From the Feb. 27, 1959 edition of the Vineyard Gazette:

What’s that going put-puttery behind the pottery at West Tisbury? As the people who were standing on the ferry landing on Wednesday probably know, the noise comes from the motor of a 1927 Model T Ford touring car just acquired by Thomas Thatcher.

Actually, the car has been Mr. Thatcher’s since Christmas when it was given to him by his uncle and aunt, Mr. and Mrs. Harold Wiggins, where he was visiting them in Carthage, Mo. It is an heirloom in the strictest sense of the word, since it has been in the Wiggins family all thirty-two years of its life — just a few weeks younger than Mr. Thatcher himself.

Three weeks ago the black and green classic was shipped from Carthage by rail, and it finally arrived in Falmouth on Wednesday. On that day Mr. Thatcher went over to Falmouth and with the assistance of David Frantz Jr. of West Tisbury, who works at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, unloaded the vehicle, fed gas, water and anti-freeze into it, and set off for home, Mr. Frantz in the lofty driver’s seat.

It was a sensation-causing journey from Falmouth to Woods Hole, then across on the ferry to Vineyard Haven. At every stopping place the ancient car attracted crowds of people, the older ones recalling wistfully the days when cars were cars and the younger ones perhaps seeing in material reality for the first time the kind of vehicle they’ve heard their parents talk about.

The Model T, which is not one of those shiny items collected by antique car aficionados but a good, old, serviceable farm car that was driven constantly until late last year when the Wigginses decided that Missouri traffic was just getting out of hand for the likes of the old Ford, stayed most of yesterday at a garage, getting cured of a slight shaking-up induced by the long train ride, and other medications, including a sticker.

And now, Mr. Thatcher says, all he has to do is to learn to drive it.

Bet you didn’t know that next week is National Weights and Measures Week. To be even more flippant: bet you can’t give the name of your own sealer of weights and measures without first looking him up on a roster of your town officers.

A friendly, quiet-spoken man, Mr. R. Wallace Darnley is probably known by sight by just about everybody in Edgartown, but it is equally probable that few people know how much a man of affairs he is and that one of his affairs is the checking up on the weighing and measuring devices employed by the town businessmen.

The tradition behind Mr. Darnley’s office is one of the longest in the history of the country. The first weights and measures laws were passed by Congress in 1799. The upshot of those laws 160 years later is that Mr. Darnley and other town sealers like him, are required to make a check on the scales and pumps in their respective areas once a year, and to make unannounced checks from time to time during the year.

The practice has worked quietly to the benefit of all concerned, both the seller and the purchaser, over the years. It has also reduced the chaos of daily living in a manner both commendable and rare, by standardizing all units of measure and by relegating such units as the baker’s dozen, “the arm’s length to nose” yard, and the country mile to mythical limbo, at least so far as commercial enterprises are concerned.

It is Mr. Darnley’s job to check scales and pumps, and if they are wrong, have them adjusted if possible or condemn them altogether. “Most of the time, the scales and pumps are pretty darn accurate,” he said this week.”It was not so in the old days though, especially with gas pumps.”

Fuel pumps nowadays function with all the prowess of IBM machines and for the most part disgorge gasoline with a reasonable accuracy. But they can still wear out, and it was not too long ago that Mr. Darnley discovered a pump at an Edgartown filling station that was giving a bonus of a quart of fuel for every five gallons the gauge indicated it was dispensing.

When Mr. Darnley successfully checks out a scale or a pump, he puts his seal, or rather the town’s seal, of approval on it, and that’s why, in the name of logic, he is known as a sealer of weights and measures.

It is not just in weights and measures that Mr. Darnley works to keep town affairs irreproachable. When he was talking about this particular job this week, he was in the police station between patrols. He is one of the town’s several special patrolmen, on duty mostly in the summer months but now and then in the winter too. And he is also the town’s inspector of milk, another little known office contributing an invaluable service to the residents of the town.

These are all part-time jobs good humoredly carried out by Mr. Darnley. His main occupation involves good humor too, if you want to stretch a term. He is in charge of the ice cream distribution for the Martha’s Vineyard Cooperative Dairy, which makes him sort of a wholesale good humor man.

Compiled by Hilary Wallcox