What was supposed to have been a book for family members and friends has, to my surprise, become much more than I had anticipated. At this time, I’d like to thank everyone who had supported me in this endeavor. The words of encouragement that I’ve received throughout this incredible journey—some of which were from people I’ve never met—is humbling, and I am truly grateful.
I had often wondered where my ability to write The Vineyard We Knew had come from, for, I had never formally studied the Literary Arts while at college. Then, it occurred to me that it must have been a genetic gift from my paternal grandmother.
A little history, if I may:
Back in the 1920s, my paternal grandmother, Marion Parham, used to teach African American children who lived in West Medford, Massachusetts, how to read and write. Though not a teacher by profession, Marion was an avid reader with highly developed literary skills, and, as a matter of routine, she would teach children in the living room of her home (the same home where I had spent my childhood).
One day, Marion decided to enter a writing contest sponsored by The Boston Globe. She was both surprised and elated after having learned that she had won first prize. However, when representatives from the newspaper had gone to her home to award the $100 prize, (a good chunk of change back then) not only was she denied the award because she was a black woman, but, to add insult to injury, they had thought it impossible for her to have written the winning entry.
Prior to writing The Vineyard We Knew—A Recollection of Summers on Martha’s Vineyard, I had no idea that I possessed the ability to write. And, though I had never met my paternal grandmother (she had passed away six years before I was born), my mother used to tell me what a wonderful and giving woman she was. I have Marion Parham to thank for my literary acumen.
After having spent most of my professional life in the music industry, and, recognizing the similarities (and pitfalls) inherent in the music business and in book publishing, I had decided to not only write a book, but also to create a vehicle by which I could publish my books. That is when I had established Pria Publishing.
Instead of relinquishing all content and creative rights to a major book publisher, small press, self-publishing company, independent or vanity press (all of whom will gladly take your money and offer little in return for what you can now do yourself) I had decided to assemble a team of experts (editors, cover designer, interior book designer, book manufacturer, distributors, publicity & promotional staff, etc.) and managed each facet of the production process. The amount of work that was required for this task seemed insurmountable at times, but, it was well worth it!
My heartfelt thanks go to everyone who helped to launch The Vineyard We Knew. Because of you, we’ve gotten off to a great start!
And, we’ve only just begun. . .
This book was inspired by my mother, my maternal grandmother, and our family’s experiences on Martha’s Vineyard. And, as mentioned in the book, there’s a memorial bench (pictured below) dedicated to my mother and grandmother that sits on the grounds of the Oak Bluffs Library—on the exact spot where my grandmother’s house once stood.
With gratitude, I thank all of you—
The Vineyard We Knew: A Recollection of Summers on Martha’s Vineyard
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)
Release date: 07/01/2014
I’d like to thank Susanna Sturgis for her wonderful review of “The Vineyard We Knew—A Recollection of Summers on Martha’s Vineyard.” Her candid assessment is greatly appreciated!
Originally posted on From the Seasonally Occupied Territories . . .:
Everybody elsewhere knows all about Martha’s Vineyard. They’ve read about it on the newspapers. They’ve seen it on TV. The president vacations there, right?
Plenty of books mention the Vineyard, or use it as a backdrop. Few are those that see Martha’s Vineyard from the inside.
These books are precious. Such a one is Kevin Parham’s The Vineyard We Knew: A Recollection of Summers on Martha’s Vineyard (Plymouth, MA: Pria Publishing, 2014). Shelve it next to Through a Ruby Window, storyteller Susan Klein’s tales of growing up on Martha’s Vineyard in the 1950s and ’60s. On the other side put Jill Nelson’s Finding Martha’s Vineyard: African Americans at Home on an Island.
Halfway through the book the chapter “Turbulent Times” reminds us what was going on in the wider world, but the heart of
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