From the May 10, 1963 edition of the Gazette:

Vincent’s Fish Market, conducted by David Vincent, a landmark on the Oak Bluffs harborfront for more than sixty years, for the past seven years under the present ownership, is in the process of moving to the Oak Bluffs steamboat wharf, abandoning the former site entirely.

The work of transferring the equipment is virtually complete, and the market will reopen on the wharf in late May. Mr. Vincent has announced that his market will be completely modernized, making full use of the former ticket office, which will lend itself to the operation of cutting-room, shucking-room, tank-age and retail sales. The latter will include the sale of bait and fishing tackle.

The new market will present a display of stainless steel, enamel, and newly decorated walls and fittings. Pumps will supply the lobster tanks, both on the lower dock, where some three tons of live lobsters have already been stored, and in the market proper, where a limited number of lobsters will be kept on display and for convenience in filling retail orders.

Refrigeration, lobster steamers and other equipment will be in a department separated from the retail market, and the atmosphere of sea and salt breezes will be felt within and without the establishment, including one of the finest parking areas on the Island.

Mr. Vincent had applied for a beer license for a proposed clam bar in his market, but he said early last week that because of the objections voiced at the hearing a week ago, he had decided that he would not handle beer in his fish market under any circumstances.

The clam bar will be operated by Mr. and Mrs. Harry Abdelnour as lessees. They are widely known as the proprietors of Harry’s Laundry, and have been operating restaurants and refreshment shops in Oak Bluffs for eighteen years. Their last establishment of the kind was the Waterfront Ice Cream Parlor in the Tivoli Building. As this building is to be removed, the Abdelnours will reestablish themselves in the new location.

This place will be called Nancy’s Snack Bar, and it will handle a variety of foods, including everything carried by clam bars everywhere. Lebanese dishes will be an additional specialty. They are natives of Lebanon, and are familiar with the traditional dishes.

Elsewhere in this edition is reported the removal of Vincent’s Fish Market from Lake avenue, Oak Bluffs, to the steamboat wharf in that town.

Always a seasonal business, there has been a fish market in Lake avenue building for more than sixty years, and for the greater part of that time the pier, still known as Church’s Pier, has been a fish pier and a dock for general purposes involving the small craft.

Memory goes back almost sixty years when the late Coleman Church was the managing owner of both the market and the pier, when handline fishermen docked catboats at this dock, and carried their catches of flounder, bluefish and squiteague up to the market, there to be iced down, in the literal sense, for there was no refrigeration. The stock-in-trade of Church’s Market was stored in huge, wooden chests with broad lids that lifted to expose the fish, buried in chipped ice.

Lobster boats came here too, as did catboats from Menemsha Creek, docking at the weekend to bail out live lobsters from the fish-wells, and an occasional boat would bring in a swordfish or a barrel or two of scup or sea bass.

There were some fishermen who brought more fish than the market could handle. For these, the proprietor had barrels and ice for shipping to mainland markets. Packed right on the wharf, these barrels were carted by dray to the steamboat pier.

Old-timers would remember some of those fishermen who made a market at “Coley” Church’s, in those days, Skippers all, such as Henry J. Cleveland, Ernest J. Dean, Everett Poole, and John Randolph. There were others, as well, some from the mainland who fished the rips at certain seasons and marketed at the nearest port.

But there were other activities around Church’s Pier. Party boats, all cats, and pleasure craft of the same rig and design but carrying owners and guests, at times lined both sides of this dock, except for the couple of berths reserved for the fishermen, a gay fleet of dazzling white, much bright varnish and creamy sails, for few of them had engines and those were very small and were used only when necessary.

It was a bright spot then, and it is still a bright spot, for the party boats and pleasure craft dock there still. The present dock is larger and necessarily heavier of construction, because the boats are larger.

So the fish market goes from the long site where it has stood for so long. But there is still an old-timer or two who can remember Coley of those days, thin, wiry; always rushed as he ran from cutting bench to customer, and his two little boys who begged for a lobster when the boiler came off the fire. “Just a claw, Dad!” they said, after the way and manner of all tiny boys who know how to pester indulgent parents.

Compiled by Hilary Wallcox