Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
Tom Dunlop wrote an excellent article on trap fishing for the March 8, 2013 Gazette. It had an extraordinary amount of interesting factual information in it and I noticed that he carefully referenced anecdotal material as the opinions of particular people, which is very helpful for understanding history.
My grandfather Horace Athearn worked with Dan Look on his traps during the early part of the 20th century, dividing his time between Menemsha and his farm in West Tisbury. My father said that Dan Look made a small fortune from trap fishing but I don’t know if that was relative to the economic conditions of the common man at that time or actual wealth.
I want to note that Mr. Dunlop correctly referred to the blooming of the wild pear as an indicator of the time to get traps in for scup (it is the same for sweet corn) and did not succumb to the more recent terminology by referring to it as the shadbush. Shadbush it may be to people familiar with shad, but to the Islanders I have grown up with, it has always been wild pear. It will be blooming about May 7, according to my journals, and I have been suffering for the past several years by the Gazette and its correspondents referring to it as shadbush.
I hope that when May arrives this year that the Gazette will at least give a nod to the traditional Island terminology.
James Athearn, Edgartown