From the Dec. 25, 1959 edition of the Vineyard Gazette:

With half the Island hoping for a white Christmas and the other half offering no serious objection, it looked on Tuesday morning as if the weather gods had heard and approved. The fluky winds that lifted and died in the eastern quarters all through Monday settled there in mid-evening and the broken clouds massed, shutting out the few stars that showed at dusk. And although the barometer climbed and remained high, the predictions of the weather prophets were fulfilled.

For it snowed. And, as predicted, with three to five inches. Light, fine and dry at first, it might have drifted badly but for the very light wind until toward morning.

As the morning advanced, the wind increased, blowing mostly from the northeast and north, and blew great guns, with every aspect of an old fashioned blizzard. The storm, however, did not have the serious intentions of a blizzard, and the wind dropped and the snow petered out in early afternoon.

As it was, the Vineyard Haven snow-plowers were abroad about five o’clock, the highway department fearing an even heavier fall than actually took place. Likewise in other towns, plowing began early, and plowing and sanding continued through the day as the streets became slick and more snow blew over them.

The barometer remained high and the temperature climbed as well, and the snow fell thickly during most of the morning, softening to a degree which massed it thickly upon all small shrubs and evergreens, but sparing the larger trees and electric and telephone wires, for which the trouble crews gave thanks.

But it was slippery. Where the plows had been, the street surface was icy and snow-treads and even chains spun upon it when vehicles lacked the ballast load to give the needed traction.

Yet there was a spirit of hilarity abroad among the Christmas shoppers who were out in the midst of the snow at an early hour. The merchants shared in this spirit, having wondered, perhaps, how their sleds and skis might go. This was an answer and it was all to the good.

And then, as noon-time approached, the flakes became even finer and more powdery, and the householders took courage and began to shovel off their walks. For the weather prophets had said that noon would bring the end, likewise a cooler atmosphere and a westerly wind. A white, but clear and sunny Christmas, they had said, and it appeared as if this would come to pass.

The prediction was amply justified this morning, for not only was the scene set for a white Christmas on the Vineyard, but for the rarest of phenomena, a really white one — no mere skim of snow with the ground showing through, but a genuine winter blanket, and the white coating not yet melted from the streets and sidewalks.

This morning dawned fair and clear, though with December tardiness, and the Island scene was one to delight all lovers of white Christmases and of winter beauty in general.

There was joy undiluted, too, among the electric light and telephone crews, who reported no trouble, but all serene.

Just as everyone talks about the weather in general and does nothing about it, so everyone talks about Christmas weather in particular and does nothing. But one recalls certain records that have been kept and, even more practically, compiled for reference.

The late Horace L. Flanders of Chilmark kept his Christmas observations for a period of thirty-two years, and here are some of them, partly to be adduced as evidence in the never-ending debate as to how old fashioned winters — and Christmases — compare with those of the present day.

Christmas in 1889 was clear with a southerly wind, and the temperature was a comfortable 50 in the morning and in the evening. In 1890 the morning and evening temperatures were 22 and 16, and the day was clear; in 1891, 40 and 40, cloudy, light northeast wind; in 1892, 22 and 29, cloudy with gale winds; in 1893, 42 and 48, clear, becoming cloudy with showers; in 1895, 40 and 40, cloudy with light winds.

There, covered in the old records, are the first five years of the decade of the nineties — no snow and no real difference from the familiar Christmas experiences of the present generation.

No snow occurred on Christmas, as a matter of fact until 1901 when the day began with a temperature of 43 and ended with one of 39, the sky being cloudy and yielding to snow. There were spits of snow on Christmas, 1904, and the day was bitterly cold.

Christmas, 1909, began with 10-degree temperature and ended with 30 degrees. The sky was cloudy and snow fell on Christmas night. Not until 1919 was there another white Christmas on the Vineyard, the fall taking place early that morning. Later the air cleared and the temperature moderated.

Between 1889 and 1920, there wasn’t much white in the succession of Vineyard Christmases — no evidence of the sleighing which old timers used to tell us was universal in their time, and not much chance for the enjoyment of Christmas sleds.

Compiled by Hilary Wallcox