From the Vineyard Gazette editions of May, 1983:
There is no true analogy between the migration of birds and the comings and goings of seasonal vacationers on Martha’s Vineyard, the regular ones, the ones who have been coming for years and years, yet in both cases there is a design, and maybe an appropriate relevance of the stars in the heavens. An unforgotten grandmother who owned a cottage on the Camp Ground in Oak Bluffs always planned her arrival to take place just after “the cold May storm.”
May, in the grandmother’s day as in ours, was more reliable in its poetry than in its reality. Out of all the bleak and drizzly days, the gusty, unrelenting northeasters, the downpours, the geranium-killing late frosts, how could Grandmother distinguish which was the cold May storm? Her family and friends wondered about this and sometimes consulted amongst themselves, but they were a long time in discovering that the cold May storm was the one that just proceeded Grandmother’s arrival and opening her cottage of thin boards, heatless except for a small range in the kitchen, and a wood-tunnel approach to the outdoor privy.
She was never wrong.
No matter what the weather, violets were in bloom, the dogtooth ones and the smattering of blue ones at the corner of the cottage veranda. The grass in the little park upon which the cottage fronted had always turned green, blue jays squawked a greeting, the light of the sun (when it shone) reflected upon the narrow vista of good old Lake Anthony, almost as if it had been warm as well as pale.
Perhaps all this goes to show that with a proper amount of asserted human authority, well stuck to, an accommodation with the elements is always possible. Meteorologists could be wrong, but a grandmother could always be right.
His career was launched in the upstairs of the dairy at Seven Gates Farm in North Tisbury. That’s where Erford Burt built his first boat. His father was farm manager, and even as a young teenager, when he wasn’t working on the farm, or as a carpenter or fisherman, Erford was at work building boats.
Vineyard Haven and Mr. Burt will see the official passing of an era in the days ahead when Burt’s Boatyard is sold to an on-Island partnership. The property on Lagoon Pond Road is expected to remain a boatyard but the name will change.
Since 1945, when Mr. Burt first dredged out a corner of Bass Creek and transported the lumber from the historic Baptist church in North Tisbury to make his first shop, Burt’s Boatyard has meant Erford Burt and his personal brand of craftsmanship and ingenuity.
Mr. Burt dropped out of school early to work. He worked for several years at Manuel S. Roberts’s boat shop in Edgartown. While there, he went looking for a small shop where he could build boats in his spare hours. He found three acres on Bass Creek.
Earlier, Mr. Burt had bought at auction the Baptist church which stood for years alongside the old Burt homestead in North Tisbury village. The church had been severely damaged in the hurricane of 1944.
“You couldn’t afford lumber in the war years,” Mr. Burt recalls. “The government wouldn’t allow building with new lumber. They wanted it for the war effort.”
So Mr. Burt and his family and friends disassembled the old church and carried it by four-wheel trailer pulled behind a car to the new property. The old church bell never became part of the new boatyard, but Mr. Burt found good use for it. On VJ Day the bell was placed in the back of an old garage wrecker and tolled from one end of the Island to another in celebration.
Once Burt’s Boatyard was established it grew steadily. And while Mr. Burt proudly takes credit for the work in the sheds and on the water, the designing and the launching, he says it was his wife who kept the business running smoothly.
Vineyard gourmets and sportsfishermen alike should be heartened by the arrival in our waters this week of the mackerel, one of the tastiest fish around. From his Menemsha fish market Everett Poole reported, “They’re nice ones, about a pound and three quarters, nice-sized.” Most of the mackerel now are netted, but as they appear off Gay Head, the sportsfishermen will do a lot of trolling for them. The mackerel is a good game fish, and an even better supper. “They’re a fantastic fish. I just fry ‘em. Americans aren’t supposed to eat fried food, you know, they’re supposed to broil everything. But I still like to put it in the frying pan. And right now there’s a lot of roe in them, and I think mackerel roe is far superior to herring roe.”
Reid A. (Sam) Dunn and the Tisbury conservation commission have struck an agreement that will allow Mr. Dunn to begin building a greatly modified Tisbury Marketplace complex this fall at the site of the old Duarte village property on Beach Road in Vineyard Haven. Calling the contract the first of its type on the Island, Mr. Dunn and Judith Miller, commission chairman, said this week that the agreement, hammered out after a year of discussion, will ensure that the complex will not add to the flow of nitrates into Lagoon Pond.
Compiled by Cynthia Meisner