Full Steam

From Gazette editions of June, 1936:

The big British steamship Fort Amherst of London crept into Vineyard Haven harbor yesterday morning with a heavy list and a six-inch stream of water gushing from her pumps, her forward hold half-filled with water, which poured through a gap low on her starboard bow. Bound from Halifax to New York with mixed cargo and twenty-six passengers, the Amherst got off her course in the fog and struck a lone rock off Oak Bluffs wharf, tearing the gap in her plates. This was about eight o’clock in the evening.

The big ship lay partly beached off the Oak Bluffs jetties through the night until about three in the morning when she called for aid. The Coast Guard cutter Argo removed the passengers, who were taken to Woods Hole where they were placed in charge of immigration authorities sent there for the purpose. The Eben Thacher, Capt. Henry Stevenson and Capt. Joe Pinto, of Vineyard Haven, put out with a crew.

The Thacher lay alongside the ship, receiving the cargo of potatoes and salt fish from her forward hold, which was shifted aft in order to raise the steamer’s bow and bring the leak nearer to the surface. By late afternoon 126 tons of cargo had been shifted.

Capt. Reginald Kane, master of the steamer, declined to make any statement for publication, but from the maneuvers of the ship before she grounded, and local knowledge of the sea bottom in the vicinity, it is concluded by local pilots and mariners that the absence of the Hedge Fence lightship was largely responsible for this accident. There has been an increase in the number of accidents which have occurred since the lightship was replaced with a combination buoy. With the records showing that in every period of heavy fog experienced since the Hedge Fence lightship was removed, there has been a marine disaster of some sort on the shoals, it is more than probable that this disaster will bring about a demand for the reinstatement of the lightship. Such was the talk among the pilots and coastwise men yesterday morning as they summarized the number of disasters which have taken place in the last two years.

Last week’s graduates from Edgartown’s High School had an auspicious beginning to their Washington trip. Waiting at the Oak Bluffs wharf in the clammy weather, their spirits were revived by the appearance of Jimmy Cagney, movie hero, also bound for New York after a week’s visit with the Denys Wortmans. The actor was both friendly and gracious and responded willingly to the request for autographs, all the class starting off armed with his signature and a number of parents bearing similar trophies home with them.

When a car gives better than 20 miles to a gallon of gasoline through today’s heavy traffic — that’s news! And that is exactly what happened in a 15,619-economy test conducted by Standard Oil, with two stock 1936 Ford V-8 Touring Sedans. The Ford V-8’s delivered an average of 21.18 miles per gallon for the entire run and required no oil between 1,000 mile changes.

Captain Ellsworth West, Arctic whaleman and master of passenger and freight ships, has been offered a berth on the Day Line steamers plying between New York and Albany. The Day Line sought a retired master mariner to act as host and entertainer to their excursionists, and the inducement is an attractive one. The Captain has taken the matter under consideration. He is a native of Chilmark and went to sea early in life. For many years he pursued the sperm and bowhead whales. Later he became master of passenger and freight steamers running north along the Pacific coast to Alaskan ports, and he is credited with having made the first charts of the “inside passage.” For a number of years he has been operating a dairy farm on Middle Road.

The visit of Dr. F.C. Bishopp and two associates to the Vineyard recently for the purpose of investigating the wood tick situation is an encouraging augury. If the interest of the federal government can be maintained over a period of years, a moderate expenditure of money will undoubtedly result in concrete findings and lead to eventual control of wood ticks. The wood tick is a national problem. Studies and methods worked out here will fit into a broader picture and serve as part of a national program. So far as the Vineyard is concerned, this is taking time by the forelock. The ticks are a pest — almost the only one from which the Vineyard now suffers — and the sensible thing to do is to control them.

Having in mind the precedent of many years ago, when sea gulls ate the locusts and preserved the crops of Utah, we believe it would be appropriate if our gulls which were fed in yards and other places last winter during the freeze-up, should return and consume the rose bugs. The rose bugs would certainly provide a complete diet for all the gulls for at least a week or two. However, our gulls are occupied elsewhere, and there is no way of appealing to their gratitude.

Compiled by Cynthia Meisner