From the October 30, 1959 edition of the Vineyard Gazette:

Should we say something about Halloween? Probably not, for Halloween speaks for itself. The omens are bright this year, the themes of Halloween festivities are set, including plenty of fun and a sizable amount of helpfulness, as demonstrated for several years past in the UNICEF program in Vineyard Haven.

May the candles shine out from within as in the old days, and the kindly heart shine out no less as in the new times. Halloween may yet join the ranks of the warm and welcome holidays, spells, witches and all.


A terrifying storm swept the Island late Saturday afternoon and evening, bringing what some judged to be the heaviest thunder and most vivid lightning of the year, accompanied by a virtual cloudburst that flooded streets, beat into buildings and gullied road-fills and cuttings. Little actual damage resulted, and what occurred was largely due to the wind which came before the rain.

One round trip on the Island ferry was canceled, the 2:30 from Vineyard Haven, not because of wind or portents, but because the tide rose so high at Woods Hole that the dolphins were dearly under water, making docking hazardous. The Nantucket steamer, however, turned back from the Vineyard and went to New Bedford, due to weather predictions and the possibility of trouble on the Shoals.

For the rest, fire pumps were put to use in Oak Bluffs because of the floods, cars made heavy weather of the pools and lakes in Vineyard Haven and highway departments in several towns reported gullying on road shoulders, not to a degree that might have been dangerous, but necessitating prompt repairs.

The storm, though violent, was of short duration, and its influence on the weather was contrary to all expectations. For whereas the local prophets all looked for a northerly set to the wind and a drop in temperature, the sky cleared while yet the wind was in an easterly quarter and when the shift occurred, it went southwest, bringing back summer weather and sunshine.


That Saturday afternoon and evening’s rainfall was torrential, everyone is agreed. But as to how many inches of rain fell there is great disagreement among the weather instruments, with the facts probably lying somewhere between them.

The predicament is clearly visible in the disparity between the total registered by the government rain gauge in the editors’ yard, which gave 1.89 for the entire storm, and that of John G. MacKenty, a few miles away on the Edgartown Great Pond shore and nearer the ocean, which came up with 4.82. And there’s a third force to reckon with, for now the West Tisbury school has armed itself with a gauge and reported “three and three-eights inches of rain over the weekend.”

That the government instrument failed in its mission to some extent was obvious to it guardians who looked out at the height of the storm and watched the rain swooping across the top of a car some fifty feet from the gauge. It seems clear that the force of the wind and the ferocity of the rain, tended to let a great deal of the precipitation fly past the gauge.

On one point there is agreement. It was a tremendous rain.


All inhabitants hereabouts are deep in the experience of autumn. This is quite a different thing from taking a walk to view the unbelievably vivid colors of the swamp maples, tupelos, sassafras, sumac and company, recurring marvel though the spectacle is. It is quite a different thing from looking on at any of autumn’s manifestations, from lonely, orange-bright and stirring sunset and afterglow to driven northeast rain or that unseasonable crackle and roar of thunder and lightning in the sky.

You can’t just take a look at autumn. You can’t stand by. More than any other season, even summer itself, autumn cries out to be lived.

The devices of civilization and industrialization have brought about a separation of the human race from much of its old associations in the natural world. The automobile, for instance, gets people to all sorts of places, but as fast and as powerful as it may be, it gets them no closer to the brink of living. In New England and on the Vineyard it gets them no closer to autumn than — a view.

Here the autumn enters the blood stream, the lungs, the mind, the memory, the imagination. Autumn is a hound that shrills, says a poet, and the poet is right. Autumn is also a distant campfire, a host of stars, a mountain of cloud, an idyll of tranquil blue, a bugle call of brilliant colors, a hymn, a memory for all tomorrows.

The outdoors, one supposes, is in the process of closing up for the winter; not entirely, not in New England where the human race meets even winter on its own ground, but all intents and purposes as a going concern. This is the last chance, the sky says, and the horizon says, and the smoky haze beyond the woods and the hills says always. Autumn. Live it now with zest and dedication.

Compiled by Hilary Wallcox