Work Title: Country Editor: Henry Beetle Hough and the Vineyard Gazette
Work Author(s): Phyllis Meras
Images from the Past
210 pages, Hardcover $35.00, Softcover $21.95, 1-884592-42-2
Reviewer: Nancy Flinn Ludwin
When ordinary people die, remaining behind are gravestone epigraphs, photographs, and obituary notices pasted in family scrapbooks. Henry Beetle Hough, however, was not an ordinary man. A true New Englander, Hough loved writing as much as he loved the island called Martha's Vineyard. His passion for nature and his work to save it are the legacy he left behind. Journalism was in his blood: his father published a New Bedford newspaper and Hough followed in his footsteps, becoming a publisher and author of many books.
Hough's love for Martha's Vineyard (made famous as the location of the movie Jaws) began when his family summered on the unspoiled island's quaint beauty, among the island's natural citizens and the old whaling families' seafaring trade. When Henry was a child, "three- and four-masted schooners still sailed by laden with lumber and fat green fishing trawlers and sword fishing boats" and hailed from island harbors.
At the summerhouse named Fish Hook, "week-ends meant family clambakes on the beach, hoisting the American flag on the knoll near the house, and excursions to the big rock at Indian Hill, reputedly the site of an Indian dancing field." The view from atop the rock encompassed both sides of the island seeing "rocky vineyard shores and wild, dramatic boulders strewn with stones that rumble when the ocean breaks over them... melting into stretches of golden sand where sandpipers scurry, plovers nest in the dunes."
When the boys were not fishing for scup, hauling in lobster pots for dinner, swimming in refreshing ocean waters, making sand castles, picking blueberries and huckleberries for homemade jams, or playing scrub baseball, they were engrossed in reading in the Fish Hook library. As "they roasted corn and potatoes in the living room fireplace their father read to them. Robinson Crusoe was among Henry's favorites."
In 1920 when Henry married his wife Betty, they received as a wedding present from Henry's father the eight-decades-old newspaper, the Vineyard Gazette. The Houghs dedicated their lives to the newspaper's publication and to the island.
The author of this biography has written thirteen previous books and is a former managing editor of the Vineyard Gazette. This new volume...