Tags Posts tagged with "Oak Bluffs"

Oak Bluffs

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Citing issues that surfaced at an Island-wide meeting with state officials, the board amends official comment on 2014 ocean plan.

Yellow areas have been identified as possible locations for sand mining in Massachusetts waters. The areas outlined in purple are located in federal waters. – Photo courtesy of Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management

Massachusetts is the only state on the east coast that bans offshore sand mining. But the recently released  206-page 2014 Ocean Management Plan (OMP), compiled by the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM), proposes the formation of up to nine offshore sand mining pilot projects. Since the report was released, Oak Bluffs officials have been staunch advocates of offshore sand mining. In a letter to CZM dated October 22, Oak Bluffs town administrator Robert Whritenour, on behalf of the board of selectmen, wrote, “It has become clear to us that without the availability of offshore sand resources, [Oak Bluffs] will be unable to preserve our coastal resources. The town strongly supports the use of sand mining in Massachusetts.”

At their regular meeting on Tuesday night, however, selectmen reconsidered their position. Responding to information presented at last week’s public meeting with CZM officials and the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, the board agreed that offshore sand mining was a more complex solution than previously thought, and that a more measured response to the CZM was in order.
“We all went to the commission meeting, and we heard a slightly different discussion than we anticipated,” chairman of the selectmen Greg Coogan said.

Warren Doty, a Chilmark selectman and the founding president of two fishermen’s organizations, was on hand to speak against sand mining. “Every time you collect sand, you’re disturbing the benthic environment, which is six inches of sand and mud and dirt at the bottom and is the base of the food chain,” he said. “In Nantucket Sound, the major fishery is conch (channel whelks). There are two million pounds of channel whelk landed in Martha’s Vineyard in 2014 and the price is over $2 a pound. Something in the neighborhood of $4 million is coming into this fishery. It is the most profitable fishery on the Island, and it’s very sensitive to changes in the sea bottom.”

Mr. Doty said sand mining in Vineyard sound would likewise jeopardize the winter flounder population.
“The issue is not just supporting sand mining itself,” selectman Gail Barmakian said. “We want all the sand we can possibly get, but not at the cost of our fisheries. We don’t live in a vacuum here. We have to do a cost-benefit analysis. They say Rhode Island is successfully balancing both sides of the issue, but there hasn’t been any track record with long-term data.”
“This is an exceptionally complex issue,” conservation commissioner Joan Hughes said. “We need to deal with hard science and good statistics and find out how we can solve problems for both. Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey have done this. There’s a lot of very good science out there.”

Shellfish constable David Grunden said that the state would rigorously monitor the pilot projects to minimize environmental damage and that ultimately the town has to take substantive action, especially given its northeastern exposure. “If Oak Bluffs didn’t have infrastructure that was so exposed, especially during northeasters, I would probably be on the other side of this, but I’m all in favor of it,” he said. “Our low-lying roads are in peril. It’s even worse when you factor in climate change and sea level rise. The town must insist that the state allow [sand mining] to protect the town infrastructure. It’s not going to be cheap, but there’s no cheap way to protect the town from the northeast exposure.”

Mr. Grunden showed the selectmen a map that indicated the closest potential sand mining site to Oak Bluffs was three miles offshore. Selectman Michael Santoro asked why sand could not be mined closer to shore, where it has been clearly building up for years. “It’s very difficult when you get involved in these projects because a lot of the common sense solutions are not acceptable,” Ms. Hughes said.  “We asked about this, but the Army Corps of Engineers refused.”
Mr. Grunden added that mining sand closer to shore can be counterproductive, as a mass of sand near the shore can help impede wave energy during storms. Moving that sand would remove that benefit.

Speaking as a selectman, Mr. Doty said the town of Chilmark is particularly opposed to mining between the north shore and Cuttyhunk. “The idea that we’ll stand on Menemsha beach and see a 150-foot barge take sand to Hyannis is not acceptable.” he said.
“I don’t think any of us want to see a big operation that could supply Hyannis,” Ms. Barmakian said.

The revised letter from the selectmen will be sent to the CMZ once the 60-day public comment period on (OMP) ends at 5 pm on Tuesday, November 25.
The ocean plan draft is available online at the EEA website, mass.gov/eea/. Comments can be emailed to oceanplan@state.ma.us.

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Longtime Oak Bluffs health agent Shirley Fauteux has indicated that she will retire from her position effective February 14, 2015.  Born in Oak Bluffs and raised in Vineyard Haven, Ms. Fauteux has worked for the town for 22 years. “I’ll miss the people and I’ll miss learning something new every day,” she told The Times.

Reading from the job description she was preparing for the town to post, Ms. Fauteux said her job required knowledge of sanitary codes, septic systems, food codes, farmers markets, seafood handling, Vibrio, medical waste, tanning salons, lead paint, asbestos, emergency preparedness, chemical and biological emergencies, incident command, composting, tick-borne illnesses, school cafeterias, volatile organic compounds, quarantine and communicable diseases.
“Sometimes people forget that the rules are for the good of the public. Enforcing them can be a difficult balance,” she said.

Ms. Fauteux is considering several job offers on the mainland.

Town administrator Robert Whritenour told The Times in an email that the health inspector position will be posted next week.

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Upper Lagoon Pond in Oak Bluffs is a water source for the town.

Following a tempestuous public meeting on September 25 and often acrimonious public debate, the Oak Bluffs board of health Tuesday voted to put the question of whether or not to continue the practice of adding fluoride to the town water supply, as it has since 1991, to voters at April annual town meeting in the form of a non-binding resolution.

Board of health member and chiropractor John Campbell is at the forefront of the fluoride-removal effort. Several Island dentists have spoken in public in favor of the public health benefits of fluoridation.

Irrespective of the April vote, the board of health would be responsible for the decision.

The welcome booth in Oak Bluffs welcomed more people this summer.

The first quarter of fiscal year 2015 was a good one for the town of Oak Bluffs and its business community.
At Tuesday night’s selectmen’s meeting, town administrator Robert Whritenour told the board that estimated receipts for the quarter are up $186,231 over last year. He attributed  the increase to strong harbor receipts — which does not include the new fuel facility — and to increased local estimated receipts from restaurants and hotels.
Oak Bluffs Association president Dennis daRosa said the business community had an exceptional summer. According to Mr. daRosa, information booth manager John Newsom reported that over 45,000 visitors requested assistance at the booth in July and August this year, a 30 percent increase over last year. There were also record crowds at Harborfest in June and Tivoli Day in September, with almost double the number of vendors of both events.

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Mares eat oats and does eat oats and goats eat grass at the library.

Four-month-old goat Hazel, a Goatscape Scapegoater munches leaves during a brief demonstration at the Oak Bluffs library. –Photos by Michael Cummo

Last Saturday morning, outside the Oak Bluffs Library, three goats on leashes demonstrated to the large turnout of grown-ups and (mostly) little kids that these long-necked, silky-haired creatures are super-friendly. One in particular, a 4-month-old goat-doll named Hazel, made a dash toward this reporter as if we’d known each other forever. On the other hand, she may have mistaken my notepad for a sandwich.

Because, boy, oh boy, do these critters love to eat!

Seven-year-old Dillon Fondren pets Jane, one of the Scapegoats goats.
Seven-year-old Dillon Fontren pets Jane, one of the Scapegoats goats.

“He’s like a personal vacuum,” said Tisbury second grader Dillon Fontren about a horned white goat named Billy, who never for a moment stopped crunching grass, twigs, and leaves, even setting his hooves high on his handler’s chest to access tendrils up on trees.

And that’s the whole point of the business called Scapegoats Goatscaping, owned by Joe van Nes and Kristine Patnugot of West Tisbury, both in their late 20s: For anyone who needs land cleared of unwanted shrubs such as bittersweet and poison ivy, and of volunteer tree sprigs such as black locust and Russian olive, selected goats from the Scapegoats herd of 15, at the rate of $20 per day per herbivore, can be dispatched to munch till they drop  — which they don’t, apparently.

Kristine Patnugot, left, and Joe van Nes show off and explain their business, Scapegoats Goatscaping, operating out of West Tisbury.
Kristine Patnugot, left, and Joe van Nes show off and explain their business, Scapegoats Goatscaping, operating out of West Tisbury.

Mother Nature intended for goats to eat endless field greens: They possess four stomachs, each with its own capacity to digest food and send it along to the next part of the processing. They also, like cows, regurgitate and chew again, so that very little escapes a goat’s ability to break it down and run it through the intestinal tract.

A man with a baby girl on his shoulders asked, “Is there anything goats won’t eat?”

Van Nes explained, “They don’t eat leafy evergreens such as rhododendrons, but other than that, they’re pretty omnivorous, as long as it’s plant-based.”

Van Nes also related the long-term effects of several seasons of goatscaping. “Plants grow back, including poison ivy, but over a few treatments, the goats change the terrain. They trample, leave manure, work in the manure, then trample some more. Eventually they build up a super mulch and also block photosynthesis for such plants as poison ivy, until it finally stops growing in that soil.”

Billy the goat jumps on Joe van Nes as Scapegoats Goatscaping co-owner Kristine Patnugot looks on.
Billy the goat jumps on Joe van Nes as Scapegoats Goatscaping co-owner Kristine Patnugot looks on.

While Van Nes answered questions, he held the leashes for chewing machine Billy and the milder Jane, the latter revealing no particular cute personality quirks. Hazel, meanwhile, was ever alert to Patnugot when she pulled banana slices and papaya chunks out of a plastic bag. It was then that Hazel gently smooched it from her keeper’s palm, much like a puppy dog would have done.

The Scapegoat couple also work the female part of the herd for goat milk. Each day’s yield of anywhere from a quart to a gallon and a half reveals flavors from whatever field had been worked over by that goat the day before. Van Nes recommends the healing effects of this leaves-to-milk equation: “I used to landscape, and I got horrific bouts of poison ivy all over my arms and legs. When I started to drink goat’s milk, which, of course, contains filtered amounts of poison ivy, I stopped having bad effects from it.”

Van Nes and Patnugot routinely offer property owners the day’s output in milk from goats working their garden. “It’s delicious!” maintains Van Nes. “And it’s fun for people to learn what their own yard tastes like!”

Billy the goat eats leaves as Jane watches the crowd in front of them.
Billy the goat eats leaves as Jane watches the crowd in front of them.

Van Nes and his parents, Rosemary and Nick, with three acres of land in West Tisbury, have always harbored an interest in livestock. In 2013, son Joe was offered eight goats for free, provided he had no intention of eating them. He took the goats, and found that one was pregnant, thus raising his initial herd to 10. Now that he has 15 goats, he and his father have built a large pen on the latter’s land.

Meanwhile, back in 2011, Van Nes met Patnugot in a grocery store in Brooklyn. The young woman had grown up in Michigan, and pursued filmmaking and photography in L.A., D.C., and N.Y.C. “I guess I like places with initials for names!” she said cheerfully. Once happily ensconced with Van Nes on the Island, her boyfriend invited her to join him in the goat business this past year. “I take care of all the media work,” she added.

The two of them have quickly made a sustainable business of goat tending, with enough income left over for winter feed and vet bills.

A woman in the crowd asked Patnugot if goats were as friendly and affectionate as dogs. The answer was an emphatic, “Yes! Especially if you raise them to trust you and like you, and if you treat them with respect.”

One look in Hazel’s pale gold eyes, and a time-out with her when she let herself be stroked up and down her long thin neck with an oak twig, made it crystal-clear that these animals are hands-down favorites of the barnyard set.

For more information about Scapegoats Goatscaping, contact Joe and Kristine for a consultation at goatsgottafeed@gmail.com.

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Tivoli Day is Saturaday. Photo by Lynn Christoffers.

The Oak Bluffs Association will hold its annual Tivoli Day celebration this Saturday from 9 am to 6 pm on Circuit Avenue. There will be live outdoor music all day, as well as food and retail vendors set up on the street, and special sales and events in nearby Oak Bluffs stores. Circuit Avenue will be closed to traffic during the event, which celebrates the end of the summer and the beginning of the Island’s shoulder season. For more information, visit oakbluffsmv.com.

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The President of the Friends Group Leo Gagnon, in front of the Council on Aging building. (Photo by Michael Cummo)

The Oak Bluffs Council on Aging (COA) board meeting held August 28 was slightly delayed. The Thursday morning exercise class in the meeting room had gone long, and it took a while for the steady stream of sweating and, for the most part smiling, endorphin-charged seniors to exit.

Council-on-Aging_Robert-Whritenour.JPG
Oak Bluffs town administrator Robert Whritenour, center in pink, joins community members at the monthly luncheon put on by the Council on Aging. (Photo by Michael Cummo)

As the room cleared, Leo Gagnon, president of the Friends of the Council on Aging (FCOA), a nonprofit corporation that is the fundraising arm for the COA, talked about an open house held on August 13 to mark a change in direction for the organization that had been at the center or controversy.

“I introduced it as the new senior center,” he said. “We want to get rid of the old and bring in the new. You should have seen this place. It was packed. Local merchants contributed prizes and every 15 minutes we rang a bell and gave out a door prize.”

Mr. Gagnon said the many contributions from local merchants included a 32-inch flat screen television from Crane Appliance.

“We also had live entertainment from the Princess Poo-Poo-Ly band. They’re an Island band of 16 people playing ukuleles. They were terrific. They played for over 90 minutes. A lot of people were singing along. There were four guys sitting up front, who are barely able to walk, and they were standing and stomping their feet and their canes. Sandra from the Vineyard Haven COA said, ‘This place rocks!,” Mr. Gagnon said, grinning.

Trying times

The picture Mr. Gagnon described is in marked contrast to the COA of a few months ago when the organization was rocking with a different kind of energy. The 2014 winter of discontent involved police and forensic accounting investigations, heated accusations, and divisive infighting, which culminated in the resignation of former director Roger Wey, as of June 30.  While the investigations found no criminal wrongdoing, a history of sloppy accounting and years of rancorous relations among COA staff came to light. In a six page report, town administrator Robert Whritenour wrote that the long-standing rift between associate directorRose Cogliano and Mr. Wey yielded “charges and counter charges of harassment” dating back to 2006, which divided the COA membership into opposing “camps.”

In his June 19 memo to the selectmen, Mr. Whritenour recommended a reorganization of the COA — eliminating the director and assistant director positions and creating a COA administrator and a program director, while making the board the engine that drives COA.

Moving forward

“Roger is moving on and we’re moving on and that’s the way it should be,” Walter Vail, selectman and COA board member told The Times following the August 28 board meeting.

Mr. Vail was chairman of the selectmen when on the advice of town counsel an investigation began into COA accounting practices and procedures. Although the matter could have been handled in closed executive session, Mr. Vail elected to make the proceedings public. He became a lightning rod for criticism by Mr. Wey’s supporters, who were always in full throat at selectmen’s meetings, but he stuck by his decision.

“There are only a few people who are still unhappy,” Mr. Vail said. “We had 135 people show up at the open house. Leo did a great job. Everybody had a good time. I think the message is pretty clear.”

“The board needs to be a managing partner of the COA,” Mr. Blythe said in an earlier conversation with the Times. “If you’re going to be a good board member you have to listen to both sides before you make a judgement.”

At the recent board meeting, some topics the board discussed included a new photography class starting in September, upcoming bus trips, a trip to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute without a bus, an October dental clinic, and a generous $1,500 gift from the Cottagers Association.

“They give to a lot of organizations,” Mr. Gagnon said. “The COA received the most. I never expected that kind of check.”

“I already have a call into Arthur to make sure it’s done properly with the town,” Ms. Cogliano said, adding that the money will be put in account for fuel assistance.
“People need to know they can apply,” outreach coordinator Susan Von Steiger said. “I’m sure Arthur will be very discreet.”

In other business, the board discussed the need for a new projector so movie night can become a regular event, recruiting a high school student or technologically savvy person to give computer classes, and how to acquire the new computers on which to be taught.

Although much of the current technology accessible at the COA is relatively ancient, Mr. Gagnon said the Oak Bluffs COA is the only place on Island where seniors can schedule a Skype session with a live person from the Social Security Administration. He then floated the idea for a Karaoke machine for a regular Karaoke night, to widely varying degrees of enthusiasm from the board.

Later, Mr. Gagnon spoke excitedly about a new program beginning in the fall, “A Matter of Balance,” which teaches seniors how to navigate the fear of falling through physical and mental exercise. He also said the board was looking to expand the popular line dancing classes given in the summer to a year-round activity.

Board member Abraham Seiman told the members that the bridge club was considering a move back to the COA from its self imposed exile. The club had separated from the COA in protest over Mr. Wey’s dismissal. “They left because of all the nonsense,” Mr. Gagnon said.

Following the meeting, Mr. Gagnon had high praise for Ms. Cogliano. “Rose turned this place around,” he said. “It’s been difficult, at best, but this place is much better than it used to be.  There’s no more fighting. It’s a happy place to come now.”

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Ralph Packer saved the day after heavy seas snapped the barge anchor lines hours before the show.

President Obama watched the Oak Bluffs fireworks from the North Bluff porch of Valerie Jarrett. (Photo by Max Bossman) — Photo by Max Bossman

The estimated 12,000 spectators at the annual Oak Bluffs Fireman’s Civic Association fireworks show Friday night had no idea how close the show was to being postponed.

“The was by far the most difficult show I’ve had to deal with as chief,” Oak Bluffs fire chief John Rose told The Times. “We had a stiff northeast wind blowing 20 miles an hour and six to eight-foot seas, and two anchor lines on the barge broke. We lost the first anchor around 4 pm. When the second line broke, someone from [R.M.] Packer had to go back to Vineyard Haven for two more anchors.”

The wind direction also created additional complications. “Because the wind was out of the northeast, which is unusual for this time of year, we had to reposition the barge 1,600 feet offshore instead of the usual 600 feet,” Mr. Rose said. “We also had to move the barge 400 feet to the south so the debris wouldn’t fall on spectators or on buildings in town.”
Mr. Rose said that he and state fire marshal Stephen Coan were in constant contact with the National Weather Service station in Taunton, which provided critical data that informed the final fireworks decision. “They told us winds would diminish from sustained 20 miles an hour to sustained 14 miles an hour between six and eight o’clock,” Mr. Rose said. “They called it on the money.”

After a frenetic afternoon of repairing, recalculating, and repositioning, a test shot that was fired shortly after 5:30 pm showed the barge needed to be moved further offshore.

“We were having trouble orienting the barge because of the wind and the strong currents” Warren Pearce, president of American Thunder Fireworks told The Times. “I was pretty panicked. Then I called Ralph Packer and he told me the tide was going to change in an hour and the current will switch and the wind will drop and we’d be all set. He was right. That man knows what he’s doing.”

Mr. Pearce, a 25 year veteran of the fireworks industry, said Mr. Packer makes many unseen contributions to the show every year. “Generally barges are an expensive addition to a show, but not in this case, because Ralph donates it. He also has his guys pitching in doing all kinds of things. They’re an integral part of making this work.”
Mr. Rose also gave kudos to Mr. Packer. “He was generous enough to tell the tugs to stay on the barge during the show,” Mr. Rose said. “As long I can remember, it’s the first time we had tugs holding the barge in place. Without the tugs there wouldn’t have been a show. Mr. Packer stepped up and saved the day.”

Mr. Pearce said Mr. Rose also deserved credit. “Chief Rose called me four days before the show and said he was concerned about the forecast and that wind was going to be a problem,” he said. “That informed what equipment we brought and in the end we had what we needed. We had a plan in place even before we got there and John was an integral part of it.”

Mr. Rose said the annual fireworks show requires a great deal of planning and coordination, even in ideal conditions. “Nobody realizes all the different things that go into the fireworks show,” he said. “We do a ton of pre-planning, starting right after the first of the year. Everything has to fall into place.”

Oak Bluffs officials are adjusting parking regulations and tightening security for fireworks night, Friday, August 22. — File Photo by Susie Safford

Oak Bluffs Police plan to tighten security for the Ocean Park fireworks this Friday. Added measures will include limited access points, searches of backpacks, coolers, and bags, strict traffic and parking bans, and more police officers.

All of Ocean Ave. will be closed to traffic at 3 pm for the fireworks. Seaview Ave., from Lake Ave. to Samoset Ave., will be closed at 4 pm. There will be parking at Sunset and Waban Parks. Handicap parking will be available at the Steamship Authority staging area and around the Civil War monument.

Evening SSA ferries and the New Bedford fast ferry will be re-routed to Vineyard Haven. The 3 pm New York fast ferry to Oak Bluffs will arrive in Vineyard Haven at 8:30 pm. Expect delays. Choosing a pickup location out of the downtown area is recommended.

Shuttle bus service from Edgartown will be at the corner of Seaview and Tuckernuck Aves., at the Seaview Condominiums. The Vineyard Haven shuttle stop will be at the corner of Lake Ave. and Dukes County Ave.

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A victorious Civil War general, President Ulysses S. Grant signed the first Civil Rights Act.

President Ulysses S. Grant (seated, right) with his wife standing behind him. At left is General Babcock, his wife and niece; in center, Babcock's sister-in-law. The Bishop Haven Cottage on Clinton Ave. looks much the way it did when Grant visited, 140 years ago this summer. — Courtesy MV Museum

Martha’s Vineyard’s history is a rich narrative of people and events. In a regular series, The Times has invited the Martha’s Vineyard Museum to draw on its unique cache of contemporary photos and first-person accounts to describe interesting but often unfamiliar moments in Island history called to mind sometimes, but not always, by current dates or events. This latest installment draws from an article “When Grant Took the Island” by Arthur Railton in the Dukes County Intelligencer (vol. 29, no. 1, August 1987).

Four generations (and friends) at the Bishop Haven House, Clinton Ave., Oak Bluffs: Aven Porrini (standing, front); Aven's great grandmother, Barb Horlocker (seated, green shirt) and her friend Sue Keyser (pink shirt); standing back: neighbor Justin Rogers; Jackie Kaser (homeowner); her daughter Karley Kaser (Aven's mother); neighbor Paige O'Flaherty. The Kaser family has owned the Bishop Haven Cottage since 1954, when Karley Kaser's grandparents bought it for $3,000 and proceeded to pay the loan off in $20 monthly installments. Karley has been coming to the cottage every summer since she was born. Ms. O'Flaherty and Mr. Rogers are engaged and plan to be married on the porch of her parents' cottage — just across Clinton Ave. — on August 21.
Four generations (and friends) at the Bishop Haven House, Clinton Ave., Oak Bluffs: Aven Porrini (standing, front); Aven’s great grandmother, Barb Horlocker (seated, green shirt) and her friend Sue Keyser (pink shirt); standing back: neighbor Justin Rogers; Jackie Kaser (homeowner); her daughter Karley Kaser (Aven’s mother); neighbor Paige O’Flaherty. The Kaser family has owned the Bishop Haven Cottage since 1954, when Karley Kaser’s grandparents bought it for $3,000 and proceeded to pay the loan off in $20 monthly installments. Karley has been coming to the cottage every summer since she was born. Ms. O’Flaherty and Mr. Rogers are engaged and plan to be married on the porch of her parents’ cottage — just across Clinton Ave. — on August 21.

Well before the highly publicized visits to Martha’s Vineyard of President Barack Obama, and before him, President Bill Clinton, 140 years ago another visiting president created a wave of excitement that generated headlines across the country and put Oak Bluffs, then a little-known resort community, on the map.

Ulysses S. Grant rose from poverty and obscurity to become the commanding general of Union forces during the Civil War and secure the victories President Abraham Lincoln so desperately needed to keep the Union and his presidency intact. On March 4, 1869, Republican Grant was elected as the 18th president of the United States.

President Grant was adamant that recently freed slaves enjoy the same rights as all Americans. He used federal troops to protect “freedmen” from the Klu Klux Klan and supported the Fifteenth Amendment, which stipulated that no state shall deprive any citizen of the right to vote because of “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” And on March 1, 1875, he signed the Civil Rights Act, described by historian H. W. Brands (“The Man Who Saved the Union, Ulysses Grant in War and Peace,” Doubleday, 2012) as “the most ambitious affirmation of racial equality in American history until then, a distinction it would retain until the 1960s.”

One year before he signed that landmark bill, President Grant visited Martha’s Vineyard where he enjoyed a fireworks display, Illumination Night and the adoration of thousands.

“It was nothing compared to the way he took Richmond, but when President Ulysses S. Grant visited Martha’s Vineyard for three days in 1874, he did, indeed, take it over,” Arthur Railton wrote in the his account of the president’s visit for the Dukes County Intelligencer. “Crowds numbering as many as 30,000 at times put on a stunning public display of affection for a President who, in the middle of his second term, was on the brink of a series of shocking scandals …

“The trip, which seems to have been planned in secret, probably had political motivation. Grant was being urged by some supporters to ignore the no-third-term tradition and run again in 1876. He seemed tempted to do so and his wife, Julia Dent, was eager that he run, as were some of his Cabinet.”

The New York Herald, in an editorial, suggested that President Grant might be trying to win over the Methodists, who “were congregating in Wesleyan Grove on Martha’s Vineyard for their annual camp meeting that August in 1874 and the President’s pastor, Rev. Dr. O. H. Tiffany of the Metropolitan Methodist Church in Washington, was there. It was he, the newspapers wrote, who had invited his famous parishioner to join him.”

A quiet bow

Although Mr. Grant did not have the luxury of speedy travel in a helicopter, he did get around, visiting Wellfleet, Hyannis, Nantucket, and Naushon over the course of his visit.

President Grant and his party traveled on a special three-car train placed at the disposal of the President by the Old Colony Railroad, which serviced Cape Cod. They also traveled on the steamer River Queen, an Island ferry since 1871.

“The River Queen docked at the Highland Wharf, which had been built in 1871 by the Methodists so they would not have to disembark at the Oak Bluffs Wharf and pass through the temptations offered in that ‘unholy’ summer resort. A horse-drawn trolley ran from the Highland Wharf directly into the Campground, delivering the faithful unsullied.

“Awaiting the President was a gaily decorated trolley car drawn by six gleaming black horses. The Vineyard Gazette described the arrival: ‘Immediately on arriving, the party entered one of the Vineyard Grove cars, drawn by six horses and appropriately decorated for the occasion, and, followed by a numerous concourse of carriages and pedestrians, proceeded to Clinton Avenue. On reaching that point, so great was the press, notwithstanding the five or six thousand who were congregated in and about the grandstand, that there was some difficulty in extracting the party from the cars; but they finally succeeded in effecting an escape into Bishop Haven’s cottage, where they might recruit a little before appearing to the people. . . . an immense bouquet composed wholly of the most elegant rosebuds and green attracting much attention. (Aug. 28, 1874).’”

Four generations (and friends) at the Bishop Haven House, Clinton Ave., Oak Bluffs: Aven Porrini (standing, front); Aven's great grandmother, Barb Horlocker (seated, green shirt) and her friend Sue Keyser (pink shirt); standing back: neighbor Justin Rogers; Jackie Kaser (homeowner); her daughter Karley Kaser (Aven's mother); neighbor Paige O'Flaherty. The Kaser family has owned the Bishop Haven Cottage since 1954, when Karley Kaser's grandparents bought it for $3,000 and proceeded to pay the loan off in $20 monthly installments. Karley has been coming to the cottage every summer since she was born. Ms. O'Flaherty and Mr. Rogers are engaged and plan to be married on the porch of her parents' cottage — just across Clinton Ave. — on August 21.
Four generations (and friends) at the Bishop Haven House, Clinton Ave., Oak Bluffs: Aven Porrini (standing, front); Aven’s great grandmother, Barb Horlocker (seated, green shirt) and her friend Sue Keyser (pink shirt); standing back: neighbor Justin Rogers; Jackie Kaser (homeowner); her daughter Karley Kaser (Aven’s mother); neighbor Paige O’Flaherty. The Kaser family has owned the Bishop Haven Cottage since 1954, when Karley Kaser’s grandparents bought it for $3,000 and proceeded to pay the loan off in $20 monthly installments. Karley has been coming to the cottage every summer since she was born. Ms. O’Flaherty and Mr. Rogers are engaged and plan to be married on the porch of her parents’ cottage — just across Clinton Ave. — on August 21.

“The Grants were given a half hour’s respite before being escorted on foot the one hundred yards or so to the Tabernacle, then a huge canvas tent, where thousands had assembled for the occasion. The regular afternoon services had been sparsely attended as most of the faithful had witnessed the President’s arrival. The regular evening service had been cancelled. The Methodist newspaper, Zion’s Herald, described the scene this way: ‘Even calm Presiding Elder Talbot flushed a little in the face, as he mounted the stand under the canopy and introduced the President of the United States, not to worshipping, but applauding thousands.’

“Grant did not speak after his introduction, instead, ‘as usual he responded with a quiet bow.’ The Vineyard Gazette gave a few more details of the occasion: ‘. . . the space under the canopy and for rods around was one dense mass of eager humanity, such as probably was never known here before. . . Amid a perfect burst of applause, the President was presented, bowing in response to the enthusiastic salutations of the multitude. . . After the singing of “America,” the party returned to Bishop Haven’s cottage. . . [where] the President again appeared a moment on the cottage balcony and then withdrew and was seen no more till six o’clock, when he dined at the Central House.’

“The Gazette reporter may have missed a good story. The New Bedford Mercury reported that after returning to the Haven cottage, the President slipped out to make a private and relaxing visit: ‘The President called at the cottage of Alderman J. H. Collins of Cambridge on Merrill Avenue, and indulging in a quiet smoke, under the admiring gaze of some 20 spectators. . . the crowd didn’t get wind of this movement, which was effected by a neat little bit of backdoor strategy.’”

On the map

“After dining at the Central House, the President and Mrs. Grant were driven around the Campground and, outside it, along the streets of Oak Bluffs to enjoy the Illumination, that display of Japanese lanterns which is today a Campground tradition. It had been introduced six years earlier by the Oak Bluffs Land and Wharf Company outside the Campground, but in recent years, it had spread to Clinton Avenue, within the hallowed area.”

On his last night on the Vineyard, President Grant was the guest of honor at a supper hosted by J. W. Harper of the publishing house, Harper Brothers of New York. “The affair was held at the famed Sea View Hotel, the newest and finest hotel in Oak Bluffs, overlooking Nantucket Sound. It was, no doubt, an elegant affair.”

The following account reveals that in some aspects, presidential visits have not much changed.

“After the supper, another reception followed, this one given in Grant’s honor by Holder M. Brownell, manager and later owner of the Sea View Hotel. It was described vividly by the reporter from the New York Herald: ‘. . . [present were] several hundred ladies and gentlemen, the latter appearing in full dress and the fair sex in the choicest and most elegant toilets which a refined taste or a craving desire for display could possibly conceive. . . those who were not favored with cards of invitation contenting themselves by crowding the corridors and piazzas of the mammoth hotel and peeping through the windows for a glance at the Executive lion. There were thousands of these coming and going all the evening and the scenes outside were scarcely less enlivening and brilliant than those inside. The rustic policemen who were on duty found their authority was not respected and early in the evening they surrendered to the multitude. . . probably not less than a thousand ladies and gentlemen were presented to the President ….’”

Mr. Railton said that the Methodist clergy left the reception about the same time as the President because right after Grant’s departure, “the guests began what was called the ‘hop,’ with dancing going on until after midnight.

“It was, without doubt, the Sea View’s finest hour. It was much more than that: it was overwhelming proof that Oak Bluffs had made it into the big time as a summer resort. Laudatory articles appeared in the major newspapers of the country each day describing the Presidential visit and most mentioned the physical charm of the Vineyard. The weather was superb during the entire three days and the reports praised the loveliness of this delightful seaside paradise. In a year of economic depression, such publicity must have buoyed the spirits of the directors of the Oak Bluffs Land and Wharf Company who were having some difficulty selling their building lots. The Presidential visit had put Oak Bluffs on the front pages of America and they began to dream of replacing Newport as the East Coast’s finest summer resort.”

The following day, Sunday, the Big Sunday of Camp Meeting, as the final day was traditionally called, President and Mrs. Grant attended the morning service and then boarded the Monohansett, bound for New Bedford. The President said nothing upon departing.

“He bowed slightly, waved to the crowd, and with Julia on his arm walked up the gangplank. The steamer pulled away, the crowd dispersed and life on the Vineyard returned to normal.”

 

Highlights of President Grant’s Civil Rights Efforts

Following an unrelenting spate of violence against freed slaves and Republicans, Grant explained his use of federal authority to enforce the law in the southern states and argued for Civil rights legislation:

“To the extent that Congress has conferred power upon me to prevent it, neither Ku Klux Klans, White Leagues, nor any other association using arms and violence to execute their unlawful purposes can be permitted in that way to govern any part of this country; nor can I see with indifference Union men or Republicans ostracized, persecuted, and murdered on account of their opinions, as they now are in some localities. I now earnestly ask that such action be taken by Congress as to leave my duties perfectly clear.”

President Grant commented after he signed “An Act to Enforce the Provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment,” also known as the Klu Klux Klan Act:

“It is my earnest wish that peace and cheerful obedience to law may prevail throughout the land and that all traces of our late unhappy civil strife may be speedily removed. These ends can be easily reached by acquiescence in the results of the conflict, now written in our Constitution, and by the due and proper enforcement of equal, just, and impartial laws in every part of our country.”

President Grant reached out to the North and South in his first inaugural address:

“The country having just emerged from a great rebellion, many questions will come before it for settlement in the next four years which preceding administrations have never had to deal with. In meeting these it is desirable that they should be approached calmly, without prejudice, hate, or sectional pride, remembering that the greatest good to the greatest number is the object to be attained.”

As a general and president, Grant was a man of few words and used the following speech often:

I rise only to say that I do not intend to say anything. I thank you for your hearty welcomes and good cheers.”

General Grant on war:

The art of war is simple enough. Find out where your enemy is. Get at him as soon as you can. Strike him as hard as you can, and keep moving on.”