From the Vineyard Gazette editions of Dec. 1977:
The year 1977 will be remembered for its great winter freeze and as a time when the Vineyard tried and failed to secede from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. There were large events during the past year and small, quiet ones.
Millions of gallons of spilled oil from the wreckage of the Argo Merchant missed the Island’s shores and went elsewhere.
When ducks and Canada geese were starving during the height of the winter, Islanders went to the rescue with generous gifts of grain and comfort.
Jaws returned to the Island for a second time, but the crews didn’t stay long because most of the shooting was done in Florida.
The Oak Bluffs School got a new principal. He is David W. MacDonald.
The news from West Tisbury early in the year was that John Alley received an invitation to President Carter’s Washington inauguration. And, much to Mr. Carter’s surprise, Mr. Alley went, top hat and all.
The secession movement which went on and on promoted Gene Shalit of New York to write this letter to the Gazette: “Since I don’t fly, it is difficult for me to go to faraway places. Therefore, I hope Martha’s Vineyard succeeds in becoming a foreign country. In that way I would be able to go abroad.”
Preservation efforts began in the spring to save one of the Island’s oldest houses. The Vincent house, apparently built in 1656, was moved this fall to a site behind the Dr. Daniel Fisher house in Edgartown. It will be restored and opened to the public as a museum.
The girls’ high school basketball team won the Cape and Islands League championship, but lost a heartbreaker in the opening round of the state tournament.
The Vineyard got its very own flag with a gull swooping into a rising sun.
Passage of the 200-mile fishing limit brought new hope to the Island’s fishing fleet and the men who make their living at sea.
The sea scallop business boomed, and the Vineyard’s fishing fleet grew.
Solar energy was the subject of much discussion and activity on the Vineyard this past year.
There was a new post office for Vineyard Haven, and now Edgartown is getting one, too.
The Ritter House opened and Rufus Shorter, superintendent of schools, moved in with his staff.
Felix Neck sanctuary launched for the first time a successful adopt-a-duck program.
The Tisbury street fair and the West Tisbury county fair were huge successes. The highlight of the fading summer season came with Illumination Night in Oak Bluffs.
Odd T-shirts and mopeds were the in things this summer.
The Vineyard experienced a partial solar eclipse and prepared for a cold winter and a good basketball season.
And so it was for 1977, a year not nearly so bad as it may have appeared at times. It was a year when the Vineyard did not secede from anything.
Like all New Years, 1978 will start with a conflict of interest. It falls heir to a welter of unfinished business which points in one direction, more of the same, and on the other hand everyone or almost everyone yearns inwardly for something fresh and new, the old vision of a clean page turned. How is the conflict to be resolved or compromised? Of course it can’t be either of these, but perhaps it can be alleviated; and if so, the important thing as the year 1978 is tolled in with bells, whistles, and so on, is an open mind. If we could only really begin with that, some untrodden ways of importance might be opened to us.
There is likely to be in the back consciousness of many of us the image of Robert Frost’s two roads that diverged in a wood — “and I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.”
Frost also wrote, “Nothing to look backward to with pride. And nothing to look forward to with hope.” This proves that whatever way we take must be traversed with care. So there it is again, the open mind, the watchfulness, and some considered break with the past.
The New Year brings thoughts such as these, the application of which to recurring problems is difficult if not impossible, and it brings also some irrelevancies, as when a celebrant or two on the way home after midnight of Dec. 31 feels impelled to sing “In the good old summer time.” And always in the traditional rendering of “Should auld acquaintance be forgot” and so on, which has to do with time, memory and the flood tides of sentiment but next to nothing with the probabilities of the coming year.
But the temporary dropping of conscious design, the free play of fancy which is so nearly the same thing as imagination though never quite, the once-a-year sighting of escape, engender themselves a spirit of renewal. To deny that anything will come of it would be unnecessary defeat. More dawns will break, and each one new.
Compiled by Alison Mead