From the May 10, 1946 edition of the Vineyard Gazette by Elizabeth Bowie Hough:

I first visited the Vineyard on a bright September day in 1919. I had no romantic interest in the place or what it held for me, for I was simply a feature writer on a city newspaper, assigned to crowd as many stories as I could into one short trip. Of my arrival in Oak Bluffs I remember nothing at all, but once I had boarded the bus, one of Chester Pease’s models and thus an adventure in itself, I was an innocent eavesdropper on a conversation I have never forgotten and which may have influenced the rest of my life.

A distinguished looking gentleman and a woman whose pretty face did not detract from the vigor of her personality, were discussing what I soon learned was a town crisis — no less — the fate of some elm trees versus the rights of a new moving picture theatre.

I had never been particularly tree-conscious, perhaps because I spent my summers on a Pennsylvania mountain top where we counted trees by hundreds, even thousands. But somehow or other the emotion which shook the voices and reflected on the faces of my companions as we bowled along over what I was soon to know as the Beach Road, that picture-book ride on a lumbering bus, penetrated some vital spot of my own personality, beginning my transformation into one who would gladly sacrifice a street or a building, or a hundred telephone or telegraph wires at a time, or even a few heads, if the fate of a tree is involved.

There were other passengers on that bus and other conversations, but who they were or what they said I have no idea. Past those fabulous blue-green-violet waters we drove, and I was already an Island convert before I reached my destination.

I cannot honestly bring the Vineyard Gazette into my first memories of the Island, for I do not think that I even knew of its existence just yet. But that was an oversight soon remedied. My co-editor-to-be and I began looking around that winter for a country newspaper, having studied journalism at a city school. One name was drummed into our ears. A city newspaper man who thought his one ambition would have been to own and operate the Vineyard Gazette, won out by sheer reiteration of what surely is a glamorous name.

We held out for eastern Pennsylvania and had vague ideas about at least looking for something which might possibly keep us out of the poor house. As the debate proceeded, the impasse was broken when, with our somewhat doubtful consent, the Gazette was purchased and dropped into our laps as a wedding present.

And then in due course came the trip to the Vineyard to look at the property which was ours by then, but still a very secret transaction. It was the 19th of April, Patriot’s Day. Most Patriot’s Days are cold and forbidding as behooves a New England April. But ours was different. It was a glorious late spring day and we sat on the top deck of the boat, probably the Uncatena, maybe the Sankaty. All boats looked much alike to me, but all meant adventure and even hazard to my inland soul.

We reached the Vineyard, the bus, Edgartown, and climbed the steep little flight of stairs to the Gazette office. There was our Old Editor, busy with the unending tasks of a country editor and printer. There is no doubt at all that his heart was wrenched with pain at the thought of turning over the paper that he loved to newcomers, off-Islanders, youngsters as we must have looked to him then.

But the moment we looked at each other and spoke and were introduced, everything was all right, and it stayed that way always.

We went home with him to tea and we talked over our plans and then while the men continued to talk, the editor’s wife showed me the house she thought we might be able to rent. And when we passed the grim and angular outlines of the Masonic Hall, we saw, flooded with the brilliant sunlight of late afternoon, a Greek temple on Martha’s Vineyard.

We stayed at different hotels that night, and were teased unmercifully for long after. For I was a Lucy Stoner, I thought, and I had ideas about women’s rights as well, but I guessed, perhaps wrongly, that the small town would talk when we came back to stay, as we would before long.

We came but we spent the summer in two rooms until our Greek temple was vacant, and we ate breakfast on the floor. It seemed more convenient that way. And for the other two meals, the Colonial Inn courageously accepted us, inky fingers, working clothes, anomalous halfway position, and all. We tried things that angels would never have thought of attempting. We broke precedents. We made friends and enemies, the best friend our Old Editor, who was staunch in our defense even when we traduced his most deep-felt traditions. We ran down the street hand in hand to make the office by 8 in the morning, although there was no time clock. We were our own masters. It was a delicious feeling. It still is. As Edgar Marchant, the founder, once said, “Ah! It is the life of lives.”

Compiled by Hilary Wallcox