The Vineyard Gazette – Martha’s Vineyard News
From the February 27, 1959 edition of the Vineyard Gazette:
What’s going on behind West Tisbury pottery? As those who were at the ferry landing on Wednesday probably know, the noise comes from the engine of a 1927 Ford Model T passenger car that Thomas Thatcher has just acquired.
In fact, the car has belonged to Mr. Thatcher since Christmas, when it was given to him by his uncle and aunt, Mr. and Mrs. Harold Wiggins, when he was visiting them in Carthage, Mo. It is an heirloom to strictest sense of the word, since he was in the Wiggins family for the thirty-two years of his life – only a few weeks younger than Mr. Thatcher himself.
Three weeks ago the black and green classic was shipped from Carthage by rail, and it finally arrived in Falmouth on Wednesday. That day Mr Thatcher drove to Falmouth and, with the help of David Frantz Jr. of West Tisbury, who works at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, unloaded the vehicle, fueled it with gasoline , water and antifreeze, and went. for home, Mr. Frantz in the high driver’s seat.
It was a sensational trip from Falmouth to Woods Hole and then across the ferry to Vineyard Haven. At each stop, the vintage car drew throngs of people, the older ones remembering with nostalgia the days when cars were cars and the younger ones seeing perhaps for the first time in material reality the type of vehicle they had heard about from their parents.
The Model T, which is not one of those shiny objects collected by vintage car enthusiasts, but a good old working farm car that was driven continuously until the end of the year last, when the Wiggins decided that Missouri traffic was spiraling out of control for the likes. of the old Ford, sat most of the day before in a garage, cured of a slight jolt from the long train ride, and other medications, including a sticker.
And now, says Mr Thatcher, all he has to do is learn to drive it.
I bet you didn’t know that next week is National Weights and Measures Week. To be even more flippant: bet you can’t name your own weights and measures sealer without first looking it up on a list of officers in your city.
A friendly and quiet man, MR Wallace Darnley is probably known by sight to just about everyone in Edgartown, but it is equally likely that few know what a man of business he is and one of its business is the control of the weighing and measuring devices employed by the merchants of the city.
The tradition behind Mr. Darnley’s office is one of the longest in the country’s history. The first weights and measures laws were passed by Congress in 1799. The result of these laws 160 years later is that Mr. Darnley and other town sealers like him are required to check the scales and pumps in their respective areas once a year, and to carry out spot checks from time to time during the year.
The practice has worked quietly to the benefit of all parties involved, both seller and buyer, over the years. It also reduced the chaos of everyday life in a way that is both commendable and rare, standardizing all units of measurement and relegating units such as the baker’s dozen, the “at arm’s length” yard, and the mile of countryside into mythical limbo, at least as far as business ventures are concerned.
It is Mr. Darnley’s job to check the scales and pumps, and if they are wrong, have them adjusted if possible or condemn them altogether. “Most of the time the scales and pumps are pretty damn accurate,” he said this week. “That wasn’t the case in the past, especially with gas pumps.”
Fuel pumps today operate with all the prowess of IBM machines and mostly spit out gasoline with reasonable accuracy. But they can still wear out, and not so long ago Mr Darnley discovered a pump at an Edgartown gas station that gave a bonus liter of fuel for every five gallons the gauge indicated that it was distributing.
When Mr. Darnley successfully checks a scale or a pump, he puts his seal, or rather the town’s stamp of approval, on it, and that’s why, in the name of logic, he’s known as a weight sealer. and measurements.
It is not only in weights and measures that Mr. Darnley works to keep the affairs of the city above reproach. When he was talking about this particular job this week, he was at the police station between patrols. He is one of several special patrol boats in the city, on duty mainly during the summer months, but also occasionally in the winter. And he’s also the town’s milk inspector, another little-known office that does an invaluable service to the townspeople.
These are all part-time jobs carried out with good humor by Mr. Darnley. His main occupation also involves good humor, if you wish to extend a term. He’s in charge of distributing ice cream for Martha’s Vineyard Cooperative Dairy, which makes him kind of a good-natured guy basically.
Compiled by Hilary Wallcox