From the December 20, 1968 edition of the Vineyard Gazette:

“It’s the first time Christmas lights have been seen on this hill,” said Miss Margaret Webster as she contemplated her efforts, and enthusiastically looked forward to spending her first Christmas on the Island.

Miss Webster came to the Vineyard in 1939 and two years later bought her house in East Pasture in Gay Head.

“This was Billy Ryan’s grandmother’s place,” she said, “and since Gay Head didn’t get electricity until 1951 or 1952 there couldn’t have been any light.”

Since the house, perched high with a view of Menemsha Pond and the Atlantic, can be seen for miles, it is a happy sight and nicely proclaims to all Miss Webster’s delight with everything she does.

“My house is a mess now with all the Christmas wrappings,” she said waving at lots of red paper. It wasn’t a mess but it was a hive of Christmas enthusiasm. Miss Jane Brundred, who is staying with Miss Webster, added to the scene by addressing Christmas cards, and Miss Webster expressed her pleasure with a German Christmas card and was opening each little door on the appointed day.

Besides the industry of Christmas, Miss Webster has a massive stack of proof to read for her new book, The Same Only Different, which is the story of her theatrical antecedents, subtitled, Five Generations of a Great Theatre Family. This is Miss Webster’s second book; her first was Shakespeare Without Tears, written a number of years ago and still in demand, mostly as a text book.

The first set of proofs had been corrected and Miss Webster felt these would be easier but nonetheless, as she flipped through the pages, she said, “It’s quite a lot of book. Frightens me, rather.”

Miss Webster has recently returned from a trip to Australia where she spent two and a half months lecturing and giving recitals in colleges.

“In Australia,” she said, “they know nothing about American actors and theatre. Almost no American actors go there, which is mostly due to the scale of payment.

The Australians were interested in America and during the Chicago riots they often asked in disbelief, “You don’t dare go on the streets alone at night?”

Miss Webster took delight in telling them that she lived in a township almost entirely Indian and she would explain that in winter there were only about seven or eight non-Indian voters.

Living in Gay Head has its charms, and since the seasonal residents travel a fair amount, the place is a cauldron of new ideas and pastimes. One year John Fuller introduced the southern European game of Boules and since then it has become to Gay Head what croquet was to Oak Bluffs.

Boules is played with a red jack ball at which the combatants aim heavy metal balls slightly larger than a tennis ball. The ball which lands nearest the jack is the winner, as in bowling on the green.

“Gay Head plays against Chilmark and the teams are of varying composition,” Miss Webster explained. “And the measuring is most passionate. Yvette Eastman is a whiz with a tape measure.

“If you could see us all with our rears up. Last fall Bosley Crowther brought something like dividers for measuring but they didn’t match Yvette’s tape.”

The best surface is a flat sandy court and out of season the parking lot at the Squibnocket Association is commandeered.

“How envious we were last spring,” Miss Webster confessed, “of that new tennis court. One of us should really make a court out of one of our alleged lawns.”

Adding to the excitement of Miss Webster’s first Island Christmas is the thought that it is the first of many because she and Miss Brundred have just bought the Lewis house on the corner of Spring and William streets in Vineyard Haven. It is one of those charming white ones with green shutters which was built in 1898 and managed to survive the fire.

Miss Webster has sold her London house and plans to make Vineyard Haven her most-of-the-year roost.

“Jane found it while I was in Australia,” she said. “We are doing some remodeling and turning the dining room into a kitchen, but it’s hard to get anybody to do anything.”

There is the possibility that Miss Webster will be making a tour of Europe for the State Department in March and, “You know,” she said, “if they do anything in the house, it will be in February.”

Mis Brundred, who has lived on the Island for 10 years, plans to stay and oversee the work. In the meantime they are hoping it doesn’t get too cold, because although the Gay Head house has heat, they’re not too sure the pipes and water pump can stand a bad freeze.

Miss Webster seems to bubble and one suspects it is a permanent way of thinking which keeps the phases of her life so exhilarating. Undoubtedly she’ll sparkle from her hilltop as brightly as those Christmas lights which shine for the first time from the little house at the top of the hill in East Pasture.

Compiled by Hilary Wall