From the April 23, 1963 edition of the Gazette:

At least one Vineyarder rises to say he remembers the predecessor of the C. J. Darling store on Circuit avenue with its famous sign, For Twenty Years the Best. Truman A. Galley of Edgartown remembers the business was started by George Farwell, and he himself, as a boy, sold popcorn for Mr. Farwell. In later years Mr. Farwell had a partner named Moore, and it was these two who sold the business to Mr. Darling.

Mr. Galley has another recollection, going back to the time he was 7 years old and went with his father to collect three boatloads of watermelons from the wrecked steamer Gate City in Vineyard Sound.

The hundred-ton schooner Alice S. Wentworth, once hailing from Vineyard Haven, the pride and joy of her master and owner, the late Cap’n Zeb Tilton, was sold at a United State marshal’s sale at Woods Hole on Tuesday to Anthony’s Restaurant Pier Four, Boston, for $13,500. The auction, which had drawn some 200 persons, including photographers for movies, newspapers and TV, as well as spectators, included half a dozen bidders.

The bids started at $900, were run up to $9,500 by David Douglas of West Tisbury, then topped by offers up to $13,200, when the final bid was made and the vessel was sold.

It is the tentative plan of the new owners to have the vessel enshrined as an attraction in connection with the restaurant.

So it has been fifty years since the up-Island RFD route, The Island’s first, went into service. Half a century is a long time, and memories of the old North Tisbury postoffice must be fading, even though many of them are tinged with a twilight flush of gold. The North Tisbury post office was discontinued when the RFD route began operating.

North Tisbury includes an extensive area reaching to the north shore, but its center was and is Middletown, though one hears that name less and less often. The Vineyard Gazette of July 23, 1869, reported that “the citizens of Middletown and North Tisbury have a post office of their own now. The name thereof is North Tisbury, and Mr. George F. Baxter is the new postmaster.” Credit was given to Congressman James Buffinton for obtaining this important establishment.

The post office, now the Red Cat, had a stoop the entire width of the building, facing the road, and there were hitching rails in the space immediately westward. George F. Baxter resigned in less than a year, and Capt. Thomas Merry was named postmaster to serve, as it turned out, about thirty-five years. He was succeeded by Miss Lillian Adams, and now the road was of white macadam, and on a summer night the citizens waiting on the stoop for the mail could hear the horses of Bart Mayhew’s stage from afar.

Two horses drove the stage, and at Middletown they were unhitched and stabled across the way, to be replaced by fresh horses for the rest of the star route drive to Chilmark and Gay Head.

Islanders remember those years as a time of happiness, though some had to walk several miles for their mail. The gathering of neighbors at the postoffice was congenial, helped along by candy and soda pop Lillian Adams had for sale. And they did tell of Col. Albert S. Berry of Kentucky, known in Congress as the Tall Sycamore of the Licking (he was of majestic height, and the Licking was a river near his home) receiving Bourbon by the demijohn and offering it as a libation. They said that some of the North Tisbury inhabitants felt their mouths watering, but were constrained by propriety to refuse the colonel’s proffer.

In 1914 Lillian Adams wished to retire, and no one cared to take the civil service examination to qualify as her successor. In any case, progress had already doomed the post office. Lambert’s Cove, for example, had long sought rural free delivery, and so had other regions remote from Middletown. And so, fifty years ago, Frederick C. Luce began carrying the mail, and RFD boxes were put up all along the up-Island roads. As there had been only three North Tisbury postmasters, so there have been, so far, only three RFD carriers on the up-Island route: Mr. Luce, Herbert R. Norton, and George A. Costa.

There is no doubt that the closing of the postoffice hastened the natural force of evolution in North Tisbury. The Baptist Church, after several efforts to renew its term, was torn down. Tut chase, village blacksmith, shoes his last horse and upon his death there was no successor. In recent years the town hall, once used for dances and social gatherings, has been converted to a fire station.

Calvin Tilton who used to write inscriptions such as “Turn or Burn” on mail boxes and fences; Ed Lee Luce who told fortunes at country fairs; his father, who shingled a privy the wrong way and became nick-named Butts Up; Roy Norton, Henry Norton; Citizen Smith, sometimes so called, and known as the chief of police; all these and others can gather not again and chat comfortably while waiting to hear the hoofbeats of Bart Mayhew’s horses.

Compiled by Hilary Wallcox