Cow Catchers

From Gazette editions of October, 1934:

The certain appearance of death and taxes is no more sure than the arrival of shipwreck and marooning when Robert Martin, school superintendent, and Eben Bodfish of Oak Bluffs, go motoring on Gay Head. At times the difficulty is mud, frozen radiators, broken axles and all troubles caused by atmospheric conditions. But on Tuesday when the weather conditions were perfect, when the swamps were dry, the hills free from ice, then it was that the strangest misfortune of all befell these twain.

According to Eben, it was Martin who held the wheel, presiding in the pilot house as it were, while the vehicle described an erratic course across the township, much after the style of the hunting hawk. Eben alleges that Martin drove his low-hung car over a boulder, which caught the craft by the midship section of her keel. And there it hung and teetered, balancing like a see-saw, with none of the wheels resting on the ground. In vain the occupants attempted to hold the drive-wheels down while the engine was started. In vain they sought to pry, push and shove.

In the end they were forced to resort to the time honored method of relief, namely to walk across the hills and moors, seek out the owner of a stout pair of oxen, and return with him to the scene. Alonzo Smalley was the skipper of the rescue crew, with his Durham cattle, Ace and Jack, and the car was once again placed on an even keel without further delay.

The new highway bridge across the Cape Cod Canal at Bourne is plainly visible from the top of Indian Hill. The great steel arch of the bridge is so placed that from this famous vantage point on the Vineyard it appears as a crescent projecting up against the sky.

Steamer New Bedford of the Island line, bound from New Bedford to the Vineyard, struck on the ledge in Buzzards Bay, near the Weepecket Islands and the entrance to Woods Hole. A hole was torn in her port side, and as Capt. J. Negus drove her on the beach at Uncatena Point, two compartments filled to within four feet of the main deck. Seventy passengers were taken off by fishing boats and brought to the Vineyard. No one was injured and the calmness of the passengers and methodical procedure of the officers and crew excited much favorable comment.

No official explanation of the accident has been made public. According to passengers, she struck the ledge at the entrance to the passage. The night was dark, with little or no wind, and a smooth sea. It was noticed that the gas buoy at the Hole was not lighted. The steamer was making for this channel marker, and apparently passed to the west, striking with a force that caused her to roll heavily. An SOS signal was flashed by radio as the boat was turned and headed for the nearby beach.

Everyone knows the ford on the road just above the old North Tisbury post office, near the Priester place. This is the last conspicuous survival of the watering places which were used in former generations, where the roadway divides and one part leads directly through a flowing stream. Here the horses of Vineyard forefathers were refreshed as they were driven up or down the Island.

Over the road at this place hangs a graceful branch of a large swamp maple tree. And the tip of this branch these last few weeks has blazed with red leaves, hanging like a banner. No passerby could possibly miss this gorgeous touch of color. It is so every year. This tree invariably turns early, and turns into beautiful reds and yellows.

If one of the proposed plans for widening the road at this place should be carried through, the tree with the October banner would be cut down. Who wants to see such a thing happen?

The fatal fascination of the green pastures owned by John Prada of Edgartown for the cows owned by William E. Salvadore, was the basis of a suit brought by Mr. Prada in the small claims section of the court, for $50 with which to rebuild the fence he claims was trampled down by the Salvadore cows. Mr. Prada discoursed at length on the wiles and depredations of the cows. “They’ve been drove so many times, nothing will stop them,” he said, explaining their onslaughts on his fence. “They feed more on me than they do on him. There are men here who will tell you they’ve been drove crazy by them,” he added, glancing at the appreciative audience.

On one occasion, he said, he had tied up the marauders in his barn, and it was suggested by the judge that he might be appointed field driver and thus take possession of the trespassers. However, the fence and nothing but the fence interested Mr. Prada.

The judge took the matter under advisement, after hearing Mr. Salvadore’s side of the story, which painted the role of his cows in less somber colors, although he admitted that they liked the looks of the Prada fields.

Compiled by Cynthia Meisner