From the Oct. 20, 1933 edition of the Vineyard Gazette:

The approach of cool weather once more brings the seagulls of the Vineyard into the public eye. Probably the most sagacious of all feathered creatures, publications from coast to coast have carried the almost unbelievable tales of the nearly human activities of these birds. Not the least of these is the experience of Capt. Charles B. Cleveland of Vineyard Haven while fishing in Vineyard Sound last week.

The captain, one of the Island veteran fishermen, was fishing for sea bass from an anchored skiff and as he cut his bait, which consisted of small mackerel, his attention was attracted by the antics of a large gull that swooped back and forth over the boat, evidently attracted by the oily slick which the bait made on the water.

Just as an experiment Captain Cleveland held up a backbone that he had just taken from a fish, and the gull swooped lower, taking the tidbit from his fingers. Again the captain held up a morsel, unfit for baiting his hooks, and again the gull took it. Thenceforth, for the rest of the day, the captain fed the gull waste fish that he discarded from his tub of bait, and while he fished from the stern-thwart of the ten foot skiff, the gull perched calmly on the bow, rising each time food was offered, and settling back at ease while awaiting more.


A sperm whale, about 30 feet in length, blew and breached for several hours near the west end of Middle Ground on Wednesday afternoon. This point is about abreast of Lambert’s Cove in Vineyard Sound, and the sight of a whale of any species in this vicinity is something that few men can recall.

The whale was seen by Capt. Edward W. Cleveland of Vineyard Haven who was fishing nearby and whose boat was closely approached by the whale. Captain Cleveland, who has been a sperm whaler, knows his cachalots far too well to be deceived, and opined that the whale was sick. It was fairly active, however, and showed the length of its back several times during the three or four hours that it remained in the vicinity.


The first trip of fall cod, 18 fish, was landed on Monday by Captain George Butler. Cod are still scarce on the regular grounds, reports the skipper, who regards the water as being too warm for fish.

Captain Frank Smalley and Jesse Smalley Jr. spent the night aboard the captain’s power launch Eagle, anchored off Cedar Tree Neck, on Saturday. An engine that declined to perk was the trouble. The wearied mariners were towed to port on the next morning by Captain Arthur Lamphere and his crew from the Gay Head coastguard station.


Efforts of the Mattakeeset Creek Co. early this week to close the beach opening of the Great Pond were the subject of argument among Edgartown shellfishermen who, aroused by the fear that the closing would jeopardize their interests, questioned the legality of the company’s efforts. The fishermen contend that the pond is now an arm of the sea and as such could not lawfully be closed.

Under the terms of their original charter, members of the company said, they were entitled to control, besides use, the waters of the pond. Without this protective control granted them, it was said, the company would never have undertaken the expense of the creek from the head of Katama to the pond. With the right to control the waters of the pond the company feels it is privileged to attempt the beach closing.

The report was generally circulated that work at the opening on Monday and Tuesday had closed the breach but that on Wednesday the opening was back, wider than ever. It was said by those in charge, however, that the efforts had been unsuccessful and that what ground had been gained had all been lost.

The lease of the creek company expires in 1936, contrary to the common belief that it ends in 1934. It was pointed out yesterday, however, by the company that in 1924, when permission was received from the town to renew, the old 10-year lease had still two more years to run.


The choicest bit of longshore gossip that has come Skiff’s Island way during the past week is the report of the activities of Cap’n Horace Hillman on South Beach. Gales and storms of last winter nearly wiped out the cap’n’s real estate on the side of the beach where he goes for goose shooting. But equal to most emergencies, he gathered together a small army of men, trucks, horses, oxen, and a few shiploads of equipment, and fared forth to the beach last week. Curious spectators followed to see what happened, and behold, Cap’n Hillman moved the beach back to his goose camp! This is news of as important variety as the man biting the dog, and all along the Edgartown waterfront the gang are saying that if Horace takes the notion into his head, he is likely to pick up the whole of the beach and slide it inshore four or five miles. He might at that. There is no limit to what a man can do with planks and rollers, if he knows how to handle ‘em.

Compiled by Hilary Wallcox