Boston Black Brahmin, Harlem Renaissance writer, was raised in Oak Bluffs
On this day in 1998, Dorothy West died on Martha's Vineyard. The Boston-born writer was the last living member of the Harlem Renaissance, a movement of African-American artists, writers, and musicians that energized American culture in the 1920s.
Although profoundly influenced by her years in New York, West was strongly tied to Massachusetts to the exclusive society of Boston's "Black Brahmins" in which she was raised and to the Martha's Vineyard town of Oak Bluffs where she spent idyllic childhood summers and where she lived for the last half of her life. From her cottage in Oak Bluffs, the former Methodist revival camp that became the nation's first black resort, West wrote stories and novels that illuminated the class- and color-consciousness she observed first hand in African-American society.
In the summer of 1992 the Kennedy Museum opened, and the Travel advisory on this day in the Sunday New York Times wrote;
The John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum, which opened last month in Hyannis, Mass., is the first public facility in the town to illustrate the late President's life on Cape Cod. President Kennedy used Hyannis Port as a summer White House.
Housed in the historic brick Old Town Hall, the museum exhibits some 50 photographs spanning the years from 1934 when Kennedy was 17 to his death in 1963. The pictures, displayed gallery style and interspersed with printed quotations, show the President in candid and formal portraits with family members, his Cabinet and government officials. Others show him playing touch football with his PT-109 comrades, sailing and golfing. Museum organizers hope to add a video and some family memorabilia, such as the scrimshaw that the President made.
(Above: The museum is at 397 Main Street, Hyannis, and is administered by the John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum Foundation, Inc.)
"Mall Becomes a Harbinger of Change In the Character of Cape Cod Village"
In August of 1988, the New York Times reported:
J. F. O'Connell of Ponte Vedra, Fla., who spends summers here, said Wellfleet has changed since last season and not for the better. In particular, he misses the old clapboard post office on Main Street. It served as a place for Wellfleetians to exchange greetings and news and conduct business. The post office was closed last February and officially moved to a new building on the outskirts of town, where it will be part of Wellfleet's first mall.
With it, Mr. O'Connell and many other residents fear, went part of the character and life of Wellfleet, one of the last villages on Cape Cod that retains a vital, old-fashioned center.
''I used to enjoy walking to the post office and saying hi to people,'' Mr. O'Connell said on a recent visit to the new building, on busy Route 6. With traffic at its worst in July and August, he said, ''Many people get their mail delivered and have given up coming here,'' adding, ''You don't get the social contact of the old place.''
Read the entire story in the New York Times here.