From the Feb. 4, 1938 edition of the Gazette:

“Six weeks more of winter, if the ground-hog knows anything about it,” so sing the apostles of the ancient doctrine of Candlemas Day. February Second, Groundhog or Candlemas Day, is supposed to mark the half-way mark in the progress of the winter season. This is seldom true on the Vineyard, it being the general rule that more inclement and probably colder weather follows Candlemas, than precedes it. However, Wednesday was the day, and the sun shone brightly over all the earth, hence the groundhog could see his shadow and, if the tradition is correct, retreated to hibernation for another six weeks.

Science and weather sharps declare that there is nothing to the groundhog theory. They conclude that it belongs with the ancient beliefs such as witchcraft, and other superstitions. However it may be, Candlemas Day has long been watched for by New England inhabitants and their forebears, and not a few of the Island inhabitants still living quote the old rhymes which predict the six weeks of weather following this event.

“As far as the sun shine in on Candlemas Day,

So far will the snow blow in before May.

If Candlemas Day be cloudy with rain,

Winter will not come again.”

These elderly people profess to a considerable faith in the old prediction, and will argue stoutly in defence of it despite the scoffing of the weather bureau experts. Each year the annual argument is resumed, to a greater or lesser extent, and each year there is someone, locally at least, who promises to “watch the weather and keep a record of it,” but each year he forgets to do it, or, possibly, it does not develop favorably to his theory.

Whatever or however it may be, Candlemas Day has been commented upon by the Island sages and the portents reviewed and discussed. “Six weeks more of winter” is the verdict and, strangely enough, even those who have little faith in the signs are willing to believe that there will yet be plenty of cold weather before spring comes north again.

The Wheelhouse Loafer has ridden out many a winter, or run a course through squalls and blizzards, but this past week has rooked the binnacle and you may lay to that.

Cold weather or wind, ice adrift or making around the waterline, are things that a man can understand. But when the Northern Lights turn red and blue and green, and when they cast off all holds in the north and settle in the southeast, darting out of the quarter as if they belonged there, then, it is time to pause.

We talked with the gang, who fish between four and forty fathoms, and they all agreed that it indicates something mighty tough. But the majority of ‘em swore by the Great Hookblock that the sign was overdue, that it should have appeared weeks and months ago.

The market is the thing. If there is anything on earth that we hate, it is a squealer, and so, we figure, do all other real he-men. But there are things that can lay hold of a man so hard that the best man on earth is bound to squeal a little. And we don’t hold it against any man today who raises his voice in a complaint against the things that are.

Manuel Swartz, the old sculpin, has been to the mainland, skylarkng around Boston and whopping it up across the country adjacent. He claimed that he was looking for knees for some of the fleet, but those closest to him declare that this is not the whole truth. Manuel it seems, was moved by humanitarian purposes, and went looking for a stuffed rabbit for Cap’n Midge Bettencourt of the good ship City of Chappaquiddick. “Why blast it!” exclaimed Manuel, “Midge has been rabbit hunting nineteen days out of twenty-four! He just can’t stand it when the season closes, and I’ve got to get him a stuffed rabbit to hunt so that he can taper off easily!”

Manuel was engaged in one of his oldtime sports last week. He had an oak plank, something less then three feet wide and about twelve feet long. The plank was on a couple of horses, and Manuel sat on the plank, making pencil marks on it. He had a new spiling-stick, a sharp knife to keep his pencil point in shape and he was the most contented looking man. He drew and drew on that plank, the lines running to all points of the compass, some straight, some curved, some crooked. All the time he hummed gently to himself, and fended off all callers with mild and absent-minded gestures of a bright, keen-edged broadaxe which he waved in his left hand.

When he had worn that pencil down to a stub, he picked up the plank, shoved it under the saw and it fell apart in about seventy-five sections, which, when fitted together, formed a complete cabin for the boat he was building. And even those who know him best gasped a trifle at this demonstration of skill.

Compiled by Hilary Wallcox