From the June 24, 1955 edition of the Vineyard Gazette:

Martha’s Vineyard cherishes the memory of many localisms — sayings that were common on the Island in the old days. Some are variations of mainland sayings, some are doubtless just echoes, and some are completely original here.

“Am I too late to tea?” is a query that used to be put in West Tisbury especially, when someone was late in appearing for an engagement. The saying originated in early years when a young couple who became engaged were invited to tea at the home of a friend. They started on horseback, the girl riding behind her escort as was the custom. When the horse shied, the girl fell off and her escort, much in a hurry to partake of the good things he was anticipating, rode on, leaving his companion to reach her destination as best she could. He hitched his horse, bolted into the house, and asked, “Am I too late to tea?”

“I guess Long March will take some of it,” was an expression used when anyone had an extra supply of provisions for winter, meaning that at the end of the long month of March there probably would not be much left.

“High winds in old Cape Higgon,” referred to the difficulty the men of that Island area had in digging a grave for a man named Levi Davis. The weather was severe and many were called to assist before the grave was finally dug. For years when anything unusual took place, people would say, “High winds in old Cape Higgon, digging a grave for Levi Davis.” Later the first part only was used, and the latter part omitted.

Here are three old sayings about the weather:

“The stars ‘candle out’ tonight, and it will be thick weather tomorrow.”

“A nor’wester never dies in debt to a southeaster.”

“A southwester never dies in debt to a no’theaster.” These last expressions meant that the gale from the latter direction in each case would be heavier.

“As poor as Job’s off-ox” conveyed its own meaning.


The cute little red cottage on the Martha’s Vineyard National Bank property, on the edge of the town parking lot in Vineyard Haven, is not designed as a residence in that spot. Rather it is on display, a unique and impressive example of an Island visitor’s interest in the vacation spot that he loves best.

Martin Young, Oak Bluffs summer resident, of the E. C. Young Company of Randolph, has given this little house as a bonus prize to be awarded to the mainland visitor who lands the largest fish in this year’s striped bass derby.

The house is known as the California Redwood of Sportsman’s Lodge, and is 16x20 feet. It is a condition laid down by the donor that it must be located for use somewhere on Martha’s Vineyard.

Three generations of the Young family have fished in the Island bass derbies — father, son and grandson ­— and not until last year did any member of the family draw a prize. Yet Mr. Young is so enthused with the sport and has such affection for the Island that in donating this prize he said that he felt he owed something substantial to the Vineyard which has provided him and his relatives with so much pleasure.


John Ferreira, the horticultural wizard of County Road, Oak Bluffs, has figured in the Gazette columns before because of the wizardry that he has worked in the grafting and cross-pollinating of plants and flowers. Mr. Ferreira has produced some of the most amazing results of the kind imaginable and now he has brought out yet one more, a geranium that bears both white and red blooms on the same plant.

The geranium was on display in a show window at Leonard’s Motor Service in Oak Bluffs, this week.


It might be said that the Beach Road in Vineyard Haven was a center of industry long ago, though the nature of the enterprise has altered a good deal. Now the power plant, oil tanks, and boat sheds are situated along the curving line.

In 1912, Winthrop Packard, visiting the Beach Road, wrote: “Here once were built ships and here now are all the summer pleasure boats, stilted high on ways waiting to be painted and put in for the season. Here is the Haven’s electric light plant, its junk shop, its boat-building establishment and its blacksmith shop.

“Here is the wreckage of sea and land, spars and ship’s timbers, anchors, fish cars, anchor chains, bolts and boats. The blacksmith shop does iron work for sea and shore and I suspect it of shoeing sea horses as well as those from the stable. Round about it congregate all the land craft that have gone ashore on the stormy highway, all minus some needed gear, and gone into dry dock here in neighborly confusion, farm carts and carriages of state hub to hub, and all surrounded by detached and semi-detached wheels, axles, springs and all sorts of curious land gear such as no whaler could name in a week of guesses,

“It makes the region one of the most fascinating parts of the Island. Here is the visible evidence of ten thousand adventures, both of the sea and land.”

Compiled by Hilary Wallcox