In the discreet and proper late nineteenth era, “leg” was on the proscribed vocabulary list. Supporting “members”, such as table and chair “legs”, were referred to as “limbs”. Out of modesty, tables were given skirts, lest too much leg be seen. Uncomfortable names were often replaced. On the Vineyard, the Tisbury town of Holmes Hole (“Hole”! Gracious me!) was rechristened “Vineyard Haven”.
In West Tisbury, Cowplop Lane got a new handle — Music Street. Not a bad name for a street. This name change was inspired, we are told, by the fact that every house on the street had a piano, and that on summer evenings, the air was always atinkle with notes wafting from windows. When I think of the Music Street children I grew up with, in West Tisbury, almost all of them had musical talent, and most of those who made music then, fifty and sixty years lago, still make music today.
That’s nice. Really nice. We need music.
There’s music at the Congregational Church at the head of Music Street. Inside is a real tracker and slide organ, and there’s a decent choir. The congregation sings, too, from the venerable Pilgrim Hymnal. The bell in the tower rings a G sharp. It’s time for us to look sharp, and start on a walk down Music Street. East to west we’ll go.
Music Street is the street of my childhood. It’s the street where I went to school for the first six grades. It’s the street my friends lived on. If they didn’t live on Music Street, the driveways to their houses began on Music Street. It used to be that the usual address for deliveries to those homes was simply “off Music Street”. A few years ago, “enhanced 9-1-1 capability” regulations were imposed. All roads were required to be named. Street numbers were assigned. By a consulting firm, of course. Now all our roads have names and all our houses have numbers. Boring. We no longer have such simple and esoteric addresses.
Here is the start of Music Street, circa 1910.
We pass the old library, once part of the Dukes County Academy. The town built a new library, and this structure has since seen use as a police station, as town offices, and has also housed various other organizations. Beneath this Mansard roof a theater group now chews the scenery, .
Across the street is the Cook’s old house..
In the early spring, the front yard turns blue. Thousands of scilla bulbs have naturalized throughout the grass. The annual display of azure is one of the annual Wonders of Music Street.
Next door is the home of a Famous Writer. If you haven’t read his books, you’ve heard his voice.
Across from the Famous Writer’s house is “Gerty Terdy’s” house. That’s what we called her, back then, though never to her face. The house has a nifty fence in front, which has alway been painted white.
Do check out the fence in front. It’s an interesting construction, an example of nonpickety fence. The story we always heard was that the design was taken from a fence at the Tivoli Garden, over in Europe.
Diagonally across from Gerty’s, we see the Athearn’s house. Four children were raised in this diminutive cottage. In the big flat lawn, on the grass of this place, gangs of West Tisbury children spent many hours. After dark, there were nightcrawlers to be found here. Also after dark were night games like Flashlight Tag, Wooly, and Sardines. Must not forget Hamhamchickenham(bacon!), though that was most often a daytime game.
Then the Blocks house. For years it was always neat as a pin, though it’s been neglected a bit lately. Bill and Sophie are gone, and the heirs are not so attentive. Every time I walk by I want to pull those bittersweet vines off, before they cover the place and rip off the gutters and downspouts. Bittersweet and wisteria can pry the shingles right off your outside walls. Bittersweet is New England kudzu.
We’ll skip Tom Craven’s old place, and return to Tom in another post at another time. We’ll skip the old Marshall house, too.
But we have to take time to feel the bark of the giant tulip tree, the largest tree on the street.
We once again admire Betty Knox’s place. Her kolkwitzia, her beauty bush, is in full bloom.
A Maley statue, at the end of the Maley driveway, peeps out through more bittersweet.
Here’s “The Road” (to my house…)
See you later.