Taking the A Train

From the Vineyard Gazette editions of June, 1958:

Continued train service between Boston and Woods Hole until June 23 became assured last weekend when Judge Robert P. Anderson, in federal court at New Haven, ordered the present scale of operation continued until a further hearing which he set for that date.

Under the court order, neither the New Haven railroad nor the state of Massachusetts may disturb the existing situation until the hearing.

Judge Anderson made it clear that so far as the railroad’s losses are concerned, it is entitled to suspend the Old Colony lines under the terms of the 1947 reorganization plan.

But he said that he would consider the question whether, beyond the scope of that plan, there may exist equities which would require continued service.

The outcome is of critical importance to the Vineyard since a great deal of vacation travel to and from the Island depends upon the Boston and Woods Hole operation. Benjamin F. Morton, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce, and Rep. Joseph A. Sylvia are concerning themselves closely with the steps possible to assure continued service.

The event that many people had been waiting for, that of seeing the construction work go above ground at the site of the new regional school, finally occurred during the last week or so.

For many months, the work at the site had been strictly subterranean with the laying of the foundation walls and the digging of a transformer pit, or had been limited to the surface of the earth itself, which was pushed hither and yon in the process of grading.

Now row after row of lally columns have been placed, and until some cross members began to be put in place, the site had the appearance of a steel age Acropolis, the columns a fantastic yellow in color.

Between thirty-five and forty men have been on the job during the past several weeks, weather permitting.

All the foundation walls are now in except for a few piers, and work has begun on the construction of the roof trusses.

Herbert Mann Chase, for generations identified as the proprietor of the Wesley House in Oak Bluffs, died last Friday. “Judge” Chase, as many preferred to call him, was a man who clung to traditions.

Because his age was never apparent, his normal manner being brisk and youthful, perhaps many persons who met him failed to realize his true nature.

As host — and he loved the word — of a large summer hotel, he dwelt upon the historic background of the Wesley House and its association with the Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association.

The Wesley House has been the headquarters for visiting governors and other dignitaries through the years, and the host of the Wesley House was a part of the dignified processional which escorted the governor to the Tabernacle on Governor’s Night.

He loved the Vineyard and wanted to see the Island prosper, and to the end that it might be promoted in a manner that would not spoil its atmosphere, he labored diligently through all his active years.

He dreaded change which might cheapen the place which he loved and cause its background to be forgotten. He loved people, and in his capacity as host it was a joy to him to move among his guests, spreading good will.

Charles E. Downs Jr., the son of Mr. and Mrs. Charles E. Downs of Oak Bluffs, was graduated from Holy Cross College in Worcester.

Attending the graduation besides his parents and his brothers Jerry, John, Michael and Timothy, and his sister, Mary Elizabeth, was Miss Gaynell DeBettencourt.

These words formed the topic at one of the community gatherings of the Vineyard the other day — A Place to Live. The emphasis was clearly upon intangible, even spiritual considerations.

We like to think of Martha’s Vineyard as one of the rare sanctuaries, both a little in the world and still a good deal out of it, where living, in a broad sense, is the main purpose; and where the purpose is a joint one, with allowance for eccentricities as in generations past, a comfortable amount of elbow room for all, and with an unfailing capacity for neighborly cooperation.

This prescription the Island does fill more genuinely than places thought to be favored by a materialistic civilization.

So long as the honorable and practical tradition of the old times and the old people of the Vineyard can be preserved, so long will we have a place to live.

Compiled by Cynthia Meisner