Sunday, July 3, 2022
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Chris Baer

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This Was Then: Classes of 1952

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Before the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School opened in 1959, there were three secondary schools on the Island: Edgartown High School, Oak Bluffs High...

This Was Then: Selim Mattar’s Dreamland

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Brothers Selim and Meek Mattar immigrated to the U.S. as teenagers, about 1890. They were natives of the city of Beirut, then part of...

This Was Then: The deerly departed

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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: Barnstorming

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Ever since the first hydroplanes landed in Oak Bluffs in 1919, Martha’s Vineyard has had a reputation for bold and sometimes renegade aviators. Teenage...

This Was Then: Captain Cleveland and the wrong cache

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George Cleveland (1871–1925) grew up on Hatch Road in Vineyard Haven, in a neighborhood full of extended family. He attended the old North District...

This Was Then: The 1950 census

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It’s April 1950. The boomers are just babies, and the Atomic Age has arrived. Harry Truman is president, World War II has ended, the...

This Was Then: The gamblers

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Joseph Thaxter, born in Hingham in 1744, grew up sickly and impoverished. He worked on his parents' meager farm until the age of 19,...

This Was Then: The Old County Road

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The Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road dates back to the late 18th century and probably earlier, although not entirely in its modern location.  It was along this...

This Was Then: From islands to Island

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It shouldn’t be a surprise that an island would attract islanders. Many of the families who settled on the Vineyard in the late 1800s...

This Was Then: The Christmas mutiny of 1857

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An empty grave in Edgartown is topped with a stone bearing a remarkable engraving: "Capt. Archibald Mellen Jr.born at Tisbury June 5, 1830, and murdered on...

This Was Then: Old Island cooking

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Want to prepare an authentically old-fashioned Vineyard meal for the holidays? Look no further than the "Island Cook Book," published in 1924 as a fundraiser...

This Was Then: Island Hermits

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Our Island has hidden a lot of hermits and recluses over the years. Some perhaps hiding, some just peculiar, some maybe seeking a little...

This Was Then: Keeping warm

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My grandfather, Stan Lair (1902–87) of Vineyard Haven, worked a lot of jobs in his life — helping tear down the brickyard in Chilmark, catching...

This Was Then: Transfer steamer Maryland

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To see a huge, open-ended car ferry in Vineyard Haven Harbor is normal. To see one in 1875, a full generation before the first...

This Was Then: T. M. Silvia

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Theophilus Miguel “T. M.” Silvia was born in 1877 on Ilha de São Nicolau, a mountainous island in the Republic of Cabo Verde, the...

This Was Then: The Barber of the Black Second

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William Henry Dewey was born into slavery in 1858 in New Bern, a riverfront town in Craven County, in the rural Inner Banks of...

This Was Then: The bakers

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The only commercial bakery advertising in Chilmark in the early 20th century was I.F. Flanders & Co. in Menemsha Creek. It was run by...

This Was Then: Frank Bodfish, blacksmith

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Blacksmith William Bodfish and his wife Polly Crowell moved to Holmes Hole from Yarmouth in the late 1850s, where they became the parents of...

This Was Then: The 1912 Fair

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For generations, the fair has been a late-summer draw for kids of all ages. The late Stan Lair (1902-1987) of Vineyard Haven remembered it...

This Was Then: The tick scientists

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In the early 1940s, decades before Lyme disease was discovered, there was the USDA Ticks Affecting Man field laboratory in Vineyard Haven. The U.S. Department...