From the January 21, 1972 edition of the Vineyard Gazette:

There is no doubt that there are more off-Island youth between the ages of 19 and 30, give or take a few years and states of mind, wintering on this beguiling Island than ever before. The winter population is becoming almost as diversified as the Island’s topography. And generalizations about this new segment of the population — hippies, youth, call them what you will — are as inaccurate, even distasteful, as categorizing humanity anywhere.

Nevertheless “they” are here, and curiosity, as is its way during the molasses pace of winter here, is killing cats over this phenomenon. “Who are these people and what do they do” are common questions.

Mustachioed, bearded, long-haired, short-haired, granny-glassed, blue-jeaned or uniformed youth can be found throughout the Island towns shucking scallops, building fireplaces in new houses, chopping trees, sewing, waitressing, drinking at the Lampost and eating at the Black Dog.

A week in the life of a winter youth isn’t so different from anyone else’s here — the usual mixture of a work and play schedule. What dissimilarities there are lie mainly in vocabulary, living style and personal appearance, and the fact that jobs tend to be more odd than permanent for them. Six young men and women renting a house in Oak Bluffs together, for example, might head in different working directions each morning, run into each other at the Black Dog for coffee breaks or lunch and return home at night to share food — and perhaps a bed with their “ol’ man” or “ol’ lady.” It is the form of life that has changed more than the content.

On the weekends, there are the movies in Edgartown to be followed by a beer at the Square-Rigger — or a party — or a couple of hours at Opposite Alley’s (the former Field Gallery promising informal entertainments through the slower months) or a concert at the Ocean View Hotel. And of course, there is fishing, scalloping and floating around the Island to do, and friends to see.

The mechanics of living are simpler here than, say, in Boston. And the exodus from the city and its suburbs to the country is a national move — be it to Martha’s Vineyard, Putney, Vt., Wellington, Me., or Bolinas, Calif. The simplicity of functioning — getting it all together — is the major reason for more people here, more so than any particular magnetism of the Island, though that is part of it. It is more “getting away from” than “coming to” which explains the population’s upswing.

Travis Tuck, for example, finished four years in the service, (it was at Otis Air Force Base that he first became acquainted with the Vineyard), and one year of college and lived in New York city for six years, working as a sculptor’s assistant. Fed up with the festering wounds of the city, he burrowed in on the Island working as a blacksmith and carpenter and living with a friend in a recently completed (the pipes are still exposed) cabin on Christiantown Road.

Bell bottomed Ira Yaffe pooled all her money two years ago and left the city to run a hip clothing store in Edgartown bluntly named, The Store. A summer sojourn has turned into a two-year residence so far.

Kay Bohn left a television job with Channel 2 in Boston, threw away her working dresses and has found the compromise to part-time jobs and seasonal housing preferable to a rigidly scheduled life. There is no reason, she says, for someone to work fulltime for years and then pause for reflection; why not do both simultaneously? Balancing her philosophic hours, she has handled lobsters at the state hatchery, been a secretary for the county planner, and inserted papers at the Gazette office.

But why here instead of Vermont, for example? For some, the Vineyard has always been a summer home. Others settle because friends or lovers are here. And too there is the ocean and the appealing severance with the mainland, which is nevertheless close by. The inconvenience of a ferry schedule is a slight counteraction to the world being with us, too much and too soon.

For one waitress at the Black Dog, being here is a combination of many things. After graduation from college, she taught skiing in Vermont where she met a fellow instructor, who is also a sailor and a summer crewman on the Shenandoah. For them, life has been winters in Vermont and summers on the Vineyard, but this year they are staying to work on an aged schooner which they bought together. Waitressing and odd jobs keep money trickling in. Her mastery of the country life leaves only her conservative parents confused. For the most part, hippies care about the Island and its people, read both newspapers and take a certain pride in knowing the more obscure names of the Vineyard’s nooks and crannies. Whatever the reasons, there is no doubt that well educated graduates are turning to flexible lives and to handicrafts and skills for satisfaction.

Compiled by Hilary Wallcox