Holidays are great for nostalgia — hopefully not the visions of the Ebenezer Scrooge type from A Christmas Carol but the personal, warmer ones of times past. Returning from a recent random errand I was gifted the luxury of a moment of time while driving down County Road to reflect back to when we looked forward to rainy days and trips to the state lobster hatchery where the “Biggest Lobster in the World” lived with her gazillion tiny children. The kindly old guy there was always ready to help you look into the great big tanks, just in case they were filled with the bigger lobsters that could grab your nose since you couldn’t see in without the bucket he’d help you stand on. In later years, platforms were built so the kindly old guy didn’t have to grab you by the shirt so you wouldn’t fall in.

I didn’t know it then but kindly John T. Hughes’s father had built the state lobster hatchery in 1948. John started the hatchery in 1949 and managed it until 1978 when he retired. Mr. Hughes received several awards after his service and the building was appropriately named the John T. Hughes Hatchery and Research Center in 2012.

Up until 1984 when it closed, it was said that 10,000 visitors would visit each summer. There were haphazard attempts to use it in the ensuing years and the final disappointment came in 2010 when the state determined it wasn’t feasible to reopen it, principally due to a lack of evidence that it enhanced the lobster population, a “fishery in deep trouble.”

In 2011, the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries announced it would invest back into the facility for use by the Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group. Today the hatchery is used to grow shellfish; clams and quahaugs and soon bay scallops to repopulate the ponds. Probably as important as a food source and for employment, shellfish help clean ponds — and the Lagoon certainly needs the help. Seeding the ponds with shellfish is a way to decrease nitrogen pollution, and having the hatchery located right on the pond is certainly convenient.

Unlike when the state lobster hatchery was the home of the “Biggest Lobster in the World” though, there isn’t much to see and with a small dedicated and principally volunteer staff, well, there won’t be much visiting. You can help too. The Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish group is supported by the Lagoon Pond Association and others, and if you would like to contribute, you can on their website:

Remember there is a holiday open market at the Ocean View Restaurant on Saturday, Dec. 5. Free Christmas card photos, even Santa Pet portraits, are on the menu which also includes music and vendors. From noon to 3 p.m. there will be free horse drawn hayrides from the Strand Theater and traveling through Cottage City. A spectacular and spontaneous puppet parade starts at the foot of Circuit avenue at 2 p.m. (although telling you that kind of reduces the spontaneity). Also on Saturday, Offshore Ale hosts an old fashioned Christmas from 2 to 4 p.m. with cookie decorating, ornament making and caroling for the whole family. ‘Tis the season, and more activities are planned in Oak Bluffs for the entire month of December.

The basketball boards and hoops are up at Niantic Park and there’s a layer of hydro seed on the playground surface. It seems the old stop sign on Pocasset at the old corner with Katama avenue may be unnecessary. The roofing of Union Chapel is being replaced — I like the red contrasting shingles being used for decoration of that historical building — and long for the day when the original roof can be replaced.

If you haven’t noticed, this holiday season the Vineyard Gazette is donating 25,000 seed clams to the Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group. For every new subscriber until Jan. 31, 2016, the Gazette will donate another 1,000 clams. If you make it a gift, the Gazette will also send a certificate acknowledging your contribution towards saving our ponds. Although you can read the Oak Bluffs column and the other town columns online they’ll actually look better on paper, in glorious black and white, on your table with a cup of hot chocolate this holiday season. Surprise someone with a subscription for the holidays.

Keep your foot on a rock.

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