From the Vineyard Gazette editions of May, 1928:
George W. Purdy, one-armed keeper of East Chop Lighthouse, has previously astonished his acquaintances with his engineering feat, but his latest one is the more remarkable of any yet performed. Supplies for the light are landed on the beach at the foot of the high bluff on which the lighthouse is situated. All along the shore of the government reservation is a heavy wall of loose boulders, weighing from one to several hundred pounds each. Placed in an unbroken line to prevent the sea from wearing away the bank, they lie at the water’s edge and prevent boats from landing. Because of this, it has been necessary for the lighthouse tender’s boat to land on a privately-owned beach, from which the supplies had to be carried over to the government beach and thence up the bank by a flight of stairs As this made much extra work for Mr. Purdy, he has been engaged in building a boat landing during the past winter, and the completed job is a thing to marvel at.
The landing consists simply of a runway of planks and timbers about four wide and forty feet long, extending out in the water in such a way that a boat may tough and be drawn up on it. But the remarkable feature about it is the fact that it passes right through the boulder wall and in that way it is secured against damage by sea.
Several boulders, weighing hundreds of pounds, were moved by Mr. Purdy, who worked with his spade and a huge wooden pry to accomplish it. Nearly anyone who considers the prodigious amount of labor necessary in such construction will agree that Mr. Purdy’s one arm is worth more than two as used by the average man.
During his odd moments, when the weather was favorable Mr. Purdy built a new flight of steps up to the bank; fifty treads had to be sawed and nailed in place. He has also just finished painting the lighthouse tower, doing the work alone.
At a special town meeting Wednesday night, the most quiet and good-natured town meeting of recent years, Tisbury voted to erect a new school building to cost not over $150,000. The sum allowed for the new building will permit neither a gymnasium nor an auditorium. The meeting also voted to erect the building on the present school house lot.
The New Bedford, the new steamer for the N.B.M.V. and N. line, is expected to be launched tomorrow at the Fore River yards of the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp. Ltd. at Quincy, where she has been under construction for some months. With her completion, all the points of call of the line will be represented by boats which bear their names, except Woods Hole.
The New Bedford is to be similar in size and appearance to the other two new boats on the line, but it will have added freight capacity room for ten additional automobiles, and turntables for loading and unloading cars.
The fire which burned through some woodland on the state road on Friday occurred almost exactly a year to a day after the destructive fire on the plains in 1927. The annual recurrence of these fires, now serious and now of small consequence, is a real problem. We doubt if any place has suffered more from fires, and unnecessary fires, than the Island.
By rights the Vineyard should have on the great plains a growth of great pines and cedars, a forest of immense value both for its timber and for its protection to wildlife. But the frequent fires from time immemorial have kept the central portion of the Island a region of scrub oak and brush, for the scrub oak is more resistant to fire than almost any form of tree. It will require more than extensive efforts at reforestation to transform the plains to something like their original state; it will take some vigilance on the part of all travelers in that region, lest they set fires which will sweep over hundreds of acres.
The North Road will not be built this year. The commissioner of public works does not favor proceeding because of a shortage of $600,000 in his budget which, it is believed, was caused by the failure of the Ford Motor company to produce any cars last year.
On Monday the Vineyard Gazette celebrates its 82nd birthday. Every week of every year since 1846 the Gazette has been published and distributed to its readers. Its career began in time to recount the voyages of whale ships in the last golden age of whaling; it reported the events leading up to the Civil War, the Civil War itself; it carried the arguments of these active spirits who boomed the Island and built the Martha’s Vineyard Railroad, and it reported in due time the collapse and disappearance of that railroad; it has followed thousands of Vineyarders through life, reflecting the joys and sorrows of the Island people.
Compiled by Alison Mead