From Gazette editions of February, 1985:

In the final days of 1984, the Martha’s Vineyard National Bank quietly sold virtually all its fixed rate mortgages to banks in California and mainland Massachusetts. Members of the Vineyard banking community described the transaction this week as one of unprecedented magnitude in local annals. A total of 370 mortgages, valued at $7 million, were sold to the Century Bank and Trust Company of Somerville and the Farmers Savings Bank of California. The mortgages are all local. Customers were not notified that their mortgages are no longer owned by their local bank. The Vineyard bank continues to service the mortgages, which means that it issues all bills and receives all payments.

Robert Wheeler, president of the bank, said yesterday that the mortgage sale was initiated after he succeeded William Honey at the bank. He described the sale as good for the Vineyard community because it makes more money available to Vineyard residents. He said no banking regulations require notification of customers that their mortgages have been sold. “A mortgage is like any other security,” Mr. Wheeler said. “The holder can buy and sell at their discretion.” And he said, “This shouldn’t alter our role in the community at all. Thirty days and more overdue does not mean an automatic foreclosure. We will continue with our tradition of personal service.” The bank is now offering 30-year fixed rate mortgages at 12 1/2 per cent. “But rather than making them and holding them in our own portfolio, we are making them and immediately selling them into the secondary mortgage market.”

Drivers and pedestrians at an intersection in East Boston were startled when a suitcase dropped from the sky, and refused to go near it because they feared it was an explosive device. Police officials soon determined that the case had fallen from a commuter plane operated by Gull Air, which serves Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. The Gull Air plane had departed from Boston Logan Airport and returned after the cargo door opened. Police returned the suitcase to the airline, slightly the worse for wear, but unbroken by the fall.

The voice answering the Tisbury Inn phone these days belongs to businessman Sherman Goldstein — as does a partnership in the hotel and its complex of attached businesses. Mr. Goldstein and “less than a dozen” partners have bought the building on Main street in Vineyard Haven from Stuart and Marcia Haley, who purchased the former Benjamin Coffin House -- and former Mansion House Motor Hotel — nearly eight years ago. Just what the sale price was and who the partners are, Mr. Goldstein prefers not to say. But he says the new owners plan about a quarter of a million dollars worth of renovations to the storefronts and 29 guest units.

There’s talk about making Woods Hole a historic district. “Aesthetic control” would be the reason and it’s too late for that. But the Woods Hole legend should be preserved in all its variety, including the years when the sign over the railroad tracks said “Woods Holl” because Mr. Fay, who personified the Summer Visitor of literature, claimed that Leif Erikson and his Norsemen had named it so.

Then there was the famous lonesomeness of Woods Hole at night, the very mention of which would rouse the local citizenry to fury. Just the same, when the old railroad station — a period piece in red brick — was locked up at about 10 p.m., an Islander or two stranded through some scheduling failure or error would feel the emptiness of a deserted world. They walked the empty streets in blackness that obscured not only vision but all memories of the human family.

Few places were so chary of lights at night as the old Woods Hole. But active by daylight was Sam Cahoon’s fish market where Vineyard fishermen and others landed their catch. Sam’s place was more than a market — it was an institution.

In the beginning there was the old Fish Commission building, and now there is a scientific community with laboratories, a fleet of research vessels and dormitories to round out scientific nights and days. Those who knew the Woods Hole of other days in its quietude and determined withdrawal can attest that when progress struck, it came along at a gallop.

Consider, for instance, the great structure of the Steamship Authority’s offices, complete with streams of ground floor traffic going and coming. It seems quaint to recall that the intention behind this structure was essentially that of a freight shed, with railroad tracks where freight could be loaded or unloaded from freight carts or stored without risk of pilfering. What an odd notion this seems today, and how soon has the railroad been forgotten, even that part of it wrapped in Woods Hole’s past.

Compiled by Cynthia Meisner