From the Things Insular column in the November 3, 1967 edition of the Vineyard Gazette:

Fall descended on Martha’s Vineyard in one fell swoop of standard time and cold air. Persons went from bathing suits right into fur coats with alacrity, and then looked a little puzzled by the quick change.

For the first weekend no summer people could be discovered anywhere. None had come for the weekend, and all those who had been in residence had fled the coop.

Harbors also were desolate and drear. Yellow oilskins had been traded for hunter cyclamen and boats were used for transportation, not pleasure.

Winter has just taken one giant-step.


The small burial plot, an enclosure with a single headstone, near Dodgers Hole on the Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road, is passed by countless unnoticing motorists every year. Yet it is a landmark with a certain lonely mystery and, once reminded, most Vineyarders recall it well.

The history of the place is meager and the oldest Islanders can only guess who might have been who took such pains to enclose it, building the low wall with care, finishing-off the gateway with cut stone posts which once bore chains to prevent animals from entering, as the rusted eyebolts in the posts testify.

The story as it is repeated today tells of the migration of one of the Island Norton families to northern Maine. A member of the family was Sarah, who was buried here. She married Joseph Wilbur, described as a giant of a man. It was said that she wanted to be buried at this spot which then commanded a distant view of the church spires of Edgartown, and that her husband ordered that his grave should be dug on the eastern side of hers and “mounded high” so that she might not see the spires after all.


All things conspired early Sunday afternoon to bring Middle Road, that ancient way coursing through the Chilmark hills with a charm that succeeds in disguising its purposefulness, to its annual climax of breathtaking beauty.

The sun shone with a light that had an October mellowness, illuminating and intensifying the colors of the trees, those by the roadside and those on the distant hillsides. For the human eye, intoxicated by so rich a mixture of warm hues, the occasional glimpse of the sea, pale blue in the sunlight and stretching to a horizon that seemed too high, offered the kind of sensory-teasing contrast that velvet offers to satin or that whipped cream offers to fresh strawberries. The human eye was teased to linger, to move slowly, to drink in and store up this heady panoply against the day when the seasonal mood changes, and Middle Road acquires its winter look.


Since last Thursday night, one down-Islander has busied himself asking other down-Islanders if they knew what part of the fishing shacks at Menemsha, and indeed, a part of the Basin itself lay in the town of Gay Head and not in Chilmark at all. So far, none did know it.

Of course, it wasn’t news at all for the Chilmarkers who attended the public hearing last Thursday on the question of permitting George V. Emin to build a timber pier into the basin to support a dining room, which would be an offshoot of The Galley. Only the down-Islanders present seemed confused when Lynn C. Murphy produced a 1939 layout and commented that it looked to him as if Mr. Emin’s proposed pier would come within only a few feet of the Gay Head town line.

At his earliest chance, the down-Islander looked not only at the 1939 layout but also at a plan submitted by Mr. Emin, and sure enough there was the line separating Chilmark from Gay Head, running not straight down the Creek as most down-Islanders have assumed it did, but at an angle across the spit into the Basin and then back again at another angle, giving Gay Head a pretty generous slice of the pie, including part of the ground on which Mr. Murphy’s shack stands. Rep. Benjamin C. Mayhew’s lobster house is partly on Gay Head soil too.

In an oblique way, the discovery that a small part of Menemsha lies in Gay Head helps justify the fact that the Island Coast Guard station is still called the Gay Head Coast Guard Station, for although the headquarters building and the boat station are both on Chilmark land, the coastguardsmen have to cross Gay Head land to get from one to the other.


There’s always another telephone story. One this week is about an Island woman who, as sometimes happens, dialed a wrong number. An operator came on the line and inquired what number she wanted.

The Islander gave the number and said, “Shall I dial it or will you?”

“I’ll dial it,” said the operator. “What is your number?”

The Island woman gave her number and it began with 693.

“There isn’t any 693,” said the operator. “We don’t have any 693,”

“It’s right here on my telephone - 693.”

“Where are you?” asked the operator.

“On Martha’s Vineyard.”

“Oh,” said the operator, and that made things all right, though still a bit odd.

Compiled by Hilary Wall