The Vineyard We Knew—A Recollection of Summers on Martha's Vineyard
Kevin Parham, author
The Vineyard We Knew is a personal account of the summers Kevin spent on Martha’s Vineyard with his siblings and cousins when they were young and under the care of their strict grandmother, Carrie White. The story takes place in the 1960’s—under very humble circumstances—at a time when America’s social and political landscapes were evolving. These vignettes, though very personal, are also universal. They open up to a reader a world that many of them will not know, but one they will still recognize. The Vineyard We Knew is almost elegiac in nature, in that it creates a sense of nostalgia—even in a reader who had never been there. Kevin’s experiences on the Vineyard had had a profound effect on him as he grew older. They were not only very influential, but they also molded and shaped his perspective about life and living. These experiences taught Kevin many of life’s lessons, including the fact that where we end up in life, and who we ultimately become, is the result of not only the environment in which we find ourselves, but also the decisions we make along the way.
Supported by 33 photographs, Parham, a professional musician, warmly describes the idyllic African-American childhood summers spent with six cousins on Martha’s Vineyard, before it became a vacation spot for the rich and powerful. The memoir is a tribute to Parham’s grandmother, Carrie White, the family’s strong-willed matriarch, who had brought her brood to the picturesque island off Massachusetts since the 1930s, setting up seasonal residence in an old two-bedroom house. Parham details the spirited interaction between his cousins while painting a candid portrait of his hard-working mother and ultra-hip stepfather. His lyrical descriptions of the Vineyard—with its bicycling, boats, fishing, clamming, and crabbing—and anecdotes of youthful exuberance are peppered with classic tunes, dancing, early love, cheap wine, and house parties. (BookLife)