From the Vineyard Gazette edition of April 19, 1963 by James Reston:
Easter on the Vineyard this year was all shine and sparkle. The sun was warm, the moon and the ferries full, and the sea ruffled and smiling as if it were dreaming of June.
This premature glory seemed to surprise the visitors from the mainland. They were all a little out of season: the pessimists still dressed in their winter ski gear, expecting the worst; the optimists in their microskirts, expecting the best.
So there was a rustle in the silent streets and unmistakable signs of the coming summer: the tips of the dark branches barely touched and blurred with light green fist-tight buds; boats lapping and swelling and reaching in the water for the sunny days ahead; here and there a noisy, energetic householder dismantling the storm windows; and finally, swinging around the bicycle shed by the Vineyard Haven pier — harbinger of the coming tumult — a light blue Chevrolet proclaiming “McCarthy for President.”
There is something about going to an Island on the first warm and glittering day of spring that separates the seasons as no journey across the land can do. The fields are green beside the Boston road too, and some of them can even be seen behind the commercial clutter, but the natural world really takes over just beyond the shore.
A ferry knows how to say goodbye. We are not adjusted yet to the reckless departures of the big jet planes. They yank us into the skies, struggling for life against the natural forces of gravity. They strap us down, and tell us where the escape hatches are, just in case, and what to do if suffocating for lack of oxygen. Even traveling salesmen get a little moist on the upper lip.
But a ferry boat is a more comfortable monster. It has come to terms with the elements. It commands the water with that first sharp flick of its tail (just to indicate who’s in charge), and then glides easily into its wide turn for Vineyard Haven, and gives you a doughnut and a cup of coffee on the way.
Shelley sings of the flowering isles that lie in the “wide waters of agony”. Maybe he is a little melodramatic, but in a world that prefers profit to privacy, the little islands are now the keepers of our memory. The lovely white houses of Edgartown, with their improvised additions grafted on for the grandchildren, remind us of the days before the generation gap. The Camp Ground at Oak Bluffs, still a little bleak and forlorn this week, still stand as symbols of the old Chautauqua Circuit. And something draws us back to the past: some regret, some undefined and unadmitted longing, some respect for the things we mock.
This Easter was special for other reasons. For in the larger world, this winter was a time of contention, suffering, and death; war in Vietnam and something very much like rebellion on the mainland; and in the day before Easter, murder in Memphis, the retirement of a President to unite the United States, and the Capital of the Republic in flames.
Everything in the political world, it seemed, was out of order: the nations, the parties, the races - we even had a narcotics raid on the Island so the natural world had to make amends. It even came ahead of time, and the news suddenly improved.
“Wag the world how it will, Leaves must be green in the spring,” wrote Herman Melville. Mrs. Hariph Hancock and Mrs. Robert Goodale apparently agree. They reported to the Gazette that they had seen the first phoebe of the year, and tree swallows were sighted over the Stanley Murphy’s pond, and Mrs. Hancock added that the goldfinches are now almost in their summer plumage. In short, there is no goldfinch gap, and whatever is going on with the balance of payments, the balance of nature is apparently intact.
Easter weekend turned out to be a living symbol of what Easter is all about. New life, new colors, and evidence of a new year sparkled everywhere and hordes of visitors were here to enjoy it. They had come mostly by plane or the ferry, but a few hardy souls arrived in their own boats.
Three brave persons really outdid themselves by taking the first dip of the season in the surf of South Beach, and the more rational people rode bikes into every nook and corner of the Island. Some rushed the season by donning shorts and looked kind of funny with so much white leg protruding.
Spring’s newness was on the roads, too, in the form of glinting new automobiles.
Somewhere in a matter of minutes while no one was looking on Friday, the daffodils put in their appearance, just in time for the holiday. They looked gay and a little bit unreal.
Brown branches had green bumps on their ends before the weekend was over, and one tree in Vineyard Haven went so far as to actually bloom.
All in all, Easter exemplified the resurrection of many things. But then Monday came and resurrected winter, and made it all seem like a beautiful colored dream.
Compiled by Hilary Wall