From the August 27, 1991 edition of the Gazette:

Hurricane Bob blew in with a name like a pro wrestler on a rodeo star, and he left some odd phenomena behind.

August 19 dawned dead calm with a few minutes of sunshine before the dark dome of clouds rolled across the sky. In the hours leading up to the strike on Vineyard shores, the sky moiled, glowing at times with a nauseous green.

Bonito were spotted jumping in Edgartown harbor early that day and the waterfront gave off a strange odor one observer compared to fresh milk at mid-morning Monday.

In Chilmark, Chappaquiddick and Oak Bluffs, wide swaths were cut through the trees in places, moving some to speculate that tornadoes touched down as Bob moved through.

In Gay Head the storm surge washed over Lobsterville Road. The sea water was colored red, perhaps from the dissolving red clay at the cliffs.

In the aftermath beaches were littered with debris. Gay Head beach was covered with starfish and tiny lobsters, Squibnocket was awash with mussels and the North Shore with eel grass.

The old John Donnelly house on South Beach rotated 45 degrees in the wind, but the chimney remained in place undamaged. The only visible damage to the house was the hole where the chimney once opened inside.

The Pilot’s Landing path to the Gay Head beach ends a good six feet above the sand, a large bowl cut out of the low bluff where the path once met with beach.

Cook’s Spring beside State Road stopped running briefly in the days following the storm.

A boat in Vineyard Haven harbor was picked up and thrown over the jetty, suffering little more than scratches.

In the days after the storm the sea remained a sandy color and reeked of rotting fish.

Bee stings were the main preoccupation of emergency room personnel after the storm. Ten stings were treated by Wednesday and nurses advised countless callers not to worry if an allergic reaction does not show up within half an hour. Perhaps in the absence of wildflowers, washed down in the storm, bees sought nourishment elsewhere. An apple core in the parking lot of Squibnocket was spotted on the ground Saturday, alive with layers of bumble bees.

Gay Head proved itself a community apart in the days following Hurricane Bob. This windswept town on the western tip of the Island suffered the least damage in the storm, but low trees and brush, grapevines and berry bushes are brown today. Sheets of salt, torn from the sea, were sprayed from one end of the land to the other, burning out the flora.

Not a single electric pole was disturbed, so when Commonwealth Electric Co. finally powered a line past West Tisbury through Chilmark, the light returned. The first power came up just after 5 p.m. on Friday. Yesterday the electric company was still working to restore power in isolated parts of the other two up-Island towns.

The town’s one-man highway department, Forrest Alley, has been working alone since Tuesday to clear debris and trim hedges on the roadside. He also helped the fire department work through the storm Monday to keep the roads clear.

A small population made it possible for officers from the Gay Head police department to stop by every house in low-lying areas and advise residents to evacuate in the hours before the storm. Some 8 people spent the afternoon in the Gay Head town hall, with lights, hot coffee, radio and even television news, thanks to the town generator.

A cup of hot coffee was available at the cliff shops on Tuesday morning. The Wright Place was open for business the day after Bob came through, the Aquinnah Shop was open Wednesday and all of the retail shops on the cliffs were open by Friday.

But the power outage still cost restaurant owners dearly. David Vanderhoop spent most of the day Tuesday trying to get a refrigerator truck up to the cliffs. He took a shipment of clams and lobster meat just before Bob arrived and was force to dump $10,000 worth of food by the time the refrigerated truck arrived. The restaurants were running on propane and generators until the power was returned. On Saturday the tour buses reappeared, finally venturing across the crippled roads of Chilmark and West Tisbury.

Like the Hurricane of ’54, Bob pushed saltwater over the Lobsterville Road into the Wampanoag cranberry bogs. The last time that happened the water level dropped under the sand, but the cranberries survived. The effects this time remain to be seen.

The biggest changes came on the south shore where dunes were moved back and several paths became blown out with the storm surge. A large opening in the dunes is visible from Moshup Trail just past the entrance to Old South Road. An opening into Squibnocket Pond was closed again.

But the town’s independent spirit made Gay Head a place to weather the hurricane of 1991.

“It just shows we live right up here,” said Maysel Vanderhoop as she stopped by the Aquinnah Shop for breakfast after Bob came through last week.

Compiled by Hilary Wallcox