Old Stage Road

My last several posts (not counting the late license plate update) have been short on pictures and long on words, so this one aims to redress the balance a bit. These pictures were taken in the middle of January. Apart from the weekend we got eight inches of snow, January this year felt a lot like March so it doesn’t seem that long ago.

From where I live there are two ways out. The official route is Halcyon Way. (Stop laughing! This is West Tisbury we’re talking about!) Halcyon Way is half a mile long. Most of it’s dirt except for the bit between Old County Road and Island Children’s School. Those big shiny SUVs and minivans get to roll on asphalt en route to deposit the kidlets at their nursery school — whose parking lot, however, is dirt.

Entering the WT dump. That's the Dumptique at center right.

This blog is about the back way out. It’s the short route to the West Tisbury post office and the nearest branch of M.V. Savings Bank, which almost face each other across State Road. I take it often, sometimes by car and sometimes by bike, with Travvy trotting alongside attached to the Springer. Pine Hill, a dirt road, emerges from the woods across from the West Tisbury dump, which is what most people still call it although I think it’s now officially a transfer station. From the dump to State Road is the length of maybe two city blocks, but it’s jam-packed with Vineyard life. This is Old Stage Road. Welcome to my neighborhood.

On Martha’s Vineyard, anti-fashion is always in fashion. In some quarters you can score big brownie points by admitting — modestly, of course — that you scored that nicely tailored blazer at the thrift shop (which probably means the one run by Martha’s Vineyard Community Services in Vineyard Haven but may mean the one run by the M.V. Boys and Girls Club in Edgartown, which looks more like a real store). But you score even bigger points if your find came from the Dumptique, the recycling shed at the West Tisbury dump.

What part of "LEAVE NOTHING OUTSIDE" don't they understand?

The Dumptique is run entirely by volunteers. Occasionally someone will grumble that the volunteers hoard all the good stuff for themselves. There’s so much good stuff in stock, and more arriving all the time, that I doubt it.

West Tisbury people love to pride themselves on their high level of culture and civic responsibility, so I’m secretly pleased that some of us either can’t read or don’t think the rules apply to us. We leave stuff outside when the Dumptique is closed. We leave stuff that no one could possibly want, all to save a couple of bucks in disposal fees, or maybe we just prefer to believe we’re recycling instead of just throwing away junk.  This is why I don’t begrudge the volunteers first dibs on the good stuff. They save us from our secret slobbery.

Have shovel, will dig.

My favorite landscape on Martha’s Vineyard is Goodale’s pit: Lawrence of Arabia meets the industrial revolution. My neighborhood features a mini version: John Keene’s sand and gravel pit is across the street from the dump. Keene’s logo (right) is one of my most favorites. Can’t decide whether it’s a bull or a Viking cow.

Keene's sand and gravel pit

Front gate: CLOSED. (It was Sunday.)

These two signs face each other across the road.

Now we’re ready to turn right on State Road and head up to the post office.

As my buddy and I strolled down Old Stage Road, who should we spot coming toward us but Lynn Christoffers in her very spiffy burgundy PT Cruiser. Lynn being a photographer, she had a camera on the passenger’s seat. Travvy being a dog, he had to look in the window. Here we are.

About Susanna J. Sturgis

Susanna edits for a living, writes to survive, and has been preoccupied with electoral politics since 2016. She just started a blog about her vintage T-shirt collection: "The T-Shirt Chronicles." Her other blogs include "From the Seasonally Occupied Territories," about being a year-round resident of Martha's Vineyard, and "Write Through It," about writing, editing, and how to keep going.
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9 Responses to Old Stage Road

  1. Love the words and the photos! Will try to find your “back way”. My husband usually does the dump run, and though I’ve heard of the dumptique and sent stuff to the pile, I’ve never actually seen it. It has always had a mythical air to me. People have told tall-tales of the perfect brand-new or barely worn fabulous items in their size no-less. But before this month ends I want to see all of your stops along the way…


  2. jo says:

    i think the gravel pit logo is a viking construction worker with a Zubaz snuggie.


    • I thought something along those lines but it just occurred to me that the headgear might be a bull’s horns (bullhorns?) peeking through a hardhat rather than a Viking helmet. Might have to go ask somebody . . .


  3. susan robinson says:

    Terrific photo of you and Trav, different of each of you than any we’ve had before, each of you focussing but with such different expressions from each other. Lovely.


  4. Wendy says:

    Susanna, we’re going to be summer neighbors! We’ll be off State Road behind Cronig’s, Travvy can visit Nickleby, who will be confined to quarters for two months.



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