Feelings of nostalgia are so much a part of the fall that you almost wonder if they shouldn’t be calculated in the meteorological reports: “Sunshine today mixed with clouds; resultant dappled light on the yellow and red trees could trigger memories of long-ago autumns, therefore we’re setting the NF -- nostalgia factor -- at .8”
My own NF occurred the other morning. Riding the bus eastward into Oak Bluffs, I remembered driving Charlie to second grade at the old Oak Bluffs School (where the library stands today). In those days we would start out at the far end of East Chop, making our way along New York avenue. Past the gas station, the road swoops gently upward. When you reach the crest of this rise, magic happens: The harbor opens up ahead of you, mostly empty moorings at this time of the year. To the right is the seaside rim of Victorian porches and cottages. Across the harbor you take in the littoral of wharves, reproduction Victorians and shanties designed with maximum, albeit touristy, charm. And there’s more -- gables, spires and towers as far as the eye can see. To the north is a vast pool of ocean and, over all, a lavish, seemingly infinite crown of sky.
But what I mostly loved in those early mornings of 1991 was the part of this coming-into-Oak-Bluffs view that sheerly took my breath away. This was the golden bowl of sunlight dazzling the southward sweep of harbor. You can still catch it these days, but it’s somewhat compromised by the squat, dark bathhouse. This was erected along the boardwalk shortly after I first started driving Charlie to school one stunning morning after the next. I know it’s way too late to revisit this issue; the bathhouse, arguably adorable with its stained glass windows set in a quaintly sloping roofline, has hunkered there for far too long, and the controversy it once engendered has gone the way of arguments about whether we really needed four whole presidents for the bas-relief of Mount Rushmore, or would three have been sufficient?
I must confess, though, that sometimes when the NF comes over me and I find myself missing the full effect of that view, I’ll fantasize a quick scheme for moving the bathhouse. Like maybe Our Market would be willing to relocate its recycling plant, and we could wedge the bathhouse in there? Or could we re-position it in the rear of one of the buildings along restaurant row on the east side of the harbor? I know, the brain is a terrible thing to waste, but it happens.
All the same, this approach into Oak Bluffs is still one of the world’s great views, right up there with the Bay of Naples (though we ought to see about getting our own Vesuvius), Key West from the sea, or the Seine along the Isle St. Louis. It’s just that this view of Oak Bluffs was even more inspirational in the good old days of 1991 and before.
Don’t forget the long-awaited 8th Grade Philly Trip Auction takes place Saturday, Oct. 25 at the P.A. Club. The silent auction starts at six, the live auction at 7:30.
On Sunday, Oct. 26 from 3 to 6 p.m., come enjoy the Oak Bluffs School Halloween party. This will include a potluck dinner in the cafetorium, costumes, contests, games, a haunted house, and more. Sign up to bring a dish on the PTO bulletin board. Admission is $3 per person, with no family to be charged more than $10 total. Dinner and snacks will be available for purchase.
The Oak Bluffs Book Fair is scheduled for Nov. 3 through 14.
At the Oak Bluffs Library, computer help appointments are again on offer: You can arrange a one-on-one lesson with a librarian. Learn how to e-mail, search the Web or the library’s catalog, or investigate computer skills of your own choosing. To make an appointment, call 508-693-9433.