From the February 15, 1929 edition of the Vineyard Gazette:

Democracy at its best, in the institution of the good old-fashioned town meeting, functioned on the Vineyard this week when the voters of the three larger towns, all on the same day, had the privilege of speaking out over their affairs. A number of interesting and noteworthy things happened.

Most spectacular, perhaps, was the new achievement of fire chief Antone Alley in getting the town’s support for his request for two new pumping engines. This will give Oak Bluffs four pumpers, an equipment far beyond the dreams of a year or two ago. Vineyard Haven, too, has set aside the money for a pumper and the purchase, when it is consummated, will make the sixth on the Island. The automobile pumper is the most effective instrument for fighting fires and the big strides made in the interest of fire protection are inspiring of confidence. Even those who opposed the Oak Bluffs purchase can hardly help congratulating Chief Alley on the demonstration he has made of the solidarity and efficiency of his department.

Edgartown voted a pubic bathing beach, and Vineyard Haven a public pier which will open a new area to bathers. Both acts are in the interest of the whole Island as well as of the towns concerned and are steps toward a conservation and guarantee of the enjoyment of Island advantages for the public of the future. In the vote on taking the Edgartown coal wharf property, which turned out to be a sort of symposium of opinion, the result showed strong sentiment that something should be done about obtaining a town wharf. New roads and bridges, road building machinery, and street lights figure in the favorable decisions of the meetings and the improvements will all help the up-building of the Island.

The 1929 town meetings pass into history, but the action growing out of them will make itself felt for a long time as the results of foresight are increasingly realized.

The new telephone building at Vineyard Haven is a notable structure. It brings home to all who observe it the modern notion that business buildings can be, indeed should be, attractive to look upon. Just as the telephone skyscrapers recently built in a number of large cities are among the best examples of architecture and among the most admired buildings of the country, so the same policy — which combines good business judgment with civic spirit — brings to places like Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket finely conceived buildings in the local tradition.

The character of the new building symbolizes the public nature of the service which the company renders. It implies a consideration for the whole community, and a claim to a certain type of leadership as an Island business. And all this the Islanders will be glad to accord to the company in appreciation for its having built so well.

If it is good business for the telephone company to erect a fine building the question will naturally occur as to why other businesses should not do likewise, with advantage to themselves. The idea that beauty pays is so new that it has not made half enough progress. We hope that the telephone building will help it along.

With completion of the structure and the installation of new equipment, a large part of the Island will change over from the hand crank telephones to those which require no ringing. And what a consummation that will be! We suppose some will look on sadly at the passing of the little old crank on the telephone box because of its long and honorable history and its quaintness. But nobody will mourn much for quaintness with such an advance in service which has so long been dreamed of.

To talk of booming Martha’s Vineyard is as natural as breathing. Out of some of the hopeful talk comes real progress, and out of some of it comes nothing except the encouragement and satisfaction which the talk itself supplies at the moment. In some respects the event has surpassed the dream; and in others the dream died aborning.

In 1849 the Gazette said of the Vineyard: “Why should a port so excellent,” the Gazette asked, of Edgartown harbor, “and so excellently situated, lack for shipping and business and increase?”

On the Island we should have “manufactures and mechanic arts. We would see around us the business of producing some great stables of commerce, in large quantities for various markets; we would have busy industry at home, bustling streets, well-plied wharves, fully occupied shops, and a prospering Island.

“With enterprise and attention, there is nothing to prevent this becoming one of the favorite watering places of the coast. Why might it not come to rival Newport itself? Less probable things have often taken place.”

As with the predictions of so long ago, the forecasts of today will in part prove to be full of truth, and in part fall to the ground. At any rate, in the words of 1849, “Who, then, says we cannot do such things? Who does not rather say, —try?”

Compiled by Hilary Wallcox