During my life in the Gone World, I rented summer digs in Martha’s Vineyard. The first rental was through the kindness of very rich friends who “hosted” my small family for a sum so minuscule it was actually a reverse- donation. The second time I was a bit more solvent than usual in those years as a book editor so I rented a cottage out in the Vineyard slums of Oak Bluffs. It was a light structure with a heavy rent set under some tall trees and raised up on cinder blocks. It was placed on a headland above a beach, and both the headland and the beach were made of sand. I reflected on this during the restful afternoon in September when my then wife and small daughter and I hunkered down as a hurricane blew through. We were on the edge of the storm so it only sort of nudged the house on its blocks a bit. I felt my daughter shudder and told her not to worry. At the same time I didn’t think houses were supposed to bounce on their foundation.
In my own mind, I was replaying that scene in Wizard of Oz where Dorothy gets spun up into the clouds (with her little dog too) and gets dropped on top of a witch. She opens the door into. . . colors!
Even with that ending, I didn’t fancy taking a ride on a hurricane while in a house. The hurricane did pass and I did make my way out into the shambles of Oak Bluffs. A few oaks were down in the roads and some small oaks had, I think, been uprooted and blown out to sea. It was not, the elite remarked at later dinner parties, at all as bad as was expected.
I walked to the edge of Oak Bluffs in a sudden absence of all wind. That’s when I sensed we were in the eye of the hurricane. Looking out to sea I saw just off the coast a vast bowl of water moving along the surface of a smooth sea with a slow swirl. The bowl of water just off the coast was higher than the headland on which I stood. I watched. It swirled. Then it passed us by.
That was in the Gone World. That was in Oak Bluffs where rent was a dollar a minute. That was on Martha’s Vineyard that was proud, DAMNED PROUD!, to have restaurants where your entree could clock in at a dollar a bite. And this was in 1985.
Martha’s Vineyard dinner parties were a cost-conscious alternative. As a book editor for the then venerable firm of Houghton Mifflin, I was considered entertaining and so we had as many invitations to these as I could wrangle. Having a beautiful wife who styled herself a “painter” helped me to no end.
But even though the rich old-money/new-money American elites that infest this once proud whaling station have no real-world problems they always have problems that seem real to them. At the dinner parties, with many servants and waiters always hovering about, one of the constant complaints voiced assertively at the table was ye olde “good help is so hard to find.”
Now, at long last, Governor Ron DeSantis feels their pain. . . .
Now thanks to DeSantis, problem solved. What a man.