Storyteller Susan Klein performs for Habitat for Humanity

— Photo by Susan Safford

The allure of our Island is sometimes as much the result of our understanding of its history as it is the beaches, and sun, the quiet walks in the woods, and the refreshing air we breathe. The opportunities we enjoy today are variations on themes first composed many years ago — stories that Susan Klein of Oak Bluffs has spent her life retelling. Thankfully, her stories bring a not-so-distant Vineyard past to life.

A born storyteller, Ms. Klein has charmed young and old alike around the world, on CD, in print, on the radio, and best of all in live performance. Saturday evening at the Performing Arts Center at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School, she presented “An Evening of Storytelling” to benefit Habitat for Humanity of Martha’s Vineyard. Her stories that night were of her childhood in Oak Bluffs, where she was raised by her German mother and a family of Amarals, Islanders of Portuguese decent. Her tales were of love and hope, mistakes and fun, collecting beach plums in locations that were and no doubt still are secrets held as close as any fisherman’s favorite fishing spots, and the mystic art of converting those beach plums into jelly. She told of a time when conservation was practiced without a name, when nothing was wasted, a time before seatbelts, when parking at the beach was never a problem, and when dogs ran without leashes, a time when thunderstorms were quite a bit more than just rain, wind, and lightning.

Habitat for Humanity’s mission “is to build simple, decent housing for families in the lowest qualifying income range.” To date, they have completed eight houses on the Island and have begun work on three more.