Past Loves

From Gazette editions of February, 1936:

Romance goes hand in hand with seafaring. The seafarer who sails away from his home port encounters all adventures and thrills, as witness the experiences of the crew of the Eben A. Thacher, held for five days by weather at Cuttyhunk last week. Carl Merry, the only bachelor aboard, drew the unlucky straw on the toughest night of the winter and was elected to go ashore and buy a pack of cards. He set out in the snow, gale and darkness and was gone so long that Cap’n Joe Pinto began to consider organizing a rescue party to search for the missing seaman and bring him back to the shelter of the Thacher cabin. But at length Carl returrned, bouyant and lighthearted, in spite of his hardships, and telling a tale of romance.

Gallied by the wind and driving snow, Carl lost his bearings as he traveled the highways of Gosnold, and struck into the desolate hill country where habitations are few. Near exhaustion and perishing with the cold, he dragged toward a light which glimmered through the driving snow, and collapsed against a door as he strove to knock. The rest of his tale is in his own words:

“There was a girl, a wonderful girl with a face like a flower, and a figure like a fairy! A peach of a girl with a heart of gold. And she gave me ice cream! Boy, I can hardly wait to get back to Cuttyhunk.”

And the rest of the Thacher’s crew say that is just Carl’s luck. “Heave him into a frozen ditch and he’ll come up with a hot mince pie in each hand,” they growl.

George Eustis of Hollyholm, Chilmark, famed for his interest in bird life and his studies of their travels by means of banding the visitors to his estate, had an interesting experience with a sparrow this week. The bird was found on his doorstep, lying motionless upon its back. He noticed the band on its leg as he picked it up. No injuries were apparent and the bird appeared to be normal, although it could not move. After being carried into the house and warmed thoroughly, it revived and on being liberated, flew away. By the number on its band Mr. Eustis identified the bird as one he banded a year and a day before. “Too much grain and resultant indigestion,” was Mr. Eustis’s verdict. The bird knew where to go in time of trouble.

With harbor and pond ice strong and thick, and with plenty of cold weather still to come, plans for iceboating are being made. Hollis Fisher and others were due to get started on one yesterday or today, and Bill Brown was looking for a sail yesterday. Ernest Goodick tried out his ice skates the other day, for the first time in years, and found his old time skill still with him. Stetson Look and Lauress Fisher skated down harbor to South Beach and back. In the meantime, harbor piers are a-rearing from the effects of ice and anchor frost.

Sixty pounds of dynamite were used by David Curney, Vineyard Haven diver, in opening Chappaquansett Creek to lower the level of Lake Tashmoo. Ice and frozen earth in and around the spillway of the dam necessitated the use of the explosive. The lake has been standing at a level that might have caused trouble in case of a thaw or heavy rain, and the town commissioners felt that it was a risk to allow it to rise further. Ordinarily it has been the custom to remove a small amount of sand from the spillway and open the gate to the dam to lower the pond, but there has been no one on duty regularly at the dam for some months, and it was impossible to do any digging in the frozen beach. Men acquainted with Lake Tashmoo said that because of the inflow from the springs, this opening of the beach would not affect the ice or make the lake dangerous for skaters, the result being not so much to lower the level of the water as to prevent it from rising higher.

When a winter gets such a reputation for severity as this has earned for itself, one forgets that the outdoors is still companionable. Choose the bright days, when the sun saturates the freezing air, and seek the woods where there is some protection from the wind. You have before you a revelation. The woods lie open to the sun and sky, the winter brilliance penetrating to every lichened rock, every frozen brook and every path which in summer runs through lush thickets.

The trees are standing apart, with the individualities of their trunks and limbs exposed. You behold all sorts of strange postures, most of them full of a wild grace. It is a marvel how they grow, bracing themselves against the blasts and making sturdy trunks near the ground to hold fast.

Of color there is a vast amount, in lichens, in stones and in great boulders, and in the massive tree trunks, such as those of the mottled beeches. All in all, to miss the woods in winter is to miss one of the opportunities which no single month or week is without.

Compiled by Cynthia Meisner