From the May 24, 1974 edition of the Gazette:

Memorial Day on Martha’s Vineyard is something more than a patriotic holiday, the occasion of the first of the season’s three long weekends, and a glowing festival of flowering trees and beach plums. On an Island whose economy and year-round population are 95 percent dependent on the three-month summer season, Memorial Day is a diagnostic test.

So what kind of season will it be?

On the evidence available at today’s start of the weekend leading up the last Monday in May, substituted by Congress for the old holiday date of May 30, answer:

As good as ever, maybe better.

By noontime Wednesday three quarters of the rooming accommodations on the Island had been reserved, said Daniel Hull, executive secretary of the Chamber of Commerce, and in the background as he talked phones were jangling — half the persons calling were asking for immediate reservations, he said, half for summer rentals.

“We’re beginning to feel the pressure,” he added cheerfully.

Gasoline supplies will be ample if drivers will exercise the kind of prudence they learned during the winter’s long weeks of shortage, said the Island’s two experts on that sensitive subject.

Martha’s Vineyard got no part of a 500,000-gallon extra allotment of gasoline released by the Secretary of Consumer Affairs to Southeastern Massachusetts, but it did not appear to need the transfusion.

Island stations, already receiving 92 per cent of their 1972 base-period gallonage, have been granted extra rations based on proofs of growth in population and motor vehicles being fueled, said Douglas Seward of R. M. Packer Inc., the Texaco distributor.

He and Jon Ahlbum, Edgartown dealer representing the Island retailers, the chamber, and the county in negotiations for added gasoline allotments, said most if not all Island stations will have for sale at least 100 percent of the quantity they turned over last year at this juncture.

Most stations will be open all day tomorrow, Saturday, but not all of those on Monday. Under an agreement reached during the shortage they’re closed nights and Sundays. But morning lineups are long since past, and in recent weeks dealers have hauled out homemade signs inviting buyers in during the once sold-out afternoons.

By air and across water, traffic to the Island will be just about as heavy as it can get.

Inflation does not appear to be problem for Island visitors, Dan Hull had said at the Chamber of Commerce offices in Vineyard Haven, but he said there’s an element of frugality in an upsurge of interest in bicycling, especially bicycling in groups.

And at the Youth Hostel in West Tisbury, a stopping place famous among young cyclists nationwide, reservations were oversubscribed - 98 for tonight, 99 for tomorrow, as against a summertime normal capacity of 85.

As if it were aware it spells are being challenged by resort areas closer to centers of population, the Island seemed to have gone out of its way to be charming. A fortnight of dazzling sunlight had brought dogwood, ornamental cherries, and fruit trees into full blossom; the shad of the wetlands was just past its prime, but the foliage of wild grape and scrub oak glimmered purple on moors and uplands, and ocean horizon sailboats were hanging out their clean triangular wings. Power cruisers were moving into the piers at Oak Bluffs and Menemsha. Harbors were filling up.

At the Norton and Easterbrooks boat yard in Edgartown Jon C. Nelson, manager, said it looks like a big weekend for boating. The harbor will be busy enough, in fact, to require the yachting service’s launch to run for the holiday shuttling people between yacht and shore. “A lot of people are coming, and it’s a rush to get all their boats in the water,” Mr. Nelson said. The fact that movie crews for Jaws have been occupying the boat yard’s Fuller street storage and repair shed and the days of filming that blocked business at the wharf placed a little stress on the yard, he said, but he added:

“There won’t be any boats late because of Jaws. If a boat is late, it will be because we were waiting for parts or handling a problem with the boat itself that developed at the last minute.”

It is by no means forgotten that nowhere in the nation was Memorial Day observed earlier than on Martha’s Vineyard. In 1868 Gen. John A. Logan, commander in Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, issued an order designating May 30 as a day for decorating graves of veterans of the Civil War, then only three years in the past.

No post of the G. A. R. had been established on the Island, but Edgartown clergymen and citizens took the initiative, and on that first Memorial Day, 250 persons gathered at the high school, formed a parade and marched to the cemetery, where they formed a hollow square around the graves of the town’s four war dead, then separated to place flowers on the graves.

Compiled by Hilary Wallcox