The story of the grasshopper

from Steve Bernier, Owner/Parking Lot Attendant

One day, around 1994, a man approached me and pointed to the cupola on the roof of the Vineyard Haven store and said a grasshopper should be up there. He said this store replicates what he knew of the early 1800’s history in England. He walked away. I never saw him before that day and never again after that day.

Many weeks later, while I was working the express register at dinner time, Travis Tuck, a metal sculpture of weathervanes said, “Hi,” and I shared with him, the man’s words from weeks before. He said, “Sorry Steve, I’m booked for the next 2 – 3 years.” I shrugged my shoulders, said, “Good night Travis,” and was on to the next customer in line. I had never really thought about cupolas and weathervanes before and thought I probably never would again.

A week or two had past, and again working the express register at suppertime, along came Travis with a 3″ bound history book of England with a picture of a grasshopper on the roof of a building in 1812. There were three pages of text supporting the lifestyle of the community store where goods were bartered and traded.

Three months later Travis showed up with a grasshopper that was more than 6 feet long, to be raised onto the cupola of our Vineyard Haven store. As Travis walked into the store carrying this copper replica of a grasshopper, the smile and satisfaction on his face was beaming. He and the grasshopper looked amazing. He said, “This looks beautiful today and will look more beautiful when the copper ages with the weather.”

A few years later, Travis discussed the West Tisbury store cupola with me, saying it should have a cornucopia filled with fruits and vegetables that are grown in West Tisbury to make it relevant and historically correct. His penchant for detail brought forward his suggestion of using the look-up codes that we use at the register to be marked on each of the items in the cornucopia. I said, “That’s a wonderful idea.”

I listened to Travis describe to me his view of the weathervane world while traveling up State Road. He took me from the Steamship Authority building to Down-Island Cronig’s to Up-Island Cronig’s to the Ag. Hall to the Aquinnah lighthouse and the relevance of these icons perched, overlooking the community.