From the Vineyard Gazette editions of September, 1933:
Matthew Mayhew and his younger townsman, Ulysses E., were at the West Tisbury fair this week and said that it was just about as good as the first one they ever went to. That was seventy-seven years ago, Matthew being 87 and Ulysses being 86. Fortunate pair! Fortunate in being worthy members of a worthy clan! Fortunate in having been a part of the sturdy generation which sailed ships all over the world and tried every port. Fortunate in being as cheery and as much interested in country fairs at 86 and 87 as when they were at 9 and 10!
The Vineyard would lose its savor if the Mayhews were not there. What the Howards were to England, the Mayhews have been in their quiet way to the Vineyard. They have established their own little dynasty. The pioneer Mayhew, Gov. Thomas Mayhew, found the Vineyard good and his love of it is in his descendants 300 years after him.
Lords of the Vineyard are the Mayhews. They have remained essentially the same in a world which has changed vastly all around them. They have not played a conspicuous part in the public life of the nation, but how much better a hundred neighborhoods are for the presence of such folks.
Why is it that cooks outside of New England have an itch to put tomatoes in all preparations of seafood? We yield to no one in admiration of the tomato, but the conjunction of cooked tomatoes with clams in chowder has always been fatal to the charms of both. No matter how superb the tomato is elsewhere, it does violence to the flavor and integrity of the clam. And the clam perverts the juices of the tomato.
As if this culinary treason were not enough, a New York cooking expert now gives her readers a recipe for lobster stew — and bases the whole concoction on tomato puree. Always this obsession with tomatoes! Vineyarders should know as much about lobster stew as anyone. They have made and consumed thousands of such stews, and have brought the cooking of the lobster in this form to the highest point of perfection. And they would never think of confusing stew with tomato soup. The two things are irreconcilable by nature.
Maritime New England has fought a battle for decades in defense of the real, the delicious, the only clam chowder — free from tomatoes and carrots. Although the battle has not been won, the enemy has been kept at a distance where it could do no particular harm. And now the same war must be fought over lobster stew. The battle is well worth fighting.
The appearance of the fields and meadows at this time of year ought to be as famous as that of the woods a little later. Along the Vineyard roadsides are vistas of tall grass making red waves in the wind. The dull red grasses glow on a dark day more than in the sun, and when the breezes sweep them, they come to life. In the bottoms opening from the road across the plains the sight is particularly worth seeing.
Elsewhere there are other colors mingled with the red. One may see a broad field where the red of the grass and the green of an occasional bayberry bush are mingled with white tufts. This combination of shades tells in the gentlest, most eloquent fashion of the endless versatility of nature as a colorist on the Vineyard scene. The white tufts likely are everlasting.
Everlasting is a greenish white plant which likes to grow among bayberry bushes or in large clumps in the open. The flowers, dry and light as old leaves, at a distance look white. Another name for the plant is ladies’ tobacco. Was it ever used for that purpose, or is this just a compliment to the ladies? If it is a compliment, we think it is a nice one. The dry, white, imperishable distinction of everlasting is admirable for adorning bouquets.
But to get back to September fields, we have not forgotten the goldenrod or the purple asters felicitously flourishing beside it. Bountiful as the gold and purple may be, they are never commonplace. We fancy it is one of the regrets of hundreds of departing summer guests that they must go while the goldenrod in the fields is still blooming in its prime.
All these gay things in the field will turn and disappear as autumn advances. But the everlasting, if you pick it, will keep you for all winter, and will rustle for you in the parlor as it has done in the parlor decorations of some old homes through the winters of many generations.
Compiled by Cynthia Meisner