The Look, 1957

Courtesy Betsy Larsen

Long before it was the Chilmark police station, a temporary town hall, and a temporary library, the Menemsha School building next to the Chilmark Tavern was, of course, a school. It was not, however, located in Menemsha – its name is a relic from an earlier time when Chilmark had three school districts. The western district served, among others, those who lived in Menemsha and further up-Island. The Menemsha School closed in 1999,
at which point the more inclusively named Chilmark School opened across the street.

Originally built as a one-room schoolhouse in 1841, at the time this photo was taken the school had been partitioned into two rooms, one for grades one through three, taught by Mildred Mayhew, another for grades four through six, taught by Dorothy Poole. The twenty-six children here were the entire student body. They are, from left to right, back row: Pat Jenkinson, Greg Mayhew, David Howell, Chris Murphy, Suzanne Fischer, Sally Sherwood, Billy Goff, Benjamin “Skipper” Mayhew, and Danny Mayhew; middle row: John Larsen, Hollis Smith, Margaret Mayhew (Penicaud), Bonnie Sherwood (Steere), David Seward, Doug Seward, Edwin Hydeman, Albert Fischer, Robbie Dietz, and Jay Murphy; front row: Laura Murphy, Clarissa Allen, Reggie Silva, Danny Larsen, Jonathan Mayhew, Kitty Murphy, and Jeannie Smith (Taylor).

Though there are some fine threads on display, including two ties, a bow tie, and Peter Pan–collared dresses, plus pompadours and baby bangs – a nod to Audrey Hepburn, perhaps, or possibly Bettie Page, it’s nice to note that even back then, on picture day, a clean, buttoned-up plaid shirt and unfussy close-cropped hair was the epitome of Chilmark style.