From Gazette editions of April, 1937:
Four three-masted schooners crossed Vineyard Haven harbor mouth early Monday, all being in sight from the shore at once. This is a rare sight in these days of steamers, but skippers of these coasters report that strikes of steamers’ crews and freight handlers have brought a number of schooners out of their retirement and into traffic once more.
Partisans hereabouts are refusing to accept as final the report that these waters are to lose some of their protection. It seems to us that the reasons for keeping the Coast Guard cutter Algonquin at Woods Hole, instead of shifting her to Maine, are so strong as to be controlling.
The recent winters of ice and fog have shown the necessity of having a good ice-breaker at Woods Hole. Removal of the Algonquin would be of serious concern to the Vineyard, for Woods Hole is the most convenient place on the mainland from which a cutter can render speedy assistance to fishermen and others. A patrol boat could not do what the Algonquin has done.
The Coast Guard has maintained a cutter at Woods Hole for many years, and the policy has proved wise. It is hard to see how the same protection could be given by a vessel stationed at Newport. Almost every community interested in the location of the Algonquin has some special interest — the town of Falmouth or the city of New Bedford derive financial benefit from whatever they can get of the Coast Guard establishment — but for the Vineyard it is simply a case of protection. And there is no doubt that Woods Hole is the base which fits into the only effective method of safeguarding shipping in these waters.
Further revelations of the mysterious habits of eels have been revealed by no less an authority than James West of Vineyard Haven, better known as Jump-Spark Jim. His latest bulletin on eels surpasses anything hitherto reported. The occurrence took place in the ditch which extends across what was formerly Bass Creek. This ditch terminates in a bar eight or ten feet across, completely blocking the mouth of the ditch. Jump-Spark says the small eels in hibernation at the headwaters of the tributary sought to leave the springs for salt water. Jim observed that the inshore water was disturbed and saw it was filled with millions of tiny eels, trying to find a way around the sand bar.
Finally one lone eel, heartened perhaps by the falling rain, wriggled up on the bar, across and down into the salt water. This first eel made a tiny furrow, and another eel wriggled up and followed the same furrow. Another and another, until a steady line of eels was wriggling up and over. Jim estimates some ten barrels of eels made the passage successfully. Each eel wore the furrow a little deeper, making it easier for the others until they wore the furrow deep enough to allow the water to run through, making it easier for the others, so that the last four or five barrels could almost swim the passage. Jim says he never saw anything like it before.
Katharine Cornell, great lady of the stage, is to return to Martha’s Vineyard, her early love, and plans the immediate construction of a camp near the Tashmoo Herring Creek. Several Vineyard Haven friends have been apprised of this interesting fact. Miss Cornell spent several weeks last summer at the camp in that vicinity owned by Mrs. Lydia Hyde. In childhood she was a visitor to the famous Innisfail on the Lagoon, which burned some years ago, and her early interest in the Island was revived by her visit last summer.
It was in spring of 1602 that Bartholomew Gosnold and his adventurers from England came to Martha’s Vineyard. There was no Martha’s Vineyard when they started on their voyage; there was only an island called Noepe. But by the time they returned to England, Martha’s Vineyard was on the map to stay. No later visitor could quite come up to the first thrill of the pioneers. But there is one experience of Gosnold which all are free to repeat and enjoy, and that is the digging of sassafras root.
Sassafras in Gosnold’s day was a great prize. The root was the first important export from the new world to the old, antedating tobacco, cotton and all the crops which were to be valuable later. It was an important export because Englishmen hailed it as a sovereign remedy. In fact, the ships of Europe fared forth upon uncharted seas to find spices and they found, instead, sassafras.
The root is no longer held in esteem by physicians, and it ranks no higher than an herb with a good flavor and fragrance. But we may dig it today to smell its inimitable oil, broken by the spade in the fresh earth of spring. To do so is to have one of the joys that Gosnold had. Then we may peel off the bark of the root, steep it, and thus brew a cup or two of sassafras tea, as our ancestors did. As a spring tonic, sassafras tea will do you good in direct proportion to your faith.
Compiled by Cynthia Meisner