Personal Touches

From Gazette editions of January, 1935:

Some hotels run far back into the past of their communities, and the Kelley House at Edgartown is one of these. The death of Mrs. Elizabeth A. Kelley last week closed an era of forty-three years during which she and her husband, and later she alone, had been responsible for the unique character and hospitality of the house. What an eventful forty-three years — not much less than half a century of change and development on Martha’s Vineyard — during which hundreds of new visitors came, formed an attachment for the Island and settled down into regular summer residents. It is impossible to guess how large the influence of Mrs. Kelley may have been in the upbuilding of the town in which she lived.

No one who stopped under her roof could fail to be aware how much a hotel depends upon the personality and ability of the owner and host; the mere physical characteristics of the hotel building are futile and unimportant by comparison with the human side. There can hardly be an inn anywhere more closely identified with a personality than the Kelley House came to be associated with Mrs. Kelley. Her friendliness, her calm efficiency, the comfort and peace which she projected into the experience of those who stopped with her — these things made of the Kelley House a total which regular visitors hold in high regard. How many of them will be unable to conceive of Edgartown without the Kelley House presided over by that long familiar spirit!

It was a fortunate thing for the town and the Island when the Kelleys took over the management of that historic hotel, and proceeded to carry it through one of the finest chapters of hotel history that any community could hope to enjoy.

On January 11 pinkletinks announced their cheerful presence at Trapp’s Pond in Edgartown, heard there by Mrs. James B. Worden. That being the case, loyal Vineyarders have decided to ignore winter winds, snow, slush, sleet, rain and other unpleasant manifestations of nature, in the belief that the pinkletinks know what they are talking about and that spring is on the way. Another auspicious omen of the new year was the presence of six bluebirds, which made their appearance in Edgartown earlier in the month.

Word was received here that a marriage license has been issued to Joshua Crane Jr. and Miss Laura Wood, daughter of Cameron Wood, caretaker of the Crane estate at Noman’s Land. Miss Wood is an artist, and has spent much time on Noman’s Land with her parents, and illustrated the book, Noman’s Land, Isle of Romance, written by her mother.

Jay E. House, columnist of the Philadelphia Inquirer, speaks of “the priceless boon of going personally to the post office.” There is something in this phrase, something which we small towns have as an exclusive possession, beyond the reach of cities and more highly civilized places. The delegating of one duty after another relieves the citizenry of a great deal of work, but a penalty is exacted in return for the relief. And it is by no means so interesting or pleasant to have letters handed in once or twice a day by a letter carrier as it is to go in person to the post office. That a city man like Mr. House should appreciate the difference is not a little gratifying, for not everyone can understand what such a distinction means. Going to the post office in person is a prerequisite of that vast vanishing individualism which is hard to define in words.

Mr. House says that when Nantucketers inaugurated letter carrier service, they “virtually delivered themselves into the hands of the ‘interests.’ When people get together, as they did when they went daily or oftener to the post office for their mail, they talk things over. And when people get together and talk things over, it bodes no good for the tyrants who have set out to impoverish them.”

This is well enough as an expression of Mr. House’s profound sentiment in behalf of rugged individualism, but it does not go half as deep as it should. The trouble really begins when people are willing to live in cities, where they can never meet together, whether they go for their mail or not. In cities the tyrants and the opportunities of the tyrants are so multiplied that nobody does anything about them.

Captain Walter Manning, chairman of the Gay Head board of selectmen, announces that his board has applied for a PWA project for improving the wild cranberry bogs. It would be the first work ever done on these wild bogs which were planted by nature. The benefit to be derived by the town is in no doubt, since the fame of the wild Gay Head cranberries has spread far. The bogs, laying near the Sound, are sanded and flooded by nature. It is apparent that the Manitou who planted the bogs keeps watch and ward over them, but the assistance which may be given him should lighten his task and win his approval.

Compiled by Cynthia Meisner