From the Nov. 7, 1958 edition of the Gazette:

“We must be sending one of these things to everybody in the country, right on up to the President,” said the luckless member of the Edgartown Police Benevolent Association who was in charge of licking the 500 envelopes containing requests for support of the annual Halloween party.

Come to think of it, said Chief F. Hudson Worden, there was a letter and an envelope left over, so why not send one to the President? And they did, more to introduce some levity into the monotony of sending out the letters than for any serious intent.

“I never dreamed that I would hear from the White House,” the chief said this week, displaying a letter written on the starkly simple letterhead of the President’s office.

“Thank you for your letter to the President,” it said, “telling him about the Halloween party being planned by the Edgartown Police Benevolent Association for the children in your community. “The President wishes very much that he could do as you ask. However, he has received such an overwhelming number of similar requests that it is not possible to comply with them. I am indeed sorry but am sure you will understand.

“Sincerely, yours

“Wilton B. Persons.”

The chief did understand, indeed and would like the President to know that the party was a grand success anyway. There were refreshments and favors for every child, and the older children danced during the evening to the music of the El Dorados.

The costume judging was the distinct success it has proven to be at the four previous Halloween parties sponsored by the organization.

The winner of the twenty-five silver dollars, the first prize for the most original costume, was won by Hayden Wannamaker, son of Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Wannamaker. Hayden, a third grader, made his appearance as a particularly grizzly cave man, covered in oddments of fugitive furs.

A Bo Peep, who turned out to be Cathy Convery, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Robert E. Convey, won the second prize of fifteen silver dollars.

In times gone by, few attics of the Vineyard were without some copies of the journal called The Friend, edited and published at Honolulu by the seaman’s chaplain, Rev. Samuel C. Damon. No whaleship returned from the Pacific voyages without The Friend on board.

One issue long preserved on the Vineyard is that of Sept. 24, 1844, containing this notice:

“To Whom It May Concern: If Mr. Herman Melville, formerly officer on board Am. W. S. Acushnet, is in this part of the world, and will call upon the seaman’s chaplain, he may find several letters directed to this address.”

Herman Melville had been no officer on the whaleship Acushnet, but a foremast hand, and as of that date he was on his way home, fresh from adventure in the valley of Typee, and his mind perhaps already groping toward a masterpiece of the world’s literature. No one can say whether he ever got his Pacific mail.

When oldtime Vineyarders have the urge of reminiscence, the newer generations will do well to listen, for the like of such stories will not be told again. The people and ways of the Island have changed. For instance, there was Capt. Consider Fisher, usually known as Sid, who at one period operated the Chappaquiddick ferry. Once at prayer meeting in Edgartown the faithful were giving testimonials as to how religion affected them and the courses they were trying to hold through this worldly life. Uncle Sid’s turn came, and he rose to speak no less fervently than the rest. But he checked himself suddenly after a few sentences, “I’m sorry this is so short,” he said, “but Nancy Hanks is sculling around town looking for me to row her to Chappaquiddick, and I’ve got to go now."

As good a way to fall asleep as any, and perhaps better than counting sheep, is trying to remember things as they used to be in the Vineyard towns. For instance, one may begin naming over all the places in Edgartown where there have been restaurants — a surprising number. In the uptown of what is now the Edgartown drugstore, Ben Tibbs had a restaurant almost forty years ago. There was one for a time in the Blanchard house which stood where the A. & P. now is; and across the street in the Colonial drugstore the Katama Lunch served the public for a period. A succession of restaurants occupied part of the present Connors Market building, and on the other side of Main street where the Island shop now is, the late Julia Earle operated successfully for quite a while. Capt. St. Clair Brown needed both floors of the building across from the bank where the Country Store now is, when his Captain’s Table was flourishing. Next to the bank the Smiths have had their summer restaurant more recently, and down Main street, below Water, the old stand of the Hallowells has yielded to the Edgartown Cafe. Upstairs over the Harborside Liquor Store was a well-remembered restaurant, also run by Julia Earle. There are a few more, but by this time sleep should have descended.

Compiled by Hilary Wallcox