Saltwater Hedge Fund

From Gazette editions of November, 1958:

The one thing that is capable of literally jolting the Vineyard economy up or down, as the case may be, is the bay scallop, the skittering, scalloped-shelled bivalve found in all of the salt ponds of the area, a creature which is at least three-quarters waste, as marketed in this country, because nothing is saved and sold except the muscle which connects the two halves of the shell. This is the delicate, sweet-tasting seafood, prized by all who have ever tasted them and, if you believe it, the finest of these scallops known to mankind are taken in the waters of Martha’s Vineyard. Certainly the scallops of the Vineyard have sold, as a matter of record, for the highest prices ever paid at Fulton Market.

It has been roughly estimated, in a banner year, that more than two hundred thousand dollars’ worth of scallops have been taken from the Vineyard beds. Men of every calling will fish for bay scallops in Vineyard waters, leaving other occupations for a week or two to take a hand in the harvesting of this crop. In a good season this greatly increases the Island’s overall income, and when the season is poor it hurts. There are some who will gamble on gaining additional income through the scalloping, and who will incur indebtedness months ahead of the season in anticipation of expected gain.

Scallops were eaten by the Island Indians, and presumably by those of the nearby mainland for ages, long before white people lived in this area. But they have not been commonly eaten by white people for more than a century and probably less than that. Branded as poisonous for some reason that no one knows, great quantities of scallops were thrown up on the beach and left to spoil or be eaten by the gulls and rats. Exactly how and when and why white people began to eat them is not known.

Republican as Dukes County has traditionally been, John F. Kennedy, Democratic senatorial candidate, was the Island’s choice, party lines being disregarded as the vote showed 1,251 for Kennedy and 996 for the Republican, Vincent Celeste. This is said to be the first time the County has showed its preference for a Democratic nominee for senator, although it will be remembered that a preference has been indicated previously for state Democratic candidates, notably Francis X. Hurley. For the rest of the way the county went Republican by a wide margin. Christian Herter polled 1633 votes for attorney general and Hastings Keith polled 1596 for congressman. There were some write-ins intended as jokes, mostly.

For the first time in twenty years the West Tisbury Congregational Church will have a full time resident minister. At a meeting of the church members, it was voted to issue a call to Dr. Elden H. Mills of Windham, Vt. Dr. Mills will take over his duties from Dr. S. Ralph Harlow. Dr. Mills was born in Indiana and brought up as a Quaker. He studied at the Hartford Theological Seminary and served in the Friends ministry for several years. He did post-graduate work at Union Theological Seminary in New York and while there took over the pulpit of a Presbyterian Church in Forest Hills. Dr. Mills and his wife will make their home in the West Tisbury Church parsonage.

His distress at “the isolation of Boris Pasternak from the world of arts and letters” was expressed recently by President A. Whitney Griswold of Yale University, one of the Island’s distinguished summer residents, in a letter to Soviet Prime Minister Nikita S. Krushchev. The text of President Griswold’s letter was made public and declared:

“As one who has written four books, all critical of various aspects of public policy and various public institutions in the United States, and still enjoys complete freedom to pursue his vocation, I cannot help feeling deep sympathy for any fellow writer in any country to whom such freedom is denied.”

Mr. Pasternak won the Nobel Prize for literature for his Doctor Zhivago, a novel critical of the Soviet Union. Since then he has been criticized in the Soviet Union and has announced his rejection of the prize.

Moshup Trail, the new highway under construction at Gay Head, is passable over its entire length to motor vehicles. The road opens an area of the township to general traffic which has been largely closed for decades except to ox-carts and similarly heavy vehicles.

This is historic ground, containing as it does the site of the original Indian village, the original trail by which passage was made to and from the mid-Island section, the first Christian burial ground and quite possibly an ancient burial place as well. A part of the Indian trail to Squibnocket Pond and thence to the sea, crossed this area and because the pond was once open to the sea, the early exploits of Gay Head Indians in capturing the whale may well have been centered closely around this spot. Historic Toad Rock, believed by some to have been an Indian “post office” stands not far from this highway. And everywhere are evidences of the Great Glacier.

Compiled by Cynthia Meisner