Spring Fever

From Gazette editions of April, 1959:

The effect of sixteen years of erosion at South Beach has been attracting a great deal of attention during the past weeks. The event that so suddenly is revealing — to everyone who goes out to look — just how much of the beach has been washed away, is the rapid but still agonizing demise of the huge earth covered concrete shelter, the World War II U.S. Navy ammunition magazine, which for more than a decade and a half has faced the encroaching sea with the stolidity of a dormant sphinx.

Dormant no longer, the structure is being undermined, and the two facings have been separated from the main body of the shelter, and lean perilously in the direction of the sea. Last week, one of them toppled into the surf at high tide. That the other one will go over seems inevitable, as the sand washes from beneath its heavy base. The main body of the shelter continues to be undermined and the soil covering it is rapidly washing away. When the soil underneath it is washed away beyond the point of balance, it too will fall over on its face.

The danger for unwitting humans, or even witting but reckless ones, is obvious and measures are being taken by the owner of the land on which it is situated, George D. Flynn Jr., to have the area posted to warn people away until a scheme is devised, either by man or by the sea to render it no longer potentially harmful.

A distinct flair for journalism in Peter Bettencourt, son of Mr. and Mrs. Domingoes Bettencourt of Edgartown, has been duly noted by the faculty of Dean Junior College, where he is a student, and as a result, because of his “scholastic ability” he has been put in charge of a brand new publication known as The Dean Echo. “Pete,” as he signs his name to editorials, is on the dean’s list, ranking in first place in the freshman class. He belongs to the Glee Club and is a staff member of The Megaphone, a quarterly publication at Dean.

Although the negotiations are still technically in progress, the sale of Reinforced Plastics Corporation at the Martha’s Vineyard Airport, to Lunn Laminates of Huntington Station, N.Y., was virtually assured by the end of last week. The transaction brought with it an anticipation of greater activity in the plastics fabricating industry on the Island and a consequent rise in employment possibilities.

The existing plant, of which Burnham Litchfield was president, has been employing from fifteen to twenty people for some time. It is expected that the present staff will be kept on by the new owners and eventually enlarged considerably. Mr. Litchfield estimates his company has produced just about a million dollars in payroll since its founding in 1951 and has been chiefly engaged in the manufacture of components for aviation and electronic use.

Lunn Laminates, which manufactures a variety of products both for military and civilian use, plans to concentrate the fabrication of the Bell Boy line of fiberglass pleasure boats at the Island plant, in addition to continuing to produce electronic components. Reinforced Plastics has leased for its operations two of the airport buildings, the former naval mess hall for work space and the former bachelors officers quarters for storage, and Lunn plans to do the same.

They only wanted to help, but the crews of the Island boat line vessels have been forbidden by the Steamship Authority to grow beards to mark Nantucket’s tercentenary celebration this summer. Doubtless the Castro-esque implications of beards was not appreciated by the members of the Authority, but then there were pirates, too, and the shock of association might have been too much for some timid tourists.

It may seem strange to include the smell of fresh paint as one of the seasonable and appropriate accompaniments of good weather and the accelerated pace of nature — not that nature has quickened too much of late. But fresh paint and new shingles are among spring’s solid accomplishments and adornments from more than one point of view.

As so many people want to be shellfishermen in the fall, so a lot of others like to be repairmen in the spring. A paint brush, a hammer and nails, a perch on a ladder or a seat astride some advantageously placed ridgepole — what better way can be found to combine utility community betterment and a good view of spring on its way? With the first signs of the new season man should go aloft, physically or spiritually, or both.

For most mortals the experience of painting a ridgepole is attainable only in boyhood and the rest of the time must be a vicarious one. But everyone’s nostrils are free to quiver a bit at the scent of this freshening newness. Preaching the doctrine of cleaning up for spring may be more effective if it is included in a prescription for spring fever rather than advanced solely on the grounds of civic virtue.

Compiled by Cynthia Meisner