It is Sunday morning and Bob Carroll and Eugene (Geno) Courtney are sitting in Mr. Carroll’s penthouse apartment at the top of the Harbor View Hotel in Edgartown.

Mr. Carroll, who is 83, was born in Edgartown and after a stint in the U.S. Army and in college, quickly became one of the more prominent businessmen in Edgartown. He is the past owner of the Harbor View, Kelley House and Seafood Shanty and has served the town and the Island as a selectman, county commissioner and on the boards of various banks and community service organizations.

Mr. Courtney, who is 66, first came to the Vineyard at the age of 22 to cut hair. He bought his first commercial property here eight years later and now owns major properties in each of the down-Island towns. The owner of the Edgartown movie theatre, Scoops and the Paper Store, Mr. Courtney now splits his time among Edgartown, Boston and Florida. The two men are old friends. While both can be serious and gruff, on this morning they sip coffee and muse on Edgartown, the Vineyard and the 40 years of friendship between them.

Mr. Carroll: “I went to the Edgartown High School. I went to Boston to work, then the Army. I came back to the Vineyard after discharge. I went to Boston University. My first work experience was mowing lawns and digging ditches. I got into AA [alcoholics anonymous], quit drinking and then started doing things.”

Mr. Courtney: “I first came to the Vineyard for the money I guess. The money was good. And I had a job as an apprentice barber in Oak Bluffs. I worked for Albert the barber for eight years on Circuit avenue. Meanwhile, while I was working for Albert, I became friends with Bob at the Seafood Shanty. He had a bartender named George Hall that I was friendly with and I’d go down there and upstairs at night for a drink or something and then I started bussing at the Shanty. Nights I wasn’t bussing there, I was bartending at the yacht club. So I was doing haircutting during the day, then I got a little nest egg and decided I was going to open up the paper store on Circuit avenue. Bob introduced me to some bankers and I bought the building. So then we had the paper store going in Oak Bluffs. At the same time I was cutting hair and also tending bar on weekends at the yacht club. And when they sent me home early, I’d go over to the Shanty and bus. I had four jobs at one time. Bob was in the real estate business. I think I probably bought 90 per cent of them, of my holdings, through Bob. It’s a business relationship and a friendship relationship. He’d have some key things at some times and he’d ask me if I was interested.”

Mr. Carroll: “Geno’s a very, very good businessman and, thanks to Geno, Edgartown has really come back to what it was. Geno put together the movie theatre. He did a lot in Edgartown, you know? He’s got some brains and some forcibility.”

Mr. Courtney: “The lack of the movie theatre caused a void because people didn’t really have a need to come to town at night.”

Mr. Carroll: “It changed Edgartown back a little bit to what it used to be . . . One of the things that Geno and I have in common is that he grew up in a society in South Boston where loyalty to your friends and family is important and I did the same. Sounds strange in Edgartown, but that’s the way it was. Unfortunately, and I don’t know how South Boston is, but Edgartown has changed a lot.”

Their friendship is characterized by many things. They laugh together, they share a love of family and perhaps above all, a mind for business.

Mr. Courtney: “I don’t think he ever gave me any bad advice. I’d kind of just mention things to him and told him what was going on. He told me, if you want to get people to hate you, go into the paper business.”

Mr. Carroll: “Of course I remember him telling me that when the papers were late, they’d get mad at Geno.”

Mr. Courtney: “Or on a foggy day. People would be like, ‘When are the papers coming?’ ‘Oh, when the fog lifts.’ ‘Well, when’s it gonna lift?’ ”

Mr. Carroll: “When Jaws came, we had a ball. We made a lot of money. I still get money from Jaws. Not much, but I still get residuals.”

Mr. Courtney: “Jaws was a very good boost for the economy. Bob had just built the wing on the Kelley House. He was a year behind on construction. He finished up in October. He was with no income all summer, the bank was breathing down his back and then, I think it was around January, February, the people from Jaws come in, scouting and everything and they figured that would work, renting the Kelley House. And Bob says, ‘Well, yeah, you can have it, but I want a $25,000 deposit this week.’ And he said, ‘That’s unheard of, we never do this.’ ‘Well then, you won’t get it.’ Then they changed their minds all of a sudden and gave him a check and he ran to New Bedford and paid the mortgage and they came in March. They were supposed to be out in June, but they never got out until the next September, I think it was. So it was like a real mine, a bonanza it was. Put the man right back on his feet.”

Mr. Carroll: “And should I describe you as the assistant to the casting director?”

Mr. Courtney: “Well, we helped her out a little bit. She wouldn’t give me a part in the regular movie because of my Boston accent.”

Throughout the years the two friends became closer. Their families spent time together and their children took entire summer days to go out fishing.

Mr. Courtney: “So then I got married and . . .”

Mr. Carroll: “And I was his best man. In fact, we engineered the whole goddamn thing. His wife and my daughter, Sue, were in graduate school together at Boston College. Barbara came to work here at the Harbor View as a cocktail waitress in the summertime when they had some time off.”

Mr. Courtney: “And it was funny because she had a real good education, which unfortunately, I never did get. Street smarts helped me a lot more than education did. So we had this big wedding and everything. And everybody said, ‘So is Barbara going to work in the business?’ And I said, ‘No.’ Then we got back from our honeymoon and we got a couple of people looking in the T-shirt window and I said, ‘Barbara, can you see what they want?’ She got out and like a good soldier, went in and waited on them and she’s been there ever since.”

Mr. Carroll and Mr. Courtney can often be seen sitting on a bench just off Main street in Edgartown. They once started a rumor that they were homeless, spending so much time on the bench because it was the only place where they could kick up their feet. They are known around town as a dynamic duo and do nothing to downplay that perception.

Mr. Courtney: “He’s been a good mentor and he was like a father away from home. He was always there, you know, if you had a down day, he’d talk. For many years, we had lunch and dinner together when the restaurants were open. We’d go to the Seafood Shanty or the Kelley House. Bob always ate at his places. It was his way of checking the quality of the food and the service. Anybody can own a restaurant. But, if you own a restaurant and you’re not there, someone else is running it.”

Mr. Carroll: “We’ve just been friends. We discuss things, business things. It’s interesting. I’ve never been part of his business or he part of mine. A lot of people say, ‘Oh yeah, Geno and Bob, they own that.’ It’s probably just as well that we never have, because we probably wouldn’t be friends.”