After three days on Martha’s Vineyard, MA, the part of the region I was perhaps most charmed by was the island of Chappaquiddick. Secluded, pristine beaches, beautiful sunsets, a 250-acre wildlife refuge. My son, age 8, caught his first fish there.
Chappaquiddick doesn’t yet have quite the exorbitant real estate or rental prices of the rest of the Vineyard. You can really commune with nature, and with the beach, find beautiful shells and spy exotic birds.
Above, left: Our son Alex aboard the On-Time Ferry between Edgartown and Chappaquiddick. Above, right: Our dog Shiloh playing with and pawing a live, sputtering fish on Chappaquiddick Island. (I took these photos with LG cell phone with camera and emailed them to my computer.)
It seems most beach destinations of my youth on the East Coast are now over-developed and over-crowded. This is one place that isn’t yet.
Do a Google search on Chappaquiddick and most of the links are to a long ago political scandal involving Senator Edward Kennedy in 1969 when he was 37 years old. He drove his car off the rail-less Dike Bridge, a young woman who was his passenger drowned, and he failed to report the accident for eight hours. Dig deep enough on images.google.com, and there are some fantastic photographs of Martha's Vineyard, and of Chappaquiddick by Philip Greenspun on Photo.net, along with an informative essay about Ted Kennedy's old haunts on the island. This photo appears courtesy of Greenspun. His site is well worth a gander -- artistic, professional, travel photography at its best.
Chappaquiddick is being discovered by a generation that wasn’t born in 1969, can’t remember or don't care that Senator Kennedy made the place notorious. Ironically, Bill and Hillary Clinton, with their presidential visits, made Martha's Vineyard quite chic. Edgartown and Vineyard Haven have many upscale cutesy shops -- expect to pay $20 for three sandwiches and three drinks. Hollywood celebrities "summer" there. "Where do Bill and Hillary like to vacation?" The New York Times asks in an attractive ad promoting its travel section online. Click, and you see an overview piece, "36 Hours in Martha's Vineyard," including a section on "Chappy," without mentioning the once-notorious incident at Dike Bridge.
A visit to Dike Bridge at dusk, with the wind whistling through the reeds, remains creepy and spooky. My wife and son did not share my morbid interest in recalling the details of the Kennedy accident or retracing his path, but my wife did start telling ghost stories and my son, not easily frightened, got scared. Maybe the place is haunted.
Today, in our far more safety-conscious society, Dike Bridge has large railings around it. Big signs warn that only four-wheel drive, rough terrain vehicles are allowed across it, and that other vehicles are likely to get stuck in the sand. Even an inebriated senator might think twice before driving a big car across it. And just think if the island had been wired for telephone lines or wireless cell phones back then. For want of a phone call, some might say the Kennedy restoration to the presidency was lost.
- Martha’s Vineyard webcams
- Philip Greenspun's New England photo site, including artistic photos of Martha's Vineyard and Chappaquiddick, retracing Ted Kennedy's steps that fateful weekend.
- Great Escape: Wasque Beach on Chappaquiddick, one of the best beaches in New England, according to WHDH-TV, with video clip.
- "36 Hours in Martha's Vineyard," The New York Times.