From the Jan. 21, 1949 edition of the Gazette:

Lawrence Viera of Edgartown and Cain Haskins of Oak Bluffs got to gamming one day this winter, and the talk turned to one of the Vineyard’s favorite sports, moving buildings from spot to spot. Mr. Haskins, an old timer, recalled an incident which Mr. Viera has amplified for the Gazette, and which concerns the present quarters of Phillips Hardware Co., Oak Bluffs, at 133 Circuit avenue.

Here is the story as set down by Mr. Viera:

In 1870 when Cottage City was known as Vineyard Grove and Oak Bluffs, D. W. Russell built a cottage of six rooms, with a dining room with seating capacity for six people, and commenced to let a few rooms during the season, his guests getting their meals elsewhere. In 1881 after much pressure on the part of his friends, Mr. Russell decided to move the little cottage back on the rear of the large lot, and build another with sixteen rooms, and seating capacity for twenty-two people in the dining room.

This venture proved such a success that the little house was soon outgrown and the Ballou cottage in the rear and containing eleven rooms was bought and added to the others, giving what was supposed to be ample room. The next season demonstrated its insufficiency and in 1887 Vine Cottage, on Circuit avenue, adjoining Oakwood Cottage, and containing twenty-five rooms, was purchased, and a connection made between the two cottages, and the whole joined in front by an ample piazza extending the whole length.

This consolidated house was thrown open to the public for the first time April 1, 1888, under the name of the Oakwood. “The exterior of the house is embellished with a peculiarly cool effect,” said a contemporary report. “The house contains fifty rooms with a dining room capacity of 125, and the table is provided with the very best of everything in its season, and it is the intention of Mr. and Mrs. Russell that it shall be surpassed by none on the Island.”

Vineyard trees lining what is known as the Old County Road leading to Oak Bluffs, and entirely within the town, are the present subject of attention from man, who continually supplements the onslaughts of nature in the way of wind, snow and sleet. Now the roadway is being trimmed by the town, and even the side which boasts no phone or telegraph wires has had the limbs toward the road sheered off its trees. As one who has ridden that road frequently in recent weeks, this reporter can testify that neither the deciduous trees nor the aspiring little pines growing up along the roadside were damaging to cars or their occupants in any way.

A few weeks ago, in Edgartown, a crew of tree experts employed by the telephone company to do necessary trimming, picked a country lane — yes, there are such in Edgartown — with one pair of wires high aloft along it, to trim off branches the height of a man and even twigs which could never reach the wires. They even, for good measure, cut off branches and twigs on a tree uprooted by the last hurricane and this only a few feet off the ground, its only crime being that it was still alive.

Everywhere the hopeless fight goes on to save the trees, and for some reason best explained by psychiatrists, perhaps, one finds that it is always men who want the trees felled and trimmed, and the women, represented by such organizations as garden clubs, who seek to save them. A case far afield from the Vineyard is that in Tallahassee, Fla., where the women are up in arms because in the name of “progress” a whole plot of historic trees has been bulldozed out between the Capitol and the supreme court building to conform with an architect’s plan for revising the grounds about the structures. Six huge live oaks and two sycamores are among the trees felled, besides a rare gingko tree planted seventy-five years ago by a Florida supreme court justice and former minister to Japan. And the laurel tree in the city was a casualty.

And so the everlasting war between man and nature continues.

“Spring is here!” That’s what Dr. Ralph Mitchell said on Monday, when Robert Norton picked a dandelion alongside the doctor’s garage in Vineyard Haven. Other dandelions have been reported recently, as well.

Incidentally, an old tale has been revived, and some of the older Island residents quoted, to the effect that some generations ago, the Vineyard had “eighteen months of summer.” The period is said to have ended in the fall, when the climate resumed its normal state.

In the yard of Mr. and Mrs. Everett M. Gale, Edgartown, there are sweet pea vines which are a healthy green shade and growing in length each of these warm days, and also rambler roses vines that are shooting forth new green leaves.

Napoleon B. Madison, caretaker of Dunroving Ranch, Chilmark, reported seeing a bluebird and a mosquito during the warm spell of weather which we have been having.

Things to look forward to include spring and, as always, the return of better times, whatever they may be.

Compiled by Hilary Wallcox