Sixty-year-olds share a birthday bash in West Tisbury


Some people use social networking tools to overturn repressive regimes in the Middle East, while others have more mundane goals, like contacting friends — near and dear and long-lost — to invite them to the middle of West Tisbury to celebrate making it through six decades. Life partners Deborah Mayhew and Todd Follansbee, both 60, took the latter approach.

The seed was planted at Laura Murphy’s dinner table two years ago, when the idea of a joint 60th birthday party was proposed by either Ms. Mayhew or Mr. Follansbee — they can’t remember which. First they thought of a few close friends who might want to go in on it with them, but the seedling spread like a juiced-up zucchini plant.

Ms. Mayhew went through her yearbook from Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS), class of 1969, and Mr. Follansbee canvassed classmates from schools he atttended in Mamaroneck and Larchmont, N.Y. And then they turned to Facebook.

And the message went out: Come to the Ag Hall on April 23, the day after Earth Day, for a bash that would be part potluck, part old-time musicale, and entirely fun. And the message was received, loud and clear: they came from California, Florida, and North Tisbury. Nan Chalat, Ms. Mayhew’s original college rommate at Brown Univeristy, came from Utah. In all, some 300 revelers showed up to share the fun, most of them of that certain era, shall we say, but they were bookended by some elders and many who were younger. More than one third of the MVRHS class of 1969 made it, as did many of Mr. Follansbee’s old chums from New York.

Musicians by the dozens were lined up, and they all played for free. Starting with Tristan Israel and Paul Thurlow, the list included Niki Patton, The Tashmoo Trio (Christine McLean, Penny Huff, and Chris Seidel), Deborah Mayhew, Katie Mayhew, Mark Mazer, Sidra Dumont, William Waterway, The Flying Elbows (Tom Hodgson, Nancy Jephcote, Paul Thurlow, Brian Weiland, and Bob Hammond), and…

… finally, fabulously, came the Bodes, the homegrown rockers who made their mark on the Island in the early 1970s, a mark that no musician — neither rapper nor rhapsodist — can erase. Charlie Leighton, Jack Mayhew, Rick Convery, Pete Valenti let the good times roll one more time, and feet that might have been reluctant early in the evening could resist no longer.

Whatever their age and wherever they came from, folks at the Ag Hall Saturday night all had a great, even memorable, time. If anyone left without a smile on their face, they kept it well hidden.