This Was Then: Walter and Dorothy

She was the apple of her dad’s eye.

Walter Jenney of West Tisbury poses with his daughter Dorothy, before 1915. -Courtesy Chris Baer

Walter Jenney, a New Bedford blacksmith’s son, came to the Vineyard just after the turn of the 20th century, and clerked for the Vineyard Haven grocery, Bodfish and Call. He soon bought a home in West Tisbury with his wife Rebecca (“Reba”) and their only child Dorothy. He was a meat cutter by trade.

By the First World War, Walter had begun work with the S.M. Mayhew Co. (precursor to Alley’s). Renting a house on Middle Road, he became the manager of the Chilmark Store (under S.M. Mayhew ownership), and served as Chilmark’s assistant postmaster as well.

Eventually, Walter went back to work for his first employer, which had merged to become the conglomerate grocery store Smith, Bodfish and Swift. As SBS’s up-Island “general provisions salesman,” Walter delivered groceries to the west half of the Island, sometimes accompanied by Reba.

A rambunctious tomboy, Dorothy was “definitely the apple of his eye,” according to her daughter Carol (Jenney) Christensen of West Tisbury. Dorothy would later become a teacher — she taught junior high school English and ancient history in Edgartown — and later moved to Hopkinton. Dorothy died in 2008, at the age of 100.

Chris Baer teaches photography and graphic design at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School. He’s been collecting vintage photographs for many years.