From Gazette editions of August, 1936:
We went over to the Chappaquiddick bathing beach the other day and made some observations. We were told there are fewer bathers in the afternoon because most of the society people have other things to do. If most of the society people were busy elsewhere, who were the few who were present? The servants of the summer people, in large measure, we were informed.
We have made the rounds of bathing beaches at Oak Bluffs and Edgartown to learn who bathes where when, There seem to be several different groups who follow distinct bathing schedules, although the groups are confused by independents who do now one thing and now another.
In Edgartown many Islanders have fallen into the custom of swimming at the town beach on the Oak Bluffs road. The Chappaquiddick beach has a lore of its own; going there is an adventure, perhaps dating back many years when kids swam across the harbor.
In Oak Bluffs there is a free beach and a pay beach. Most summer people go to the pay beach. There are 400 bathhouses. There used to be 700, all full, and people lined up on the street waiting for one to be emptied. The East Choppers mostly bathe at the East Chop Beach Club. It’s an exclusive beach with bathers hailing mostly from New York and New Jersey. Run with a lunch room, beach boys and parasols, it’s smaller than its Chappaquiddick sister. No maids are allowed even in the afternoon. Its cleanliness is its main feature. The beach is combed every morning, and each bathhouse is scrubbed. The place is immaculate.
There was a rumor recently that the Martha’s Vineyard Roque Club had voted to disband. We are glad that the rumor was incorrect and that the club is still presenting a solid front against time.
Roque was closely associated with the Vineyard from the time near the turn of the century when it emerged as a more skilled and scientific version of croquet. For the benefit of those who do not know what roque is, we will say that it is a game played on summer days under the shade of giant oak trees on the edge of the Camp Ground, not far from Sunset Lake. Nowadays one enters the region of Roque avenue and finds a serene atmosphere and a gathering of sprightly gentlemen absorbed in competition with mallets and balls. Roque is played with wickets barely wide enough for the ball to be played through, and with short handled mallets. The balls are of vulcanized hard rubber.
Visitors are welcome at the roque courts if they are well behaved. Those who have not seen the courts under the oaks during keen competition should drop around to look on.
The Hebden house, now on Pease’s Point Way, may claim title as the most travelled house in Edgartown. Vineyarders have never been willing to let a building lie idle in one place if it could be used somewhere else, and James E. Chadwick has counted 48 Edgartown houses that have been moved. The tedious and delicate business of moving them hasn’t deterred Islanders from rolling a house from one place to another whenever a different lot seemed preferable.
The Hebden house first belonged to Andrew Fuller, a farmer by the Great Pond, who apparently built it for himself. The first of its several trips took it to a lot near Harold Batcheller’s house on State Road. This moving was a ponderous business, taking several weeks, and effected by a horse-powered capstan and four sets of rollers. From its second seat the Hebden house went down Main street a way to the site of the Rudolphus Morgan house, and its most recent move left it at its present Pease’s Point Way location. The structure suffered very little alteration during its mobile years.
Error is hard to down. The New York Times discusses a report by Professor Allan Read of the University of Chicago, reporting, “Old Town Turkey” meant a dweller on Martha’s Vineyard. Edgartown was Old Town, and when young bloods were working up a fight they would gobble at the Edgartowners and call them Old Town Turkeys. The epithet derived from herring, for which the Old Town was famous. Cape Cod turkey was salt cod, and Old Town turkey was the product of the Mattakeeset fishery. Naturally the environs did at times smell of herring, and it was only a step to the nickname and the fights. We have no hope this explanation will carry far. Professor Read’s report will linger in libraries and future scholars will open its pages to marvel at the strange linguistic peculiarity of “Old Town Turkeys.”
Compiled by Cynthia Meisner