The conclusion of Jerri Callahan-Turner’s story of her recent New England cruise.
Our next port was Newport, Rhode Island. A lovely dock, up close, with no problems walking wherever we wanted to go or to meet with our scheduled transportation and the guided tours.
I chose to do the Avenue of Mansions discovery tour. This was a 10-mile ride along Oceanview Drive , which was narrated for us by a local who seemed to know anything we could ask about the famous well-known people recognized by all of us. He pointed out this home and that home. Movie stars, T.V. personalities, exceedingly rich people, etc.
Many of the homes were mostly hidden by trees, walls and shrubbery but visible enough to know that their expensive car collections were well hidden and protected. All were huge by any standard with gorgeous landscaping adding to the beauty.
He did mention a name now and then, but not often, so I’m thinking perhaps they had been asked to hold back a little. He did at one point stop the bus – which also was not often done – and pointed out a huge, huge mansion set into the side of a hill. “There’s where Judge Judy lives folks. That’s about 3 miles in.” I personally thought, she must have quite a commute to work!
It was a lovely ride, and at one point we drove through a huge park. Every blade of grass was covered with humanity. And in the sky above were so many kites that there was no way to count them. All were made, it appeared to me, of some sort of heavy material or plastic. Each one was perfect, and I sat open-mouthed at the beauty.
A beautiful black stallion. A spaceship. A huge Buffalo. A couch. A pickup truck. Too many to remember.
I am sure there were dozens. It must have been a special day. A show or something. But it surely was a sight to behold! I still want to cry when I tell you, that in my effort to photograph this scene, my camera hit the floor and never worked again! This is a memory I will always have but will not truly be believed when I try to share it.
The highlight of this tour was a stop at “The Breakers.” This was the summer home of the Vanderbilt family. This building, in my eyes, was tipping out of the huge category into monstrous. We could walk in. The pathways were roped off in velvet, and each area had it’s own audio presentation to tell you what you were looking at.
Monstrously high ceilings, each room easily identified by the furniture. Every chair seemed to be “king” size to me, as though your feet wouldn’t touch the floor.
They must have loved billiards, for that room was huge!
There were a few rooms that no one could see. That was fine with me, because I was ready for a seat by the time we were finished and as I said, it was at your own speed. No rush.
I’m sure they needed all that space with the entertaining they must have done and the 32 daily servants, plus I’m sure many more for parties. A wonderful glamorous place ... just makes me tired thinking of the dusting.
Later that afternoon, I joined some fellow passengers in the walking tour of Fort Adams. It wasn’t far to get to the fort. But oh my, the going around and inside and under the fortress and up into the overhead stairways. It was quite something. Built by the English to protect against everyone else, I think.
There was so much built into it. We toured the officers quarters. Quite nice. The sleeping bunks of the soldiers, five high, and then moved down to the lower level, running under all special areas for targeting the enemy from below. Very close quarters and scary, and I’m not normally the least bit claustrophobic. It must have been safety from the fireballs or whatever coming in from the ships! The entry into the harbor was so well protected from all angles. It was actually very beautiful looking out to the sea from the points where the guns were stationed above.
Just as a happenstance, I was asked to join our evening entertainers for dinner. We had special entertainment every evening but this particular one was really outstanding. Three lovely local women, called “The Company Bees.” They dressed in WW2 uniforms and sang all during their show music of the ’20s through the ’50s inspired by and honoring the Greatest Generation.
I couldn’t help but marvel at how they kept those seams in their stockings straight. I remember being glad when seamless hose came into fashion. And their feet must hurt after all that time on high, high heels!
It was a fun evening, because they would sing someone’s favorite that they hadn’t heard in years and any other requests. The best part was that everyone knew almost every song they sang and were asked to join in! That’s entertainment! Oh, almost forgot to tell you, Robert asked me to dance and we were the only couple on the floor! Deep sigh. I think he missed his granny!
We docked at Martha’s Vineyard early the following morning. Since it is only accessible by boat and air, it has been primarily known as a summer colony, but it’s year-round population has increased considerably since the 1960s.
Taking the narrated tour of the island was very interesting. It is such a lovely spot, and as with other coastal areas, is filled with beautiful blue hydrangeas and other colorful blossoms peeking out of flower boxes taking your breath and making you think of your things at home... which may or may not need watering
We were taken to an area called Oak Bluffs, which showcased a number of gorgeous cottage homes with unbelievable gingerbread beauty! Such talented handiwork. There were real folks living there, sitting on their gingerbread porches who would just wave or talk. So pleasant!
The whole island is of course settled for tourists but some how, to this one at least, it felt welcoming and comfortable.
Another bit of very interesting information from our narrator: One of the earliest deaf communities in the United States was established here, and consequently, the Martha’s Vineyard sign language was developed on the island. I found this very interesting, and it was a fact quite unknown to me.
I was determined, when I left home, to discover how “Martha’s Vineyard” the name came to be.
As you read earlier, I mentioned that many Portuguese people came to this area. I asked my question and our narrator replied that it seems a Portuguese sea captain – first name Thomas, last one narrator didn’t remember – was sailing in this area, and noticed many, many, wild grapevines growing near to the shore. He was very fascinated by this and decided on the spot, to name this island after his small daughter, Martha, and that it would be called Martha’s Vineyard.
There you have it. Sweet and simple. It’s a lovely place, and I’m sure little Martha was also.
We were back aboard ship in time for late afternoon warm cookies and a very informative bit of information from Robert concerning the many lighthouses that had been in the area, and the part they had played in so many lives.
We left Martha’s Vineyard as we were having dinner and arrived at Provincetown, Massachusetts, at 6 a.m. next day.
I’m sleeping again but beginning to rouse a little. Another pretty port, and I had already decided to stay aboard on the last scheduled stop before Boston. Ports are busy places. I like watching the activity as I have another lobster roll (sandwich). An outdoor restaurant at the back of the ship is the perfect spot for this, but I would eat lobster on a wet log! The lobster fishermen are fun to watch. Those guys work at getting to work. Then the other folks who have spent the night aboard their vessels come wandering up to see what the day has to offer, with their coffee mugs.
I just enjoyed the boat, read, visited, listened to whatever was being presented, packed up and ready to head home before dinner time. We put our bags in the hallway at bedtime and they were loaded and ready to go to Boston in the morning. After breakfast, we all said good-byes we hadn’t done before.
Our bags were unloaded and claimed in Boston, loaded on our buses and headed for the airport.
This was a most satisfying trip for me and will stay in memory for a long time, but it is always nice to come home to your own pillow. And I will say, that for a time, I always miss that super sound sleeping that comes to me on the water! Thank you for coming along. JCT