Surf and Turf

From Gazette editions of January, 1936:

Menemsha Pond appears to be producing an unusual variety of scallops this winter. Although the set is not particularly heavy, the scallops, especially those in Gay Head waters, are said to be the largest ever marketed in this locality.

The shells are of greater capacity than is usual, developed as it would appear to accommodate the unusual eye. These are not only of greater diameter than is usual, but they are far longer. Eyes in excess of two inches in length have been taken from some of these scallops, and this fact, and the peculiarly shaped shells have caused fishermen to believe that perhaps a new variety of scallop has made its appearance.


The emancipation of the laboring man is at hand, and the farmer is about to emerge from bondage. At any rate, that is what Joe Merry of Tisbury thinks. Joe is the managing owner of Twin Oaks Farm, whose herd of fine cows have always required the care and solicitude consistent with keeping them contented, well nourished and happy. But times change, and so do cows.

The other day one of these yellow and white bossies succeeded in unhooking the chain that bound her to the manger. It is believed that dinner was late. This lady cow knew well that the daily allowance of hay reached them from the open thrashing floor of the barn. And she could see that hay is forked down from the loft above.

This cow cast her limpid gaze upward toward the loft. Yes, there it hung, great billows of sweetly cured hay. Pure reasoning prompted her to seek a way to reach the hayloft, and she found it, a steep stairway. Courageously the cow climbed the stairs, reached the loft and there dined to her heart’s content. She then retraced her steps and took her place by her own manger.

“So now, if I can only teach her to give her milk without assistance,” says Joe, “think of the saving in labor!”


Much ado about nothing is the way selectmen of Chilmark refer to the publicity attending the granting of a shellfish license to Mrs. Walter Jenkinson of that town. A general garbling of the facts made the incident appear serious indeed, whereas, according to the selectmen, it was entirely commonplace.

“The lady applied for a license,” explained Benjamin C. Mayhew Jr., the chairman of the board. “Our board is empowered to pass such regulations on the taking of shellfish as we may see fit. Under existing economic conditions, we have felt that if any preference was to be shown, it should be in favor of the recognized bread-winners of families. So we hesitated to grant this license, but to make sure we were doing the right thing, we called up an attorney. As there was nothing in our regulations bearing on the matter, he advised us to grant the permit, and we did.”

This is not the first shellfish permit that has been granted to a woman resident. But there have been cases where this privilege has been abused. Some boards have cited cases where husband and wife have both applied for permits, both going out in the same boat, and although the woman contributed nothing to the work of taking shellfish, her presence allowed her husband to take double the quantity that other men might take. In cases where women actually did the fishing themselves, there has seldom been any hesitation on the part of licensing boards to grant permits.


The secrets of old buildings are well kept and not until after they are pretty well torn down can the whole story they have to tell be ascertained. A case in point is the old John Bent building on the lower part of Main street in Edgartown, being removed to make way for an addition to the Harborside Inn. As the building came down, a bottle of whiskey was discovered behind the chimney, full and in good condition. It had been plastered in. Experts on town history estimate that it is at least 50 years old. It may be that some long dead Edgartonian put the bottle in its hiding place and was prevented from regaining it by the plasterers working on the building. The past of the whiskey will remain a mystery, like that of most buried treasure. But the bottle tells part of the story. The brand named on the label is Happy Smiles.


Bleakness has beauties of appearance in its own right. It brings out the subtle harmonies of landscape. On the Vineyard, under the darkest of winter skies, and on days which are the most chill, the fields gleam, the stone walls stand out with an assertiveness of color and form. Lichens assume an identity of their own, and the cedars with their small blue berries, the mottled tree trunks of the beeches, even the soft gray shingles of weatherbeaten farmhouses, assert individual qualities of color and form and combine into a rich tapestry of winter. In bleakness there are rich rewards, not merely compensations.

Compiled by Cynthia Meisner