From Gazette editions of December 1936:
Winter came to the Vineyard in earnest form early this week, and the youth of the Island enjoyed the earliest skating in many years. Sheriff’s Meadow Pond at Edgartown was frozen over before Thanksgiving, and there was skating on the parsonage pond in West Tisbury. Skating was also in progress in the Edgartown golf links territory. The first real snow of the season put in its appearance, but did not amount to much, except for the swirling of flakes along the roadways in a bitter wind.
Winter is all right, but as the old-timers say, “When you have to beat up Main street under double reefs, it takes a great deal of the joy out of life.”
Our esteemed fellow townsman, Pres Luce, roaming the back streets with a hatchet handle sticking from his pocket, opines that winters are nothing to what they used to be. “Nor men, either!”
The Nantucket Inquirer and Mirror discusses the problems which lie in the way of renewed prosperity for the fishing industry, pointing out that there is a need of a wider market for fish and that with modern methods fish can be delivered from the coast to inland cities while it is still fresh and inviting. But in order to sell fresh fish it is necessary to “educate the people, acquaint them with the value of fish, to promote the habit of eating the succulent codfish, swordfish, halibut or flounder, and to taste scallops and quahaug.” How much this nation, taken as a whole, does not know!
It does not know the difference between a quahaug and a clam, and that both these shellfish are capable of being made into chowders of individual flavor. It does not know that poor methods of preparation will destroy the value of either. Millions now living think that chowder is simply vegetable soup with a few clams in it.
It does not know how to ask for a fish by name. One city restaurant has been carrying on its menu “fillet of fish,” which is at least honest. But all people should be regaled with particular fish textures and flavors by name.
It does not know that the “deep sea scallop” featured on menus is not the scallop at its best. Sea scallops are superior for some purposes, and palatable for almost all. But the scallop the gourmand should demand is the more delicate bay scallop. This particular ignorance is costing the shellfishermen a vast amount of money, since the cheaper sea scallop is being substituted on the tables of a legion of consumers for the more desirable bay scallop.
The list could be lengthened. What a tragedy that sea flavors, fine, inimitable and novel to inlanders, are being lost in a fog of ignorance while the fishermen pay the economic penalty. Few importations of rare foods have the capacity to please a discriminating taste so well as the sea products which go begging.
Virtual folding up of the WPA program in Edgartown and all Island towns except Oak Bluffs is only a few weeks away. Robert Cross, the head of the Fall River division of the WPA, told Edward Vincent that there is not the need in the Vineyard, Nantucket or Cape Cod towns that there is in mill cities such as New Bedford and Fall River. Mr. Cross said that people in the Island towns would not starve, and he believed that they could find means of support without the WPA. Mr. Vincent went to Fall River for the purpose of getting the apparent WPA tangle straightened out. Edgartown has many approved projects but with only 16 men at work received notice that no more could be assigned. This notice came when the long anticipated starfish project was due to start, with 75 applicants anxious for word to get going. After his talk with Mr. Cross, Mr. Vincent said there would be one week more of the dump road project, and one week more on the school grounds.
Most of the talk about Christmas deals with the indoors, Christmas around the hearth, Christmas around the family dinner table with the turkey and cranberry sauce (there is even a movement afoot for oyster stuffing for the turkey this year), or the morning descent upon the stockings hung before the fireplace and the tree gaily decorated in the parlor. All this is very well, but one should not forget about Christmas out of doors.
Scantly decorated the woods and fields may seem to those who have only time to glance at them. But, in solid fact, they are dressed up for the season in a way to lift the heart, provided the sun shines and the northeasters stop blowing. Thoreau, in his day, was surprised to see so much holly as he found in this part of the state. The wanderer in Vineyard woods will find holly as it was meant to grow, more beautiful than it is made into a wreath for a city front door. The berries seem brighter still against the gray bark of the tree, and against the silver gray of neighboring beeches.
Though the countryside be deserted, it is still choice and bright to see at Christmas, and fortunate are those who can go about and enjoy its brightness.
Compiled by Cynthia Meisner