From Gazette editions of 1962:
Veterans Memorial Park in Vineyard Haven is the finest example of cooperative effort on the part of residents of every Island town. Its ten acres or so, reclaimed from swamp, marsh and actual open water, has become an Island landmark, a fitting memorial to war heroes living and dead, and is the scene of much activity on the part of old and young.
This area was the original Bass Creek. Only the very oldest, tattered maps of Vineyard Haven or Holmes Hole can present an idea of what this area was like a century ago. It was a broad and deep estuary, shaped like a huge mitten and extending in such a manner that the steep slopes of the hills actually descended into the water. Mud Creek thrusted itself off at an angle like the thumb of the mitten.
At the mouth of Bass Creek, across which the ship channel extended, was the shipyard. Along the northern bank stood a few dwellings. On the south bank were pasture lands and the Old Cemetery, and at the head a huge spring gushed out of the bank, forming a pool said to have been more than twenty feet in depth, icy-cold even in mid-summer, and flowing in greater volume than the famous springs of Tashmoo. When Vineyard Haven was assured of a public water supply, the choice of the promoters was this spring, but the change was made to Tashmoo Springs because of the close proximity of the cemetery.
The name of Bass Creek has been attached to this place because the striped bass and the shad, seeking spawning ground in spring, schooled in this cold and nearly fresh water. It has been many a year since striped bass schooled anywhere in this area, but old men could recall the schools of squeteague which entered the Vineyard Haven harbor, swimming up into the head and crowding along the shores. There is no record which might indicate the depth of the cove which ran for more than a quarter-mile. The lower end, where it became one with Lagoon Pond, would accommodate the largest ships owned in the town and whalers were towed through for the laying-up in the pond during the winter.
Down at the mouth of the creek lay the “marsh islands,” mentioned in dozens of land deeds and referred to as part of the “Company’s” buildings. The “Company” was a group of men who purchased and maintained lands in the area as a group. High land, low land, marsh and beaches were all included in this tract. There was tillage, pasture and a few farms, where some of the company members lived with their families.
The marsh islands were valuable back in that time, for the wild hay which they produced, and Bass Creek figured prominently in the scene when the hay was harvested. The hay could not be taken away except by crossing water. Wherever ox-carts might be stationed, boats of some variety had to be used to bring the hay from the islands to the waiting carts and wains. It is said that the slopes down which South Main street now extends and the areas adjoining were covered with the drying hay that had been rafted in from the islands by the proprietors, who would haul it to their homes when it was cured.
In time the ship channel was filled and the highway built over it. With Bass Creek closed to boats, there was no objection to the building of the dyke across the lower end to a point where people could drive a team, taking a shortcut from Cedar Neck to the Beach road and the various establishments there. And then Bass Creek began to fill. It was a public dumping ground and it was hardly strange that when it was proposed to deepen Vineyard Haven harbor, abutting landowners were quick to offer Bass Creek as a place to deposit the fill pumped from the harbor. And thus the beginning of Veterans Memorial Park was made.
This was the end of Bass Creek as a waterway, but the actual death of a living stream did not occur without a struggle. The great spring at the head still flowed. In time the water seemed to find a way to reach Lagoon Pond. Yet the spring still flows, somewhere under the ground, to mingle with the waters of Mud Creek. Under the baseball diamond, the benches, the patches of sown lawn and the rest of the park, lie the old water-way, the fishing-place, the shipyard site and all the other features of centuries ago which lay along the banks of the ancient estuary, Bass Creek.
Compiled by Cynthia Meisner