Flotsam and Jetsam

From the Vineyard Gazette editions of August, 1958:

Among the many paintings by New Bedford’s marine artist, Benjamin Russell, which are now on show, is the Wreck of the Christina. The wreck of the Christina was one of the most famous as well as one of the most tragic that occurred in Vineyard waters.

Charles Tallman of New Bedford had signed as mate on the bark Bounding Billow and was to join her in New York where he learned the vessel had left for Boston. He joined the schooner Christina as mate on a passage to Boston, sailing from Brooklyn, Jan. 4, 1866, with Captain Leach and four others. The schooner lay over in Vineyard and was becalmed the next day off Nauset until a northeast gale arose. With heavy snow falling, the Christina headed back for the Vineyard and struck on Hawes’ Shoal. The schooner pounded until her hull was stove. The men took to the rigging. The temperature was 20 degrees below zero, and only Tallman survived the four days and nights of this nightmare.

A woman at Cape Pogue Light had seen him move in the rigging and alerted a rescue party that had difficulty clearing from Edgartown harbor because of the ice. Tallman was lowered from the rigging. The whaleboat rescue party of Vineyarders was made up of Thomas Dunham; James, George and Charles Fisher; Edward Luce and Eugene Wilber. In the late seventies Mr. Tallman sold peanuts and curios to the summer crowd at Oak Bluffs, occupying an octagonal pavilion supplied to him by the Oak Bluffs Land and Wharf Co.

On days of high humidity, the urge to squelch the offensive can be uncontrollable, but it is doubtful if anybody could carry through a squelch quite as effectively as did a young woman whose car stalled on Edgartown’s Main street.

When her car failed to start time and time again, a male motorist just behind her began to blow his horn repeatedly. The resulting hubbub attracted quite a crowd of pedestrians who stopped to watch for developments.

And developments there were: the young woman, smiling gently and quite charmingly, got out of her car, walked calmly to the window of the car behind, and said pleasantly to the driver, “If you’ll get my car started for me, I’ll be glad to get in your car and blow the horn while you do it.” The crowd roared, and for a minute or two it seemed as if the humidity were several percentiles lower for everyone, except possibly the man with the horn.

Among the anxious families concerned with the Middle East crisis is that of Harris N. Drake, who is one of the thirty-man team of U.N. observers in Lebanon. He has been in the strife-torn country for six months. He had been with the U.N. in this country for more than six years before he went overseas. A graduate of the Edgartown High School in the class of 1943, he entered the Merchant Marine service almost immediately after he finished school, and served therein for several years, winning medals for combat in both the Mediterranean and Atlantic theaters of war.

The ketch Gertrude D., Capt. Horace Devine of Oak Bluffs, landed the largest trip of swordfish known to have been hoisted out on the North Atlantic Coast this season, 122 fish. The fish averaged something more than two hundred pounds apiece, a gross take of slightly less than a thousand dollars a day during the eleven-day trip.

The loud screams of a woman after midnight were heard by residents of Main street, and members of the Edgartown police force responded promptly. Tracing the alarming sounds to the upper floor of the Edgartown town hall, the officers found members of the Actors Company rehearsing the opening scene of Agatha Christie’s mystery thriller, The Mousetrap. This play, which has broken all popularity records in London, will be given here this week.

Union Chapel was dedicated on Sunday, August 20, 1871, and it had its first christening on Sunday August 3, 1958. We do not mean to imply that the years between these dates were without event, but only that the christening adds to a long history rather more than newer generations might suppose. The early builders and supporters of Union Chapel would be particularly proud.

About Union Chapel’s origin there was a worldly complication: the camp meeting people had put up a seven foot picket fence around their grounds, and the new community of Oak Bluffs Land & Wharf Co. outside the fence was being called ungodly. With liberality much praised at the time, and also with business acumen, the Oak Bluffs company erected the chapel, and thereafter the fence lost some of its pointed quality.

In 1880 the Oak Bluffs Christian Union was formed, and that was when tradition began to accumulate; able speakers and fine music became the yearly rule. And now, in 1958, a christening!

Compiled by Cynthia Meisner