From the July 4, 1933 edition of the Vineyard Gazette:

Here it is the Fourth of July. Firecrackers are bursting, and picnic baskets are being filled, and thousands of holiday weekenders are coming back from fishing trips, are tardily sliding out of comfortable beds, or lying on the beaches drowsing and wondering why life ever seemed hard and full of problems.

The Fourth of July ushers in the season. We acknowledge the fact, although we know it to be a mistake. If the season must have a hard and fast boundary on the spring margin, it should be Memorial Day, with a clear gain of two good months. Some day the improvement may be put into effect. But the season is in full swing now, anyway, for the Fourth of July is here. There will be no let-up until September.

Curiously enough, a hundred years or so ago Islanders used to go on Fourth of July excursions to New Bedford. They would dress their Sunday best, collect the children, board the packet and journey cityward. Later the Fourth in the city became even more of an attraction, and there would be balloon ascensions and fireworks and bands. The order changed long ago, however, and for at least two generations the course of travel has been from the city to the Vineyard. It is the Fourth in the sweet fastnesses of the country which has the attractions now.

A tale illustrating the helpful, fraternal spirit which binds together those who sail the deep waters is told by members of the schooner Hazel M. Jackson, at Edgartown yesterday with a trip. The biggest trip to date this season, thirty-eight swordfish, are in the hold of the Jackson, which came into home port yesterday afternoon, with the crew having an opportunity to send the “nigh before,” and part of the Fourth, before resuming the voyage to Boston for tomorrow morning’s market. “First ‘night before’ I’ve been ashore since 1919.” said Bob Jackson Jr.

Fishing, or rather cruising, near the Malvina B. just before that schooner came in, the Jackson steamed easterly all day, a week ago last Friday, and on Saturday looked over her new location with but four fish below the deck. At this point, some sixty-five miles south to the southeast of South Shoals Lightship the schooner was near the eastbound track of trans-Atlantic shipping. At 11 a.m. the Mauretania went by, some three-four miles away, a beautiful sight on a clear morning. The former blue ribbon holder of the seas was blasting away with her horn, but what for no one could answer.

After dinner, however, on a jog toward where the schooner passed, the question was answered. The four-stacker had been calling their attention to fish. Eighteen buoys were out before the ironing stopped. Twenty-four fish were caught that afternoon, with two others escaping. The boys said that if they’d had another dory, forty fish would have been taken. That night, jogging, they lost their spot, and on Sunday the fog came in and stayed until Friday. And it took all that week to find their other ten fish.

When mankind began to interfere in earnest, the woodtick was apparently in the process of making a conquest of the Island of Martha’s Vineyard. The manner in which the tick was localized until recently, and the manner in which the pest has spread from its first arena of activity, year by year, afford interesting material for study by entomologists. A dozen years ago, for example, the tick was unknown in Edgartown. Up-Island residents, however, knew it and knew it well. A walk through tall grass in pastures or over hills in spring would always accumulate a dozen or so of the ticks upon the clothing. Now Edgartown has a dense tick population in wild places and even in dooryards of the town. How did it happen that the woodticks were limited to one part of the Island for so long, and how did they finally spread their domain?

Woodticks threaten to be a serious pest in the country at large and should be controlled. In the west the ticks carry Rock Mountain fever, and they are capable of being carriers of this disease and of certain others anywhere that the diseases occur. The aim of the government, of science, and of the public is to control the ticks before they become menaces of this sort.

We have no official verdict on the effectiveness of fighting the woodtick on the Vineyard through the introduction of a parasite, the chalcid wasp. It is known, however, that since the Martha’s Vineyard Garden Club liberated the parasites a few years ago the tick has almost vanished from some parts of the Island where it was formerly most numerous. If this disappearance means what it seems to mean, further introductions of the chalcid wasp should be made. Elsewhere than in these areas which seem to have been cleared up by the parasite, woodticks arrive earlier, stay later, and afflict more human beings than ever before. The problem is, therefore, one deserving attention and effort. We have few pests on the Island, but we should have one fewer.

Compiled by Hilary Wallcox