoyed it here.

I worked for Peter — all I did was sell land for him — Island Grove and Sengekontacket. I built my first house there in 1976 — the year of the Tall Ships. I never sold a house until 1977. I thought: Jeez, this is fun.

How much did that first house sell for?

AS: The first house I sold here in town, I’ll never forget it. It was a Victorian over on Pequot Avenue, a block from the beach. And I sold it for $38,000.

The people — their deal was subject to financing. In those days everyone used Dukes County Savings Bank. So I had to meet their home inspector over there — guy named Carlisle Cronig. He came over and he looked at the house, and he looked at me, and he said “You sold this for thirty-eight thousand dollars!? You must be one hell of a broker!” It was funny.

Then I sold a campground cottage to a chef on the Island and we sold that for $19,000.

When did you go into business for yourself?

AS: You remember Tubby Rebello? We had R & S Real Estate. Tubby and I were living in Sengekontacket. And he lured me away. He said “You and I could be a great team. I run the town, and you’re young and ambitious…” So that lasted about two years. We sold some funny little houses. I left him and decided to go on my own in O.B. and I opened up Ocean Park Realty. It was incorporated in 1979.

What has been the biggest change in Oak Bluffs in the forty years you’ve been selling real estate here?

AS: When I was here in the 1970s, everyone wanted to buy in Edgartown. All of a sudden, people started looking at Oak Bluffs differently. Places like Sengekontacket, and Waterview Farms… It wasn’t a broken down honky-tonk town….it was up and coming. Then in ’81, ’82, you got Farm Neck and the golf course. We still have a fun crazy in-town town, lots of activity, lots of tourists. But O.B. has really come into its own. There are beautiful, multi-million dollar homes. This is something people never thought would happen here. O.B. became a popular destination place. But the one thing that never changed was the whole multi-cultural heterogeneity of it. It’s just such a fun place.

I got very involved in and committed to Oak Bluffs. I loved it, being a Victorian town, by the water, was just amazing — like fantasy land.

What would you say has changed most about your business?

AS: In the 70s and 80s we would get an offer; we would do it handwritten in short form, sometime on the back of a car. Then you’d have to mail it to someone to get the seller to sign it.

I was in the middle of a million-dollar deal up in Chilmark, and I got a call from Ron Rappaport and he said, “We have something new in our office” — this was maybe ’81, ’82. He said, “We have a facsimile machine. We can get the seller’s signature from New York City…”

So I said: Can I get one of those?

All of a sudden you could make a deal in one day and get two signatures. That changed the nature of the business for me. And when computer technology came in it was a long time coming before that got really sophisticated. Now here we are in 2013, and we try to keep our office at the cutting edge of everything — brand-new state-of-the-art website. I have a computer tech who I feel like is part of my staff. Search engines, the whole thing. Marilyn [Moses, another Ocean Park realtor] is really helping with technology. We have an Internet marketer we’re working closely with.

When you go to the website you can immediately search, along with key listings, and properties we’ve sold.

Any near disasters?

AS: I think one of the worst things I ever went through: I was selling a piece of land up in Gay Head, for a local. And I knew their attorney quite well, and had done many deals with him. The person who was buying the land was from somewhere in Boston. Maybe somewhere in the North End. He was sort of a no-nonsense person. So the attorney said, “I’ll hold on to the escrow money.” I’d done many deals with the attorney and thought everything would be fine. We all went to the closing, and the attorney didn’t show up with the money. Matter of fact he didn’t show up for about a month. He is no longer an attorney….

Then the guy from North End…the buyer?

AS: He looked at us and said, “Unless something happens quick around here, you’re all going to have cement shoes.”

What did happen is the seller ended up selling him the land, but didn’t get the escrow money. The deal went through. Since it was the seller’s attorney, they said “This is your issue.” I don’t know if he ever got it. And of course the attorney…pretty much gave up his license.

Any feel-good deals?

AS: Most of them were feel-good deals. You know, I never realized I was in the real estate business for a while. I just thought I was a businessman who helped people find things. I thought of myself as a country broker…and I did very well at it. That’s why I was so taken with this community, because it was so good to me. I had a philosophy that if you treat people right, and you take care of them, you’re going to make money. You never have to worry about it. It’s always going to come.

Over the years, I became a salesman, but I became one without trying to sell things. You just listen to people. And if you listen to them long enough, their questions, they’ll take you right to the right house.

Is most of your business still in Oak Bluffs?

AS: I’d say maybe 80 percent is in O.B. I don’t take listings outside of O.B., but the rest of the agents in my office do. I stick to this town. I do everything in this town — I swim in this town, I belong to Farm Neck, I shop at Reliable. This is the only town that doesn’t have traffic, and I refuse to get stuck in that.

Your son is in the business now?

AS: Yes, he’s trying it out. He’s been very helpful to me — I have almost like an assistant; he can learn it if he wants to learn it. He can do a lot of the stuff I just don’t want to do anymore. He’s got a couple listings.

How many people do you have coming to you who know nothing about the Vineyard?

AS: We do get some good walk-ins here, but from people who know nothing about M.V., they don’t usually buy right away. You talk with them, you let them have a good time here, then you keep encouraging them, sending them things. A lot of time people like that will come back in the fall and say we like this place, we’ve given it some thought and you’ve been staying in touch with us, and they come back and they buy property.

Marilyn Moses: I sold two campground cottages like that last year. From someone just walking in. I can share this: the longest I’ve worked with one client is seven years. They said I was part of their August family vacation! They bought a nice piece of land in town and they’ll be building a beautiful five-bedroom home. The key is to keep in touch with them.

Have you sold any houses twice? What’s the record number on the same house?

AS: I’ve sold some houses three or four times. It’s funny though, I’ve sold for people who are now deceased, and I’ve sold to their children, and then to their grandchildren. Which is just amazing.

Is there something about Alan that most people don’t know?

MM: Well, he’s an MBA, but he’s an athlete — an avid boater, golfer, fisherman. He was an A-flight Club Champion at Farm Neck. He was all-state in football from New Jersey and went to BU on a football scholarship.

Ever appeared in any movies? Jaws?

AS: I was not in Jaws. I guess my thirty minutes of fame was when I had a half hour program with Bob Vila. People called me up from all over the country and said, Hey! You’re on TV!

Bob Vila was looking to do a show on Martha’s Vineyard around 1996. His production manager heard about me and called me up. We did a half-hour segment on his search for a property to purchase. We looked at several options and discussed each one during the segment, and…he bought an old house on East Chop near the tennis courts, fixed it up, and I sold it for him a couple years later. He still owns a house up Island.

Sold to any other recognizable people?

AS: Grant Hill, a basketball star. Tom Clancy. We sold him the Gloria Swanson house, over on the water.

There was a “Gloria Swanson house?”

AS: Well, Joe Kennedy was having an affair with Gloria Swanson and he bought her the house. In the 30s or 40s. It’s over on Temahigan, one of those big houses overlooking the ocean.

Did you sell Spike Lee his land?

AS: I consulted on it. He was making a private deal, so Rappaport’s office called and asked is this a fair price…

I’ve worked with Peter [Norton] over the years.

I go way back with Mrs. White who used to own Cinderella Cottage [Peter Nortons' guest house, now sold]. I used to take her fish. I used to take a lot of my clients fish.

What has guided you through 40 years of success, beyond bringing your clients bluefish?

AS: Being on a small island you get to know a lot of people and see them all of the time…real estate became a “way of life” for me…no matter what I did, recreation, socializing… I was always a real estate broker at the same time and ready to talk about property…to the point where my clients became my friends and my friends became clients…and I continue to enjoy that way of life.

Check out the new website: oceanparkmv.com

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This week, in anticipation of screening the film "Afternoon Delight," MVFF interns ask probing questions of people on the street in Menemsha. — Photo courtesy of Afternoon Delight movie.

The Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival’s Man on the Street series asks people probing questions about issues that are central to their movies from the Summer Film Series line up. This week they asked people if they’d ever invited anyone to their house, and lived to regret it, leading up to Wednesday and Thursday night screenings of “Afternoon Delight.” The film by director Jill Soloway follows the adventures of a woman who invites a stripper to stay in her guest room.

“Afternoon Delight” screens Wednesday, July 24 at the Chilmark Community Center at 8 pm. A discussion with Jill Soloway follows the film. On Thursday, July 25, the film screens again at the Harbor View Hotel, Edgartown, at 8 pm. For more information, visit tmvff.org.

To see a clip of young film-goers reviewing last week’s Cinema Circus event, click here.

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Grupo Folclorico do Clube Madeirense S.S. Sacramento of New Bedford is always a hit in the parade. — Photo by Angelina Godbout

After an hour waiting for a drenching rain shower to pass, the Portuguese-American (P-A) Club Feast of the Holy Ghost parade got underway Sunday with all of the color and tradition that makes this one of the highlights of the year for many Islanders.

Grupo Folclorico do Clube Madeirense S.S. Sacramento of New Bedford, a traditional dance group in colorful period costumes marched beside P-A Club board members and local elected officials.

On the way, the parade paused at Our Lady Star of the Sea to crown Emma Williamson, part of the tradition to honor Queen Isabella of Portugal, who sold her crown jewels to feed the poor. Each year, the P-A club crowns a young girl from Our Lady Star of the Sea’s first communion class.

On Saturday, the heat didn’t stop the fun at the P-A club, where the annual Feast of the Holy Ghost got underway. Kids jumped on bouncy slides, got their faces painted and played games; everyone ate sopa, sweetbreads and fried dough while D.J. Prime supplied the soundtrack.

The Feast of the Holy Ghost dates back to Queen Isabella of Aragon, who lived from 1271 to 1336 and was known for her generosity. During a famine, the Queen offered her crown to the Holy Spirit in return for a miracle. As she left the church, the story goes, the Queen saw that the harbor had filled with ships carrying food.

Most agree that the traditional festival that grew out of that story took hold on Martha’s Vineyard in about 1882, when Manuel S. deBettencourt moved the Island from Graciosa, one of the Azores, and brought a silver crown with him. The Oak Bluffs P-A club has been hosting the event, with its feast, and parade, since the 1920s.

Each year, it’s obvious that the Feast of the Holy Ghost isn’t just about celebrating the generosity of a long-ago queen, but preserving the bonds that hold a community and a culture together – kindness and goodwill, along with dozens of volunteers, lots of shared laughs, and great food. And did we mention the fun? Times editor Eleni Roriz reports the lively crowd “danced outside to the music of DJ Ricky Prime, munched on everything from oysters to grill-your-own kabobs to fried dough.”

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Nicki Galland. — Photo by Laura D. Roosevelt

Dozens of Islanders joined local author Nicole Galland at the Grange Hall last Wednesday night, July 10. Galland read from her new book “Godiva”. Contrary to rumors, she did not arrive naked on a horse, or on a horse at all. Galland, also the author of “The Fool’s Tale” and “I, Iago” did, however, sign copies of her books. The event was part of the West Tisbury Library’s ongoing Speakeasy series, which benefits the library’s construction project.

Godiva is available at Bunch of Grapes in Vineyard Haven and Edgartown Books. For more information on the West Tisbury Speakeasy project, visit westtisburyfreepubliclibrary.org

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Aaron Carter and backup dancers at the Dreamland show. Two of the dancers, Trey and Nikko Rich, in red on the right, won MTV's "Best Dance Crew." — Photo by Alice Greene

A wide range of ages showed up at Dreamland on Sunday night for the all-ages Aaron Carter show. Mr. Carter, 25, rose to fame as a pre-teen hip hop and pop singer in the late 1990s. Also known for being the little brother of Backstreet Boys star Nick Carter, he was soon a certified sensation, with legions of teen and pre-teen fans.

The mostly female audience welcomed the singer enthusiastically. Alice Greene, a 2013 Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) graduate who photographed the event for The Times, reported lots of screaming and said that at one point, Mr. Carter asked for a volunteer on the stage to whom he would sing a “personal ballad.”

“At least the first four rows, all screamers with their hands up, volunteered. Out of the 175 kids there, at least 150 wanted go up on stage,” said Alice. The backup dancers selected a girl and sat her on the stage. “They let her ogle him, and let her sit there so all the other girls could hate her. He’s singing to her, and she was saying ‘Oh my God, Oh my God’ then he took his microphone off the stand and crooned to her. He whispered to her.” He went to kiss her on the cheek, Alice said, and the teenager grabbed the singer’s face and kissed him on the lips. After that, Alice reported, “jealousy piqued.”

Alice said she’d initially gone to the concert for “purely comedic entertainment,” but, she said, “I realized what a good performer he was. He gave it his all — he didn’t take a break for two hours. He really lived up to his reputation. Ultimately, it was a really good time. An unexpected good time.

“I’m not sure why he picked to come here, what the reason was to host an Aaron Carter show on the Vineyard, but I’m so glad. It was great to realize he was still around and not have to go to Boston.”

Alice communicated with Mr. Carter’s promoter Danny Millions on Facebook after the show; he was “happy with the event and the authenticity of the location.”

Upcoming Dreamland shows Badfish: A Tribute to Sublime on July 11, Spiritual Rez on July 12, Rebirth Brass Bad on July 25, and Howie Day on July 26. For more information and a full schedule, visit dreamlandconcerts.com.