Saturday, August 15, 2020

This was then

This Was Then: Dr. Orland Mayhew

If you were born in Vineyard Haven before about 1935, the chances are excellent that you were brought into this world in the company of Dr. Orland Mayhew. The late Stan Lair of Vineyard...

This Was Then: Monsters

What foul creature peers up from the depths of the basin of our beloved Civil War statue in Oak Bluffs in this late 19th-century photo? Is it a skate? A bull terrier? The back...

This Was Then: Bad beef

Dairy farmers Jim Adams of Chilmark and Silas Merry of West Tisbury were both worried about the health of their herds in early 1909. They called in Frank Chase of Oak Bluffs, a fellow...

This Was Then: Donkey rides

Of donkeys, Equus africanus asinus, there are few early records on the Vineyard. It’s not until the late 1800s that references can be found. In an 1881 article titled “Peculiarities of Martha’s Vineyard,” the...

This Was Then: Donkey rides

Of donkeys, Equus africanus asinus, there are few early records on the Vineyard. It’s not until the late 1800s that references can be found. In an 1881 article titled “Peculiarities of Martha’s Vineyard,” the...

This Was Then: Goat carts and patriarchs

While not native to the Island, goats have been here for an awfully long time. They are first mentioned in island records in the 1660s, only a few years after cattle, hogs, horses, sheep,...

This Was Then: Bumpus

Lester “Jack” Bumpus never knew his parents. His father, a harnessmaker at the factory in Vineyard Haven, died of pneumonia at the age of 25, before young Bumpus could even celebrate his first birthday....

This Was Then: Whaleboat races

Whaling declined precipitously in the second half of the 19th century, leaving our Island with a lot of men with specific, well-honed, but obsolete skills sets. While whaling ships were repurposed and sent to...

This Was Then: Straw rides

Straw rides, popular on the Vineyard in the late 1800s, were not the hayrides we are familiar with today, carting small children slowly around a farm for an afternoon festival. No, the straw rides...

This Was Then: Kennebec

This photograph — originally half of a stereo card — was made on the corner of Kennebec and Park Avenue in Oak Bluffs, looking north. The house on the immediate right is about where...

This was then: Mayor Blood

Oak Bluffs connects historically with a couple of surprising places. Brooklyn, N.Y., is one. Nearly a thousand Brooklynites came to town in the summer of 1887 just to hear religious superstar DeWitt Talmage speak...

This Was Then: James Lee’s speedboat

James Lee was only 10 years old when his father Cornelius was lost at sea. Commodore of the Seawanhaka Yacht Club on Long Island, 34-year-old Cornelius was an heir to his grandfather’s fortune in...

This was then: The Oklahoma Causeway

When you cross over the bridge into Vineyard Haven and face the line of traffic stretching into the sunset, you might fantasize about a bypass around Five Corners — instead of playing chicken with...

This Was Then: Baseball

Many sports have come and mostly gone from the Island — roque, polo, whaleboat racing, fox hunts, tricycling, and sulky racing among them. But one sport has outlasted them all: baseball. There were a lot...

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 rusty pipes, broken masonry, and waist-high weeds. It’s the site...

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 Third World Trading Co. building, about 1900. From left: Sherman...

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 good for a return trip any time within thirty days....

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 six months in Oak Bluffs — May to October — and...

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 arrived in Vineyard Haven Harbor to a rousing ovation. The...

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 flesh tinted bathing costume at Cottage City is attracting no...