Spirited From the Oct. 25, 1968 edition of the Vineyard Gazette:

Getting ready for Halloween has a special and even awesome significance for parents of young children. Other people might think that the holiday arrives in a burst of freshness and spontaneity on Oct. 31, but they have not seen the process of “getting ready.”

It begins, actually, when the first pumpkin arrives at the grocery store followed not long after by the first shipment of orange and black candy, and soon the primary question of the household is: “What will I be?”

The question wouldn’t achieve such domestic magnitude if the answer to it came in unambiguous singleness. Alas, with at least three weeks to think about it, the young potential hobgoblin will usually think of at least one alternative, and, as with most affairs of life, where there’s an alternative, there’s the anxiety of coming to a decision.

For instance, two little boys of the Gazette’s acquaintance have been, are now, and will be until the last possible moment in a dither of indecision. One can’t decide whether to dress up as a parody of that form of life that is just beginning to intrigue and fascinate him — a girl — or to be a spider. The other is in an agony of indecision, fully explored every breakfast, lunch and dinner, weighing the advantages and disadvantages of being a jailbird or Bat Fink, who, the uninitiated may find it rewarding to learn, has “wings that are like a shield of steel.”

The parents sit back, waiting for the day when a decision must irrevocably be made, knowing that ultimately it will be they who must figure out the way to fabricate spider’s legs, bat wings or a ball-and-chain.

Old-timers, back in the hand-lining days, used to talk about the September pocketbook, referring to the end of summer fishing and what they had been able to accumulate up to that point.

It’s different today, and you may lay to that, but still there are things to report from all soundings, and still Cap’n Donald Poole, last of the hand-liners, is engaged in those pursuits followed by the generations that lay astern of him, when the days grow shorter and the witch-fire shows at night.

As we have indicated, he will be laying over the ledges alone, shortly, hauling codfish, and salting-down some of ‘em anyhow. No oldtimer ever went codfishing without laying down a supply for his own use and that’s a fact.

And Cap’n Donald has sufficient faith in the future to lay some plans ahead, for the day dawns before too many moons when he will have a new boat and we mean a NEW one, laying to his dock in Menemsha Basin.

For the rest, and checking far and wide, things looked as if otter-trawling has picked up some last week. But it also looked as if there were a good many juvenile-sized fish in the haul and something else that we didn’t quite understand, for running ahead of a good many of the Fulton Market prices were these letters; “F Q” which means “fair quality” and accounts for some of the low prices paid.

We heard from Cap’n Louis Larsen, who is still doing very well with his lobsterpots in the offshore ledges. We heard from Cap’n Harold Lawry, who had dumped his second trip of long-lined sword and sailed for the third time. He had a good trip too, and prices went up some on sword last week.

Never such an October on the Vineyard as this?

Just 60 years ago the George A. Hough family stayed late at Fish Hook on the North Shore. An entry in the household log for Oct. 11, 1908, said: “Exceptionally warm to date.”

On Oct. 15, 1908: “Late swimming record broken . . . went to the beach and had a fine swim.” Friday, Oct. 16: “Fine hot day. Thermometer registered 85 in the shade . . . The October haze made the sun a globe of red fire which could be gazed at long before sundown and cast a blood red reflection on the waters of the Sound.” Saturday, Oct. 17: “Whole Hough family in swimming today — latest dip in the Sound in the history of Fish Hook. Fine August-like day . . . The temperature has been too high for fires on the hearth now for several days.” Sunday, Oct. 18: “Another fine warm day. Unprecedented fall weather . . . and a fine swim . . . Magnificent weather in the woods, although the walk up from the beach was as oppressive as on an August afternoon.”

Monday, Oct. 19, 1908: “A strangely smoky day . . . The sun had the appearance of a great round but of copper and there was no bright sunlight all day. The sun was completely obscured by the dense smoke at 3 p.m.” This effect was due to forest fires at some distance from the Vineyard. “The wind began to blow from the northeast and developed into considerable of a gale before sundown. The wind completely swept the smoke away and the evening was starlit and cool with falling temperatures.

A bleak northeaster blew on Oct. 20, but by noon on the 21st the sun had appeared “and the afternoon was delightful.” The 22nd was a “fine, bright day,” and so was the 23rd. The Fish Hook house was closed for the season on Oct. 24 in “splendid warm weather.”

Compiled by Hilary Wallcox