Murder on MV

From Gazette editions of September, 1935:

Knight B. Owen of Vineyard Haven was shot and killed in the yard of a summer house at Tashmoo, near the herring creek, yesterday afternoon, and Harold C. Look, who fired four shots at the fellow townsman he considered his enemy is held by the police to face a charge which they said last night would be first degree murder. News of the tragedy came with stunning force to the Island which has been free from crimes of violence for generations. The dead man was a member of one of the most prominent Vineyard Haven families and has figured largely in the social life of the town since his childhood.

The shooting took place in the yard of a house occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Richard Salmon of New York. The Salmons, with Wilson Crosby, a friend, were sunning themselves when Owen arrived in his car. They did not see him at first. Later, the police believe, Look appeared and had some words with Owen. Look then took out a revolver from a box he had been carrying and fired one shot, striking the window sill of the car. This was witnessed by Mr. Salmon, and as he called out to Look to stop, the assailant fired three times more, deliberately, all three shots taking effect.

The motive for the crime remained undisclosed, except for Look’s statement that no woman was involved. In reply to a direct question as to why he committed the act, Look said, “Check his past for the last fifteen years and check my past, and you will have the answer.”

Look has lived alone near the herring creek, preferring solitude and being known as somewhat of an eccentric. He has been employed by the town of Tisbury to control the flow of water at Tashmoo. He has had a varied career, having been employed at different times as an accountant, a Wells Fargo messenger, and a mine guard. It is said also that he has adventured as a tramp. Although he has kept much to himself, he has been liked by members of the summer colony and was regarded as a good sort.

Knight Owen was 43 years old, the younger son of Mrs. William Barry Owen and the late Mr. Owen. His grandfather was Capt. Leander C. Owen of Vineyard Haven, one of the noted sea captains of his day. He was the Vineyard Haven correspondent of the Vineyard Gazette and the Vineyard Haven personal columns in this issue are from his typewriter. The last of his news copy was handed in at the Gazette office yesterday morning by Mr. Owen himself.

When the state highway crew began to trim the roadside brush in a new, wise way, they started something which has grown into one of the greatest attractions of the Island. The hedgerows of up-Island roads are already famous the country over, and the end is not yet. Visitors admire them and take photographs; writers and lecturers on landscaping and gardening view them and write of the beautiful handling of the roadsides.

Instead of lopping off branches at the trunks of roadside trees, the highway guardians have been trimming only the growth that has actually invaded the safety zone. The brush has been treated as one would treat a hedge. Roads wind between banks of green. The effect is amazing, and the Island stands as a model of roadside care, and is the envy of less fortunate places.

The marriage of Margaret Hickey and Charles Downs of Oak Bluffs was solemnized at Sacred Heart Church Monday morning. A large gathering of friends was present. The couple left the Island on the early boat, planning to have a wedding breakfast at the home of the bride’s mother in Taunton. Mrs. Downs is a member of the nursing staff at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital and her husband is the principal of the Oak Bluffs High School. After a wedding trip to the White Mountains, the couple will make their home at the Purdy cottage on New York avenue.

Whether it contains more or less ultraviolet than the sunlight of August the sunlight of September is far friendlier. There is no cruelty in the full brightness of a real September noon, and the human spirits do not wilt or retreat. As a matter of fact, the fierceness of August heat is one of the natural phenomena which gives greatest point to vacation; without it, the race of man would lose considerable satisfaction, not only that of saying how terrible it must be in the cities, but also that of subsiding into inertia under circumstances of false reluctance and compulsion. Sham battles with the heat of the sun are part of the ritual of summer.

But whereas August alternatively repels and attracts, September has a sun which only invites. To man the month is more delectable than spring because his powers of foresight and hindsight tell him that these are the last uplifting days of a year soon to taper off and congeal in ice. Gone are the hectic, simmering, steaming days. The calm hand of September is across the land, and the September sun is gentle and understanding.

Compiled by Cynthia Meisner