From the December 28, 1962 edition of the Vineyard Gazette:

Young Nancy and James Rogers, the children of Mr. and Ms. John Rogers, looked out the window Saturday morning and saw a parachute hanging in a tree, with a small package suspended at the end of the strings. They were convinced that Santa Claus had started dropping presents a few days early.

But it wasn’t Santa Claus; it was the U.S. Weather Bureau. Besides the package and the parachute, there were remnants of what was once a balloon, and a full set of instructions to the finder.

Mr. Rogers reported that the package contained a weather instrument called a radiosonde which had been sent aloft by balloon from the weather bureau in New York city. The balloon itself was calculated to withstand altitudes up to 17 miles, at which point it would burst, and the parachute would open and let the radiosonde drop gently back to earth.

The balloon was sent up on the same day it came down, indicating that it was doing some pretty fast traveling through the upper reaches of the sky. The instructions indicated that the radiosonde was to be mailed to Joliet, Ill., where the weather bureau reconditions equipment of this sort.

George D. Moffett Jr. has purchased 240 acres of the former Amoz Smith property from Walter C. Smith Jr. The tract, in the varied and largely wooded area lying beyond Ocean Heights from Edgartown and overlooking Sengekontacket Pond, is remarkable in many ways. Mr. Moffett told the Gazette yesterday that he has no plans for the property beyond that of making it, in the immediate future, at any rate, a natural preserve.

Mr. and Ms. Moffett were summer residents in 1960 and have been much more than that since. In the fall of 1960, they acquired the former Wilson property, once the Dillon place, on Chappaquiddick, and their new Caleb’s Pond house was completed in time for them to spend Christmas there a year ago. Mr. Moffett’s yawl Guinevere is familiar in Island waters.

Probably it’s too early yet to know what the most memorable events of 1962 will turn out to be. When many more New Years have passed, the survivors of the 12 months now passing can consider the matter in long perspective–and as likely as not, some little things of 1962 will stand out more clearly than so-called big things.

This was the year in which it was settled beyond a doubt that John F. Kennedy slept at Oak Bluffs in an earlier phase of his career. The Cromwell house and Bartlett Allen houses in Vineyard Haven, both believed to have been built in 1812, were torn down.

Grace Church in Vineyard Haven sent a gift to the new St. Augustine’s, an example of friendship and fellowship which continues to shine out. The Steamship Authority accepted a donation but the precedent did not open a prospect of taking care of the operating deficit. The 1960 federal census report showed that, on the Vineyard, 1,066 persons owned one automobile, 474 owned two, and 40 owned 3 or more.

The Boston Seaman’s Friend Society thought and studied and discussed the future of the Bethel at Vineyard Haven but, as the year ended, had not been able to make up its collective mind.

The project for a communications center at the Martha’s Vineyard Airport ran into early trouble on the question of expense, both initial and operating. Bids were rejected and study continued. The Cape Cod Community College opened at Hyannis and Vineyard young people were registered there.

The Edgartown firemen were late in obtaining trousers for their uniforms, a fact that gave rise to certain humor abroad. A red-tailed hawk became a familiar of the Allen Keniston household at Lambert’s Cove, and Miss Adrienne J. Bowditch of the Vineyard and Smith College began a study of the Island’s own white-footed mice.

The Squibnocket mute swans produced two cygnets and Clifford Kaye of the U. S. Geological Survey reported that rubies and sapphires were found among the glacial deposits here. There was no rush after the treasure. Jackie Kennedy–excuse the informality–excited, charmed and delighted the Island by water-skiing in Edgartown harbor.

Roy Wilkins, secretary of the NAACP, spoke to a large gathering in the Tabernacle, seven authors appeared at a luncheon for the Arthritis and Rheumatism fund at the Harborside Inn, and four Edgartown citizens seated on a bench one sunny afternoon represented an aggregate age of 330 years. Frying potatoes started a fire at Look’s Pond.

Havenside at Vineyard Haven sadly passed into history, but not into a sad history; the annals of the inn were in a fine tradition. The salvage of old iron from the wreck of the Port Hunter proceeded, almost with as much frustration and difficulty as usual.

So runs the uneven account of odd and little and serious and amusing things. But as to those truly memorable or truly historic, who can say?

Compiled by Hilary Wall