Raking it In
From Gazette editions of August, 1936:
The honor of landing the biggest striped bass of the season is held by Carl Norton of Edgartown, who yesterday caught a forty-three pound monster at the Oyster Pond. Mr. Norton was at the pond clamming when a big splash behind him apprised him of the presence of something other than clams. He turned quickly and swung his clam rake toward the fish. Mr. Norton finally got his prize ashore and sold him to the Blankenship fish market at Oak Bluffs.
The Oyster Pond, which had been open to the sea, closed two weeks ago, and as sometimes happens, the big fellow was imprisoned.
If you feel you’re being watched, and wheel about to find a camera trained on you by a tall, young man, you may conclude that either you have a funny face or gotten yourself into a funny posture. That man is probably Peter Arno, cartoonist of New Yorker fame, who is spending two months in Edgartown. He is photographing unique people and scenes which may help him in his drawing when he can’t find just the right expression for the stupid hound or the indignant uncle. This artist doesn’t share the addiction to Menemsha common among many workers in the graphic arts.
The amount of blueberry pie eaten on Martha’s Vineyard in a favorable season would have to be computed in acres or tons. The Island is the peer of any community in respect to blueberry pie, by two tokens; first, the acid soil of our plains and uplands is well suited to production of a flavorsome blueberry, just as our marshy borders produce a wild grape of unique flavor; and second, Vineyard cooks well understand the art of pie making in general and of blueberry pie making in particular.
The low bush blueberry ripens first. The plant is low and bushy. The high bush blueberry comes along later in moist places, as a rule.
There is also the high bush huckleberry and the low bush huckleberry. The huckleberries are not so famous nor so distinctive in flavor as the blueberries, but they go well in pie and there is no reason for scorning them.
The picking of berries is neglected, because it is an occupation requiring the lost art of patience and invoking the explorations of forgotten corridors of thought. Some Vineyarders still go after their own berries, but others entrust that duty to small boys who profit thereby. We taste the spices of Arabia, yet never feel the scorching sun; we delight in the savor of fresh blueberry pie, yet never enjoy the philosophy which should accompany their gentle drop into the pail in the August countryside of the Vineyard.
William Leach made his annual run from Gay Head Light to Vineyard Haven post office on Tuesday in two hours and thirty-six minutes. Leaving the light at 9:30, he arrived at the finish line at 12:06. Mr. Leach said he could have bettered this time but, observing a sign at the outskirts of the village, “Thickly Settled, Go Slowly,” he slackened his pace accordingly.
The tallest hollyhock on the Vineyard reported so far is that of Mrs. William Dinsmore of Edgartown. It has now grown to thirteen feet, one inch, and may equal or pass the record of the Island for the whole period since hollyhock measurements have been reported. Nantucket had a record of twelve feet, four and a half inches for her highest hollyhock.
We hear of heat waves in the cities. Cities seem built to attract the heat, and those who have to remain on the city streets in summer are unfortunate. There are hot days on the Vineyard also, and the heat of the sun plays an important part in our affairs. Visitors do not come here to shiver, but to lie on beaches and to venture outdoors in light costume.
The important thing about our heat is that it comes with a certain moderation, and that it is confined to the day. The cool sweetness of August nights is more memorable because of the contrast with the sunny day.
One weather prediction is always safe on the Vineyard: There will be a breeze. The uninitiated may not know from what direction the breeze will come, or when it will come, or what weather it will bring. But there will, always and definitely, be a breeze.
And of course the breeze will come over salt water. It may also come across swamps where honeysuckle and sweet pepperbush grow, across pine woods, across cultivated gardens; if it does, so much the better. But everyone is sure of the influence of the sea. This accounts for the softness and freshness of the air, and the fact that even summer breezes are full of life.
Compiled by Cynthia Meisner