A Place Apart

From Gazette editions of April, 1934:

Martha’s Vineyard has many Indian place names which have become famous. Almost every pond, hill and headland is known by the picturesque and often beautiful name bestowed by the first Vineyarders long ago. Menemsha probably meant “as seen from afar.” There may have been a signal pole or some great tree near this place, used in early times for signalling, or the name may have been transferred from Prospect Hill, not far away. Wintucket meant “at the good tidal cove.” Katama came from a word or words meaning “crab fishing place.” The name Tashmoo is traced from Kuttashimmoo, meaning “at the great spring.” Tashmoo has always been famous for the springs which supply Vineyard Haven’s water. Quenames meant “a long fish” and was bestowed as a name where the Indians caught long fish, or eels. The white men, too, have always caught the long fish in the ponds of the South Shore.

The last of the up-Island blacksmith shops was torn down yesterday. The shop was occupied most recently by Eben Raymond, and it stood across from the residence of Capt. George Donaldson at West Tisbury. The building was first built near the brook on the town line, more than a hundred years ago. In this location Nathan Mayhew, father of Ulysses Mayhew, occupied it. It was moved in 1840 to the site of the S.M. Mayhew Co. store, where it stood until 1866, when it was once more moved. A great many Island blacksmiths worked in the shop in their time, many of them famous in the craft.

Martha’s Vineyard will be advertised on a New England Steamship Co. poster this year, a big, colorful, artistic production, devoted exclusively to the Island. The design, the work of John Held Jr., divides the poster into scenes — a flight of wild geese, a moonlit beach, young people around a beach fire, the Gay Head cliffs — over which appear the words The Enchanted Isle. The poster is one part of the increased advertising program for the Vineyard which the steamship company is undertaking this year. Other items include booklets, folders and circulars devoted to New England resorts.

The experience of Gardiner Hammond’s attempt to exterminate the crow proved disastrous. Mr. Hammond owned great pastures where many sheep grazed. He had offered a bounty of fifty cents each for crows, as the birds had killed some of his newly born lambs. Under the stimulus of the bounty, hunters had killed nearly all the crows about the Squibnocket region. Three years later Hammond wondered what had destroyed the grass in his pastures. The grass was dead, having been cut off at the roots by white grubs which had increased so rapidly after the destruction of the crows. The offer of a bounty was withdrawn and the pastures gradually recovered.

This is evidence to which residents of the Island may well give careful thought. It is always dangerous to interfere with the balance of nature unless we are pretty sure of what we are doing. There is no doubt that the crow is a rowdy and not a saint. There is evidence for him and against him, but the paragraph above ought to be conclusive from an agricultural standpoint.

Although the formal agreement has not been signed, it was believed certain in Edgartown that the First National Store would take over the property at the corner of Main and Summer streets, formerly the Folsom block. The agreement will mean the demolition or moving of the present building and the creation of an entirely new business block on the corner for the chain store concern. Alfred Hall, owner of the property, said that the proposed new building would be in keeping with the character of the street and of the town. It will be a single story. He added that local labor would be employed except on specialized work requiring trained artisans.

Nothing takes the place of whiskers, declared Ernest Sidelinger, mayor of Chappaquiddick and guard of that island, when interviewed at the termination of his winter patrol. Months of exposure to the ocean gale and blizzards while watching for pirate craft in the offing or tracking wildcats in the cedar swamps, he added, leave no ill effect upon the features that are protected by a luxuriant growth of natural herbage.

Mayor Sidelinger first acquired fame when, dressed in a bearskin coat and wearing the heaviest of winter whiskers, he stepped up to a twelve-foot grizzly who took him for a member of the clan, and kicked the animal spitefully upon the shins. Since then the mayor has been sought by various international agencies who labored with serious problems and begged his counsel. Such has been the demand upon him that he has shaved off his beard this season two months earlier than usual in order to disguise himself. He may now be frequently seen about Edgartown, traveling incognito.

Compiled by Cynthia Meisner