July 8 - 1969: Jet Age stirs Vineyard

1958: Fifty whales stranded on Cape Cod
Vineyard residents gathered en mass in the airport hanger to discuss allowing jets to land on their island.

1969: Martha's Vineyard debates move into Jet Age

That Island's biggest brouhaha since 1778

This week in 1969 the inhabitants of Martha's Vineyard, who have probably not been so collectively upset about anything since the British Marines sacked their serene island in 1778, are feuding over whether to try to repel a new invasion from the mainland -- by jet airliners.

The County Commissioners wanted to add 500 feet to the airport runway to allow Northeast Airlines could fly jets to this bucolic, beach backwater.

The County Commissioners, supported by many of the island's resort owners and merchants and Massachusetts Aeronautics Commission, has said that the runway should be extended to put the island in the jet age and bring more tourists here...

But a militant group of the island's residents, including Robert Hellbroner, the economist; Jules Feiffer, the cartoonist; Thomas Hart Benson, the artist; Mia Farrow, the actress,have begun a strenuous effort to block the runway extension according to a long story in the New York Times whose Washington Bureau Chief, James "Scotty" Reston, would soon become the owner of the island weekly newspaper, the Vineyard Gazette.

1958: The more things change around here, the more they stay the same  

Local joy dispelled as sixty Black Fish return after swimming away

7-08-8-fifty-wellfleet-whale_488

On this  day in 1958, tourism in Wellfleet got a big boost due to the influx in the local whale population as a pod of fifty small whales were stranded yet again in aptly named Black Fish Creek in South Wellfleet.

While the story implied the fish were chasing food into the channels, older Cape Codders believe that since the Cape was once separated from the rest of the northern (Truro and Ptown) part only two centuries ago and whales once swam to the Atlantic along this same sea route, the whale instinct is following an old chart which has been changed over time by our moving sands but not in the whale's genetic memory.

The United Press International wire story began;

Tides Strand 50 Whales Off Cape Cod Island

WELLFLEET, Mass., July 5 (UPI) -- Tides of the Atlantic Ocean that refloated some 100 small whales brought more than half of them back again today... 

Townsfolk, aware of the problem of removing dead (and very smelly) whales from the sand bars, were joyful when an early morning tide washed most of the mammals free.

But the joy was short-lived. The afternoon tide brought about sixty of the whales back onto the shore...

Read the rest on the right.

The postcard above from the same spot was sold in 1884 to promote the same event.


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