No Rest for Chocolatiers

From Gazette editions of September, 1984:

The Sunday morning of Labor Day weekend finds Jan Campbell untanned. But her Squibnuggets and her Menemsha mints, her Chappy Clowns and other edibles on the shelves of Chilmark Chocolates are deep and dark evidence that 23-year-old Jan Campbell did not fiddle while the Island burned during the summer of 1984. This day, she recalls her first year in business. “I’ll be glad to have a week’s vacation,” she says, while her father-mentor-partner Malcolm Campbell dips blueberry clusters into a vat from Hilliard’s Chocolate Systems.

From Memorial Day weekend through the summer, Miss Campbell’s formula for business has been the same: “Working about 18 hours a day. The toughest part is keeping enough chocolate on the shelves, and that’s because each candy is made by hand. People are surprisingly knowledgeable,” she says. “Chocolate’s a fad right now.”

Many customers come in wanting to know how long and with what kind of ingredients the store’s chocolate had been “conched” — that is, ground up and mixed. In Europe, the process often takes days, whereas many chocolates produced in the U.S. may get only a few hours of preparation. Not so the 10-pound bars of chocolate in Miss Campbell’s stockroom, from the Van Leer chocolate company of New Jersey. Van Leer is her mother’s maiden name, and the children pictured on the Van Leer packages are her mother and her uncle. That is just one of her “roots planted firmly in chocolate.” Another is her father, a chocolate manufacturer himself. One Easter, Malcolm Campbell determined to train his descendants in the art, and Jan took to it right off. “I made so much stuff that people couldn’t eat it all,” she says.

Finally this past winter, the family, which has been coming to the Vineyard since 1976, bought the property the store now sits on — house and barn-workshop — from Skip Mayhew. “It was just a perfect, lucky find,” Jan says.

The Dike bridge, a small, wooden bridge leading to East Beach on the island of Chappaquiddick, may be for sale to the buyer with the right price. At a meeting of the Edgartown board of selectmen, chairman Thomas Durawa announced that the town will consider proposals from individuals or organizations interested in purchasing the bridge and removing it. The bridge, scene of a 1969 auto accident involving Sen. Edward Kennedy in which Mary Jo Kopechne died, has attracted thousands of curiosity-seekers in the years since then. Mr. Durawa said selling the bridge may be one way to finance needed improvements in the area. “From what we know of the situation,” he said, “it needs some sheathing around the sides and the bridge is not in the greatest condition.”

Mr. Durawa emphasized that a sale would have to be approved at a town meeting. “What we are doing is letting people know that this would be a possibility. It’s a little bit out of the ordinary, but we are looking at our options.” Talk of replacing the bridge has been brought up before and last year the selectmen discussed demolishing the bridge at the suggestion of Walter Wood, a director of the Chappaquiddick Island Association. Mr. Wood hoped that the destruction of the bridge would reduce the flow of tourists to Chappaquiddick to view the site.

The Grapevine, a Vineyard weekly newspaper for 13 years, closed yesterday morning. The last issue of The Grapevine as the Island knows it was published on Tuesday of this week. Grapevine publisher Robert Dole confirmed the closing. Mr. Dole said: “We are closing down effective immediately.” The closing followed the resignation of Marlene Rubin, who had been general manager, business manager and acting editor since Gerald Kelly left to edit a new Vineyard weekly, the Martha’s Vineyard Times. Mrs. Rubin said: “I feel very sad to see the Grapevine not operating.” She said she had been running the paper virtually alone, and resigned because the workload was too great. The Grapevine’s roots go back to the early seventies. The first issue was published during Earth Week in the spring of 1971, as a newspaper “primarily focused on the people of the Vineyard, those stalwart Island-lovers who live here year-round.”

Organizers and planners of Solviva Inc. welcomed 200 people Saturday to the grand unveiling of their solar greenhouse. These pioneers in agricultural and energy self-sufficiency have built an impressive complex in their forest clearing. Small bands of people studied the long greenhouse structure, and Solviva people led tours inside where volunteers have created a perpetual summer garden. As the sun dipped toward the tops of the trees, volunteers arranged a banquet of garden produce. And everyone prepared for an evening of dancing under the stars.

Compiled by Cynthia Meisner