From the Jan. 2, 1970 edition of the Vineyard Gazette:

Tumult and turmoil, say the sociologists, have been the characteristics of the off-Island 1960s. Across America, there have been assassinations and riots and sit-ins. Only occasionally have the 1960s had glimpses of the glory of man.

Perhaps it is because Vineyard Sound, sometimes lapping softly, sometimes curling angrily, separates the Island from the mainland, or perhaps it is because Vineyarders are a different breed from mainlanders (though probably made that way, too, by the water that surrounds them) but the Vineyard’s 1960s have not seemed so discontented and tumultuous as those elsewhere in the nation.

There have been the fires and the accidents and the disappointments that invariably mar a 10-year period in the history of mankind, but there has also been more than a usual abundance of generosity and joy.

In the decade just past, Gay Head has become a National Landmark; the rolling moor and woods and beach of Cedar Tree Neck have been preserved as a nature sanctuary; Felix Neck’s varied terrain has become a guarded precinct for wildlife; Wasque Point, the solitary, lonely end of Chappaquiddick where the sea “rolls like moving mountains on the shore,” has been saved for future generations by gifts of $170,000 that kept it from the hands of entrepreneurs. Dodger Hole Swamp where “the pinkletinks sing like sleigh bells” was a gift to the Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation in memory of Mrs. Henry Beetle Hough, who liked so much to listen to the spring frogs there. The Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation also received 64 acres on the Middle Road and a 14-acre North Tisbury tract.

Altogether, there have been more good works and good times than bad in the Island’s 1960s.

President John F. Kennedy dropped over from Hyannis for an afternoon in 1961, and swam with his wife and daughter off Chappaquiddick, in what, assuredly, was one of the happier moments in his short life.

Miss Helen Keller celebrated her 81st birthday with Miss Katharine Cornell at Chip Chop. The Gazette’s Wheelhouse Loafer, Joseph Chase Allen, was 70 on Jan. 1 1962, and it was recalled at his birthday party how an off-Island child who had visited the Vineyard was asked, “What is Martha’s Vineyard?” and replied “It’s Joe Allen surrounded by water.”

“If you want to know how to make a well sweep, what whales eat, where Leif Erikson landed, and whose great grandmother had a glass eye and smoked havanas,” ask Joe Allen, his son Everett S. Allen, said in a tribute. “If you are five and have whittled a half-dozen wooden boats and split every one, he will show you how to make the sixth one without splitting it and will encourage you to do so instead of giving up.”

In 1962, Bonnie Scott looking for Easter eggs at the Veterans of Foreign Wars 15th annual Easter Egg Hunt at Petaluma Park, found a baby rabbit for which she received $1, even though the prizes were just for eggs.

The same year, the Oak Bluffs scalloper, Stanley M. Fisher, got quite a catch off Block Island. A violent jerk nearly spun the 83-foot boat about, and before long the nuclear-powered submarine Nautilus surfaced, well entangled in the scalloper’s nets. The captain ordered his crew to clear the nets, and the Nautilus disappeared into the fog.

Cape Pogue bay scallops graced the White House table in the ‘60s. At least two shipments of them were known to have found their way from Oscar C. Pease’s boat, via Gordon F. Schurtleff, to the Executive Mansion.

In the 1960s, the Vineyard like much of the rest of the Northeast experienced a blackout one Tuesday evening from 5:30 to 9 p.m. But it was taken in stride by Vineyarders, who simply heated their beans over the fireplace embers and found that such cooking imparted a smokey flavor and made for a pleasant change. Christmas candles and kerosene lamps, long tucked away in cupboards and attics and dining room drawers, were brought out in the darkness to sparkle in windows on country lanes.

There was a considerable number of Vineyarders in the last decade who joined freedom marchers in the South. The Rev. Henry Bird of Grace Church was arrested in Williamston, N.C., following a nonviolent integration demonstration. Dr. Robert W. Nevin went to join him. Earlier, Woolcott Smith of Lambert’s Cove and East Lansing was arrested in Jackson, Miss., for refusing to leave a waiting room.

On Noman’s Land, a war almost began when the Reserve Sea Bees, without warning, began to shoot flares. The alarmed Coast Guard at Menemsha thought there might be a plane crash and sent the 44-footer bounding across the Sound. Machine gun fire and explosions like land mines met them. The Coast Guard landed and firing seemed directed exactly at them. Then a message came that it was all “just pretend.”

Frank Sinatra’s 168-foot Southern Breeze dropped anchor in Edgartown harbor with Mia Farrow, Claudette Colbert, Merle Oberon, and Rosalind Russell as well as Mr. Sinatra aboard. And for days Island air was heavy with gossip.

Compiled by Hilary Wall