From the Sept. 21, 1976 edition of the Vineyard Gazette by Phyllis Meras:

Harold D. Rogers remembered how Everett Whiting, of West Tisbury, class of 1927 never would stay in his seat at the old Dukes County Academy — not even when the teacher, Mrs. Gorham, tied him to the floor-to-ceiling post be­side his desk. He simply shinnied up it.

Mindwell Augusta Littlefield of West Tisbury and Vineyard Haven, came to the academy reunion Saturday carrying her diploma dated the 13th of June, 1904, and proclaiming that she had “honorably completed the English course of study as proscribed for the high school and by intellectual attainments and correct deportment is entitled to receive this diploma.”

Jane Look Brehm, though much younger, was always put to study with the Littlefields. “In those days, the seats were double. You had to sit with somebody, usually a sister. I hadn’t any sisters, so I sat with the Littlefields. Clara would always help me with my lessons, but Mindwell said, ‘Do it yourself.’ Mindwell Littlefield, who has spent her working life as a teacher, injected a little sheepishly, “I was already plan­ning to teach. That must have been why.”

Willis Gifford of West Tisbury, class of 1912, recollected his father’s telling him how headmaster M.C. Mitchell had vaulted through the schoolhouse window on his crutches after a recalci­trant pupil and his own first schoolhouse licking, for lighting a candle when the teacher kept him after school until it was dark. “I thought I’d give her the idea she shouldn’t keep us so late. She thought she’d give me an idea, too.”

Members of the notorious class of 1944 (which declined to be more ex­plicitly identified), the last eighth grade at the Dukes County Academy, chuck­led as they recounted the events that led to their being peremptorily sent down to Vineyard Haven, to the stern rule of Principal Henry Ritter.

“The teacher kept us in one recess to write get well notes to Eddie Cottle who’d broken his arm. It was all right being asked to write to him, but not at recess! The teacher was a new young one and she was foolish enough to leave the room. We figured without pen­cils we couldn’t write our notes so, we threw our pencils out the window. She came back and found out what we’d done and told us we’d have to write in crayon then. So when she went out, we threw our crayons out the window.

“After that she really was exasper­ated. She said we’d have to study if we weren’t willing to write our notes. So when she left the room that time, we threw our books out the window. It was just about then that the superintendent of schools came by and found all the books fluttering in the breeze.”

Dionis Coffin Riggs of West Tis­bury, 1911, recalls her first day at Dukes County Academy, where she arrived in October as a transfer from Edgartown. She didn’t quite understand the seating system, and ended up planking herself down to share a seat with a boy. “Poor Bert Cahoon!” Harvard University an­thropology professor John Whiting, Dukes County Academy class of 1924, said he had been asked once in Kenya to tell what American education was like. “I told about going to school in West Tisbury, and they were astounded that such primitive education could take place in this country. Primitive? My message is ‘small is beautiful.’”

Saturday afternoon the air was soft over the academy reunion which an es­timated 300 attended.

Hamburgers and frankfurters — many courtesy of the West Tisbury Fire Department — siz­zled and spat on grills set up behind the school. Jamie Alley, class of 1972, was in charge of providing the special awards. They went to former teacher, Doris Farquhar Correllus; to Harry Athearn, 1955, the alumnus who had traveled the least distance to attend the gathering (he jumped the fence from his home behind the library); to Edwin N. Woods of Santa Maria, Calif., the alumnus who traveled the farthest (from California) to the reunion; to Miss Littlefield, the oldest graduate in attendance; to John N. Athearn, 1964, as inspirer of the event; to Bernice Humphreys, the special teacher award; to George Magnuson Sr., the Santa Claus Award for having played Santa Claus at the school more often than anyone else; to John S. Alley, 1951, the coach award; to Emory Francis, 1952, the Last One award, for having been last oftenest in that schoolyard game; to Jenny Manter, 1970, the class clown award; to Mrs. Riggs, the longest marriage award; to Jeffrey Manter, 1966, the best attendance award; the youngest alumnus award to James Taylor, kindergarten, 1973, and the mystery award to Jamie Alley.

James F. Alley, 1945, said the afternoon startled him a little with the wave of nostalgia it brought with it. He said it made him realize how fortunate he was for “having had the best parents a child could have and for a fine educational start, and for having grown up in the best damn town in America.”

Compiled by Hilary Wall