From the Feb. 13, 1913 edition of the Gazette:

There are times when forth-coming events cast their shadows before them, and one becomes acquainted with the motto of the Boy Scouts — “Be prepared.” This was not the case however with Rev. and Mrs. O. E. Denniston, of the Bradley Memorial Church, who were taken by complete surprise on Wednesday evening, Feb. 5th, at about 7:50 o’clock.

A large party, composed of distinguished persons both from Vineyard Haven and Oak Bluffs, entered the manse with the salute — “Surprise Party.” The author of this occasion was Chaplain Madison Edwards of the Seamen’s Bethel of Vineyard Haven.

Mr. Edwards had planned his work and worked out his plans very successfully. Twenty-five or thirty seamen (including several masters) were prominent in activities of the evening.

Before Mr. Denniston had time to apologize for being caught on a cold February evening in 1913, a well prepared program was announced and Dr. H. T. Dean, master of ceremonies, announced the items without delay.

The first number was a solo by Miss Ruth Pease of Oak Bluffs. This was followed by a reading by Miss Ethel Dean and both selections were well rendered and offered much pleasure.

Fred W. Smith, Esq., chairman of the board of selectmen of Oak Bluffs, was then announced as the first speaker. Mr. Smith greeted the brethren of the sea and the friends from the sister town with a welcome to Oak Bluffs. He then spoke of his interest in the work of the Bradley Memorial Church. He said the town realized the good work Mr. Denniston has done and appreciated it, and personally, anything he could do to help them, he was at command. Mr. Smith also spoke of his interest in the men of the sea. He told of his work among seamen some years ago while engaged in Y.M.C.A. work.

The chairman announced that he was in charge of the fireworks and he would present Cannon J. R. Chrystie, PhD, pastor of Trinity M. E. church, Oak Bluffs. Dr. Chrystie said he was pleased to be so close to the Mayor of Oak Bluffs; thus it was fitting to have the fireworks right after the Mayor’s address. Dr. Chrystie spoke of his interest in Brother Denniston and his work. He also mentioned his intention to get more acquainted with the good work that Chaplain Edwards is doing for the brethren of the sea.

After a vocal selection, the author of the party, Chaplain Edwards, was named as the next speaker. In his usual pleasing manner, Mr. Edwards informed the host and hostess that they had come to exchange a thought of good cheer and to express in part appreciation, not only of the work that is being done in Oak Bluffs but also of the timely and kindly help brother Denniston has rendered at the Bethel. He said in part: “During the past ten or eleven years many of our boys of the sea have heard the gospel of truth from the lips of our brother and have started on the upward path. Some in writing have said ‘tell Mr. Denniston that he has helped me to a better and higher life.’” Mr. Edwards also told of his first acquaintance with Mr. Denniston on the island and of Jamaica fourteen or fifteen years ago while the latter was in charge of the Seamen’s Bethel there. He spoke tenderly of his sudden sickness in that far away land and of Mr. Denniston’s kindness to him. He said he has never forgotten it and never will. He concluded by saying “The boys are all anxious to hear brother Denniston and I hope he will give them a few words.”

Rev. Mr. Denniston was given a chance to answer for himself. After thanking the guests for their presence and kind expressions Mr. Denniston gave a brief review of the work during the past eleven years. He said he had not accomplished all he wanted to but has done a few things and was determined to go forward to higher accomplishments. Mr. Denniston gave a message of love to the seamen.

After a duet by Mr. H. Nelson Luce and Dr. H. T. Dean, Miss Vida Ellis of the Bethel spoke of her appreciation of Mr. Denniston’s help at the Bethel, and Mr. Austin Towers also spoke in pleasing terms of Mr. Denniston’s work at the Bethel.

After singing “When the Roll is Called Up Yonder,” Rev. Dr. Chrystie offered prayer, and the Bethel’s benediction was used (hand shake).

Thus a delightful evening was brought to a close. After revealing their practical tokens the members of the party returned to their respective places, with a God bless you, and come again.

This morning was one of the coldest of the present winter, the mercury registering 6 above at 6 a.m. Plenty of good ice in sight and both the local ice dealers began harvesting this morning. Louis H. Pease at Sheriff’s Meadow Pond and William C. Norton at his house at Great Pond, at both places about 7 inch ice.

The young people have not “got left” on their skating this winter, as seemed at one time might be the case, for now good skating abounds on all the ponds in this vicinity.

Compiled by Hilary Wallcox