19 May, 2011

The Cottage on the Vineyard

The first time I remember being in the Cottage was 1963.  The Johnsruds stayed there and my sister and I stayed with our parents down the street in the pink house behind the Wesley House.  That was the summer my Mom cut her foot so badly on the beach.  My sister and I were enchanted with the floor grates in our second floor bedroom -- they afforded us the ability to eavesdrop on the adults downstairs.
Mary K. guarded the Cottage with all of the possessiveness of a mother lion protecting her cubs.  The Johnsruds were careful to observe all of her rules and the Campground’s regulations.  Of issue was how to enjoy alcohol on the porch.  Cousin D and I were excited to be allowed an overnight in the room that later became my bedroom.  For lighting effects, he draped a cloth over the lampshade and nearly started a fire.  That was the summer of “The Cousin’s Photo” – the five of us lined up in Martha’s Vineyard sweatshirts. It is an enduring icon of our family history.
The Cottage became my lynchpin: while our family moved, uprooted and began again, to meet my Dad’s career moves, the Cottage was home.  When life in Rhode Island became overridden with conflict at home in April, 1976,  I escaped to the Cottage. I was seventeen. It was no coincidence that I married an Islander.  Six weeks after our first child, H, was born, I took her to the Cottage to begin to earn her status as a ”sort-of Island girl”.  Our daughter, K,was captivated by a place where her creative expression was rewarded; she won first place in the All-Island Art Show in the Children's Division.  C, my third baby was tagged our Beach Baby Beach Bum after spending day after day under an umbrella at the Beach Club.   
As our family contemplates plans for my father's long term medical care, the piece of the equation that is difficult to resolve is the future of The Cottage.  It is his asset, it is my heritage.  The Cottage and the Island represent family, home and tradition to me.  In the days ahead, I will do what I can to preserve it....for my parents, for my children and for their children.   

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