From the Feb. 22, 1935 edition of the Vineyard Gazette:

Snowdrops bloomed in profusion in the yard of Albert O. Fischer, Vineyard Haven on Saturday. Spring is not here yet, but it is drawing rapidly nearer.


It is more easy than not to become mixed up over the spelling of Vineyard names. One of the phases of the renewed controversy over the lease of Edgartown Great Pond by the Mattakesset Creek Co. is the necessity it will occasion for frequent use of the name Mattakeeset. The former spelling is that used by the company; the latter is more in accord with the actual pronunciation. Dr. Banks gives the spelling as Mattakeset. The name, he says, may be derived from Matta (or Mat)-auk-es-et, meaning “at the bad place” — perhaps a bad place for canoes, or for cultivation. Or it may come from Namat-ak-es-et, “at the sitting down place” – perhaps a ferry crossing. The old hotel at Katama advertised itself sometimes as Mattakeset Lodge and sometimes as Mattakeeset Lodge. There is some authority in the printed page or in tradition for almost any spelling of the name upon which one may strike.

Katama has been spelled as Cotamy and as Kuttamy. These old spellings, perhaps, account for the way in which the name is usually pronounced by the older people of Edgartown. One hears Katamy more often than Katama from those who have had long acquaintance with the name and the place.

One of the main objects of the present day is to prevent the old names from being further corrupted; there is no reason to try to improve them by going back to older spellings, unless actual violence has been done. Ordinarily it is enough to maintain them as they were passed on to us. But Keephikkon (or Keipheigon, or Keephickon) should not have become Cape Higgon, and the change is apparently not irrevocable. The similar change of Capoag to Cape Pogue is complete for good and all, on the other hand, but Cape Pogue has more to commend it than has Cape Higgon.

Fortunately there are a great many of the best names that admit of just one obvious spelling, such as Squibnocket, Menemsha, and Wintucket.


The good ship Grayhound, Cap’n Joe Authier, master, is once more afloat and fitting for her trial trip. The talk of the waterfront, all hands are eagerly waiting the opportunity to see her under way. The application of house-building terms by her builder has aroused no small amount of comment. Thus the skipper refers with calmness to the “rafters” of her cabin and the “ladders” by which he will go aloft. Surely such terms were never before heard alongshore.


At last! The first sign of the spring that had been given up as lost at sea. The first indication of the breaking up of winter, a winter that has shriveled the souls and frostbitten the heels of the hands who have been obliged to brave the inclemencies of the weather. And this sign? The appearance of the welcomed tips of curbstones, peeping above the snow! The loosening of the ice packs in the heads of harbors, and the good old sou-west fog that burns snow like hell fire burns celluloid.

Last week was a funny spell of weather anyhow, and a funny darned week all the way through. One man’s meat is another’s poison, says the old proverb, but it wasn’t any too good for anyone last week. Here’s why. We had a fair run of weather, moderate, not too cold, and not too much ice inshore. All hands went out as usual and lined it for the banks sou-west of Noman’s. If they had followed things up vigorously, as is usual, the amount of fish landed locally would have been way above the average catch, for the yellows ran as well as usual, there were some blackbacks, the first in a long, dry spell, and a decided increase in the number of cod, which are running to nice market size, with a few large mixed in, but no small ones and no scrod.

But this mild spell of winter ran the length of the coast, and down off the Virginia Capes and to the s’uthard of that, the dragger fleet from the north, and the seiners from the south, put out and mopped things up to a fare-thee-well. The result was a market that was loaded to the coamings with out-of-season fish. New York was stacked chin deep to a giraffe with scup, see bass, flukes and bluefish and there were so many of them that besides knocking the market on native fish all to pot, the price of these souther fish was also slapped down until a fourteen-carat gold fish was hardly worth the price of pickled lobster-bait.

To top it all off, Boston was buried with haddock and cod from the eastern banks, and altogether the gang got the least cash for the most fish that they have received in a long spell. And that is just about the whole of the sordid tale of the fisheries for last week.


“And now,” say local and long-distance weather prophets, “we are due to get the heaviest snowfall of the winter!” Some local residents are wondering whether it will pay best to work up a lame back and a flock of blisters shoveling snow or to go into complete hibernation until June.

Compiled by Hilary Wallcox