MARTHA'S VINEYARD: An Elegy by Everett S. Allen


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Marine historian Alien, son of the late ""co-producer"" (with Henry Beetle Hough) of the Vineyard Gazette, writes movingly of the Vineyard's past and less grumpily than others (including Hough) about its booming present and uncertain future. Since 1970 the resident population has risen 45 percent; roads are jammed; old landmarks and amenities are draining away. But Allen, who arrived in 1925 at age nine, remembers when, For his father, a multi-generation native, it was a homecoming. For Everett, it was a new world: ""I came to understand that things and people moved slowly and quietly, that all dogs had first and last names that everyone knew."" With warmth and pleasure, Allen details a boy's cycle of school, church, and work; remembers individuals and their ""gathering places""; pays tribute to the seasonal sea and land life. And, of course, there's the Harbor. Allen's appreciations of vessels large and small, racing or bucketing, are marvels: from the ""big steel tugs, raft to raft, heaving easily in the surge,"" to the schooners, fishers, ferries and yachts . . . to the Naushon, once queen of the steamship line, in service as a hospital ship at Omaha Beach. ""It was a sacrilege for this symbol of tanned women and laughing children to be in such a place and on such a bitter errand."" But in the days before the influx, were things always better? ""Folks were damn poor,"" Alien senior said. ""Old people died from lack of food and shelter."" At the dose of each chapter, natives comment on the changes the ""in-migrants"" have brought. A fair, companionable view--atmospheric and acute.

Pub Date: Nov. 26th, 1982
ISBN: 1933212179
Publisher: Little, Brown