From the Vineyard Gazette editions of May, 1955:
The project of the regional high school is now before the Island towns again. We believe it is still true that no authority in the field of education has recommended any other solution than this for the Vineyard’s high school problems. This does not mean that a regional school plan can ever represent perfection. It does mean that educators find here the conditions for which a regional school is most nearly ideal, and that such a school can offer better opportunities for Island children than any other.
But people have their preferences and attachments, too and no one should assume that the last word has been said on either side. The last time around, Tisbury voted against the regional school, and it would be unfortunate if any other town or group or person should be in the position of attempting to tell Tisbury what to do. Tisbury will decide for itself. We all realize, just the same, that Tisbury’s answer is of critical importance because it will settle one way or the other the fulfillment of the regional high school project for the entire Island.
At this moment the town of Oak Bluffs is taking the momentous step of the beginning of its polio vaccine program, the first series of shots being administered to all first and second grade pupils whose parents authorize the procedure. There was as yet no certainty whether the turnout of youngsters would be 100 per cent. This was the response in Oak Bluffs when the matter first came up a few weeks ago, but so confusing and uncertain have been the authorities at the top of the program that it is possible that parents here as well as elsewhere may delay this preventative treatment for their children.
The understanding is that several of the Island physicians are loathe to have their own children inoculated at the present time because the national picture is so confused, with changes of heart and attitude every day in Washington. One doctor said the incidents of polio here had been so slight that the problem is not an imminent one. He agreed, however, that no one can say where infantile paralysis will raise its head or how deadly it will be.
Assurance by the Navy that there will be no jet plane training on Martha’s Vineyard except in case of mobilization or some other acute need — conditions under which no one would offer objection — ends another Island anxiety. There are some questions, however, that should not be left hanging.
Was there an immediate threat that jet training would be established here? The fact is that the plan to adapt the Vineyard field for jet training was completed in considerable detail and if there had been no objection, funds for the project would have been asked; and would the type of training contemplated mean the virtual end of the Vineyard as a summer resort — the speed and noise and power of the jets, the altitude at which they would fly in maneuvering, the limited space of the Island, the fact that the resort industry is an outdoor industry? A recreational industry may sound like play, but the Island’s $20,000,000 summer resort business is just as real a contribution to the overall economy, and just as real a means of livelihood as that of any other business.
It is easy for anyone who wishes to do so to assume that defense of the 2,977,128 square miles in the United States depends upon jet training in the Vineyard’s 100 square miles. We do not go along with this, nor do we think that uncritical endorsement of every proposal of every Army or Navy officer is the equivalent either of the higher patriotism or of superior judgment.
Telephone progress caught up with Chilmark yesterday and this up-Island community is now using dials. We suppose that from the standpoint of telephone technics, dials and the old-fashioned hand-crank telephone have little or no resemblance, but from the standpoint of the rural subscriber they have this in common: the subscriber handles the operation himself, which is highly satisfactory to independent people.
As a matter of history, the hand cranks went out down-Island in 1929 when the new Vineyard Haven exchange was opened and operation was shifted to what is known as the common battery system. Up-Island the cranks stayed until 1938 and not everybody liked the change either. Those cranks were pretty handy, and many a time when down-Island was cut off by storm, some up-Island areas kept their own telephone conversations going.
Most of us have not the remotest idea how these wonders are accomplished and in this respect, even today, we are a little like the West Tisbury subscriber in the early days who hesitated to hang freshly washed clothes on the telephone wire for fear they would shoot right off to Vineyard Haven, through the brush, along the roads and cross country.
Compiled by Alison Mead