A birthday gift from Edie Blane
“Bound by Blue: A life on Block Island,” a film by Katherine Reaves, presents the life of Edith “Edie” Littlefield Blane through personal narration, capturing Edie’s passion, spirit, and love of Block Island. The film premiered on YouTube on April 13, 2021, which also happened to be
Ms. Blane begins her story with her birth, off island in the Norwalk hospital. Her father and his fishing boat quickly rectified that, however. Within weeks, Edie was on her way home to Block Island, a six-hour trip in those days on her father’s boat, the Chelsea.
Edie describes her childhood growing up on the farm during the Great Depression, a hardy lifestyle in the days before electricity and indoor plumbing. She enjoyed her childhood immensely, always having something to do around the farm, from helping with the vegetables to slopping the hogs. She describes it as a good life, but hard.
Throughout the film, Ms. Blane’s love of the island shines brightly. Whether it is talking about all the places her father took her as a child, letting her tag along on his workday farming, fishing, or shell fishing, or the adventures she had with the neighbors, Edie’s descriptions of her Block Island home ring true with sincere appreciation for this wonderful place.
When she describes studying birds with Miss Elizabeth Dickens, you feel like you are right there in the classroom too, learning the calls, habitats, flight patterns, and the plumage of the various species found on Block Island. Anyone who had those bird study classes will be transported back to that time in their lives with Miss Dickens and her shiny glasses, recalling the rhymes and songs she taught the students for remembering the different species. Edie mentions that this gift of knowledge from Miss Dickens has been a Godsend during the pandemic, as she has once again had ample time to study the birds of Block Island.
Good storytelling incorporates historical reference points for the viewer, and the film does a phenomenal job bringing together Edie’s descriptions of the devastating hurricane of 1938 with historical photos and footage of the aftermath. Edie’s description of the hurricane’s lasting effects on the island are truly haunting, as many Islanders’ ways of life were forever changed by the whim of the sea.
Edie describes her parents as instilling a strong sense of civic virtue in their children, a virtue Edie practiced throughout her adult life. Edie worked in town government for 20 years, culminating in her election as the first female First Warden of Block Island. Always ahead of her time, Ms. Blane had pushed for many years to have a town celebration of the Fourth of July. Finally, in 1985, Block Island had its first Independence Day parade. It has grown over the years, but it all started with Edie’s tenacity.
After her time served in government, and nearing retirement age, Edie could have settled in for a nice quiet time in her golden years. Never one to sit still, though, Edie got into real estate, running Offshore Property Real Estate until 2012.
Edith Littlefield Blane has seen a lot happen over the years on Block Island. She has also been a part of a lot of those happenings in this place she so clearly loves. Her
excellent stories bring you to a simpler and quieter time, and she is a delight to listen to as she tells them. The title may be “Bound by Blue,” but one gets the impression that this spitfire of a Block Islander was never bound by anything. Don’t take my word for it, though, let her tell you herself.
Bound by Blue: A life on Block Islandcan be viewed on You Tube at: https://youtu.be/-Mh95SS1E6A