Happy 90th, Shirley!

Today my friend Shirley Mayhew turns 90. If I don’t finish this post PDQ, I’ll have to say yesterday.

I’ve met many, many amazing women in my life, but Shirley is near the top of the list. Shirley moved to Martha’s Vineyard, the young bride of island native John Mayhew, in 1947. That’s the year my parents got married. I was born four years later. I didn’t lay eyes on Martha’s Vineyard till 1965. I didn’t move here (for a year, just for a year) till 20 years after that.

If anyone calls Shirley a wash-ashore, I might have to take up dueling.

looking backFor the last several years Shirley and I have both been in Cynthia Riggs’s Sunday night writers group. This is how I first heard most of the essays in Shirley’s wonderful collection Looking Back: My Long Life on Martha’s Vineyard (2014).

If you’ve any interest in recent or not-so-recent Vineyard history, you need this book.

Shirley notes that 40 years passed between the publication of her first book, Seasons of a Vineyard Pond, and the publication of her second. It will most emphatically not be 40 years between the publication of the second and third. Her third, a children’s book about the day the circus came to Martha’s Vineyard (in 1963), is in the works. She’s collecting essays for a fourth, about her adventures in a small Andean village in the 1980s.

Meanwhile she contributes regularly to Martha’s Vineyard Magazine, the Vineyard Gazette, and the Martha’s Vineyard Times. She has also made several contributions to this blog: “The Musicales: Then and Now,” “Community,” and “A Miracle.”

When you’ve got someone who’s that observant, has been around that long, and writes that well, you’ve got a treasure on your hands.

Plus Shirley is just plain cool. I’m glad to know her, and I’m glad she knows me, and if I ever grow up, I hope I get to be like her.

Happy birthday, Shirley.

Shirley (left), Nancy Aronie, and Arlene Bodge at Cynthia Riggs's bridal shower, February 2013

Shirley (left), Nancy Aronie, and Arlene Bodge at Cynthia Riggs’s bridal shower, February 2013

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.
This entry was posted in Martha's Vineyard, writing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Happy 90th, Shirley!

  1. Party on, Shirley! What a role model….

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Shirley Mayhew says:


    What a wonderful tribute — thank you so much! I am humbled by the people who have noticed and commented on my birthday — I guess it is somewhat of a triumph to reach 90 after a good and fortunate life — all the people I used to party with have died, and so I am having my third “orphans” party on Saturday — they are my children’s generation, the children of my friends, and I have known most of them since birth and I love them all. One is coming from Duxbury, and another from Durham, NC; the others all live on MV.

    The writers’ group is my only constant event and I treasure it – moving around is getting harder — thank goodness I can write sitting down!

    See you Sunday — thanks again — I am lucky to call you a friend….

    Love, Shirley


  3. This is so inspiring to read that a woman turning 90 has still so many projects to accomplish. She seems to be an exceptional person and I feel happy for you that you got to meet her so well. Hope the birthday celebration was a great one.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.