From the Dec. 30, 1932 edition of the Vineyard Gazette:

We look back only a little while to find a time when the year 1933 seemed hopelessly remote, a meaningless contingency of the future. Now 1933 is here, and in a few days we shall be just as accustomed to it as we have been the past twelve months to 1932.

The year just closing is the year in which the depression came to Martha’s Vineyard. Twelve months ago we began to experience our first hard winter of the present hard times, although elsewhere the pinch had been felt much earlier and much more keenly. Many things helped the Island communities through the first test — our natural resources, a singular mildness of the weather, projects undertaken by the towns to provide employment, and the watchful generosity of the communities to see that help was forthcoming for those who could not help themselves. Then came the spring and summer, and, oddly enough, there was a much deeper awareness of hard times during the busy summer months than there had been in the winter.

If the summer of 1932 had been fairly prosperous there would have been no great hardship on the Island from the depression, for the summer would have more than atoned for the winter. But the summer, outwardly as busy and happy as usual, saw the first full expression of the panic psychology. People did not spend. All expenses were challenged, and economizing seemed to be a sadistic pleasure of the times. As a result, the summer went by and bank accounts and cupboards were still more or less bare. Naturally a gloomy state of mind was infectious. Yet the fall and early winter brought more cheer than anything else. The same factors which helped last winter, with the exception of the weather, stood the Island in good stead. And now the new year comes in. The lessons of 1932 do not yet appear — more time is needed to give perspective — but it seems clear that the Island should develop greater self reliance in the winter, with more extensive cultivation of the best of its natural resources, the shellfisheries; and that the business of summer should be more carefully planned, and regarded as an economic enterprise rather than as a series of windfalls.

As 1933 opens with its winter months, there is no cause for anything but confidence. We have seen enough of the depression not to be afraid of it, and we have found that there are ways of meeting unusual conditions.

Nothing has been done, so far as the public knows, about equipping the boats of the Island line with radio telephone apparatus.

The question came up first about two years ago when the steamer Nantucket was held in the grip of a storm between the Vineyard and Nantucket for many hours. No one knew where the boat was or how she was faring. If the captain had been able to talk by means of radio, he could have relieved the anxiety of those who had friends on board, and if necessary he could have asked for aid. In this case no help was needed, for superb seamanship brought the boat through.

The question came up again during the past summer when two Island steamers collided in the fog off Cross Rip. In this case, it has been asked whether radio telephone, by which the two captains could have talked and reported their position and their courses would not have avoided the accident.

There is one thing more — the radio telephone, now simplified so that it is in common use on fishing vessels, tugs and other craft — which, under some circumstances, might be important in avoiding risks. Why should this be neglected?

The week between Christmas and New Year’s might be known as Children’s week. It is a time when children, who have for some time been safely out of sight and mind in school rooms, are in evidence all day long, usually with Christmas presents which they are putting to energetic, and often noisy, use. Summer vacation is long and spread out. Christmas vacation is short and concentrated, and full of that intensive activity imparted by Christmas.

The most overlooked phrase of the Christmas spirit is that of excitement. For children, especially the very young, Christmas is probably more exciting than anything else. Eyes shine, cheeks glow, and young nerves are vibrant, first in a long accumulated, climactic anticipation, and then in an ecstasy of realization which has various degrees. This frenzy tapers off into the Christmas holiday, and fills homes and streets with laughter, occasional tears, and the strange noises made by Christmas presents. One cannot get the exact flavor of this winter interlude without the sound of a toy fire engine going or a shrieking of childish voices under the windows; the splashing of muddy water in the street puddles by brand new boots or the serious chatter of young designers building something or tearing something apart. But gradually the aftermath of Christmas disappears like Christmas itself, and life slows down again.

Compiled by Hilary Wall