From the August 1929 editions of the Vineyard Gazette:

The waning of August brings once more one of the traditional great days of the Vineyard’s summer season, Governor’s Day, with the evening illumination of the Camp Ground at Oak Bluffs. The event this year falls upon August 29th.

During the last few decades the taste of the great American public for spectacles has changed very greatly. When these illuminations at what was then Cottage City began, if we are not mistaken, Barnum’s Museum was a world marvel. Looking back at the things which people considered wonderful, how strangely old-fashioned they seem. Once the human race was all agog at wax works, cycloramas, balloon ascensions, ten story buildings, and pantomimes. Hundreds of hearts thrilled at sights which our sophisticated age would not cross the street to see. We mention this because we find it all the more remarkable that the illumination of the Camp Ground is still a spectacle to command interest and respect; modern ingenuity and the onward march of art and science have not relegated this institution to the storeroom of old-fashioned entertainments.

Old-fashioned though it may be, the illumination is still among the most impressive and beautiful sights we know. Anyone who has entered the charmed circle of Trinity Park on a fragrant summer night lighted above only by stars and on the ground only by what seem to be a myriad Japanese lanterns floating in the air, does not forget the experience. This occasion is not artificially contrived, and the only mystery it holds is that of the eternal darkness of a summer night. The beauty is that of numberless lights, near and far, suspended in a great circle, the dimensions of which are magnified greatly by the effect of night and the swinging lanterns.

The Camp Meeting is a venerable institution, now past its hundredth year — a unique record, we believe — and it is pleasant to reflect that despite its age it is still contemporary. We hope the illuminations continue for years to come.


So the up-Island telephone lines are to be changed over to the common battery system! This is a transformation of great and far reaching proportions. Gone will be the old-fashioned wall set with the little crank; gone will be the long and short rings. Gone will be a whole generation of telephone customs and habits.

No doubt the Edgartown exchange will soon be changed to the common battery system also, perhaps before the summer season of 1930. In anticipation of this day when the whole Island will have dispensed with cranks and “country lines” of precious memory, we suggest that the telephone company present to the Dukes County Historical Society one of the old time telephones that has seen real service up-Island. In years to come it will be an interesting and valuable memorial of a stage in the history of the Island system of communication. It may seem strange at first to think that generations will be born which will never see a hand-crank telephone of the old type in use. Yet this is the case. As a heritage to the future we should like to see such an instrument, a scarred and seasoned one if possible, placed with the historical society.

The telephone system has been growing modern and more modern with the years. We recall when it was a daily event on an up-Island line for all the telephones to jingle out a long and rambling ring. All subscribers on the line would come to their telephones to hear Central give the weather report and the correct time. This custom, a valued one, was abandoned long before radio and such devices came into existence to take its place.

We suppose that the time-honored practice of “listening in” will likewise taper off and die. Probably it will have few mourners, although it had many devotees.


Moving day at the new Martha’s Vineyard Hospital was quietly accomplished last week, and this Island institution is now off with the old and on with the new.

The new structure seems to be admirable in every respect. We daresay that many visitors to the hospital these last few weeks have wished that they had such a setting for a summer home. Whatever pleasant and healthful surroundings can do for patients will be well done here.

The design and arrangement of the new building impresses the visiting layman as one of great convenience and efficiency. The place has a business-like and practical feel about it. This is heightened by the clean and airy operating room and the other rooms associated with it, with their modern equipment. As for the rest of the building, it is charming and comfortable in every detail. We doubt if there are many hospitals upon which so much taste and care have been expended with such good results.

Now, at the beginning of the useful career of the new Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, congratulations are in order for the whole Island, for those who conceived and executed the building, and for those whose fortune it may be to make use of the splendid facilities provided.

Compiled by Hilary Wall