Mishaps and Movies

From Gazette editions of August, 1984:

The Rev. John D. Schule, minister of the Edgartown Federated Church, was out jogging the other day at 7 a.m. in the fire trail in the State Forest when something came crashing out of the blue, blindsiding him and knocking him to the ground. “I had run about four miles when it happened,” he recalls. “At first I thought I had been ambushed. I thought I had been mugged. I was scared.”

What had hit Mr. Schule was not a bandit or a mugger, but a deer. “He just came out of the woods and hit me in the side, knocking the wind out of me. He looked at me with those big brown eyes. Then in another moment he was bouncing, flagging his white tail and he was gone. I’ve probably run 3,000 miles and in all the times I’ve run in the State Forest, I may have seen only four deer.”

It’s the fifth one he’ll remember the longest.

Twenty-four hours after narrowly escaping death when his fishing boat, the China Moon, flipped, Captain David Thompson of Vineyard Haven was wet again, trying to salvage an engine that had been immersed in seawater. The day before he did some unscheduled deep-water swimming when his boat abruptly capsized three miles north of Menemsha in Vineyard Sound. But the real miracle of the accident was the escape from the wheelhouse by his girlfriend, Rhonda Criss.

Miss Criss broke head-first through the wheelhouse window in her fight to reach the surface. Captain Thompson was luckier; he and his German shepherd, Garp, were flung without injury from the boat.

“On board,” Captain Thompson said, “we had 1,800 pounds of fluke, which might have brought us $2 a pound at the market. We were towing along the bottom on the edge of Lucas Shoal. We had planned to make it our last tow. In 70 feet of water we got hung up on a wreck. The tide was running hard, about three knots. We tried to turn the boat to back over and get off the wreck. I didn’t know there was a wreck there. Someone later said to me it was an old Gloucester fishing schooner that sank in the 1930s. The wreck pulled us down and flipped us over in about two seconds. Together we drifted off with the tide, the three of us.”

Capt. Charles Murphy of the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole was en route to the scene in his fishing and research vessel Gemma. A member of the crew had seen the capsize. Within a few minutes the three of them were pulled aboard. Meanwhile an air pocket kept the bow of the China Moon above water. With help from the fishing boats Mill Point and Anna Maria, 10 hours after the incident the China Moon was again afloat. But foremost on Captain Thompson’s mind were his thoughts of what might nearly have been.

“The Bostonians,” wrote film critic Vincent Canby of the New York Times, “is from the opening shot to the last, a rare delight, a high comedy with tragic undertones acted to perfection.”

An added delight for Vineyard viewers of the film based on the Henry James novel of the same name is that much of its footage was shot here on the Island. Christopher Reeve, Madeleine Potter and James Ivory, all central characters of the film, will be on hand to greet the audience at two Island premieres. The movie also stars Vanessa Redgrave and Jessica Tandy.

The Vineyard scenes come mainly in the last third of the film and stand in marked contrast to city scenes from Boston. There are seashore scenes and scenes filmed at Lambert’s Cove Cemetery, Ocean Park and a private home. More than a hundred Island extras took part in the film’s making.

When Eleanor Neubert was a little girl growing up in West Tisbury, she used to cross the days off the calendar pinned to her closet door as she waited each August for the start of the county fair. It was the most important day of the summer. She would enter her cow and sometimes her rabbits and chickens in the livestock show. She nearly always collected a few ribbons. And she would whirl and twirl for hours on the rides.

This summer Eleanor Neubert has also lived in anticipation of the Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society Livestock Show and Fair, but she’s lost interest in the rides and she hasn’t had time to groom any animals for the show. Instead for the past six and a half months, she has been choosing posters, deciding ticket colors, gathering security crews and tending to thousands of other tasks both great and small as the new manager of the annual fair. “Since it’s my first year, I’m not making any major changes. I am just trying to see if things run smoothly the way they are.” And thinking of the long-awaited day which would dawn in a matter of hours, the new fair manager voiced a final wish: “I just hope people come and enjoy themselves and have a good time, because that’s what fairs are for.”

Compiled by Cynthia Meisner