(Transcriber's Note: This is a transcript of an audio tape made by local historian and retired plumber Stan Lair (1902-1987) in 1979. It is an extemporaneous monologue, presumably aided by a list of names he had previously produced. There may be spelling errors - in some cases I have spelled names phonetically.)
July 10, 1979. This is Stan Lair. And we're going to call this tape just "People." Now lots of these people I'm going to mention a lot of you will probably have never heard of, but they are people that I remember. We won't tell too much about each one, there's so many of them, just a few words.
But first, I'd like to tell you a little bit about myself, my early childhood, a few little things that happened then.
Well, one of my fond recollections is the Fourth of July. I had an uncle who lived in Malden, lived around Boston anyway, Fred West, my mother's brother. And just before the Fourth of July, nearly every year, expressman would arrive with a great big wooden box. We knew what was in it but we wouldn't open it until he arrived, like the day before the fourth. He always brought a whole lot of fireworks, and we'd spend Fourth of July evening in the schoolyard (which was next-door) shooting them off. That was always a big event for us. All kinds of stuff in there. Firecrackers, sky rockets, you name it.
He was also a great showman. In his early days he had a combination called F. M. West's Great Ethiopian Combination, a minstrel show that travelled quite a few places and put on shows. Quite a sizeable group of people. I have a picture of it. And he could do about anything. He could make a stump speech, he could play a banjo, sing a song. I would've liked to have heard some of those shows. Well, that was my Uncle Fred. Fred West.
Another thing that entered my mind - maybe I shouldn't mention this, but...The World War I Armistice Night - the whole town went mad. I guess they did all over the country. But everybody was out, dressed up and just raising the dickens, and having a good time. And a bunch of us got into the local church, wanted to ring the bell. It happens there were two ropes on this bell. One was for tolling the bell, which would just activate the clapper inside without turning the bell at all. The other one was the rope that went right around the big wheel that would swing the bell. Well, it don't work when you're pulling both ropes at the same time, we found out. One gang got to activating the one that rocked the bell, and somebody else pulled the toll rope there, and it caught just right and lifted the bell right off its hanger and crash! It came right down - I thought it was going to go right down through the floor. But it didn't - it stayed up in the steeple there somewhere, but we very promptly made tracks. That was Armistice Night.
Then organ pumping was another one of the things I did in my early days. I pumped the organ for the Baptist Church, a little pumping at the Methodist Church, the Unitarian Church. Fifty cent a week job, but we did pump those organs. One of the last of the old organ pumpers, I guess.
In those days, the night before the Fourth of July was a big event. We were allowed to stay out all night on that night, and people just raised the dickens. Turning over outhouses, and that sort of thing. I recall one night before the fourth, a couple of us put a barrel up on top of the schoolhouse flagpole. And it was a mystery to a lot of people how we got it up there, but it was very simple, though. All you need is a clothes pole, about eight, nine, ten foot clothes pole, and just take a couple of half-hitches in two spots near the base, with the halyards on the flagpole. Put the barrel on top of the clothes pole, and hoist it up. When it reaches the top of course it's overhanging the top of the flagpole, and you just lower it down. Quite a mystery how that thing got up there.
Well, okay, now we'll go along with a few people we recall.
Well, let's start with Frank Amaral. He worked for Annie Flanders - took care of her cattle, her garden. He also was a man who went to Woods Hole to help put the Model T Fords together when they came down on the freight cars - they used to be assembled in Woods Hole. They'd take Frank along for the beef - he was a big rugged man and he could lift the bodies right on the chassis and that was his main job. He was a real nice guy, though, we always liked him.
I used to deliver milk for Annie Flanders, by the way. I had a milk route, maybe a dozen quarts of milk every day. I had a little two-wheeled cart, make the rounds. I recall one day I dropped a quart and broke it, so I took another quart and dumped half of it into an empty bottle. Found a silcock [?] on a house along the way and filled the other bottles up. A couple of people had some real light milk that morning, I'm sure.
Now, another old fellow around town was Frank Reynolds. He lived on a little lane that runs down between - in fact they called it Reynolds Lane - it runs down between Williams Street and Main Street, right by Luther West's barn, if you know where that is. A little bit down from Look Street, on a little lane - he lived in one of those little houses. He was called "Dukey" Reynolds. Frank had a lot of money though, I don't know where he got it - I imagine it was left to him, but he was pretty well off. But he never would show it. He'd dress in old brown overalls and no socks, sloppy shoes. He was a heavy man. They called him Dukey Reynolds.
Living in that same house, later, was Wilbur Jared. He was a Gay Head Indian, and a very nice man. I believe he went whaling at one time - I'm not too sure about that, though. But a lot of people knew Wilbur, and also Dolf Manning, another one - he was another Gay Head Indian. I recall Dolf, his job in the winter was to plow the sidewalks after a snowstorm. He had a horse, and a small snowplow. In those days they didn't plow the streets, they just plowed the sidewalks. So, Dolf would do that after a snowstorm.
Next one to come to mind would be Chancey Smith. Chancey ran a cement business. Shanty Cement Products I believe he called it, or something like that. That was located on the State Road, about where John's Fish Market is located now. And Chancey was a great sportsman. He liked basketball especially. He would always travel with the basketball team. If they went away to play a game anywhere, he was always with them. And a real nice man. He lived in the house that later Bob West lived in, which is just below the intersection of Edgartown Road and Main Street, the second house from Look Street, going down the hill.
Okay, then we come to Ben Crowell, Benjamin Crowell. Ben always had a beard, I never remembered seeing him without one, but he darn near lost it. He almost got drafted in World War I. Just missed it by a little bit. And if he'd been drafted, we'd have seen Ben without a beard! He always had a beard as long as I can remember. He ran the Coal Yard down on Water Street, and lived on William Street.
And there was Laura Johnson, also John Johnson her brother, ran the express company, Adams Express and later Railroad Express.
And there's so many people here - we won't go into too much detail on them but the next one that comes to mind here is Hannah Revel, ran an ice cream store right where Dr. Finkelstein has his office now. And Hannah turned out some pretty darned good ice cream. Quite a spot - people always enjoyed going there. Very informal - sit anywhere in the house and eat it. And Hannah had what I call a walking cash register - it was a black apron with pockets, and she carried all her change in that. Hannah would make change from that.
Well, while we're in that same neighborhood, there was John McDonough. He was an engineer and later years he helped out with his son at the garage, McDonough's Garage (it's now Dukes County.) And he was a real nice gentleman.
Okay, we have Craig Kingsbury, one of our former selectmen. He lost out in this last election. I guess Craig was in there for, I don't know - two or three terms, and did a pretty good job I guess, I don't know. He is - was - quite a character. Always was barefooted - I don't he had been too much later years, I think he had sort of changed a little bit since he became a selectman, but before that you could see him barefooted quite a bit, with an old sack over his shoulder, trudging up the State Road.
Okay, we have Al Luce, who ran a trucking business at one time, early days it was a low gear, or a dray with a horse, and later on it was trucks. His motto was "You call, we haul." He had a fellow by the name of Manny Silvey working for him. Real heavy work, and Manny was a pretty rugged guy. Al's father was John Luce too, John N. Luce. He was a teamster also. He was also a Civil War veteran, and he could turn the air blue if anyone was anywhere near him. He really could cut it loose.
Well, now we come to Ben Chuck, Ben Dexter, who had a place in the rear of what is now the book store, the Bunch of Grapes Bookstore. Different building, but that's where he was located, and he did a lot of crazy wood carving, putting stuff through holes that seemed impossible. And no joints - and the holes were much smaller than the pieces he put through there, so it was always a mystery to people how he did it.
Let's see. Billy Andrews. He was right on the corner there. He had a barber shop. His father before him, Antone Andrews, had also had a shop there, and Billy inherited it. Billy also played for dancing - he played piano. Played Saturday nights at West Chop Casino for quite a few years. Also played at the Chilmark Tavern, and various other places. It was just a small orchestra, about three pieces, sax, drum, and piano. They played with him, and had a lot of good times.
And there's Morton Vincent. He was Charlie Vincent's son, who ran the paper store there on Center Street, on the corner of Center and Main. His mother was Rose Vincent, and Morton ran the store after they died, and then it was sold and Morton went into a different line of work. He told a lot of stories about ice boating in the old days. Of course he lived fairly early right on Tashmoo Lake. He did a lot of ice boating. His father was Charlie Vincent, as I've said, and he was called "Duffy", Duffy Vincent. I think he was named, sort of a nickname for Duffy Lewis, who was one of the fielders of the old Red Sox team. And that name was acquired by Charlie. He liked to play baseball in his younger days. But he ran that store for a long time.
Right next to it on Main Street was Frank Swift, and he ran a clothing store. Formerly it was Howes Clothing, but Frank ran that store for a good many years.
Now we come to a few of the old characters around town here. Like Ben Turner. Ben, as I recall him, first he had a little room on one side of Renear's Stable, on the corner, which would be on the corner of the lane that goes down by the bank. He had a little stove in there, pot-bellied stove, and he kept snug as a bug there in the winter. He had his little bunk in there. We'd go in and sit around and chew the rag with him. Ben was a real nice fellow. He had a shoeshine stand he'd put out front in the summer. Later on he had it down under the Linden Tree by the theater.
One of his pals was Henry Coleman. These are all colored people, colored men, and they were real nice men. Everybody liked them. Henry Coleman was Colonel Carey's valet. And he and Ben were quite a team when they got a little bit too much to drink. Shooting crap in the middle of Main Street and that sort of thing.
Another one of their pals was Billy Davis, "Shiner Davis" everybody called him. He lived in a house called "The House of the Forty Panes." It was a little shack, just down the lane almost across that little lane from Robinson's 5&10. Right on that corner there. And he was around the stable a lot. First Renear's and also later Norton's, Norton and Bradley. A few stories have been told about him on other tapes, so I won't go into that.
Then there was, well there was Ed and William Lewis. They lived - let's see. How I can describe this one? Just beyond Daggett Avenue on the left, before you come to the next street, a vacant lot up in there, just in back. There used to be a house there that burned down in the forties some time. And Ed Lewis and William Lewis lived there. They were both laborers. And both were real hard-working and rugged men.
There was Ellis Luce. That would be Bill Luce's father. He was an old-time plumber. He had a house right, well what is now Carey Luce's yard on Main Street - there was a house there that Ellis Luce owned which was moved from there up to Chilmark, I believe. He had a barn in the back they rented to the Havenside Hotel to house their waitresses and so forth.
Now Alton Tuckerman. Tucky had a sheet metal store. He ran a plumbing business on Main Street, where Allen Mayhew Ltd. is now, and Mrs. Tuckerman had a little store there on one end of it, like a small ten-cents store. But Tucky was quite a guy - he was always interested in music, played in the Town Band as long as I can remember. He could play just about any instrument you gave him, from a piccolo right down to a bass horn, including a trombone or anything, saxophone. But he always was in the Town Band.
Well, another name is Art Smith, also Burt Smith, his twin brother. Art and Burt. They both worked in SBS, Swift Bodfish Swift Company Grocery Store, which was right there on Main Street, next to the theater. And as far as I can remember that's all either one of them did all their lives.
Another man is Harry Horton. Harry was noted for his house moving. He moved a heck of a lot of houses around on the Island, here, and later on he had a summer bus he'd run between Vineyard Haven and Oak Bluffs, leaving from in front of Tilton's Drug Store which is now Yates. I believe he had about two of them, so he gave pretty good service there. That was after the trolley stopped running.
Frank Vincent. Well, Frank ran a boat called the On Time. In fact, he had two of them called the On Time. And he would very often bring over the Sunday papers. If the boat wasn't running or something Frank would go over and get them and bring them back. He would go take parties - I remember we used to take our baseball teams over to play on the Cape, wait for us, and bring us back home again. And he was always around the waterfront.
Ed Flaharty. He was our chief of police, around 1925, along through there. Real nice fellow, and made very, very good chief of police. Everyone liked him and he had control of things pretty well, so he was a good policeman. But he also was a good natured man. Everyone liked Ed Flaharty.
Now, Ornan Slocum. He was the brother of Joshua Slocum, and Ornan at one time was a custodian of the old Center Street School, up on Center Street. He also at one time ran a trolley lunch wagon, located right across that little alley from the theater, parallel to that little lane there, and he had one of the old trolley cars converted into a lunch wagon. Didn't last too long. And I believe he also, later, repaired a few shoes. Had a little shoe repairing business.
Now we come to Fred Luce. Now Fred Luce was my neighbor for a good many years. He lived in the next house, and of course I played with all the Luce kids, Luce children. And he was the first RFD man on the island here, and he also had the first motorcycle I ever saw. I can see him now running down Center Street along side of that thing, and he'd get it putting a little bit and he would hop aboard and away he would go.
Then there's Ben Luce. He lived over just beyond the old Marine Hospital, where Elmer Benson's widow lives now, and he was the village blacksmith, had a blacksmith shop over there.
Then there was a man by the name of Hamilton - I don't know what his first name was, but he came from the U.S. Marine Hospital. He was very badly crippled. He was bent over, almost at a right angle from his waist. Waist up was at a right angle to his legs, and he walked with two canes. He did quite a bit of work, though. He built boats, he had a little shipyard, he built small boats down on the beach. He did quite a bit there. At one time he lived in a boat afterwards, which later was occupied by John Ivory. This boat was right in back of Hancock's Hardware Store. No it wasn't either - it was in back of the Cooperative Market, right in back of the Coop Market. Mr. Hamilton eventually, I guess a fire went out there in the stove or something, anyway he froze to death, I believe, in that boat. And then later it was occupied by John Ivory, who did paintings, Grandma Moses type paintings, mostly of ships, boats as he remembered them, and I guess they're quite valuable now. There are a few of them around, but anyone who owns one I think is hanging on to it. They are quite valuable.
And the next one to come to mind is S. C. Luce, Jr., Carey Luce, who was all sorts of offices with the bank, starting very young, 'till he wound up as president. Went through a whole bunch of offices. Pretty good information from Carey about how things used to be in the old days. Not too many around who can remember any further back than he can.
Okay, next is Dr. O. S. Mayhew, Dr. Mayhew. He was a country-type doctor, not like they are today. He would come out any time of the night, in the morning, early morning. Give him a call, he'd be right there. And he was a very, very good doctor. Very conscientious doctor.
Now we come to Henry Cronig. Henry Cronig I give a heck of a lot of credit to. He started out with nothing, and he foresaw a lot of things. He bought a lot of land, invested in land, and then later of course it paid off for him, 'cause it doubled, tripled, and quadrupled in value. So Henry was a smart operator. When he first started he had nothing - he started operating from his car, and wound up as quite a big operator.
Winthrop Rheno, Win Rheno. He was foreman for Hancock for a good many jobs. Construction foreman. We always liked to work for Winny Rhino because when you got on the job, the first thing he asked you was "Where do you want your holes?" I was a plumber, by the way, so we had a lot of holes to cut. And Winny would say "Where do you want your holes?" and he would give you a man to cut the holes for you. If you happened to have a house that had crawl space under it, Winny would see that the place was lit, he would have electric lights under there with switches. No drop lights or anything like that, you just throw a switch and boy, you were working right there in real comfort. He was quite a foreman.
Ellis Manter. Ellis sold shoes, he also did job printing, and what else? He sold shoes for quite a few years.
Now there's Joe Allen, who has written for the Gazette for about as long as I can remember. I believe he came here, though, in the early twenties, somewhere along in there, from New Bedford, and took a job with the Gazette. Joe's quite a writer. He would write poetry, columns for the Gazette, and also books. He is quite a man.
And now, the next one who comes to mind is Cliff Cleveland. We called him Waldo. He was brother of George Cleveland, the man that went up to Hudson Bay and spent years up there, working up in the Arctic at a trading post. Cliff was a pretty good piano player. I recall once they were moving a piano on a low-gear dray, and Cliff was helping them, and they were going right down through Main Street, so Cliff was right at the piano, playing all the way down through, all the way down the street there. Quite a sight!
Okay, Dr. Alfred Fairbrother. Dr. Fairbrother was a baptist minister, ordained minister. He had the first Boy Scout troop on the Island that I can remember, I did belong to it. He was always giving lectures on New Zealand. He travelled there once and I guess he had a few slides or whatever and he had talks on New Zealand. And he lived right next to the old schoolyard. He wasn't too popular with the school children, 'cause they would hit their balls, and they would go over into his yard, and he wouldn't give them back to him. Nobody dared to go over there and get it, either. He must have had a pretty good collection of baseballs.
Okay, the Harding twins, George and David Harding. Lived right on the corner of Center and William Street. They were always playing in the schoolyard. I remarked on one tape, I lived right next to the schoolyard and you could hear a big noise out there, sounded like a gang of people playing ball, and you'd look out and it was just the two Harding twins playing out there by themselves. They weren't very good athletes, but they did enjoy playing games like that.
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Okay, Stanley Smith. He was one of my old pals. We had a lot of fun with Stanley. He lived on the State Road, about right across from where Cronigs is, where Cronigs store is now. His father had a blacksmith shop out near the street. Well, he didn't use his blacksmith shop in those days, but it had been one. And his father always had a lot of gunpowder out there. Well Stanley and I were always manufacturing rockets and shooting them off. It's a wonder we didn't burn the place down. Shooting them off right inside the building there. I remember one time we took a whole bunch of it, I don't know how much, maybe a pound or something like that, and we trailed it down the State Road in a big long stream for a long ways. We went up the other end and touched a match to it, and watched it go. It was a long time ago.
Okay, Howard Downs. Howard Downs was in the grocery business for a long time. That is, one of his jobs was a wagon... or later on, I guess, it was a truck, but first along it was a horse and wagon, a grocery wagon. He would make the tour of the up-island section, and sell people meat and groceries up in that area. If he didn't have it aboard that trip, he'd take their orders and bring it up the next time he went up that way.
Another man who did this type of work was Gene Isaacs. He had a wagon. His, I believe, as I recall, was a truck, but he had everything on it you could think of. Bananas, fruit, all kind of fruit, meat, everything. And he would make these trips - he would go as far as Gay Head. He travelled for George Norton. And George Norton ran a store on Daggett Avenue. Later, Rodney Cleveland lived there, but George had a small grocery store there, second house up from Main Street. Second building up, right hand side. And what else? I guess that's all we can tell you about George.
Rod, who lived in that house later, Rod Cleveland, was a lobsterman. He had a small boat, and he would sell lobsters, set lobster pots, and so forth. And we'd always see Rod along Main Street. He liked ice cream - he always had a big box of ice cream he was digging into, and he would sit up in the Barnacle Club and look out the window and watch people go by.
Okay, Dana Swift. Dana was also a grocery man. Dana liked to play golf. I don't know how good he was, but he was one of our neighbors when we lived on Skiff Avenue. And he would get all dressed up with his plush fours[?], knickers, and golf bag, and away he would go. I think in those days they played at Tashmoo. The Tashmoo golf links were on the State Road, right in back of the Pumping Station, about a nine-hole course, or less. And some of the holes were on the opposite side of the State Road. They'd shoot right over the State Road. To see that area now, today, you would think that would be impossible, but in those days there were hardly any trees there. But that was Dana.
Well, the next one that comes to mind is Basil Welch. At present, he is our neighbor directly across the street. Telephone man, likes to write poetry. He's a collector of pictures of outhouses. He has a whole album of outhouses all over the Island, all he can find, he takes a picture of them. He has quite a collection there. He also is Codfish John, on radio networks. He is that character. If you hear any Codfish John stories, why that is Basil.
Okay, Walter Renear. This is the older Walter Renear, who was a sheriff, he was county sherriff, he also was an undertaker, part of the firm Hinckley and Renear. He had a stable on Main Street, which is where Ben Franklin's store is now. He had a garage later on Church Street. Then they enlarged it, they enlarged his garage, and built another section on the opposite side of the street. So he was quite a businessman.
Okay, next we can think of would be Judal[?] Brickman. Mr. Brickman made his start right in back of the Come and See Shop, small room there that he started working and he moved from there eventually across the street to what is now Mosher's Photo Studio. Mr. Brickman was a hard worker, and he would work all kinds of hours.
Also, let's see, it would be his brother-in-law, E. Issokson. Mr. Brickman's wife and Mr. Issokson were brother and sister, and E. Issokson ran a tailor shop. It was originally where Shirley's Hardware is now. He operated from there a long, long time. Then he finally went into the dry cleaning business there, and afterwards, after he had gone, the boys bought the building on the corner of Spring and Main Street, and did the dry cleaning there.
Let's see. Art Swift. Art ran a fish market for a long time on the wharf, and he also did trucking. He had a stake[?]-bodied truck he would do trucking, and he was also a collector of fruit box pictures. On some of the fruit boxes there were some pretty fancy pictures in the old days, so Art had quite a collection of them.
Zeb Tilton. Well, Zeb is one of the famous Tiltons from Chilmark, and all kinds of stories about Zeb. I won't go into those, but he was skipper of the Alice Wentworth, which he sailed for a good many years.
Okay, the next one is Henry Ritter. Henry was principal of the Tisbury School for a long time. He was a pretty stern schoolmaster, but he was a good teacher. Everyone who had him said he was an excellent teacher. But you didn't mess around much with Henry. He would just as soon throw a hammer at you, and in fact he did. Buddy Oliver told me that he was down in the shop one day, and Henry came in, and something was said, and Henry let a hammer fly right at him. Said he ducked, but he was the boss.
Okay, we have Ralph Look. Young Ralph Look. I call him Young Ralph Look 'cause his father was also Ralph Look. But he ran a fish market. Did lots of jobs, painting, he was a painter, and today he does a lot of walking, does a lot of bicycle riding, and in fact he made a tape for me not too long ago.
Okay, we come to Ruth Peters. Ruth was one of the Drapers of West Chop. K. Sumner Draper was her father. And she is right up on the history of West Chop, of what happened there a good many years ago, and we have gotten a lot of information from her, about houses that have been shifted around, and who owned this house and who owned that house. She's an authority on West Chop.
Okay. Jean Canha. Jean is a familiar figure on Main Street. She is very often under the Linden Tree, very often down by the A&P, sitting there. Always has a story, if you stop and talk with her. She'll always come up with a story for you. A big lady, a big gal, but she seems to be happy and always good natured.
Well, talking about Jean brings to mind Sam Fuller, who has since moved away from here, but Sam was here a good many years, and he and Jean Canha were always kind of palling around together. But Sam was a West Chop Lighthouse keeper. He retired later years, but he was one of the West Chop Lighthouse keepers.
Okay, Manny Maciel. Well, Manny had a pretty good plumbing business going. And he also was interested in politics. He was a selectman here for several terms, until he decided not to run any more, and then of course somebody else took over. But he was a selectman for a good many years.
I think the record was held by Tom Rabbitt though. Old Tom Rabbitt there, he...I say old 'cause he has a younger son, Tom Jr. I guess. Anyway, Tom was selectman for almost as long as I can remember. He would go in there year after year and made a good selectman.
Madison Edwards and Austin Tower - there's two people you connect with the Bethel. Mr. Edwards was the older man, and he started the Bethel, I guess. Austin Tower was his son-in-law, and he carried on after Mr. Edwards went. He did a lot of excellent work there, and both of them were very good people.
Albert Fisher. Well, Albert ran a store right there on Union Street. It'd be on the left hand street as you were going down the street - it's no longer there. But he ran a marine supplies, hardware, that sort of thing. And the next building he had a codfish packing plant where he packed salt codfish in wooden boxes. Later on he had a herd of cows which he kept up in back of Skiff Avenue, in the fields over in there. Later on of course he moved up to West Tisbury. And I believe, well I know one of his boys runs a farm up there now.
Okay, where are we now? Albert Fisher we just covered, now we'll go to Chester Robinson. Chester was quite a guy, he lived up on Center Street. He had two catboats, the Hester - these were large catboats - the Hester and the Nickerson. And he did a lot of skippering in the summer for people running their yachts and things like that. Later he opened a restaurant in Menemsha called the Homeport.
Next one that comes to mind is Lee Renear. Lee was the son of Walter Renear, he was the father of the Renear boys that are around here today. He ran Renear's Garage, he and his sister ran Renear's Garage after his father passed away, and sold Ford cars there for years. I recall a little story about Lee. I was at one of the forest fires way out in the woods. All of a sudden this fire took a... Lee was a big man. He was heavy. All of a sudden this fire took a turn and started coming towards us, and boy we, we just departed. And Lee - I never saw a man move so fast, a big man move as fast as he did - he was really jumping over small pine trees, and just making tracks out of there, along with everybody else. But I didn't think he could move that fast.
Okay, now we come to Dr. Lane. Dr. C. F. Lane. Built Lane's Block, which originally was a three story building. Lots of stories about Dr. Lane. We have them on other tapes, so we won't go into that. He was another one of the old country doctors. He first travelled with a horse and wagon, and then later on a small Model T Ford, and so forth. But he was quite a guy.
Well, Frank Golart worked for him. In those days, Frank worked as a telephone man, and he did work for Dr. Lane. Later he worked for the Bell Telephone Company. Frank was one of the heroes in that 1898 Gale. One of the group of men who went out and rescued a lot of people off the sunken vessels out there. I believe they all got medals for that. He also repaired bicycles up in his backyard. Frank lived where Dave Golart's clothing store is now - upstairs, over that.
Okay, now we'll talk a little bit about Ed Jones Smith. He was a wharfinger, a very gruff old gentleman, not too well liked by the kids. "Get out of there! What the Hell you doin' there?" He would chase us off the dock - we liked to go down there and jump over the spiles, leap-frog over the spiles that are on the end-board sides of the dock there and he'd chase us off. Old Ed Jones Smith. He was the father of Iceberg Smith, the famous man that charted the icebergs for the Coast Guard, up in the north there.
Okay, Walter Bessey. Now, Walter Bessey was one of the early employees of the Vineyard Electric Company, before it was Cape & Vineyard. Walter was also quite a athlete. He was quite a basketball player, I believe he played baseball, too. He would run the... he was motorman on the trolley cars in the summer. That'd be a summer job. And there are a few stories told about Walter, too. He was quite a strong man. And there have been a few stories told about him.
Curtis Athearn. Worked in the grain store for a number of years. Considered himself a singer. I guess he was pretty good. He sang in lots of the plays, and sang in the Baptist choir for years. So that was Curtis. I guess I said, or didn't I - he always wore a beard to protect his voice. Protect his throat.
Okay, next comes Frank Look. Frank Look worked for Dukes County Garage. He sold Buick Chevrolet cars, automobile salesman, and sold cars for a good number of years. Finally, Manual Campbell took over, and continued the operation.
Well, we're around Dukes County Garage, it's William G. Manter - he was the owner. He had quite an operation going there. He was a contractor, builder, he also had a painting contracting business. He ran the garage which is also repairs, and he also sold cars. William G. Manter was a big operator in those days.
One of his early employees was Jesse Oliver Sr., Jesse J. Oliver Sr. Worked for him for a long time. And Manual DeBettencourt is another early employee. He eventually worked in the repair department, got to be a pretty good automobile mechanic. Frank Baptiste is also in there. Clarence Davey ran the electrical end of it - car electrical end of it. A man by the name of Mr. Thorn ran the automobile painting department. George Churchill ran his house painting department. And Walter Ripley was his foreman on the contracting and building.
Okay, Alvin Cleveland, Al Cleveland. He lived next to what is now the Youth Center, the old telephone building. He was a retired carpenter, and he also was one of the men who rescued sailors from the sunken ships in the 1898 Gale. I believe he also received a medal for this, along with Frank Golart.
Okay, Dr. David Brush. He was a dentist, graduated from Tufts Medical School, Tufts Dental School. Opened up an office in his father's living room, which was then on Spring Street, until he eventually built his house further up the street on the other side and had a regular office there. Dr. Brush was quite a character. He was a pretty good dentist I guess. He liked to pull teeth, and he sure could yank teeth. I remember I took my daughter to him once, once or twice, and anyway the second time she clamped down on one of his fingers when he had them in her mouth. He jumped right straight up and down. He said, "Never bring that kid to me again!" He was some mad!
William Robinson. Little Willie we called him - he was a small man. But he was very civic minded. He was always getting school kids up to plant trees on Arbor Day and that sort of thing. He was in several of the plays, and the pageants, and so forth. He lived in a house on William Street. Let's see - it'd be two houses up from Drummer Lane, in back of the Methodist Church. Little Willie.
Okay, Joe Howes. Well, Joe lived in West Tisbury, but he got around quite a bit. First he had a horse and a wagon, and eventually he had a small truck. And he would go from house to house selling clothing, and that sort of thing. He lived to be quite an old man. Quite an authority on history, too, way back then. His mind was very good, right up to the last.
Okay, next one comes to mind is Tebby Tilton. Well, there's young Tebby who's around here today, but is father was also called Tebby Tilton. He eventually retired and started making buttons and little things like that out of highland wood. They were very good too. Did a good job. He played in the Town Band for a good many years. Played bass, and got a big kick out of playing in the band. His mother was Luella Tilton. I think we talked about her before - she lived way up at the end of Center Street at one time. And she was Charlie Brown's housekeeper - Charles Brown. Charlie Brown was a lawyer. Quite a smart man, too. Did a lot of writing. Quite a historian. He was in pageants and that sort of thing. He was one of those that was always at the town meetings, on his feet, with an argument. And a lot of fun to listen to at those town meetings.
Elmer Chadwick. He ran a blacksmith shop over on the Beach Road. He was a very good blacksmith. Most of his blacksmithing was done after the horses I believe. Although he did shoe horses I believe but his main job was iron work, andirons, worked on cars, car frames, straightened them out and that sort of thing. He was a good blacksmith. He was also the fire chief for a long time, of Vineyard Haven, and his hobby was raising Dahlias. He had quite a Dahlia garden up in his back yard there. Some real pretty ones.
Frank Bodfish. Frank was also one of the early blacksmiths. He worked with his father in his father's blacksmith shop, Prentis Bodfish, which is right where...exactly where Hancock's Hardware store is now, on the Beach Road. Frank liked horses. I think he rode in some of the early Sulky[?] races, some of these racetracks around the Island. And he finally was custodian of the town dump, that's where he wound up.
Okay. Edward VanBuren. Well, he was Edward VanBuren Tilton. He was one of the famous Tilton brothers from Chilmark, along with Zeb and George Fred, and the rest of them. He was one of the singing Tiltons though, 'cause Edward was always walking around the Island - he was a great one for just taking a walk. He was apt to arrive at your house any old time, and expect to be invited for dinner, or supper, whatever. You'd always see him coming, he was always singing. Singing hymns, usually. One I recall when he was letting loose with, "When the Roll is Called Up Yonder, I'll be Thar." Old Edward VanBuren. He was quite a character.
Captain Gilbert Smith. Well, he was an old whaling captain, retired. He had a nice home there at the head of... well, it's on Spring Street, right at the head of Franklin Street, where it intersects. He owned the Association Hall, which he eventually sold to the town for a small sum, where they used to keep their fire apparatus there. The town used to keep their fire apparatus there. And I guess Gilbert was quite a wealthy man.
Next is L. E. Briggs. Mr. Briggs ran a jewelry store - started as a jewelry store, wound up as a furniture and gift shop type operation. Originally it was jewelry. That's where Tobin's was, and now it is Holmes Hole. At one time he lived on Center Street. And then he went from there up on William Street, the former house that Little Willie Robinson lived in, back of the Methodist Church. Anyhow, Mr. Briggs is quite a merchandiser, and nice man. His wife especially, Mrs. Briggs. She lived to be well over a hundred years old. And she only recently died, maybe two or three years ago. I always enjoyed talking to Mrs. Briggs. She was one of my early Sunday School teachers. We used to always go to her home, and she'd have parties for us. Mr. Briggs would show movies, and we'd play games. Had a good time. Mrs. Briggs, as I said, lived to be 101 or 102, something like that. They had one daughter, May Briggs, May MacFarland, who is still around here I believe.
Okay, Cora Mederios. Cora was a former selectman, or selectwoman, as you will. Cora is a go-getter, she's a great promoter. She was the instigator of the Street Fair which is held every year on our Main Street, and still does promote it, I believe. She also operates a gift shop called the Sea Chest, and I believe she is president of the Businessman's Association.
Okay, Flora Jordan. Flora was quite a businesswoman also. She ran an inn at East Chop called Ahoma[?] Inn. She ran...
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