From the March 8, 1974 edition of the Vineyard Gazette:

Memo, personal and confidential. To: the world off-Island. Re: the difficult decision, in view of life’s little uncertainties, whether to summer on Martha’s Vineyard.

Tip: he who hesitates goes to the end of the line. Time’s running.

Real estate agents and hotelkeepers canvassed by the Vineyard Gazette this week agreed with few exceptions that advance rentals and reservations for the summer of 1974 are just about exactly comparable with commitments in the two previous Marches, precursors of boom years.

One exceptions had to do with prospects up-Island.

“A lot of people are deeply interested but thus far noncommittal,” said James B. Howell of Howell Real Estate in Gay Head. “Some want to know whether we can guarantee them gasoline once they get here. It’s no disaster — just a matter of making up their mind later.”

In contrast, “It was slow to pick up,” said Jane Creato, a partner in Gentle’s Realty of Edgartown, “but in the past two weeks a lot of people who had been on the fence have decided to go ahead and sign up now and worry later about gasoline. We had a busy day yesterday ­— phone never stopped ringing, and we had 15 or 20 down-to-business inquiries and five or six in the mail.”

Beverly King, an agent in North Tisbury, another up-Island community sensitive to the recurrent alarms over gasoline supplies, said that activity has been slower this year than last and that the possibility of shortage is a factor. “People aren’t saying no,” she added — “Just ‘wait and see’.”

The relative remoteness of the three up-Island towns — Chilmark, West Tisbury and Gay Head — is an element in the Joint Transportation Committee’s recommendation that a public transportation system be established on the Island this summer. The proposal has been endorsed by the Planning and Economic Development Commission and the Chamber of Commerce, and the All-Island Selectmen’s Association last week voted to support continued study.

The Joint Transportation Committee’s {J.T.C.) report on the possibility of initiating a tax-subsidized summer bus service on the Island was described to the county commissioners Wednesday as a contingency plan to guarantee summer residents mobility in the event of emergency. The J.T,C, had indicated financing through the county budget as an acceptable alternative to organization town by town of a regional transit authority. In the three larger down-Island towns agents said flatly it will be a normal summer ­— or better.

More leases have been signed and returned now than was the case at this time in 1973, said Corinne Cornell of Carlyle Cronig’s office in Vineyard Haven. She encounters questions about gasoline, but there’s a run on the rental period running from mid-August through Labor Day.

“Even in wartime August was an excellent month,” said Thomas L. Flynn Jr. of Edgartown, “...and so will this August be. Considering the number of new hotel and rooming accommodations in town, it’ll be a good season. But you’d better let people know prices aren’t going down.”

“As good as ever,” said Eleanor D. Pearlson of Tea Lane Associates and the Cornerway in Chilmark — “we don’t see any difference from previous years. Inquiries are equal, maybe much greater; people still want their holiday here, a sandwich, meals, shopping around for land. As good as ever.”

“We’re getting inquiries at a rate comparable to business at this time in 1973,” said Robert D. Arcudi at Oak Bluffs Realty. “I’ve noticed this: people are requesting longer rentals — two weeks rather than the one of other years, four rather than two.”

That interest in staying longer on the Island brought itself to the attention of Charles J. Feeney Jr., operator of the Martha’s Vineyard Family Campground in Vineyard Haven.

“People are not going in this year for weekend trips, but they’re sure as hell going to take a vacation,” he said. “Within 200 miles of the Island, within a tankful of gas, are 50 to 80 million people. People are looking for a place to settle down with an $8,000 or $10,000 camper for the summer.”

During the week the morning lineup on streets leading to service stations dwindled to the vanishing point. Evidently Island dealers, who organized in January to deal as an entity with a shortage that was or seemed critical then, had proved a variety of points.

On instructions from the Division of Standards, an extra allocation of 15 per cent was released to the Island early in the week, Rep. Terrence P. McCarthy announced.

Added allocations will be station by station, Mr. McCarthy said, and the two up-Island stations, serving consumers remote from any other source of supply, will get “a little extra.”

“What it means is that there’s no longer any reason for anyone to be up tight,” he said. “What can be said with certainty is that the outlook for March is good and as for summer it’s better and better.”

Compiled by Hilary Wallcox