From the August 26, 1938 edition of the Vineyard Gazette:

“Social but considerate — that describes this community of Chilmark, and that’s what I like about it,” Arthur Garfield Hays, famous New York lawyer and author, pointed out while poring over the new book he has recently completed in his small cottage up-Island. “The thing is,” he explained, “they’re glad to visit with you when you haven’t anything to do, but they won’t bother you when you don’t want to be disturbed. That’s what I call a community that’s social but considerate.”

His cottage sits high up on a hill by Vineyard Sound and overlooks most of Chilmark and all of Menemsha. It is one of a group of many fairly well separated houses and is approximately one mile from the main road to Menemsha. Mr. Hays claims that it is an ideal spot to write.

“This place is just planned for writing,” he said enthusiastically.

The famous New York lawyer’s living room in Chilmark is overflowing at present with parts of his new manuscript which he has stayed up to 5 o’clock in the morning some nights to complete. It will be published next fall under the title of This Talk of Capitalism. He explained that his main point in the book is that “no ism can work out anything.” The United States, as it always has, will gradually improve, and, he went on to explain, if we can judge anything by history, we will work out our own destiny.

Mr. Hays is spending his first summer on the Vineyard, but he hopes, although he doesn’t actually expect, to return in subsequent years. He said that it is impossible to write a book in New York, where he lives in the winter, but Chilmark is just the place to get away and compose something worthwhile.

“There is a comfortable house here,” he said. “I also like the spirit of the people around here. In fact, I like every one I know on the Island. They are all what you might call ‘kindly people’.”

Mr. Hays, who is a graduate of Columbia and has degrees of A.B., M.A. and LL.B., has practiced international law in Europe and has figured in a number of important cases such as the Sweet case in Detroit, involving Black segregation, and coal strike cases in Pennsylvania. He appeared for the defendants in Berlin and Leipzig, Germany, who were charged with the burning of the Reichstag in 1932, and he was chairman of the Progressive Party state campaign in New York fourteen years ago. At present, he is the national director of the American Civil Liberties Union, and he is the author of four books in addition to the latest one yet unpublished, besides having written a number of articles for different magazines.

The influential New York lawyer is an ardent New Dealer and has pointed out in his newest book, This Talk of Capitalism, that under present conditions, the government must take a large part in bringing future prosperity to this country.

“It should no longer be left in the hands of the individual bankers and industries,” Mr. Hays insisted.

He went on to point out another factor which makes it easier to write in Chilmark is that there are no electric lights.

“When there are only oil lamps such as these,” he said, pointing to the ones he had scattered about the room, “a column of light is put on whatever you are working on, instead of having light spread all over the room, as with electricity. These oil lamps make it easier to concentrate.”

Now that his new book is completed, Mr. Hays will have more time for his favorite pastimes here on the Vineyard, swimming and tennis. He pointed out that he really enjoys sailing more than other types of recreation, and that he does a great deal of it when at his summer home in Long Island. However, he just hasn’t had the time here to go in for any sailing at all.

As for traveling around the Island, Mr. Hays says he goes down-Island merely to visit but that he prefers to remain in Chilmark. He went there for only two days last summer and liked it so much that he decided to go there for all summer this years. However, he does not think it possible for him to return for many summers from now on, although he would prefer to stay here rather than in any other summer resort.

The lawyer-author revealed that the only item he put in his new book which concerned the Vineyard was about the living conditions here on the Island.

“There is one type of house,” he said, “the beautiful old houses which have been here for years. The next kind of house found here are the cheap-looking ones of the General Grant period. Now, however, houses are being built again so that they fit into the landscape. The type of dwelling on the Vineyard is getting back to the old-fashioned house which blends harmoniously with the countryside.”

Besides the revival of the beautiful houses on the Vineyard, Mr. Hays is very fond of the Island also because “there is no swank,” as he puts it.

Compiled by Hilary Wallcox