ON A TRAIL OF HOPE

A treasured encounter with Hope '48 alumna, Anne Vanderhoop Madison

by Richard Wolf Nathan '65

 

A delegation of graduates from Class of 1965 traveled by car to Woods Hole, Massachusetts and then boarded the ferry for the ancient island of Noepe: known in recent centuries as Martha's Vineyard.  From the ferry we drove twenty miles to the ancient cliffs at the far end of the island: destination, the ancestral home of the Aquinnah Wampanoag Native American Tribe.  Accompanying me was Jane Rosenbloom Bermont, president of Hope High School Dollars for Scholars.  I was taking Jane to meet, visit and honor my old friend Anne Vanderhoop Madison, a proud Narragansett Indian and a Hope High alumna.

 

In 1948, Anne (née) Fleming graduated from the gleaming new building we now know as our beloved Alma Mater. After inviting us into her living room where we all sank into comfortable old sofas, we began  reminiscing about the old days at Hope High. Years before, Anne and I had met on the sacred Cliffs at Aquinnah, where for years her family has owned the acclaimed restaurant dedicated to the Giant God Moshup, of which more will soon be told.

Anne then kindly shared with us her times at Hope High on the East Side of Providence. Sitting in her comfortable chair in her cozy, well-worn old house in a hollow about a mile down island from the cliffs, Anne told us about her husband Luther Tacknash Madison, hereditary Medicine Man of the Tribe and about his father Napoleon Bonaparte Madison, he too hereditary Medicine Man of the Tribe.

Napoleon Bonaparte Madison                       Luther Tacknash Madison                   Anne and Rick meet once again

at her ancestral home on the ancient

 Aquinnah Wampanoag land of Noepe

                                                                                     

Jane and I had chosen the late Fall to visit Anne as during the warmer season she is always busy at the family restaurant, founded in the 1940's by her father-in-law Napoleon.  The Cliffs are a national historical landmark. This is where the Giant Moshup and his wife Squanta and their children lived for thousands of years, as described on the back of the restaurant menu.  The story goes that Moshup would catch and roast whales, sharing this bounty with the Tribe.  Until that fateful day shortly before the arrival of the Europeans, who according to legend he did not want to meet, disappearing into the sea.

 

THE SPIRIT OF HOPE  -  a spirit of place

So Jane and I had before us a living, breathing spirit of Hope, a woman who had grown up on the East Side attending the Benefit Street School, then Doyle Avenue Elementary, Nathan Bishop Junior High and finally Hope High.  She was active in the Drama department.  She played tennis, volleyball, softball, ran track, this Narragansett Indian sports champion told us.  And she played duckpin bowling under the parking lot on North Main Street, just as I had done on Saturdays almost twenty years later. All told, Anne had great memories of her stay at Hope.

 In the Spring of 1948 she was planning on going to the Wilson School of Technology. But this was not to be.  She described a car accident but gave few details.  Then the reality: college was too expensive. "When people graduate from high school they have no money to go to college." she said.  Jane then described to Anne the similar circumstances facing the current population of Hope students.  Saying that "For many kids at Hope, particularly for kids of immigrants from war-torn situations, to go to Hope High, a free public school, is a miracle. Financially, US Colleges are a different story."

Anne then told us about how she moved to Edgartown after high school with her mother in the summer of 1948 to work as a nanny.  She found herself becoming an Islander and, low and behold, in 1949 she married William Vanderhoop, a Wampanoag Indian of Aquinnah.

The couple then moved to this remote stretch of the island which at the time, had no running water or electricity and was a great distance from virtually all so-called modern amenities …"That was a rude awakening mister, I'll tell you! You pumped your water out the pitcher pump in your house. To get a drink of water you had to work for it.  You had to pump the pump to get hot water to bathe.  You had to pump the pump and heat the water to wash your clothing.  You had kerosene lamps to light up at night.  It was the only light you had. William and I had to plant a garden. We raised chickens. William went fishing, hunting for pheasant, quail, rabbit, squirrel. Everyone was living off the land.  My children never got poison ivy because they drank raw milk. There were sixteen line telephones. If the phone rang, eight people picked it up. Twas then around 1952 I began helping Napoleon Bonaparte Madison, Medicine Man of the Tribe, at his restaurant and gift shop which is still in our family at the Cliffs.

During our tenure at Hope in the 1960's, and apparently dating back to Anne's time, there was the extraordinary benefit of a great community school with a financial and ethnic mix of the student body as so beautifully recalled by more than one alumna at the Class of 65' 50th Reunion in 2015. The benefit that the alumni have experienced from this rich diversity can be encouraged for future generations by supporting Hope High Dollars for Scholars.

 

Anne and her husband Luther surrounded by their family on the cliffs.