Thursday, June 30, 2022

This Was Then

This was then: Bunker’s Ice Cream Parlor

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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,”...

100 years ago, a Tivoli girl

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This week, we expand Chris Baer’s “This was Then” column. “Come! Come! Tivoli Girl, dance the hours away — Come! Come! Tivoli Girl, don’t you hear the music play? If you’ll be my pal in the summertime...

This was then: The Ice Yachts

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Before the 1938 hurricane (and the subsequent dredging of a wide, permanent channel into Vineyard Sound), Tashmoo was mostly fresh water and prone to freezing over mid-winter with a layer of ice more than...

This was then: The Tea House

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The Betty Benz Tea House served lunch and afternoon tea at the Lagoon Bridge until its destruction by hurricane. “For ‘Tea’ we serve a ‘Betty Benz Special,’ consisting of cinnamon toast, assorted sandwiches, hot...

This was then: The steamer Martha’s Vineyard

The sidewheel steamer Martha’s Vineyard was one of the four original steamships owned by the enterprise now known as the Steamship Authority. Built in 1871 in Brooklyn, it was some 185 feet long (about...

This was then: George Fred

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Captain George Fred Tilton of Chilmark, like his brother Zeb, is a Vineyarder of such legend that it’s not even necessary to use his last name. Zeb may be better known now, but George...

This was then: The fut path

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In 1685 Ponit, son of Cheesehahchamuk and sachem of Nobnocket, stated in a court record that the bounds of his sachemship had been defined by his boss, the great sachem Towantaquit, “by a fut...

This was then: The Neptune Club

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The Neptune Club of Norwalk, Conn., poses on the steps of their hotel in Oak Bluffs. This yachting club, made up of wealthy businessmen from New York City and Connecticut, made an annual excursion...

This was then: Fancy poultry

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When new millionaire William Barry Owen retired from the gramophone business in London and headed back to his native Vineyard Haven in 1904, he packed some unusual souvenirs for his long voyage home: an...

This was then: Professional development

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The Martha’s Vineyard Summer Institute, located in the Highlands section of Oak Bluffs, offered summer courses for teachers for almost 30 years during the late 1800s and early 1900s. More than 700 teachers from...

This was then: The Cigar Smoking Machine

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In 1904, Edgartown inventor Elmer Bliss was issued patent 768,892 for a life-size automaton designed to advertise tobacco products. It smoked real cigars by alternately drawing in and distending lifelike human cheeks with a...

This Was Then: The Hospital

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The Martha’s Vineyard Hospital opened in 1922 on Eastville Avenue in the former home of Capt. Hiram and Charlotte Daggett. But this was not the first hospital on Martha’s Vineyard, nor were the series...

This Was Then: The Duke

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“Pitted with small-pox, and with a hesitation in his speech which at moments of excitement made him difficult to understand, there was nothing in the appearance of the Prince to touch a young maid’s...

This was then: Professor Gough

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Wheelmen pose in front of a turn-of-the-century Oak Bluffs bike shop, where the Martha’s Vineyard Savings Bank stands today. The signs read “Repairing & Vulcanizing, Renting and Riding Instruction” and “Prof. Chas. F. Gough,...

Dexter's Barber Shop

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Edgartown barber Clarence Dexter (1865–1925) shaves a customer at his shop on North Water Street, in the building now occupied by Skinny’s Fat Sandwiches. He was the son of former whaler and police officer...

This Was Then: The Courthouse

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The Dukes County Courthouse, built in 1858 from local brick, is by no means our first courthouse. The first trial on record on Martha’s Vineyard was likely held in the home of Governor Mayhew...

This Was Then: The pirates of Lake Tashmoo

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The Christian Science Monitor reported, “Most of the 190 persons taking part were lineal descendants of characters whose parts they were taking.” Many of the props were authentic relics, like a powder horn from...

This was then: The Standpipe

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Horace Tilton, Dr. Orland Mayhew, Carey Luce, Frank Bodfish, and horses Domion and Dick pose near the site of the new Tisbury School in the spring of 1929. Looming across Spring Street is a...

This was then: Chief Chadwick

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Blacksmiths Ed Colleton (1876–1964; left) and Elmer Chadwick (1868–1953; right) stand in Chadwick's workshop in Vineyard Haven, located roughly where Tisbury Market Place is today, at the bend in Beach Road. Chadwick the blacksmith was...

This was then: Zeppelin over Gay Head

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An airship floats past the Gay Head Cliffs in the late 1920s or early 1930s, to the delight of chilly onlookers. Dan Grossman of Airships.net identifies this vessel as the U.S. Navy’s ZR-3, the U.S.S....