A Half Century Ago

From Gazette editions of August, 1960:

The holder of most of the world’s women’s tennis championships, including the Wimbledon, Miss Althea Gibson, was on the Island over the weekend as the guest of Dr. and Mrs. William Haley, who are summering on Tuckernuck avenue in Oak Bluffs. Miss Gibson, whose tennis career has made one of the most spectacular sports stories of the decade, added distinction to the Oak Bluffs courts on Saturday, and was to have played there again on Sunday but didn’t after it was discovered that a sizable gallery had gathered to watch her perform, and being in the public eye was the last thing she wanted during the weekend, which was to be one strictly of relaxation. During the weekend she was entertained at a cocktail party by Dr. and Mrs. Kenneth McClane at their summer home on Dempster Park.

An event of significance to Martha’s Vineyard is the twenty-fifth anniversary of Alcoholics Anonymous which is to be observed on the Island over the weekend with a proper sense of the importance and meaning of the occasion. The attitude of the community toward alcoholism and the procedures of dealing with it through the police and courts are still not what they should be, or what they can be, but it is fair to say that with the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous, an era of enlightenment began which has grown and is still growing.

On the Vineyard, Alcoholics Anonymous, which was established by a couple of alcoholics — for so they can style themselves without opprobium — has become one of the most useful and stable civic organizations. True, the public does not know enough about it, but that is the fault of the public. The anonymity of the group does not imply any mystery, and there are open meetings to which the ordinary citizenry may come with advantage to itself.

It may be said that alcoholism in the past quarter century has not diminished as a problem; conditions of our modern life do not favor its diminution. But it has been widely recognized for what it is — an illness, not a vice or wilful offense against conventions and rules. Through Alcoholics Anonymous an effective means of rehabilitation and control has been developed and demonstrated on a vast scale. Most important of all on this anniversary, Alcoholics Anonymous has won permanence. Movements come and go, but not this one. It is here to stay.

The Island observance will afford an opportunity for the public, especially those for whose families alcoholism is a problem or a threat, to acquire a useful acquaintance with the principles, practices and exemplars of this vital movement.

The great sign theft case was coming closer to a solution this week as Chief F. Hudson Worden and the other members of the Edgartown police force were making an all-out effort to follow every clue to the identity of the person or persons responsible. A tremendous number of the stolen signs as well as life preservers were recovered. The signs, those belonging to the Daggett House, the Foote Memorial of the M.S.P.C.A., the D.A.R. Place by the Wayside, the Martha’s Vineyard Rod and Gun Club, Wintucket Day Camp, Ashakmaksett farm, were located earlier behind an employees’ dormitory at the Harbor View Hotel and in some brush at Katama.

Two days ago, following up on a tip, the police investigated the interior of another employees’ dormitory at the same hotel, and discovered in three large cardboard cartons underneath a stairway no fewer than fifteen life preservers that had been taken from yachts during the summer. Like the signs, many of the life preservers are of unusual value, with lettering done in gold leaf and with special burgees and other decorative items hand-painted on them. Hotel authorities are cooperating with the police to find the culprits.

Brantz Bryan Jr., a resident of Caldwell, N.J. and East Chop, will make his New York producing debut with Christopher’s Wonders at the Maidman Theatre. Christopher’s Wonders, which offer New York theatre-goers New York’s first full-scale illusion show in twenty-five years, features the world-famous, award-winning magician and illusionist, Milbourne Christopher.

Mr. Bryan is an executive in marketing and advertising with a New York agency. His love for magic and illusion, which dates back to his boyhood, gave him the notion of offering theatre-goers a full-scale show, the last illusion one on Broadway being Sim Sala Bim in 1940. Christopher’s Wonders will feature a series of colorful stage transformations and marvels tied together by the wit of the urbane sorcerer. The numbers include Slicing a Girl in Three Pieces, Metamorphoses Plus, Levitation, the Poltergeist Cabinet and other major enigmas involving fish, fowl — and females.

Compiled by Cynthia Meisner