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!
That’s author Kevin Parham at bottom right in the photo, with his cousins Charlene and Vincent Guess.
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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If you’re looking for a summer read about the adventures of a summer kid growing up on the Vineyard in Oak Bluffs in the 50’s and 60’s…. this book is for you.
Even if you’re not on the Vineyard and just want to read a really, really charming, and interesting book, this book is for you.
I just finished reading this book “The Vineyard We Knew: by Kevin Parham . I enjoyed it immensely because like Kevin, I too was a summer kid on the Vineyard in Oak Bluffs during the 50’s and early 60’s. Our paths never crossed, and even though I’m quite a bit older than Kevin, we did do some of the same things and go to the same places. Flying Horses, Darling’s popcorn, Oak Bluffs beach (now known as the Inkwell) but I only knew it as … the beach … lol. If you enjoy stepping…
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The Vineyard We Knew—A Recollection of Summers on Martha’s Vineyard
is Now Available!
Martha’s Vineyard Isn’t Just for the Rich and Famous. . .
(Boston, MA) When one thinks of Martha’s Vineyard, what often comes to mind are images of movie stars, politicians, and power-brokers—all living the leisurely life of ostentatious opulence.
However, long before Ted Kennedy drove his car off Dike Bridge on Chappaquiddick in 1969, and the tourist explosion of the 1980s, this once-remote Island was where a scant number of working-class families escaped the drudgery of everyday life.
The Vineyard We Knew will take you on a memorable trip back in time. It’s a candid, yet engaging story about summers on Martha’s Vineyard during the turbulent 1960s as seen through the eyes of a young boy, his siblings, and cousins who navigate the challenges of a humble existence while under the aegis of their strict grandmother.
This book is for those who know and love the island of Martha’s Vineyard, as well as anyone with fond memories of their youthful summers.
Nikki Giovanni—acclaimed poet, author, and educator, praised The Vineyard We Knew as “A totally wonderful look at a community that has been much too silent about its contribution and possibilities.”
Author Thomas Dresser stated: “These passionate memoirs, written in a fluid style, capture the appeal of the Vineyard.”
Kevin Parham is an author and professional musician who spent every summer as a child on Martha’s Vineyard. As a result, he knows the island as well as can anyone not born and raised there.
Pre-publication copies of “The Vineyard We Knew” are available at: www.priapublishing.com
The Vineyard We Knew by Kevin Parham – First edition (5.25 X 8) 318 pages, 33 illustrations ISBN: 978-0-98494-850-5
Throughout the course of our lives, we are constantly faced with having to make decisions—some of which are important and could potentially affect our future, while others are inconsequential, and, as a result, are limited in scope.
Many times, however, we resort to accepting the notions of ‘luck’, ‘hope’, ‘fate’, or ‘what is meant to be’, only to find ourselves wishing for the best possible outcome. And how often has an outcome fallen short of expectations?
What many of us fail to recognize is that we are in many respects the architects of our destiny. The very nature of our thoughts, be they positive or negative, can often have a profound effect on future results…but how many of us believe that we can actually influence those results simply by changing how we think?
The ONLY impediment to realizing your true potential is you.
Therefore, if you truly believe in yourself and can clear your mind of the word “CAN’T” and replace it with “I Shall”, then nothing will keep you from reaching your God-given potential.