This was then: Bunker’s Ice Cream Parlor

Photos of long-ago Martha’s Vineyard.

Bunker's Ice Cream Parlor. Courtesy of Chris Baer

This photograph of Bunker’s Ice Cream Parlor in Edgartown was taken around the turn of the 20th century. A sign behind the gentleman on the right (Mr. Bunker?) partially reads “… Bunker … Victualer,” and the machine on the far right features 10 flavors, including Lemon, Vanilla, and Strawberry. On the shelf behind him are stacked paper boxes printed with “Bunker” in a stylized script, perhaps to hold candy. The shop was located on Main Street near the corner of North Water Street, in the store now occupied by Island Outfitters.

Some have suggested that this view depicts a store owned by Roy Bunker (1878-1923), a Maine native who spent most of his adult life as an Oak Bluffs carpenter. While he did work briefly as a grocer in the early 1920s, Roy would have been a very young man when this photo was taken, and an unlikely shop owner.

A more likely candidate is Fred Bunker (born in 1860 and no relation to Roy) who was an Edgartown tobacconist and a third-generation Islander who advertised chocolate cream and fruit juice sodas, chocolates, and bonbons during the early 1890s. But in July 1896, the Boston Globe reported that “quite a stir was created at Edgartown” when the state police arrested Bunker for the illegal sale of liquor. He was fined $100 and released. About 1907 Fred and his family moved to Dover, N.H., where he became a stockbroker and realtor.

Chris Baer teaches photography and graphic design at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School. He’s been collecting vintage photographs for many years.