From the Vineyard Gazette edition of July, 1945:
The Lambert’s Cove Methodist Church, atop its rise of high ground in one of the beautiful parts of the Island, is one hundred years old this year.
One of the first converts to Methodism in the locality was Capt. Thomas Luce, who had lost his sight at sea while using a spy glass against a brick sun. Another was David Nickerson, who read his Bible in bed at night and dropped off to sleep with his lamp still burning. He awoke to find that the cover of the Bible and many of the bedclothes were burned to a crisp, but the fire had gone out, in a manner considered providential.
Through the interest of these and others, services were held in homes at Lambert’s Cove until, interest growing, the present church was built and embarked upon a century of usefulness, with yet more to come.
His story belongs to the great growing period of modern America. As a boy he played around the waterfront of Edgartown, climbed the masts of whaleships at the wharves, delivered Gazettes and sold popcorn. His father kept a store on Main street, and old Gazettes contain his advertisements.
Against this background, and his ancestry of Vineyard whaling captains, all of which was a fine background to have, he founded the Regal Shoe Company “on a shoestring and an idea” and made it one of the greatest concerns of its kind in the world.
In his time he served as president, vice president or director of 27 different organizations, including 11 corporations, three banks and two insurance companies. He was honored by nation, state and municipality, and his word was a mighty one.
Few men associated with the Vineyard left monuments of so varied a kind: the Edgartown school gym (along with the late Wilson G. Crosby), the Edgartown Yacht Club, his ready help to the Dukes County Historical Society, the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, Hurricane Funds, the Congregational Church of Edgartown. But the extent of his generosity cannot be told, for it was unostentatious and continuing.
He was Elmer J. Bliss, and toward the end of his distinguished career one found him sitting down annually for a reunion of the class of 1885 of Edgartown High School, and never happier at any occasion.
All small towns have their notable figures, the “local boys who make good” and maintain lifelong loyalty toward the community in which they grew up.
The passing of Elmer J. Bliss brings to mind the names of others: William Barry Owen, son of Capt. Leander C. Owen, whaling master of Vineyard Haven, who went to England with the rights of what was then called the gramophone, and came back a millionaire; William Morgan Butler, whose father was a chaplain of the Seaman’s Bethel in New Bedford, and who sat on President Grant’s knee in the Tabernacle in Oak Bluffs in 1874, who went on to become a state senator, capitalist of textiles, and eventually United States Senator; Wilson G. Crosby, son of Capt. Shirley W. Crosby of Edgartown, who went westward to Duluth and became one of the outstanding men of that growing region, yet kept returning to the Vineyard with that same sense of home which the whaling captains cherished as they sailed the globe. Such men, who began as Island boys, are remembered not only for success or fame, but gratefully, as Vineyarders.
We like to think of the many distinguished men and women who have come to Martha’s Vineyard for rest and recreation, and the fact that they can find here the seclusion and freedom which are nearest to their desires.
Our Island is a sanctuary and we hope that it will be kept so always. If this respect for the privacy of visitors, especially of notable comers to our shores, will only continue, the Island has much to gain.Everyone ought to join, deliberately and persistently, in shielding and protecting our guests.
The cost of war in dollars and cents is so vast that most of us have given up following it, but now and then there is an item or a report which brings some little corner of the cost within our grasp.
The Secretary of the Navy has authorized expenditure of $542,000 for a few details at the Martha’s Vineyard NAAF.
This amount of money would run the six towns of Martha’s Vineyard for a year, meeting all usual expenses and allowing for a lot of improvements. It would take care of all the matters the heads of town departments have worried about for years — new books and equipment for schools, new hose and pumping engines for fire engineers, new trucks for boards of health, better facilities for libraries, seeding of shellfish beds for fisherman — by why go on?
On Monday, at the town beach by the Bend in the Road, three barefoot boys heading back to their bikes yelped ouches and yows as they scampered like cottontails over the hot sand. Down at the bridge called the big one, after shrieking a spirited Geronimo!, older boys cannonballed into the current. Nearby, a lavender netting of spotted knapweed and seaside gerardia graced the shoreline of Sengekontacket.
Compiled by Alison L. Mead