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Chilmark Chocolates

This week is the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. I believe the act has opened doors for all of us since its inception in 1990; not only the disabled.  Even on a small island such as Martha’s Vineyard, our community is becoming “richer” as more doors are opening for everyone.  The mainstreaming of the disabled into our society is a gift, as our children not only learn acceptance of differences, but develop compassion, comfort and appreciation for those of varying abilities.

 

Martha’s Vineyard has a reputation with some as being an “elitist” playground of the rich.  I believe this is an unearned criticism by folks that have never been here or just don’t know it well.   What I see is a diverse community and a variety of people coming to the island throughout the year to enjoy all that this beautiful resort has to offer.  Visitors and “Islanders” of all different ages, abilities, and income levels share this space and (for the most part) manage to get along; and yes, appreciate each other’s differences.

 

Camp Jabberwocky Bus-resized-600

 

In writing about disabilities and acceptance, I have to mention one of the most well-loved summer institutions on Martha’s Vineyard — Camp Jabberwocky.  If you have seen a 4thof July parade on the Island, you will be familiar with them.   The enthusiasm and joy for life of the campers and volunteer staff is an inspiration!   Camp Jabberwocky is the oldest running sleepover camp for people with disabilities in the United States.  Started 55 years ago as a Cerebral Palsy Camp, Camp Jabberwocky now welcomes 100 children and adults of varying disabilities to Martha’s Vineyard every summer. And the Vineyard community looks forward to welcoming them!  Another loved “institution” that is active in the disabled community is Chilmark Chocolates.  They have an amazingly delicious product and employ many disabled adults year round.  If you have never sampled their product, you really should!

 

As an interesting aside, embracing people with disabilities is a long standing tradition on Martha’s Vineyard.  During the late 17th to early 20th centuries, the majority of the inhabitants of Chilmark (“up-island” on Martha’s Vineyard) all knew sign language because of the large number of community members that were hearing impaired.  According to historical accounts, the hearing impaired members were not seen as disabled because everyone knew sign language and could therefore communicate with each other.   Martha’s Vineyard Sign Language later merged with some others to become what is now American Sign Language.

 

As a hotel operator for the past 25 years, I have lived through some of the operational challenges to businesses since the ADA was first rolled out.  Trying to figure out how to retro fit old buildings with ramps and widen doorways to accommodate wheelchairs was just the beginning…  Did you ever wonder how to get a wheelchair onto the beach?  Several of our beaches now have board walkways to make them accessible to wheelchairs.  Small communities with older buildings and narrow streets will continue to have accessibility challenges as needed improvements persist; but much progress has been made in the past 20 years, which has benefited all of us.  I hope in the next 20 years all of our communities will evolve into what Chilmark used to be; and no one will be seen as disabled!  Do you have a memory of the ADA creation or the way it has affected you or your time on Martha’s Vineyard?

 

Plan a Visit to the Martha’s Vineyard Food and Wine Festival
Where to Get the Best Pizza on Martha’s Vineyard Near Edgartown
Explore Memorable Things to Do & See in West Tisbury
Spend a Day at the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest
See the Next Big Thing at a Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival
A Guide on How to Get to Martha’s Vineyard
A Look at the History of Our Edgartown Hotel
Celebrate the Season | A Guide to Christmas in Edgartown

Chocolate eggs by sister72

Chocolate.  The mere word conjures up all manner of sensations: images, scents – even moods.  But most of all tastes.  It is part of our diet and part of our culture.  Consider the phrases that have entered the vox populi:

When the going gets tough, the tough get chocolate.
Chocolate: It’s not just for breakfast anymore.
Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.
All I really need is love, but a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt!

It’s bad for your waistline but a good source of anti-oxidants. And it tastes like heaven.  We rationalize and take the oh-so-good with the bad.

So what does all this have to do with Martha’s Vineyard?  Well, MV is a chocolate lover’s dream, with several places to go to meet one’s Recommended Daily Allowance of Brown Gold.  (Sorry, but the white stuff simply isn’t chocolate.)  Below, find a brief compendium of chocolate oriented destinations:

In Edgartown, the Ice Cream and Candy Bazaar reigns, partly for its selection of yummy chocolate treats but also for its location: right on the harbor.  (See my post from July for a paean to that place.)  Added bonuses are the ice cream and fun penny candy… none of which costs a penny. This is the Vineyard, after all!

Oak Bluffs holds a treasure in Ben & Bill’s Chocolate Emporium.  One of four locations – the others being Falmouth, Northampton, MA and Bar Harbor – this place has a huge variety of chocolate and chocolate-covered delights, from truffles to turtles.  My daughter swears by the chocolate-covered gummy bears.  I’ll take her word for it since I am not gummiverous.  Ice cream is offered at the Circuit Avenue location as well.  That alone is worth the trip.

Finally, there’s Chilmark Chocolates.  As the name would suggest, this is a chocolate store.  No ice cream, no drinks, no penny candy, no web site, no scenic seating area, no room to move.  This place is all about the chocolate.  Period.  But it doesn’t need anything else.  The delicacies are all hand made or hand-dipped and they are all delicious.

One thing I love about Chilmark Chocolates is that they know we need them more than they need us.  They make that clear through a variety of means:  First of all, they are never open.  OK, that’s an exaggeration, but not much of one.  They are only open a few days a week, a few hours a day.  And they invariably close during the busiest week of the summer! (A side effect of the limited availability is the often unlimited lines.)  Second, their location up island is relatively remote compared to the likes of Circuit Ave., Upper Main Street, or Five Corners.  Finally, the store is really just a short corridor. Walk in one side and out the other.  There is nowhere else to go.

But there is nowhere else you need to go, because along that corridor is a glass enclosed display of the finest chocolate treats you are likely to find anywhere.  And they are surprisingly reasonably priced.

Finally, know that when you patronize Chilmark Chocolates, you are supporting a business that was created to (and still does) employ disabled workers.  What could be better than buying and eating the world’s best chocolate as your good deed for the day?

 

Where do you get your chocolate fix?

Photo by sister72

 

Plan a Visit to the Martha’s Vineyard Food and Wine Festival
Where to Get the Best Pizza on Martha’s Vineyard Near Edgartown
Explore Memorable Things to Do & See in West Tisbury
Spend a Day at the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest
See the Next Big Thing at a Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival
A Guide on How to Get to Martha’s Vineyard
A Look at the History of Our Edgartown Hotel
Celebrate the Season | A Guide to Christmas in Edgartown