Autumn Tales

From Gazette editions of October, 1935:

The rum runner Pronto was disabled on Sunday when she collided near Montauk Point with the Coast Guard cutter Argo, commanded by Lieut. Com. Beckwith Jordan, formerly of Vineyard Haven. The Argo took six members of her crew to New London the day after the accident. The Pronto, a 90-foot express rum runner from the Barbadoes, got into trouble when she tried to escape the Argo’s searchlights by ducking under her stern. Her deck house was swept away in the collision and she was barely afloat by the next morning. A large part of the Pronto’s cargo, valued at $36,000, was lost at the time of the collision.

James A. Boyle, clerk of courts, and Henry Cronig of Cronig’s Utilities, left for a trip to Canada. It is rumored that in anticipation of a third party in the next presidential election, they have gone for a mascot or party emblem, such as a jackrabbit, woodchuck or maybe a civet cat.

An advance taste of the high costs of criminal trials in the courts was experienced by Dukes County with the September sitting of superior court, just closed at Edgartown. The expense account of the brief sitting — court lasted one whole day, and until about three the following day — came to a total of $1,642.98. This bill the taxpayers of the county are required to pay. Almost one third of the entire expense was represented by payments to Dr. William Rosen of New Bedford, medical examiner, who was imported for services to the Look murder case. Herbert N. Hinckley, county treasurer, made it clear that he believed the bill for the doctor’s services an excessive charge for actual services rendered.

In recent years there have been all sorts of hints of the presence here of the Norsemen long ago. Edward Gray’s book, Leif Eriksson, reconstructed the sagas to bring Leif to the Vineyard and Noman’s Land. He devoted some attention to the runic rock on Noman’s. But the recent report of Professor Edmund Delabarre is a setback for the most optimistic enthusiasts of the Norse tradition. There is no ground whatsover for believing the runic rock was inscribed by a contemporary of Leif. This is enough; the runic inscription was of interest only so long as one could believe in its antiquity.

And yet the possibility that he may have visited our shores remains as before, challenging research and firing imagination. Proof and even evidence are tantalizingly out of reach, but some day a clue may be found.

A party of fishermen off Edgartown last week had the novel experience of hooking a duck and at the same time preventing a tragedy of the sea. They were trolling for bluefish when they observed a coot struggling to rise from the water. At first they believed it might have been the victim of a shot from a gunner, as it was making desperate efforts to leave the water.

The course of the boat brought the sportsmen close enough to see why the bird did not fly away. It was in the grasp of one of those horrible creatures of the sea, the goose fish. This member of the skate family had the coot securely clamped in its monstrous mouth. Goose fish are not satisfied with marine life alone and do not hesitate to attack and devour any unfortunate sea fowl caught unawares. The coot’s efforts were so feeble that the result of the battle could readily be foretold.

The boat was put about and the fishermen cast, not for fish but for fowl. A well directed line drifted over the struggling pair and a quick jerk placed the hook in the duck’s back. Another jerk freed it from the jaws of the fish. It was hoisted aboard and the hook taken out. In a few moments it revived and flew away. The thwarted goose fish disappeared, gnashing his teeth.

A good story from the hunt is on Dr. Clem (Happy) Amaral of Oak Bluffs. Doc went out looking for pheasants and quail, taking his thoroughbred setters along. Somewhere near the margin of one of the Vineyard’s great ponds, Doc pulled down a soaring pheasant. The bird fell into the pond some distance from shore, and when he attempted to send his dogs in after it, they simply declined. Doc took a hasty look around the landscape, then remarked that nudists are popular in some places, and why not here? So saying, he laid aside his garments like Minnehaha at the corn planting, and retrieved his bird.

Among its other desirable attributes, this fall has surely had the merits of demonstrating what a pleasant place the Vineyard is for late staying. In particular, the Island offers a retreat, a residence of rest and outdoor vigor to those who wish to retire, or half-way retire from the cares of the world outside. Here one may satisfy the elemental hunger for land and sea.

Compiled by Cynthia Meisner