From the Nov. 10, 1967 edition of the Gazette:

Something wonderful is happening to the woods, and what is happening is, of course, the fall tryst, one of the appointed realities that gives autumn its beautiful and poignant identity. As the color goes with the slow dropping of the leaves, and discovery comes again with the opening of forgotten vistas, one realized that color, though the boast of the New England season, is far from being everything.

Arnold M. Fischer of West Tisbury reports two purebread Hampshire lambs born on his farm on Saturday.

With the Vineyard streets about to be inundated with Christmas shoppers, the Community Services Thrift Shop in Vineyard Haven will again be a hub of activity as buyers snatch up tantalizing treasures at prices which give the purchaser a feeling of satisfied piracy.

The items at the shop are acquired in many generous ways, some of them donated as single items in some instances as half items, and others in 100-gross batches. Some of the donated clothes are substandard (more suited for flood relief victims) and they are immediately transported by Andrews and Pierce Inc. But many are the new, once-worn Diors or Sofhies received.

Those who work at the shop have great fun when what’s-its are donated. When they tire of guessing what it is, they tag it, “what is this?”, and wait for a customer to do the explaining.

Once they received some round cards which were completely mystifying but which just turned out to be some Chinese playing cards. Some strange metal shields with clips turned out to be prayer scrolls, and something which looked like a miniature plow was a grapefruit cutter.

The Harborside Inn once sent them two cartons of matchbooks marked “Harborside.” There were fifty boxes of matchbooks in each carton, amounting to 2,500 books. These have been selling at twenty-five cents for fifty boxes, and now, there is only one carton to go.

Some silk pajama tops were received from China but only the tops, no pants. When the shop asked for pants, they started arriving from all over the United States. The Harborside Inn also gave them 150 bathroom rugs and 100 blue steak platters, all of which have been selling - slowly, but selling.

During the winter people send the shop things from off-Island, and one time it received a Bermuda Shark Oil Weather Cock, which until the shopkeepers in a quandary until they read the directions which said, “I will forecast weather and wind direction with great accuracy when filled with oil from the liver of a puppy shark. This information has been handed down from father to son from the continent of Africa.”

Other oddments were ten opium lamps from China, a case of Metrical, two parachutes, a gravy boat with two spouts (one for greasy gravy) and a brass baker’s lamp of the late sixteenth century. The shop sold an iron school bell for $65 and now it rings for cocktails. One woman bought a $4 rug and then paid $100 to get it repaired. Mrs. Charles Foote, the chairman of the Thrift Shop, has been with it since the beginning. She modeled the shop on the Brooks Thrift Shop in Concord, and she said, “Whenever I go to Seattle I go to the thrift shops to learn what I can.

“At first I asked for women’s clothes, but I found out that Island women would rather buy something new for $5 than a Bergdorf and Goodman dress for $2. It’s amazing the people here who don’t even know how to turn up a hem. Then we discovered that Island men don’t wear overcoats, so we sent these to Bridgewater.

“Our biggest market is the summer people, and during the winter we just about make expenses. At first the shop was only open three afternoons a week; now we’re a going business.”

Under Mrs. Foote’s management there is now one paid worker, and the rest of the work is done by many enthusiastic volunteers, many of whom are their own best customers.

The store’s newest star is Neil Pascall, who puts in several days decorating windows and moving things around the shop so that they will sell. He also devises clever ways of selling odd things, like men’s pleated dinner shirts.

The basement of the store has now become a hive of hidden activity. This is where summer things are stored in winter and newly arrived chattels are unpacked, and in the rush of summer this is where things get stacked until someone can get to them. It is also where things are priced and clothes tried on to determine size.

The shop has acquired such a strange assortment of bits and pieces it is now in a position to lend costumes to the summer theatres, and it has produced toys for the Head Start group. “We don’t like to let things out of the store for over ten days,” Mrs. Foote said, “and we never let out anything that is consigned.”

For decorations at Christmas or anything that might come to mind, ordinary or extraordinary, the place to look since it accepts absolutely anything and everything, because as Mrs. Foote repeatedly said, “Somebody will buy anything.”

Compiled by Hilary Wallcox