From the August 28, 1970 edition of the Gazette by Joseph Chase Allen:

For years it has been the practice of the Gazette to carry something of a summary of the summer’s business as the season draws to a close. Such an article has usually appeared in advance of Labor Day, which may not always give a true picture of the whole season, yet to wait for that date is to find some places of business closed and the proprietors departed for other fields.

The following impressions have been gathered at random, yet the sources of information are quite representative of the lines of business to which reference is made, and on this basis, the conclusion of this writer is that the summer of 1970 has seen a volume of business transacted that has been generally larger than usual, but which, perhaps, has not exceeded that of 1969, which was a banner year. This fact was widely recognized a year ago, and it was natural that with such a mark to shoot at, proprietors in general hoped to maintain the level reached in 1969. Some have succeeded, some have exceeded it, and still others have fallen somewhat behind, but the total volume has been impressive indeed.

To begin at the beginning to list the favorable features of a most hectic summer, the Steamship Authority as of August 25, was six to seven per cent ahead of last year on freight. Passengers were 16 to 17 per cent above last year’s number, and autos outnumbered last year’s total through July and were about even with last year’s figures during August. This should surprise those who have bucked village traffic.

Sales of gasoline, for marine use, cars and aviation, are higher than they were a year ago and this also is surprising, for Island boatyards reported early in the season that some boats would not be put in commission. Hardware business is reported as good as last year and all food stores are far, far ahead. This may balance a falling-off in restaurant custom during the bad weather during the first part of July, when it was opined that more persons were eating at home.

Or it may not, because the smaller eating places, where breakfast and lunch are served, where it is possible to obtain snacks and sandwiches, have generally reported lively patronage.

Real estate has not been as active as it was a year ago, although there has been some movement. “But,” as one realtor said, “prices are holding steady, they are not rising, and in this there is indicated a slackening in the inflationary trend; it’s a good sign.”

And there is plenty of money. The Martha’s Vineyard National Bank reports savings accounts totaling $5,600,000, the first time this department has passed the five million mark. Total deposits in all departments are exactly a million dollars above the figures of Aug. 25 a year ago.

On the less cheerful side of the picture, barbers say that summer business fell off by an estimated 30 per cent. “The young men do not come in for haircuts,” they explain. Gift shops have not done as well as they had hoped for, which may be partially explained by the fact that there have been more of these establishments than usual.

Resentment aimed at soaring prices has affected some of the better eating places, some hotels and, apparently, the motel business. Reports from clothing stores vary, but it is generally agreed that “girls wear very little these days,” which affects trade, although an oddity appears in the picture, when at least one store dealing entirely in women’s wear announces an increase of business over a year ago.

Nearly everyone will agree that there has been more building during the past two months than has ever been usual during this same period, and yet some carpenters complain that they do not have steady employment, while others say that there is more work than local contractors can handle.

It has been pointed out that Labor Day comes a week later than in some years, which may affect the business picture favorably, and the operations of the stock market can have a stimulating effect, although it comes late. A mild winter could make a great deal of difference in the opinion of many, as favoring employment in various lines.

Already thinking and planning for another season, Island business people frequently mention the matter of idle and indolent visitors as a menace to the Island economy. Criticism is directed to the advertising of the Island, chiefly on television, to the authorities who are charged with taking a too passive view of the invasion, and to citizens who failed to support the police in enforcing the law.

Numerous as have been the cases brought into the court for trespassing, various Islanders tell of persons entering woodland at night, presumably to sleep, and of begging for food. The scores of hitchhikers especially at night, keep drivers’ nerves on edge. The demand increases for action which will bar hippies and the like from the Island altogether, lest those visitors who pay dearly for peace and quiet become disgusted and leave for other places.

Compiled by Hilary Wall