From the Vineyard Gazette editions of July, 1958:
Ever hear of the Demarcation Point?
The map will show it on the top side of Alaska, near the Siberian border. That is where Capt. Stephen Cottle of Chilmark, commanding the steam whaler Belvedere, picked up the crew of the wrecked Elvira, one of the vessels in Vilhjalmur Stefansson’s expedition, on a July day in 1907.
Now Alaska is to become a state. Most people who have been there talk of Nome, Sitka, or Anchorage, but the place names better known to the Vineyard in the old days were Point Barrow, Icy Cape, Demarcation Point, Cape Prince of Wales, Wainwright Inlet.
Wainright Inlet is near Point Belcher, and Point Belcher is near Point Barrow, and Point Barrow is that northernmost tip of all Alaska, where the whaleships of the northern fleet made rendezvous in the days of the bowhead whale fishery. It was from that region that Capt. George Fred Tilton walked 3,380 miles across Alaska in 1897 to bring news of four whaleships frozen in the ice.
Among Vineyard captains who knew the coast of Alaska were: Capt. Hartson Bodfish, one of the greatest Arctic whalers; Capt. Jared Jernegan, Capt. Thomas Mellen, Capt. Valentine Lewis — who was wrecked on Blossom Shoals, Capt. Benjamin Dexter, Capt. George Fred Tilton, Capt. Stephen Flanders, Capt. Stephen Cottle, and many another. The statehood of Alaska would probably bring a smile and a sage remark from almost any of them if they were alive today.
The brightly-painted pedal-boats, for years operated by Capt. Joseph Pina from Church’s Pier, Oak Bluffs, have now been transferred to Sunset Lake, the landlocked pond bordering on New York avenue. Thanks to a cooperative and most sensible move by Captain Pina and the Oak Bluffs selectmen, the children who love these boats may now play in safety.
No other boats can enter Sunset lake, and neither can venturesome youngsters steal out into the open waters of the Sound. Parents, the boat-owner, masters of cruising craft and all others concerned, breathe a deep sigh of relief and have expressed appreciation to those who have effected this change.
One of the inspiring aspects of the new season — of every new season on the Vineyard, in fact — is the return of so many old friends to the scenes of former visits. Many of today’s vacationers have been coming since childhood and there is among them the common accumulation of old memories, knowledge of the Island and Island ways, a kind of mellowed proprietorship.
It is safe to say that practically every one of these longtime visitors is sure that no newcomer can ever have the same golden experience. The chapters of the past have been written in times that cannot come again.
Yet there are a great many newcomers to the Island, young people mostly, who have the eagerness of discoverers —and of course they really are discoverers. These arriving soujourners of the present and future are perfectly sure that they will have a better time here than anyone ever had before. What era ever came with so clean an edge, with so many opportunities for zestful enjoyment ashore and afloat, with imaginations so kindled and the means of translating imagination into reality?
The odd thing is that both these viewpoints, old and new, may be perfectly sound. The veterans and the newcomers may both be right. We hope so.
The casting of next week’s play at the Edgartown Summer Theatre is complete, and rehearsals are well underway. One of the problems of casting King of Hearts was locating a small boy and a large dog. This problem has been nicely solved, after a search of several weeks. One of the Edgartown residents assisting in this project was Miss Jane Convery, who made innumerable telephone calls in an effort to locate the proper boy and dog. Finally John F. Nevin, son of John C. Nevin, was selected to play the part of Billy, and Meg, a large and friendly dog belonging to John’s uncle, Dr. Robert W. Nevin was chosen for the part of Happy.
How many authors can say, “I can sell everything I write now.” But if this state of perfection has been achieved by a writer, specifically Kathleen Moore Knight of Menemsha, the mystery story writer, whom the Vineyard can claim because of her long fealty to summer days and lately almost if not quite year-round, why shouldn’t she say so? And this she did in a recent interview, not bragging, but simply matter of fact.
“The Vineyard is so scattered with the bodies of my characters that people jokingly say that visitors may be afraid to come here.” In a book review in the Gazette the scene was identified with the Vineyard. She disclaimed it then, with some heat, but no one was fooled. Her amateur detective, Elisha Macomber, stemmed from a favorite Island character, now long dead.
In one respect the international scene rests more easily — they have begun to serve New England clam chowder at the American Pavilion at the World’s Fair in Brussels, Belgium.
When the fair opened, the American restaurant, owned and operated by ill-informed and gustatorily immature interests from New York, began to dish out what is known as Manhatten clam chowder, actually a thin vegetable soup with a few naked clams. The Gazette was among the first to holler. This week a cable was received: “New England clam chowder is now served. It is authentic.”
Compiled by Cynthia Meisner