From the June 4, 1965 edition of the Gazette:

The scent of lilacs was strong in Main street, Edgartown, on Monday as the traditional Memorial Day parade made its march to the town wharf. Bright sunshine, clear air, and the admirable and spirited music of the Boys’ Club bugle and drum corps brought the spirit of the day to new life, and the town and its visitors lived again an observance dear to Island history.

A new event of the occasion was the unveiling of the memorial plaque for the late Manuel S. Roberts on a corner of the Old Sculpin Gallery, the unique structure which served as Manuel’s boat shop for so long, and still identified the Edgartown harbor front in the minds and memories of all who love the town.

John J. Trask, under whose leadership the fund for the plaque was raised, and whose feeling that such a tribute should be a permanent memorial found willing response, made brief dedicatory remarks, reading the tablet inscription, and then the unveiling was accomplished by Mrs. Roberts. Mr. Trask’s phrase, “real affection,” seemed the most nearly adequate definition of the feeling more than one generation had for the boat builder of Edgartown. The text of the inscription is as follows:

For 50 years this building was the shop of Manuel Swartz, Boatbuilder, 1881-1963.

Through its doors came catboats, beach boats, fishing boats; all staunch, all honest, all seaworthy, all partaking of the nature of their builder.

Through its doors too came his many friends and in particular the young sailors of the town, to gam, to learn the use of tools and to draw inspiration from his homely philosophy, keen wit and never failing kindness. Manuel was never too busy to give of his time and heart to them. Truly he was also a Builder of Men.

The procession started from in front of the town hall, some thirty minutes late, a delay no one minded on so bright and fragrant a day. There was no urgency anywhere. Robert E. Convery, Legion Post commander, served as marshal. Chief F. H. Worden and his officers led the procession, followed by the color guard of Martha’s Vineyard Post, town officials, clergy, and the Boys’ Club band which performed with precision and effectiveness, the brightness of helmets and uniforms capturing all eyes. Next came the uniformed firemen, with color guard, led by their chief, Antone M. Silva Jr. The gold star mothers, Legion Auxiliary, Girl Scouts, and school children with their flowers added the traditional feeling to the procession.

At the wharf, Commander Convery officiated at the exercises. The impressive flag raising was accompanied by the traditional bugle call, and prayer was offered by Rev. S. Read Chatterton, following which the Legion prayer was read by the post chaplain, Oscar C. Pease.

The dropping of flowers upon the water in memory of the heroes who died at sea was as beautiful a ceremony as ever, but missing this year was the Relief Corps ritual. That corps no longer musters the strength to carry on the role it sustained so long. Tide and breeze were right for the flowers to drift outward, rather than under the wharf.

Following the tablet dedication and the bugle call of taps, the march was resumed. Rev. John A. Perry offered prayer at the World War I monument, with a brief ceremony being conducted by the Legion.

At the cemetery, prayers were given by Rev. William R. Krogstad and the post chaplain at the Tomb of the Unknown; there was a volley from the firing squad, and the poignant notes of Taps from the buglers. The final exercises of the morning were at Memorial Park where the dead of the Civil War were honored, with prayers by Mr. Chatterton and the post chaplain. A selection was played by the bugle and drum corps before the parade was resumed down main street.

Among those riding in the cars were Mrs. Arthur C. Vincent, who celebrated her 93rd birthday on May 10, and James H. Smith, a World War I veteran. Judging from remarks heard high and low, and on the level, the Memorial Day weekend may well have been the biggest the Island has ever seen. This is true in point of the number of travelers who visited the Island, the business transacted and the volume of traffic which taxed the Island police to the limit.

There was surprisingly little trouble of any sort though three minor accidents were reported, two in Vineyard Haven and one in Chilmark.

Figures supplied by the Steamship Authority are ample verification of the impression general on the Island that this year’s Memorial Day weekend exceeded Memorial Day weekends of the past in volume of traffic to and from the Vineyard. There was, in fact, an increase of 33 percent in the number of passengers over the corresponding days of 1964.

For the entire weekend, including Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, the number of passengers carried was 10,913, as against 8,220 for the corresponding period a year ago. This year 1,581 automobiles were carried, as against 1,462 a year ago.

Compiled by Hilary Wallcox