From the Feb. 16, 1934 edition of the Vineyard Gazette:

Following the record cold wave of last Friday, the Vineyard saw unusually low, but decidedly more moderate temperatures Friday night. On Saturday morning the upward climb of the mercury began. Saturday and Sunday were clear, cold days with a brilliant sun and northwest winds which relaxed in vigor. The ice harvest at the Island’s ice ponds continued to a successful conclusion, and on Monday the thawing point was reached. The ice around the Island was considerably reduced early in the week as great masses became detached and were carried away by wind and tide. Ice remained inside the harbors, however, although it softened up quickly. Edgartown harbor remained ice bound with no boats free to move except the Chappaquiddick ferry which had a canal cut for it on Sunday.

With one boat, the Martha’s Vineyard, frozen in at Nantucket, service was maintained by the Nantucket, although at some difficulty. Both Woods Hole and Quicks Hole were impassable, and it was necessary to go around Cuttyhunk to get into the bay and to New Bedford. Nevertheless, the Vineyard was without a boat for only one day, Friday.

Yesterday saw temperatures in the forties, with a mild sun and breeze, but last night was cold again. This morning on the Island began with fitful snow flurries. The good ship Alert, Capt. Frank Rice, is reported frozen in for the winter in the far-off reached and desolate surroundings of Menemsha. Just where she is located has not been reported, radio reception having been poor and airplanes having found the weather unsuitable for flight over the bergs and tundra.

Cap’n Rice normally the smiling, genial host of the Ocean View hotel in Oak Bluffs, sailed from the port two weeks ago, intent on a trip after cod. He is an ardent fisherman and the winter blasts have no terror for him if the cod are biting. But, alas, the northeast wind swooped down upon the coast on that very day. It breezed strong and stronger, and he put into Menemsha and dropped both anchors, besides running lines to the frozen floe.

Since that time, more ice has made and now the sturdy craft lies hemmed in on all sides with no prospects of being freed without recourse to ice saws or dynamite or both. And meantime the cod are chuckling on the ledges, and Cap’n Rice is sweating with exasperation, even in a zero temperature.

Ice was cut at Sheriff’s Meadow Pond on Saturday for the first time since 1929. All through the day a gang of some thirty men ploughed the hard eight inch ice, sawed the cakes, pushed them through the sluiceway where they were caught and hauled up the conveyor, and stowed them in the long empty ice house. At dusk, electric lights were switched on and the harvest continued after dark until about 9 o’clock.

The unaccustomed sight attracted many spectators to the pond, and the scene was one of intense activity.

The characteristic Chappaquiddick spirit rallied on Sunday when volunteers under the inspiration and direction of Benjamin W. Pease took steps to prevent that island from being cut off. Although the ice was still safe enough for free passage on foot, it was anticipated that the softening and breaking up would make walking impossible and at the same time prevent the ferry from running. Accordingly, operations started to cut a canal from the ferry slip at the point on Chappaquiddick to the slip at the foot of Daggett street. Among those engaged in the enterprise were Antone Bettencourt, ferry master, Joe Brown, Manuel A. Bettencourt, Lawrence Jeffers and his son Teddy, Casimiro Bettencourt, and Oscar Johanson, assisted by one or two others.

Although the cutting of a canal from Edgartown proper to Chappaquiddick seemed a unique engineering enterprise, Mr. Pease recalled that it was a scheme put into practice long ago.

Setting to work with saws and pikes, the volunteers cut through the thick ice and forced the cakes down under the surrounding ice so that the tide carried them away. One large cake came popping up through the airhole which was maintained by ducks not far from the point, and breached like a whale. The sawing was difficult, since the thickness of the ice varied a great deal.

The ferry canal was completed in late afternoon, and Ferryman Bettencourt went shooting back and forth through the slit like an engineer on a track. The canal was just wide enough to allow free movement of the ferry, and at both ends there was enough ice cut away to permit the boat to be turned.

Their work being done, Mr. Pease and his volunteers regarded it with satisfaction. Water communication with Chappaquiddick had been restored after only two days’ enforced suspension.

“We Chappaquiddickers want to go to town meeting,” remarked Mr. Pease.The ferry remained in service, taking school children and others across as usual, regardless of the condition of the ice.

Compiled by Hilary Wall