From the August 6, 1943 edition of the Vineyard Gazette:

Katharine Cornell, nationally known star of the legitimate stage, pinch-hit for the hard-working clerks in Bangs’ Grocery at Vineyard Haven on Wednesday morning. In navy-blue slacks, with her customary kerchief missing, which allowed her short brown curls to ripple as she hurried about her task, Miss Conrell sacked up vegetables and fruit like a veteran grocer, only occasionally tossing a query as to prices, over her shoulder as she worked.

“One of the best clerks that ever tied a bundle in my market!” declared Paul B. Bangs, with emphasis.

Lady Katharine is a most versatile lady as the Vineyard knows, and is not raising her own vegetables this year simply because the Army needed her garden land for a camp-site and maneuvering ground. But she has a horse and cow on her estate, in addition to her dogs and drives the former into the village to save gas on her daily shopping trip and she attends to the needs of the cow at night and morning. All the dairy work falls to her, she explains, except the actual milking, although she could do that if it was a necessary. But she takes care of the milk, and, in addition, makes her own butter, thereby saving many a ration point.

A good portion of Edgartown’s populace, practically all who could get there, crowded around the courthouse lawn, Wednesday night, entranced — no other word will do — by the concert given by a band of the Engineer Amphibian Command. All ages were there, from the smallest of youngsters on up, and they gave the soldier musicians that most flattering of compliments, almost embarrassing attention, throughout the program. So great was the public response that the concert lasted nearly two hours, the shortest such units of time most of the spectators had ever spent.

Highlights of the performance included such a diversity of selections as a march dedicated to General Noce — head of all amphibians — the officers and men of the command, to a medley of children’s melodies — which enraptured old as well as young — and including in between Ave Maria, a blasting, tingling Hold That Tiger, and a trombone specialty with comic overtones.

As is usually the case, many got a great part of their pleasure by crowding as close as possible, the better to observe the players. This grandstand position disclosed that the soldiers themselves got a lot of pleasure in their performance, as disclosed, in spite of some frolicking, by their close attention to the baton of their conductor, chief warrant officer, George J. Perry.

One appreciative auditor asked the colonel in charge what could be done to repay the men for the pleasure they had given. The Colonel’s answer was that his boys were themselves repaying the Islanders for their reception here.

One of the most enthusiastic of those who heard the band was Edgartown’s oldest male citizen, Theodore S. Wimpenney, 93, who occupied a grandstand seat.

Lights for the musicians and their conductor were strung up by William P. Silva, who received a fanfare for his cooperation. The police force, under Chief James B. Geddis, were on hand, their efforts mostly needed to keep the crowd out of the players’ laps.

This summer is something like the summers we used to have — some say in the nineties, some say in the early nineteen hundreds, some say before the first Word War — it makes little difference, except that if you can’t remember the summers before the first World War you can’t remember the good old summers at all, or talk about them with a gleam in your eye.

Mostly it’s because of the comparative lack of automobiles and of automobile mileage. But there’s more than that to make people reminiscent about the seasons long ago. Summers used to be warm like this one, and the salt water would get really warm as it is now.

And there used to be lots of people around, as there are now, stranger smiling at stranger, and a sense of sociability without any irksome feeling of a crowd. The big things were bathing, walking, and bicycling, just as they are today. A swim at the beach was something in itself, a well-rounded summer occurrence, complete, satisfying, and not just an incident. Lately there had been so much distraction and so much choice of pursuits that people couldn’t stay still. They had no repose. They were always in a lather. Now they are as contented as if they had embarked on a sea voyage, and knew there would be no side-trips until next port.

How old fashioned the southwest wind is, and the sunlight, and the warm sea water! But can it be, perhaps, that one element in this old-time feeling, this old-fashioned atmosphere which wraps the senses, is that we are mostly a bunch of old people and children? The middle generation is away on business. Time is only relative, in sober truth, and it seems to shift backward and forward, and the cicada singing this August knows nothing of the year marked by the calendar.

Compiled by Hilary Wallcox