Atomic Bottles

From Gazette editions of September, 1959:

A belief that the bottles set adrift in large numbers by the Coast and Geodetic Survey and found by many persons on Vineyard beaches are involved in the plans of the Atomic Energy Commission to arrange for dumping of atomic waste at sea, is borne out by a statement of the AEC.

“In anticipation of a possible need for a coastal disposal site in the New England area where there is a relatively heavy concentration of industrial, medical, university and other users of radioisotopes,” the statement says, “the commission is making arrangements to conduct field investigations of Atlantic Ocean areas off the New England coast to determine if a specific site could be designated, when needed, for the safe disposal of small quantities of low level radioactive wastes and to establish the conditions under which such wastes could be deposited.”

One site under consideration, according to the statement, is 200 miles off Cape Cod. Another site being studied is a “10 mile by 10 mile area known as Noman’s Land. It is approximately 12 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard.” According to the statement, the Coast and Geodetic Survey will take samples and make measurements to evaluate the dispersing effect of tides and currents and the uptake of radioactivity by clays and silts and by biological systems.

Beachcombing is rewarding at times, it seems, and Mr. and Mrs. Walter McCreery found it so earlier this week. The McCreerys came across no fewer than nine bottles washed ashore on Long Beach in the vicinity of Squibnocket. These bottles contained directions from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Coast and Geodetic Survey, which is making a survey of ocean currents, and contained the request that certain information be sent them on cards enclosed in the bottles. In addition to the cards one bottle contained the name and address of one of the crew, who no doubt couldn’t resist the temptation.

Mr. and Mrs. Monroe Karasik of Chevy Chase, Md., who are vacationing in Lobsterville, found eight of the sealed bottles within a two-mile stretch of beach running from Gay Head cliffs back toward Squibnocket. The Karasiks debated the possibility that the survey of ocean currents might have a link with the problems which have arisen from attempts to find dumping places for atomic waste. It is a subject they, like many others who regard the sea and sea life with genuine affection, feel strongly about.

There’s no reason at all why one should not combine the professions of baker and painter, but it is just not done very often. Trust the Vineyard to produce a baker par excellence, in the person of Argie Humphreys of North Tisbury, who employs his idle hours in turning out paintings, some of which have been on display at the pleasantly redolent place where he presides. As a matter of fact, he has worked with such industry and devotion that he now has more than a hundred oil paintings, mainly landscapes, portraying Vineyard scenes sometimes and at other times figments of his imagination or beloved scenes recalled from the past. No telling what all this is going to lead to, but it is interesting that Mr. Humphreys has avoided the natural temptation to paint still lifes featuring, let’s say, a loaf of oatmeal bread, a cup of blueberries and a glass of honey.

Fred Friendly, Chilmark summer visitor for some seasons, will be remembered for his own abilities as well as for the brilliant team which he and Edward R. Murrow made. Now CBS plans to produce a series of news specials, in prime evening hours. Fred Friendly has done some of the best news programs that ever appeared, and he will be allowed to do one a month.

Does he think he can hold his own in prime evening time? “We’ve got to,” he said. “Good Lord, they’re going to pay about $200,000 for each show and we’ve got to give them something for it. What we’ve got around here now is a carnival. A pretty good carnival, good entertainment. Television has to be something more than a carnival, though. We’re living in an exciting age. Our lives depend on the decisions we have to make — we’ve got to know about our world.”

From a Vineyard point of view Cape Cod has served as a horrible example. Again and again the cry has been raised, “We do not want the Island ruined as the Cape has been.” The bare and bended arm of Massachusetts, as Thoreau called it, is bare no longer. It is clothed in signs, roadside stands, gas stations, blacktop, walls and fences. Of course the Cape does not think it has been ruined; such notions are relative. But wise and far-seeing citizens of the Cape are aware of sufficient loss of seclusion, natural beauty — with resulting loss of revenue, and of an old and famous way of life, to feel the imperative need of so vast and constructive a plan as that of the National Seashore.

Compiled by Cynthia Meisner