From the March 28, 1947 edition of the Vineyard Gazette:

The fate that her many thousands of friends and well wishers would have spared her if they could, has come to the S.S. Naushon, queen of the Island fleet until the call of patriotic duty took her overseas to win renown for her neat handling on an ocean voyage, her glorious part in the Normandy invasions and her brave role as a hospital ship. The Naushon has literally been sold down the James River, where she was tied up on her return from her great adventure, and where she was viewed by Massachusetts Steamship Co. officials and rejected because of the changes war had brought about in her draft and other essential features.

For now the Naushon is to serve the Long Island resort of Playland at Rye Beach, Long Island. She was purchased recently by Capt. John A. Meseck, president of the Meseck Steamboat Co. Inc., from the U. S. Maritime Commission, and is now at the Todd Shipyard in Hoboken, N. J., being reconditioned for her new duties.


So the fate of the Naushon, once the flagship and pride of the Island line, is now settled. With a ball room and other questionable improvements, she will carry what are known as merrymakers to a resort called Playland at Rye Beach, on Long Island. One is reminded how the Uncatena, rechristened Pemberton, ended her career transporting pleasure-seekers between Boston and Hull; and how the Gay Head, renamed Pastime, was turned into a dance hall at Sheepshead Bay until she was finally dynamited.

When the Naushon steamed away in the summer of 1942, requisitioned by the government for important European service (a continental invasion that fall was then in prospect) the Gazette compared her going to the sailing away of the Stone Fleet of New Bedford whaleships during the Civil War. “The Naushon represents much of the livelihood of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket,” we said, “and she has left with almost as great a feeling of finality. It is not given to many places of this earth to have their prosperity carried in a hull and self-propelled to unknown destinations.”

The Island faced the fact then that $600,000 worth of transportation was being taken away; this was at 1929 costs, representing what was later to be a million and a half more as measured by replacement figures. Now the same Naushon has been sold off for about $50,000 to an excursion operator.

The irony will long remain, and those who remember how the Naushon was the equal of two other boats, how she could carry more than fifty automobiles with ease and convenience, and give passengers a sense of comfort and luxury, keeping her schedules, and adding to the fame of the islands, will not easily be reconciled.


Reinstatement of naval air targets at Tisbury Pond and Squibnocket Pond began yesterday with the unloading of new target material from a Navy loading craft at Vineyard Haven and the arrival of a contingent of eight Navy men who will be quartered at the Vineyard field. There will be two targets in Squibnocket Pond and a masthead target about midway of the beach between Tisbury Pond and the ocean. A target at Nashawena will also be reinstated.

While anxiety and bitterness increased rapidly at this unexpected development, which it was believed would restore wartime conditions here and greatly interfere with fishing, civilian flying and other activities, the possibility was also raised of a target on Skiff’s Island.

The renewed target activity on the Island, which it was indicated would be protested in every possible way, comes about as a result of the fleet at Newport. With the fleet will be a number of carriers, and the training of the carrier personnel will involve the use of outlying targets.

A Navy spokesman indicated that other areas might be sought, but that the Vineyard targets will be used for an indefinite period. Another hopeful possibility was that the carriers might be at sea a great part of the summer, thus minimizing the use of the Island targets. This was not too reassuring, however, since the danger would always be hanging over.

One effect of the bombing that caused apprehension was its probable restriction upon striped bass fishing and the second annual striped bass derby now being planned. The Tisbury Pond target would be particularly detrimental.

The chief objections to the choice of Skiff’s Island as a target area are that the island disappears from time to time, that it is only about 300 yards from the edge of Muskeget Channel which is only half a mile wide at this place and supplies the only marked and navigable channel between the Vineyard and Nantucket, and the danger such a target would constitute to residents of Chappaquiddick using the beaches either for fishing or bathing.

Experience has shown that practice bombing results in the dropping of bombs at occasional long distances from the target, and the margin of safety is not so wide as it may seem in theory.

Compiled by Hilary Wallcox