From the Feb. 21, 1936 edition of the Vineyard Gazette:

For the first time this winter, there were no boats from the mainland to the Vineyard on Monday. And the cause was not ice packs, barriers or bergs. The steamer got through to Nantucket on Sunday, when the shift of wind and rising temperature loosened the ice pack that blockaded that island. Both boats started on their regular morning trips on Monday, and the same favorable conditions prevailing, they both went through to New Bedford. The temperature continued to rise, however, producing a dense fog, and although both steamers started from New Bedford in the early afternoon, it was necessary for them to go out through the mouth of the bay. Because of the fog and ice and the dislocation of the buoys, both put back to New Bedford, and by 4 o’clock in the afternoon Vineyarders were informed that there would be no boats from the mainland. With either the fog or ice alone to cope with, the trips might have been made, but the combination of the two involved too great a risk.


Mainland publications took what appeared to be ghoulish glee in reporting that Martha’s Vineyard was cut off from communication with the mainland.

Nothing could have been further from the truth. The fact that both Island steamers were blocked by ice and fog in New Bedford, due to lack of foresight more than anything else, did not mean that the Vineyard was cut off, or that any suffering appeared imminent.

The Vineyard can supply its own transportation in emergency, and did so in this instance, Eben A. Thacher operating on schedule throughout the time that the steamers were tied up. And in case anyone should inquire as to what that schedule might be, it simply means without delay. For the Thacher was not hampered by ice, despite the published reports, and did not require any assistance.

And all the difficulty was due to the characteristic difficulties attending the navigation of Buzzards Bay, which Vineyarders generally regard as a rather poor example of inland ditch, created by the Almighty in a moment of absentmindedness.


Romance goes hand in hand with seafaring today, even as it did in years gone by. The seafarer who sails away from his home port encounters all adventures, and all thrills as witness the experiences of the crew of Eben A. Thacher, held for five days at Cuttyhunk last week.

Carl Merry, the only bachelor aboard, drew the unlucky straw on the toughest night of winter and was elected to go ashore and buy a pack of cards. He set out in the snow, gale and darkness, and was gone so long that Cap’n Joe Pinto began to consider organizing a rescue party to search for the missing seaman and bring him back to the steam heated shelter of the Thacher cabin. But at length Carl returned, buoyant and light hearted, in spite of his hardships, and telling a strange tale of adventure and romance.

Gallied by the wind and driving snow, Carl lost his bearings as he traversed the highways of Gosnold, and struck into the desolate hill country where habitations are few. Wearied, near exhaustion, and perishing with the cold, he dragged his weary feet toward a light which glimmered through the driving snow, and collapsed against the door as he strove to knock for admission. The rest of the tale is in his own words:

“There was a girl, a wonderful girl with a face like a flower, and a figure like a fairy! A peach of a girl with a heart of gold. And she gave me ice cream! Ice cream, by Judas! Boy, I can hardly wait to get back to Cuttyhunk!”

And the rest of the Thacher’s crew say that is just Carl’s luck.

“Heave him into a frozen ditch and he’ll come up with a hot mince pie in each hand!” they growl.


While ice-bound at the port of Vineyard Haven, Cap’n Zeb Tilton has been making repairs to the cabin of his vessel, which was recently damaged by fire. The repairs are about completed, and the living quarters aboard the schooner rival those of many a yacht.

With reference to the weather and the exceeding coldness, Cap’n Zeb harks back to the tales of his childhood, and this is what he says:

“Good @lb&!! This is nothing to what those old timers had to contend with! Why it was so cold in the olden days that the crows froze to death on their roosts, and hung from the limbs by their feet, stiff as sticks! Men froze to death while they were walking, and even with one foot in the air, ready to take the next step. They stiffened right up and died on their feet! And they had awful snowstorms, on top of that. That’s why they built the chimneys so big in all the old houses. When they had a real old fashioned blizzard, the only way that they could get in and out of their houses was through the chimneys! Why good @lb&!*! I thought everybody knew that!”

Compiled by Hilary Wall