From the Gazette editions of April 1976:
Some businessmen likened it to Memorial Day weekend. Others compared it to the middle of July. All appearances and temperatures last Saturday seemed to mark the beginning of summer, and on Easter Sunday the sun was hot with the low haze of a smoky sou’wester hanging across the horizon.
The balmy weather accounted for an influx of visitors and summer residents who dared to open cottages and plant gardens weeks before such activity is generally recommended. Alley’s General Store in West Tisbury, with its side doors to sell seed and outdoor supplies sold 40 bags of lime to eager horticulturists within three days.
Islanders, who the previous week had been comfortable in winter’s well-worn flannel shirts, rushed to their attics to find summer clothing. A cool spring changed to summer, as shorts, T-shirts and bare feet replaced long pants and sweaters.
Most didn’t venture to test the waters along the south shore of the Island, but both sunbathing and swimming took place along other shores. Temperatures on Saturday ranged in the 70s and 80s, and reached a record-breaking high Easter Sunday, making such activity warranted if unusual for the third weekend of April.
Automobile traffic on Vineyard roads was only surpassed by bicycles. Groups of riders dismounted at Alley’s store inquiring the proper route to Gay Head, purchasing ice cream and sodas and using the car wash for relief from the heat. There was no need to refill the soap supply. The group was only interested in refreshment.
Preston Averill of Vineyard Haven called the sudden rush in his dairy business “unusual.” The distributor returned with fresh supplies of ice cream more than once to Alley’s, and dealers down-Island called to have their freezers replenished with the sudden demand.
George A. Willoughby of Edgartown nearly ran short of the Pepperidge Farm products he supplies to local stores. “The business this weekend,” he reported, “was up to Memorial Day or better.”
The warm weather enticed many to forego thoughts of baking or barbecuing outdoors. Mr. Willoughby says the greatest demand was for hot dog and hamburger rolls, as families and friends had their first picnic of the year. Mr. Willoughby and other businessmen suggest the past weekend pushed the summer season “up six weeks in advance.” Many local merchants expect this weekend to continue the early boom in their summer sales.
Flowers have been commercially grown on the Vineyard for much more than half a century, but the first flower show arranged and advertised as such was held at the greenhouses of James Morrice, florist, in Vineyard Haven 30 years ago. Since then Louis Greene’s establishment in North Tisbury, the oldest Island florist shop in terms of continuous operation, and Rod’s Flower Shop, Rodman Backus, proprietor, also of Vineyard Haven have joined the tradition.
These three establishments have chosen Palm Sunday as the day for their respective flower shows, and these have been held for three decades, each one bigger than the last, as the raising and selling of plants, shrubs and flowers has become big business on the Island.
The trio of establishments was joined in the springtime festivities this year by Tellurian, a new shop owned by Louise Sweet and located in Vineyard Haven, too. Mrs. Sweet arranged a visit by the Easter Bunny to her Beach Road showroom, well-stocked with plants and flowers which she purchases off-Island for sale here.
The Palm Sunday show and Mrs. Sweet’s open house ushered in the spring season as usual, upholding the tradition in the display of all the common varieties of spring flowers, in most cases raised where they were displayed, together with vast numbers of Easter lillies and specialties introduced by the proprietors, those including not only the wealth of blooms but thousands of bedding plants for summer beds.
On Easter Sunday afternoon a collection of 22 original Currier and Ives prints will be exhibited for one day at the Navigator Room of the Harborside Inn, from 2 to 6 p.m.
The display is one of a series of 13 collections of rare prints now being shown throughout the United States and Canada. Assembled by the Travelers Insurance Companies, the exhibit was arranged by the Martha’s Vineyard Kiwanis Club in cooperation with the Island Insurance Agency.
The colorful prints portray America during the mid-19th century and depict rural and urban scenes as well as historical events of political and social importance.
The Travelers began to assemble the collection of lithographs in 1935, and since then has reproduced more than 380 of them in its calendars.
The exhibit is being held for the benefit of Kiwanis-sponsored Island youth activities.
Compiled by Alison Mead