If what connects us is stronger than that which would divide us, the miles between, say the streets of Central Brooklyn and a beach on an island in the Atlantic, can fade in a moment with the sharing of a story or a close encounter.
We had such an experience within the span of some 24 hours during our Independence Day Weekend “getaway” to New England. Captured in these photos in a special place that inspires self-expression are people who exemplify the enormity of Our Story, which is a compilation of so many different ones.
Our “escape” was not from home, but from the complexities wrought from institutions. With these people, we found we were very much at home.
Interceptions on Circuit Avenue
Dr. George Branche III, an orthopedic surgeon from Virginia, is a fourth-generation medical practitioner, and he told Our Time Press he’s most proud of his daughter carrying on the family tradition with her studies toward a degree in Public Health. At the moment when he began to talk about the legacy of his hardworking father, a group of young men passed by. One slowed down, looking hard at Dr. Branche, but he continued walking with his friends. Thirty seconds later, the young man returned. “Excuse me, are you a doctor?” In that moment, Dr. Branche connected with his patient of some years ago, Iric Harris, a then-star high school football defense player. Dr. Branche administered delicate, minute surgery to Harris’ ACL injuty; he had to wait out his entire junior year. Dr. Branche asked him how he was doing. As a response, Harris called back his UMass Minutemen friends. Harris, majoring in Hospitality and Dr. Branch will stay connected through social media.
Renaissance Man Spins Romance
Skip Finley is known throughout the nation’s media industry as a master sales and marketing guru. Mr. Finley and his wife, Karen, were the subjects of a NY Times high-profile article on long-time married couples where they shared their success secrets (daily “I Love You’s” and naked Thursdays-don’t ask). A columnist for the Vineyard Gazette, Mr. Finley makes time to pursue his interests in sport fishing, yoga and model trains. And last month he added another item to his extensive resume: author. Finley and California broadcaster Kathleen McGhee-Anderson just published A Martha’s Vineyard Love Story. July 5, at the Cousen Rose Gallery’s “… Love Story …” book signing, Skip took a few moments to sign several copies of his book for friend David Smith, head of the Stuyvesant Heights History Association, and share stories.
Groovin’ in the Grove
Trumpet player Ted Daniel always remembers Sistas’ Place on Nostrand Avenue – even when he’s miles away from the Nostrand Avenue jazz bistro: because they always remember him. And so it was on the Fourth of July. He took a short walk over to a tree grove after performing an emotional Taps between a Hoops Game. “They (Sistas) can’t hear the music I’m playing,” he told us. “Just tell them it’s called ‘Improvisin’ in the Breeze under Oak Trees.”
On July 4th Henrietta Rice watched young people play a Hoops game in Oaks Bluff a place which she says “gives children a sense of freedom and peace.” Making the decision to leave the Vineyard was not difficult. It was a matter of priorities; she and her late husband, John W. Rice Sr. sold the property in order to put their children through school. The Rev. John Jr., David, and Dr. Maria Rice Bellamy did not disappoint. Mrs. Rice visits the Island almost every year with her children, grandchildren and great grands, and where the memories of her late husband of 54 years, a former Korean War veteran who contributed to the Apollo II Space Project, are warm. To anyone who listens, she shares the stories of the Vineyard’s first Islanders of color and rich native and Black heritage, and the island’s first black school on Potato Road. The Maplewood, N.J. resident is seen here with her daughter, Dr. Bellamy, a professor of English at Staten Island College, CUNY, is author of Bridges to Memory: Postmemory in Contemporary Ethnic American Women’s Fiction.
Hoops! For One Family, that’s where it is
Dozens of teams have faced off over the years, thanks to one family that’s managed against the odds to keep their nonprofit Vineyard Streetball Classic tradition in motion for 12 years. Thanks to genius and dedication of Omar Daniel and his Uncle Michael Daniel, who put together the tournaments, in Oak Bluffs and in Atlanta, Georgia, many, many young people are having a ball. On July 4-5, the Island’s teams faced off in the Streetball 3-on-3 12th annual classic. The classic is primarily designed to promote exercise and improve and build basketball play areas for young people. The mission began with Omar and Michael but it is indeed a family affair, with Daniel family members leading the effort on every aspect of the games, dovetailing between Massachusetts and Georgia.
Bringing it Home
During the public reading at the Inkwell Beach of Frederick Douglass’ Forth of July address, Dr. Valerie Williams Dargan, Director, Department of Human Services, Bergen County, NJ, seated comfortably in a beach chair, told an onlooker to not block the view. Later, the onlooker and Dargan briefly discussed the force of Douglass’ remarks. The women soon learn they were raised on the same block, Greene Avenue, between Tompkins & Throop, and lived there at the same time. So on the Inkwell Beach, two hundred and sixty miles from Brooklyn, Dr. Dargan called the names of Bed-Stuy families, individuals and businesses she once knew four decades earlier : “Mrs. Penny, Miss Essie Simmons, the Gibsons, Renee, Flossie, Preston, Giggy, Alfred Drake, Mrs. Gamble, the Millers, the Knowles, Sid & Al’s, Mr. Leo’s, the Cofields …” and on and on. Then she said, “Let’s meet there, and walk corner to corner to record the history.”
(Bernice Elizabeth Green)
Hold the Date!
A Powerful Place in History …
Oak Bluffs is one of 10 communities included in a national exhibit, “Power of Place,” planned to inaugurate The National Museum of African American History and Culture, set to open on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. in late 2015.
The exhibition will incorporate artifacts and local knowledge of the Oak Bluffs community, plus replicate two cottage porch scenes.
On August 14 at 4:00pm at the Union Chapel in Oak Bluffs, Martha’s Vineyard Magazine in association with the Smithsonian is hosting a panel discussion with U.S. Representative Barbara Lee, Dr. Lonnie Bunch, the museum’s director, and a panel of longtime Oak Bluffs residents. Says Museum Curator Paul Gardullo, the “Power of Place” exhibition “highlights that ‘place’ is not just a physical or geographic location in the world, but is where culture is made, where memories and histories are kept and/or lost, where identities are created and recreated.” For ticket information, contact Nicole Mercier, 508-627-4311.