The northern tip of Martha’s Vineyard Island is defined by two peninsulas of land that protrude into the Vineyard Sound. To the west is Vineyard Haven, to the East is Oak Bluffs. A further definition of these two protrusions is their distinction as “Chops” --
West Chop, in Vineyard Haven, and East Chop, in Oak Bluffs. They both claim sentinel roles as watch-guards due to their lighthouses that sit on the furthermost tips of the land.
East Chop Lighthouse erected 1878. Coordinates: 41 28 13 N 70 34 03 W
West Chop first erected 1817. Coordinates: 41 28 51 N 70 35 59 W www.newenglandlighthouses.net
Saturday morning, I made date to visit a tag sale being held by a local establishment called Rainy Day. The owner alerted me that she was cleaning out her inventory and warehouse with her annual Fall Tag Sale. She knew that I am building a home on the Island, and she suggested she might have some things I could use. “Show up at 9:30am,” she said, “The sale starts at 10!!” When I set out, I was a few minutes early, so I decided to take a more circuitous route from Oak Bluffs to Vineyard Haven. This involved touring the “Chop.”
|An East Chop home|
East Chop is a small, exclusive area of the Island. It rests on the bluffs that overlook the Vineyard Sound. The road that hugs the curve of the land is the main thoroughfare. However, traffic has been rerouted recently due to erosion of the cliffs. I decided to turn into the fleshy part of the Chop on Saturday morning. Even after fifty years, I find myself turned around and disoriented by the dead end dirt roads and the NO TRESPASSING signs that are nailed to posts and nearby trees. For a land mass with little, if any, fencing, privacy is highly regarded and even more highly respected. The houses on East Chop are not all of the variety of sixteen bedroom summer homes, but many are. The taxes on these properties are astronomical. Interwoven among the Q.E. II’s of shingle style architecture are a few On Time Ferries (the small two car ferry that runs between Edgartown and Chappaquidick) of American ranch design. The entire twenty-five acre area is thick with scrub oaks that have been gnarled and twisted by the constant wind blowing down from the North. Interspersed throughout the highland are small “parks.” These are small, open plots of land that are owned by the East Chop Association. They have been preserved in perpetuity. Also, East Chop has a Tennis Club (private, members only), a Beach Club (private, members only) and a Yacht Club (private, members only). These guarded Clubs contribute to the feeling of breathing rarified air on East Chop.
As I toured the Chop on Saturday morning, my heart fluttered a little when I saw a sign reading, “Estate Sale.” Those words speak of all kinds of promise that are not present when I see a hand-lettered sign for a “Tag Sale,” a “Garage Sale,” a “Yard Sale” and a “Moving Sale.” The word ESTATE conjures up silver and paintings, fine linens and antiques. I joined a queue of cars parked alongside a long driveway that passed over a small bridge. Walking in, two buildings came into view. One appeared to be a house, the other a barn of some sort. There were an assortment of wooden chairs, oars and crates displayed outside. Inside, about ten or twelve people were gathered in the kitchen and dining room -- picking over the detritus of an empty home. One of most thoroughly bundled women (no heat on a cool, fall morning was explanation enough for me) encouraged us to look upstairs and in the bedrooms. There was an adjoining apartment as well as a workshop to look through she said. There were partial sets of plastic plates, and well-use pots and pans. I saw pseudo-ceramic lamps -- I wasn’t quite sure what they were made of, but the color was scratching off to reveal something white and lumpy beneath. There were a couple of beds and some tired bureaus. A fluffy down comforter that had been well-loved. The adjoining apartment was almost entirely tools. I asked a price on the fireplace tool set. When the owner named his price as $50, I knew we would be too far apart to make a deal. I checked out a couple of oars that I could see using for decorative purposes, but they were out of my price range, and came in pairs only. The barn was neat and the best organized area of the “Estate.” If I had been a machinist, I would have cleaned up. I almost made an offer on a metal box filled with wrenches. Then my head cleared and I asked myself vital question, “What would you do with this?” That question is the biggest and best technique I have to curb spending. If I can not answer precisely the use and functionality of an item, I rarely consider buying it.
When I picked over the Rainy Day Tag Sale, I found a table cloth and six napkins, a small bench, a candelabra, a decorative bamboo ladder and a small 20” Christmas tree. I could see exactly how I would use each item in the present and the future. As it turned out, I didn’t have to go to an East Chop Estate Sale to come home feeling like I had made out like a millionaire.
|Into town from East Chop -- just as beautiful!|