Modern Times

From Gazette editions of April, 1936:

Transfer of the equity in the historic Kelley House, Edgartown, to Richard L. Colter, proprietor of the Mansion House, Vineyard Haven, was made this week, a change of ownership that still retains the ancient inn in the family of its beloved proprietor, Mrs. E. A. Kelley, who conducted the house for years after the death of her husband, William Kelley, famed in his day as a host. The present owner, Mr. Colter, came to Edgartown as a young boy and made his home with Mrs. Kelley, his aunt. For seventeen years he was a member of the hotel staff, and even after leaving the Kelley House to operate his own hotel, the Mansion House, he was associated closely with Mrs. Kelley.

The Kelley House is one of the oldest of Island commercial structures, having been established as an inn in 1742 when it was called The Tavern.

Sergeant William C. M. Tilton of the Hillman Homestead Farm, North Road, has supplied information regarding the weather. “Sun dogs” is the topic and from what the veteran police officer had to disclose, things were greatly aggravated because the sun dogs were irritated by humankind.

The sun dogs, which resemble sections of the rainbow, appeared in rifts of clouds. They are supposed to bring foul weather, and these lived up to their reputation. In olden days they were supposed to be a sign of coming wars, of famine, plague, pestilence. Sergeant Tilton opines if he had not summoned a friend with a shotgun to kill the sun dogs, much greater catastrophes might have occurred than the rainy days which followed their appearance. They are harbingers of disagreable things and poor additions to everyday life, despite their brilliance.

The mechanical ingenuity of Bob and Fred Waller has given birth to a new tractor at Muskoday Farm. In a couple of weeks’ time, the labor mostly Bob’s, two old cars gave up the ghost that another might live. The engine of one, an old Franklin, went into the chassis of an ancient Reo truck. The rear end of the Reo was employed, together with the transmission — a hooked-up, dual affair — from both machines. The resulting mechanism has nine forward speeds, with four or five in reverse, and it is proving itself extremely versatile around the farm.

Four hundred and sixty-seven men used the rooms of the Seaman’s Bethel, Vineyard Haven, last month, according to Chaplain Austin Tower, who was recently instructed to keep a count and register of men. No men were counted twice on the same day. Since the possibility of abandoning the Bethel arose a few weeks ago, Chaplain Tower has kept a list of the names of all men, and the vessels they were from, from day to day. These men, from vessels and boats of all kinds, have visited the Bethel to read, write letters, play games or for entertainment and sociability. Despite assertions that the Bethel has outlived its usefulness, there is still plenty of patronage, says the chaplain, in announcing these figures. Nevertheless, the Bethel may soon be doomed if some assurance of additional financial assistance is not forthcoming.

This is the annual clean up and paint up time. In the nation at large there are all sorts of campaigns going on. In general, we of the Vineyard need no particular prodding. Painters, with their ladders and fascinating buckets of colors, appear in April as surely as the robins and are regarded as harbingers of the warming year. Professor Shaler once wrote that the Vineyard, more than any other place, demonstrated the right use of white paint, which, elsewhere, was merely garish in its uses. That was about 1870. Ever since, the Island has continued to apply paint, white paint on houses and green paint on shutters more often than any other colors. We still have a reputation and a tradition to uphold.

Something is always happening on Chappaquiddick, and in recent years it has been growing gradually modern. First the motor driven ferry to replace the old rowboat, then the telephone, then electric lights. And now Chappaquiddick seems to be in line for rural free delivery. One thing is certain: If Chappy wants rural free delivery, she should have it. But she should not go too modern. The greatest part of the Chappy charm is aloofness and superior individuality.

Those who would have most enjoyed the inauguration of mail delivery have unfortunately long passed on — the whaling captains of Chappaquiddick. Even their homes are gone, and no mail boxes can be erected at the cellar holes where mayflowers grow. These captains, in their times, collected mail from strange caches in the Indian Ocean, at Tierra del Fuego, in the Okhotsk Sea, and in the Arctic, but it was never granted to them to receive letters at their dooryards on Chappaquiddick.

Compiled by Cynthia Meisner