Sam Cronig, June 1906
Photo courtesy of Peter Cronig

Samuel Cronig, best known as Sam, a grocer of Vineyard Haven, bought a box of “gold-coin” chocolates this week, chocolates which are so moulded and wrapped as to resemble twenty-dollar gold pieces. “I’ve got an anniversary coming up, or rather it has passed but the observance is due, and I want to give these away to commemorate the event,” he explained. “It’s a fifty-year anniversary, you see.”

But it wasn’t a wedding anniversary. Rather it is the anniversary of Sam’s arrival in America, fifty years ago, shortly before Halloween, a day which he will never forget.

Born in Lithuania, which country is all but forgotten today, Sam was just a boy when he arrived in New York and obtained his first employment a few days later as night watchman in a small factory in Brooklyn. That first night was Halloween, and as he made his rounds through the four floors of the darkened factory, he could not help but notice the children outside with weird costumes, pumpkin lanterns and other Halloween accessories. Stranger that he was, in a strange land, he thought that the children were staging this exhibition for his benefit, or rather, detriment. “I though they were trying to scare me,” he explained.


Then to the Vineyard


It was in 1905 that Sam came to the Vineyard, the first person of the Jewish faith ever to become a permanent resident of the Vineyard, and he went to work as a farm-hand in Eastville, Oak Bluffs. It was there, on the farm of Hiram Daggett, that he obtained his start at acquiring an education in English, and laid the foundation for American citizenship of a soundness and devoted principle which has earned for him the respect and trust of all who know him.

For nine years he was employed by the Smith, Bodfish, Swift combine of grocery and markets, and thirty-eight years ago he became proprietor of this own market, now known as Cronig Brothers. He has three sons and two daughters, and seven grandchildren, all of whom have inherited much of that quality of character which distinguishes Sam. In the long list of adopted and native sons and daughters who make up the Island population, there are few if any who are more appreciative of the United States of America and what it stands for than Sam Cronig.


Venerates This Country


However much or little he may have learned of the history of his adopted land, the significance of its various national holidays has deeply impressed him. A glance at his store ad, on the occasion of any one of these holidays, reveals a deep sense of appreciation for American life and liberty and a veneration for those generations which came before him who made all these things possible.