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Chris Baer

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This Was Then: An explosion in Cottage City

An unkempt field lies across Uncas Avenue from the bowling alley today, crowned with a grim, decommissioned electrical substation and picturesque trees, surrounded by...

This Was Then: Vineyard Haven Brass Band

The 16-piece Vineyard Haven Brass Band stands at the corner of Circuit and Kennebec Avenues, Oak Bluffs, in front of what is today the...

This Was Then: Tricycle girl vs. the runaway

The Vineyard correspondent for the Boston Globe reported in 1886, “Cottage City has the crookedest streets in the world. They lead nowhere, and are...

This Was Then: ‘Rich Devils’

From 1908 until 1922 (or perhaps a few years later), Professor Edwin Treat ran a prep school for boys in Eastville. It was open...

This Was Then: The Perth Amboy

One hundred years ago this week, one day after the first (and only) German attack on U.S. soil in World War I, wounded survivors...

This Was Then: On bathing, bells, and birthday suits

The Vineyard correspondent of the New York Weekly Press reported in 1892 about a visitor from Boston wearing a tightly-clinging, unusually colored garment: “A...

This Was Then: Skipping the bathhouse

“There is bathing at all hours,” wrote a Cottage City correspondent for the Hartford Courant in 1873, “but at about eleven o’clock is the...

This Was Then: The Edgartown–Chappaquiddick Bridge

Our beloved Edgartown–Chappaquiddick Bridge was built in 1925, the same year that the Vineyard’s esteemed regional secondary school, Union High School, was finally erected...

This Was Then: Hinckley and Renear

Hinckley and Renear’s Vineyard Haven undertaking business was established in 1896 by Walter Renear, sheriff of Dukes County, and building contractor Herbert Hinckley. From...

This Was Then: Mittens and pies

“An Old Sailor,” corresponding with the Boston Globe in 1894, recalled visiting Holmes Hole as a young man in the 1840s: “I have a...

This Was Then: Wendell, Annourilla, and W.W. Douglas

This photograph was made shortly after the Great Fire of 1883 burned down all of downtown Vineyard Haven. Rebuilding began immediately, and W.W. Douglas’...

Skeletons

In January 1886, the New York Times reported that a ship’s afterhouse, newly painted, 12 by 20 feet in size, was found washed ashore...

This Was Then: Norton’s Blacksmith Shop

William Norton Jr. (1872-1958) was a lifelong Oak Bluffs blacksmith. During the first decades of the 20th century, his shop was located on the...

This Was Then: The deerly departed

As the most recently departed generation of Islanders would have told us, there were no deer on Martha’s Vineyard.“There wasn’t any then,” declared Fanny...

This Was Then: Swimming across the sound

More people have walked in space than have swum the 3½ miles of water separating our Island from the rest of the world. It’s...

This Was Then: Rheno

Americans throughout history have enlisted in foreign militaries. Whether caught up in a cause, yearning for adventure, itching for a fight, or just looking...

This Was Then: Rubber shoes

Modern rubber’s origins are in northern Brazil, in the state of Pará, at the mouth of the Amazon. It was from here that the...

The macabre story of Vladimir Messer

All eyes were on Martha’s Vineyard in the spring of 1932. Charles Lindbergh Jr., 20-month-old son of the famed transatlantic pilot, had been kidnapped...

This was then: The Zeno

At the turn of the 19th century, a broad body of water seven feet deep connected Holmes Hole Harbor to the Lagoon, along what’s...

This was then: The Capawoc

Methodist lay pastor Louis Jansen, a young London-born religious firebrand, may not have been well educated, but he was a passionate and popular speaker....