From the Vineyard Gazette edition of Dec. 1954:
And now comes Christmas! Heralded by the stringing of colored lights and standards along the village streets, the dressing of the store windows, and the appearance of the bundles of Christmas trees outside of the grocery stores, the “gladdest season of the year” is at hand.
It has been customary for the Gazette to carry an article on the appearance of Island stores at Christmas time, for years, and an attempt will be made to continue this practice as Christmas approaches. But it is only fair to say that as the years pass this task has become increasingly difficult, and for a reason that must be obvious to all.
A good many years ago the files of the Gazette might have read something like this: “Brown’s Plumbing shop displays a brightly polished brass pump, decorated with evergreen and red ribbons. Smith’s drug store has a Christmas window, featuring a nearly life-sized Santa, in the act of filling stockings hung from a fireplace mantel. Jones’s accessory shop has stock in trade, displayed on artificial snow, with red and green decorations, and Atkins clothing store window is a mass of garments and Christmas wrapped parcels . . .”
But this is no longer the case. It is true that never since the Vineyard possessed a main street, has the Christmas display represented as much value, nor has it been displayed with as much thought and planning. The older style of heaping or hanging merchandise for the full height of the display window has been discarded. Today, one glance at Island stores, any of them, shows that the display is being “kept low.” Not only is this a pleasing gesture to the window shopper, who can look down and see everything, rather than being obliged to look up, into falling snow perhaps, but he can look over, and see something of the interior of the shop.
All are gay with Christmas decorations tastefully grouped with merchandise, and it is a brave display in every town according to the number and size of the stores to be found on each respective “main drag.”
Outstanding among private Christmas decorations in Tisbury this year are those at the homes of George W. Walker and William F. Swift. The entire front of the Walker home is a blaze of color and light featuring Santa. The Swift home displays a star, cross and other decorations in light. Shining out over Tashmoo Pond, when the water is still, the reflection is magnified and impressive.
It was almost fifty years ago to the day that the Gazette published an appeal to Vineyarders to preserve the woodlands, particularly from the despoliation of those who would tear the evergreen trees and vines apart for holiday decorations.
In the issue of Dec. 15, 1904, our old editor wrote:
In regard to the saving of the trees which adorn and make attractive our Island we quote briefly from a timely article in the Evening Standard of Dec. 10: “CHRISTMAS DESPOLIATION. It is again an appropriate time to renew the protest against the ruthless despoliation of the woods which of late years has become a conspicuous feature of the holiday season. Like most things else in America, the beautiful custom of the Christmas green decoration has been carried to a far extreme, with results disastrous alike to the sentiment of the occasion and to the life of the forests. A return to simplicity is eminently desirable for both these reasons.
“There is another consideration graphically touched upon by a Dartmouth correspondent: ‘And they shall sit every man under his vine and fig tree, and none shall make them afraid.’ So said the prophet, but we seem to have fallen on other times when even our fig trees, or in other words, our pine trees, are taken away by thieves and robbers. A cry has gone up to save the Appalachian forests, but it seems that we are quite unable to save our own.”
The injury to the flora of the isle has been extensive, to say nothing of the injury to property owners. Can not our tree wardens arrest the devastation of vandals ere it becomes too late?
Members of the Quenames Council, D. and P., held a meeting and Christmas party in Vineyard Haven on Friday night, with the Pocahontas, Mrs. Grafton King, presiding. After a short business meeting, carols were sung with Mrs. Mabel Norton at the piano, and games were played. Prizes were won by Mrs. H. Raymond Cleveland, Mrs. Anthony Costa, Mrs. Walter Jenkinson, Mrs. Lillian Bartlett, Mrs. Arthur King and Mrs. Thomas deCosta Jr. Santa Claus passed gifts of edibles to each member and gifts were exchanged.
Refreshments were served by Pocahontas and her committee, Mrs. Jenkinson and Mr. and Mrs. deCosta. The tables and hall were decorated with the Christmas motif. The mystery package was won by Mrs. Joseph DeFreitas. One guest from Katama Council was present.
The next meeting will be on Jan. 7.
Compiled by Alison Mead