All Aboard

From Gazette editions of January, 1961:

The All’s Right with the World department received a much needed boost on Monday night when the steamer Nantucket, which was already rounding Nobska Point on its journey from Woods Hole to Vineyard Haven, turned around and went back to pick up six Island-bound passengers.

The six had come from Boston on the bus, arriving at 7:30 p.m., just a few minutes after the Nantucket had pulled away from the dock. The nearer the miss, the greater the disappointment, and consequently something of a commotion was raised dockside by and on behalf of the passengers who found themselves in the plight of staying overnight.

A telephone call was put to the Coast Guard, which in turn reached the skipper of the Nantucket, who obligingly ordered the Nantucket’s return and took on six happy people. They were nonplussed, for the incident was evocative of those more casual, gentler days when the world was not in such a hurry.

The former Lot Rogers house at North Tisbury has been sold by Mrs. Joseph K. Mitchell of Edgartown to Michael O’Shaughnessy, who has been a visitor at Seven Gates Farm over a period of years. The author of Monsieur Moliere, he is a figure in the literary and theatre world, a traveler and a man of wide friendships. He has designed productions for Eva LeGallienne and is also a painter.

The Rogers house dates back at least to the late eighteenth or early nineteenth century, and may be one of the oldest Island houses. It is certainly one of the oldest on the historic row, spread along the system of dirt roads, that looks out from the ridge of hills over Vineyard Sound. Lot Rogers, by whose name it used to be known, was born in 1752 and served in Capt. Nathan Smith’s company during the Revolution.

He is described as a yeoman, and doubtless followed the combined pursuits of fishing and farming. His house was built sufficiently in a hollow to be protected from winter winds, rather than on a hilltop, and the first floor, partly basement, shows that it was used for household purposes, the ancient brick oven being still intact.

In the process of laying new flooring in the Martha’s Vineyard Airport terminal building the other day, Herbert Tilton got caught up on an ironical twist of fate. As he was attempting to move the coin-operated accident insurance machine in the terminal lobby, the bulky apparatus fell over on him.

Naturally, this occurrence could not be overlooked by the assorted wits who always come to the fore on such occasions, and Mr. Tilton was promptly admonished for his shortsightedness.

“You should have put a quarter in that thing before you tried to move it,” he was told, at least once. However, it appears that of the two participants in the accident, Mr. Tilton and the machine, the last-named has the greater claim for damages.

A small group of summer residents of Edgartown and Chappaquiddick have taken an option for the purchase of the Chappaquiddick Beach Club from its long-time owners, Mrs. Joseph Conkling and Mrs. Bernard Wagenaar. The property being optioned includes 1800 feet of beach on the outer harbor bounded by the Chappaquiddick road, all the buildings and piers now operated as a beach club, several houses on the beach, a small lot south of the road containing the laundry and water supply and an additional lot on the inner harbor including the old marine railway. Included also are the launch, the Charlesbank, and an easement to use the Edgartown pier belonging to the same owners so long as the property is operated as a beach club.

The informal syndicate recognizes that they alone cannot finance the entire purchase and are requesting anyone interested in joining the venture to get in touch with their attorney, Henry Corey.

The first bathhouses, three in number, were built at the Chappaquiddick beach by the late Harlan C. and James E. Chadwick, with their father, in 1883. This was the beginning of a beach development that played an important part in the rise of Edgartown as a summer resort. The beach was soon recognized as one of the attractive resources of the town, and the trips back and forth in the launch were part of Edgartown tradition.

In 1886 there were thirty-five bathhouses, and by 1890 the number had increased to fifty. Although this was an impressive enterprise for the time, it was still a small beginning for the extensive plant developed and managed by James Chadwick. Not until the town acquired its beach frontage at the bend in the road, and automobile travel became easy and universal, was there any real competition for the Chappaqquiddick beach. But even with this competition, Chappaquiddick has retained its loyal following.

Compiled by Cynthia Meisner