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Archive for September 25th, 2008

When I lived on St. John back in 1970 I was lucky enough to own a 16 ft fiberglass runabout powered by a 40-horsepower Johnson outboard. It wasn’t much of a boat, and the engine would cough and sputter at times, but by and large it took me where I wanted to go and allowed me to explore this Virgin Islands wonderland.

Ethien Chinnery

Ethien Chinnery

The nearby island of Jost Van Dyke became a regular destination, when John Gibney and I, discovered that buying our fish pots (wire mesh fish traps braced with West Indian birch sticks) from Ethien Chinnery on Jost Van Dyke for $25 a trap was a well worth the money and the trip. Not only was the price reasonable enough, and not only did it save the time and money involved in buying the chicken wire on St. Thomas, cutting birch sticks in the bush and cutting , tying and bracing the pots, but also, Ethien’s pots were a whole lot better than the ones we made.

Jost Van Dyke held another yet attraction and that was Foxy’s Tamarind Bar and Restaurant run by a man I’m now proud to call a good, friend Foxy Callwood. Foxy’s at the time was a small simple establishment, which actually had customers every now and then when a sailing yacht from St. Thomas would bring charterers to Jost Van Dyke as part of their sailing itinerary.

Dr. Knight
Dr. Knight and Jean Delmage
Jost Van Dyke Customs 1970
Rodney Varlack

Not long after I got settled on St. John, I began to received visits from my mom and dad, who like me fell in love with St. John.

My dad, who was a dentist, used to bring supplies to Dr. Knight, the resident dentist on the island.

Dad also used to bring car parts for Rodney Varlack, who had St. John’s only car dealership, which specialized in Jeeps and he brought old 16 mm movies, which were shown at the Lutheran Church.

Jost Van Dyke Customs 1970
Jost Van Dyke Customs 1970
Albert Chinnery
Albert Chinnery

On one of these visits, I brought my parents to Jost Van Dyke. I introduced them to my friends there, Albert Chinery, the customs officer, Mr. Ethien, who made our fish pots and, of course, that Virgin Island celebrity, even back then, Feliciano “Foxy” Callwood. That evening we had dinner at Foxy’s restaurant on the beach at Great Harbour.

Foxy, owner, manager, waiter, busboy and chief cook and bottle washer took our order. Foxy asked my mom what she would like for dinner. She chose lobster.

Foxy said, “would you like that lobster fresh, ma’am?”

When my mom answered in the affirmative, Foxy, who was dressed in cutoff pants, tattered T shirt and barefoot, spun around, took off his shirt, ran to the water’s edge, dove into the sea and disappeared beneath the water, where unbeknownst to my parents he had a wire cage where he kept his lobsters.

Foxy emerged from the sea shortly afterward, dripping water and holding a wriggling two-pound lobster by its antennas. He turned to my mom and asked in a totally nonchalant tone, “would this be fresh enough for you?”

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