From the Things Insular column in the Feb. 25, 1966 edition of the Vineyard Gazette:
For a Vineyarder, accustomed to living most of the time in a world that covers only a hundred square miles, relatively short distances to be traveled take on the character of expeditions. It is not unusual to come back down-Island from Gay Head as weary as if one had driven 300 miles, and for the same reason, it requires more than just a whim to take off for Wasque Point, the bottom right hand corner of Chappaquiddick (a scant three miles from the ferry landing!). Even for an Edgartonian, that’s a long way from home, and two or three years can go by before circumstances are right for another trip to Wasque.
With Wasque trips spaced that far apart, it is inevitable that there will be changes in the landscape, but for one occasional observer who made a Washington’s Birthday expedition, in the bright, zestful weather of that day, Wasque’s latest changes were stunning.
Once not too long ago, a visitor to Wasque would stop his car at the end of the sand road in a small clearing in a grove of dramatically twisted trees stationed on the brink of a ledge, which dropped off to a wide swath of beach. In the middle of the strand of beach lay the long irregularly shaped mirror of a pond, on which waterbugs would dart about, inscribing erratic lessons on plane geometry. Even when the wind blew, as it usually does, and even when the sea broke white out over where long ago the lost island of Skiff’s served as a way station for seas, the prospect was one of utter tranquility.
The feeling of peace is still at Wasque, but now it is that uneasy peace that follows great upheavals, for the sea has pounded in, has gnawed and chewed away at this corner of land. The little beach pond is no more. The beach is now a mere strip of sand, on which lie piles of fallen trunks and lifeless limbs of trees from the grove, like sacrificial victims of nature’s violence, awaiting not burial but the next onslaught of the sea, or perhaps the next, to dislodge them from the sand, turning them into the flotsam of an Island.
Happiness is listening to a New York city traffic report while driving on the Vineyard.
After the Chilmark firemen and their guests had stuffed themselves with turkey and trimmings and pie at their annual dinner Saturday night, and after Prof. Dwight Salmon had delivered his after-dinner talk, artfully comprised of just the right measure of levity and seriousness, the banquet tables and chairs were cleared away from the floor of the community center. Musicians took their places on the stage and tuned up for dancing. Suddenly it was Chilmark a Go Go.
Chilmark a Go Go, it can be assumed is not like anywhere else a Go Go. The dancing was proudly, joyfully square. Young and old and middle aged, beehive hairdo and balding pate, all joined happily in for the Virginia Reel and other rollicking country dances. The observer could momentarily believe that rock and roll had never been invented.
The musicians were Gale Huntington and Hollis Smith, fiddles; Elmer Silva, guitar; Leonard Athearn and Ernest Correllus, banjos; and Mike Athearn, accordion. They sat along in a row of chairs on the stage and played Soldier’s Joy and other ancient airs, mostly fiddle tunes as Mr. Huntington described them, tunes designed to make feet itch to dance and designed also to go with the caller’s promptings. The caller was Marshall Carroll, a man of impressive stamina who called and danced at the same time.
The inevitable masculine wallflowers quickly found themselves blossoming forth with passable dosey-does, at the insistence of Mrs. William C. Steward, who would lead the reluctant out for one dance and then, just in time for the next number, would introduce them to feminine sideliners. And so it was that even Rev. George A. Hill Jr., who had thought his responsibilities over with the saying of grace, found himself promenading a new-found partner and, incidentally evoking a different kind of grace. Another notable figure was that of Joseph Kraetzer, whose miniature form and lithe speed made him like a terrier in a field of retrievers. It could be questioned whether he swung his partner or his partner swung him, but he seemed never to touch the ground, and when the left-hand-right-hand circle was formed, he became a terrier airborne, until it came time to clasp hands with a tall young woman, who obviously was expecting to encounter a person of more height, and Mr. Kraetzer, his hand outstretched, went sailing beneath her arm.
Several sets of numbers went like this, with the cries of the caller barely audible above the whoops and footstampings of the dancers. Then during a break, a young woman went up to the stage and asked Mr. Huntington, “Can you do a cha-cha?”
“Never heard of it,” Mr. Huntington said, and the hoedown continued.
Compiled by Hilary Wall