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.
For 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.