Menemsha Texaco Martha’s Vineyard, June 1978


I remember thinking that Menemsha Texaco had really high prices, 72 cents a gallon for regular. We had spent some time on Nantucket and a lot of time on Cape Cod, butThe Vineyard was a mystery to us until June of 1978. During a vacation we often stay at more than one place. Sometimes it’s because a rental is only available for part of the time and sometimes we want to cut our losses if a rental really turns out to be awful. We’ve rented in a lot of places and there’s never been one we disliked so much we were sorry to be there.


Our first rental on The Vineyard was an old cottage in the woods just outside of Menemsha, a perfect rustic town on the Cape Cod side of the island. I remember the house being very dark. I also remember it was close to a lot of drawing possibilities. The second two weeks we rented a big, airy, bright house at the edge of a swamp in Gay Head, named for the Gay Head Indian tribe. Even though the house was next to a swamp and featured the largest moths I have ever seen beating against the sliders at night when the lights were on inside, we rented it for a whole month when we went back in 1980. I had to drive the half hour to Menemsha to draw more of those terrific scenes. I think I spent more time drawing during those months on The Vineyard than at any other time in my life. Everywhere I turned there was something else I wanted to put on paper.


During an earlier trip to Wellfleet on Cape Cod in 1975, Gerry wanted steamers but there were none to be had. We were told that the steamers sold on Cape Cod all came from Martha’s Vineyard, and all the boats on The Vineyard had been hired for the movie Jaws, which was being shot there that summer.


Years later a guy with a boat was offering sightseeing trips from Menemsha to Cuttyhunk, one of the Elizabeth Islands that drop off the end of Cape Cod. Cuttyhunk describes itself as “a place to do a whole lot of nothing.” We took the ride one day anyway. The boat owner gave the impression of being an old salt and I remarked that it must have been a drag when Jaws was shooting. He said, “Are you kidding? I loved it. Did you see that Volkswagen Minibus at the pier? I bought that with what I made on the movie.” He went on to reminisce about the mechanical shark not working very well and how he got to watch the “dailies” every morning.

This is the house we rented for the second half of the trip, the one next to the swamp. It doesn’t look like much but the sunrises and sunsets were spectacular. Amy is at the bottom of the ramp with Poocher who belonged to Gerry’s brother.

Amy was almost 5 and really liked Poocher.


Copyright Neil Borrell

All material copyright 2016  Neil Borrell

Text Box: Email