Narrow Escape

From the Vineyard Gazette editions of September, 1958:

A Navy all-weather attack bomber making an emergency landing at the Martha’s Vineyard Airport figured in what might have been a serious accident, but the skill of the pilot from the Quonset Point Naval Air Station saved the situation completely. The bomber was brought to a landing because of a rough running engine. On contact with the runway, it blew the left tire and veered erratically down the runway with smoke trailing out behind.

The airport manager, Trueman Place, said the pilot showed exceptional competence. Those aware of the near accident breathed a sigh of relief when a promptly dispatched Navy team arrived and disarmed the rockets, cannons and other missiles carried by the powerful plane. Although the Navy assured all concerned that there was no serious danger from the armaments, all possible precautions were taken to guard against the unexpected.

After replacing the damaged tire and wheel and a thorough mechanical check, the pilot departed in his repaired plane to his home base at Quonset.

An evidence of the stable condition of the Vineyard’s economy as this summer ends is contained in two significant figures supplied to the Gazette by Donald W. Vose, president of the Edgartown National Bank. On Sept. 4, 1957, assets of the bank reached an all-time high of $2,490.051.90. But the figure for Sept. 2 was the all-time high to date. It was $2,521,366.63.

Both the adult and juvenile sections of district court were filled Saturday morning as the result of what has been called, with a great deal of over-simplification, a “race riot,” which occurred in various sections of Oak Bluffs Friday night. At that time two gangs of youths, estimated by the police to have been some thirty members strong each, clashed with a vehemence that many shocked Vineyarders had believed was possible only in the underprivileged areas on the mainland.

One of the gangs was made up entirely of youths associated with the town of Edgartown, and all were members of the white race. The other gang was made up of Negro youths, all of whom are believed by the police to have been associated with the town of Oak Bluffs, either as year-round or summer residents, although it could not be determined since only one of them was actually apprehended, whereas twenty of the Edgartown youths were brought into court.

As far as the police investigation could determine, the disturbance actually began on Friday afternoon with an altercation between the occupants of two cars on the highway between the two towns. The police believe that a challenge was made at the time by one individual and accepted by the other.

Then, during the evening, the Edgartown group, greatly augmented, went into Oak Bluffs armed with clubs made of sawed-off broomsticks and lengths of lead pipe, and three separate frays ensued, one in the vicinity of the Pastime Bowling Alley, another in the vicinity of the Corner Drug Store, and another in Ocean Park. The members of the Oak Bluffs group were armed with similar instruments.

After the first disturbance, the Oak Bluffs police and state police ordered the members of the Edgartown group out of town, but apparently they only scattered and regrouped in another location. The police feel that the tactics of the Oak Bluffs group had been to draw the members of the Edgartown group into Ocean Park, where they had reinforcements in ambush. Thanks to the diligence of the police, action was limited mainly to verbal rather than physical and apparently no one was injured.

When it came to rounding up the participants in the disturbance, the members of the Oak Bluffs group demonstrated a greater ability to elude the officers than did the Edgartown group. Some were apprehended in the thick of action; others were stopped in cars. All of the youths arrested were brought to the county jail in Edgartown shortly after midnight.

Alvin Noyes, GM2, aboard his ship, the U.S.S. Forrestal left Norfolk, Virginia, for the Mediterranean, with a task force of twenty ships. The Forrestal is commanded by Capt. Allen Shinn, Edgartown summer resident. Alvin has completed three years aboard the Forrestal. He is the son of Mrs. Daniel Alisio of Vineyard Haven.

Before Julius Delbos, the dean of Island artists, left for New York for the winter, he offered to county officials a large oil painting of Menemsha to be hung in the courthouse. Officials accepted the proposition with pleasure, so now the courthouse is temporary heir to a handsome painting showing the Basin, the shacks and the fishing boats of one of the Island’s most famous communities. At least one portion of the austere elegance of the remodelled courthouse building will be enhanced by the vigorous landscape.

Compiled by Cynthia Meisner