St. John Memories

Having been indulging in nostalgia the last few days, I revisited some old photos taken by Hannele Koivumaki in 1972.

Customs House Cruz Bay Park
Customs House Cruz Bay Park

The wooden shack shown above housed the official offices of the US Customs Service. Not as imposing as what we now have, the officials were efficient, courteous and friendly. In those days we even had customs service on the other side of the island, Coral Bay, where Ms. Marsh served as the Customs Officer, making it it so much more convenient for vessels whose destination or return was Coral Bay.

The same shack housed the offices of Antilles Air Boats, offering seaplane service right from Cruz Bay, to St. Thomas, San Juan, St. Croix and the BVI’s.

What a pleasure it was to fly in from America, stop over in San Juan and catch a seaplane for Cruz Bay. No St. Thomas Airport, waiting for taxis and ferries, just a short flight and there you were home on St. John.

The “At Your Service Travel Agency,” which handled St. Johnians’ travel arrangements for so many years was also situated in this quaint little building.

Patio Bakery
Patio Bakery

The Patio Bakery inside the park, operated by Judy Drumand and Boyd Chapman, was a real morning gathering place for expats and locals, specializing in coffee, pastries, news and island gossip.

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6 thoughts on “St. John Memories”

  1. thank you for St. John life. I enjoy it very much. My wife and three children have been to St. John nine times for vacations. We presently live in Castro Valley, CA. Some day we will be there to live. I was viewing your Francis Bay and Maho Bay video that you took one day a while back every day. We talk about St. John’s beaches nonstop. Please, is there any way to get that maho bay video back online so I can save it?

    thank you and may god bless you!

    ed august

  2. I’m so grateful that you’ve “been indulging in nostalgia” recently. Those photos of the Customs House and Patio Bakery brought back a flood of memories shared by our family. Your indulgence sparked some searching through your blog archives, where we found the wonderful photo of Mr. Titley, which again flooded us with long-forgotten memories of St. John. (Do you happen to recall if Mr. Titley was related to Miss Meada? Somehow, I associate the two together back in the 60s and 70s, but I’m not sure why.) In any event, my family has two requests: 1. For our sake (and undoubtedly for the sake of many other of your blog’s appreciative readers), please keep indulging in nostalgia! 2. How about a new category on the blog called, “St. John Memories,” or “St. John Nostalgia”?

  3. Great photo of the Patio Bakery! Thanks and thanks Hannele for preserving so much of the old St. John in your photos. I remember stopping by there waiting for the mail to come up on the boat. The Patio Bakery, Post Office, stopping by Totorla Mary’s (fruits & vegetables) at the other side of Peacock Alley…..and of course Mooies was a daily routine back in de day!

  4. Thanks David,
    Patio Bakery – coffee with Carnation sweet condensed milk and pastries – shoot the breeze with the morning crowd, And what a pleasure it was to get those fresh fruits and vegetables from Tortola’s north side. The Tortola lady came once a week – a real treat. The absolute killer was the boat that came about once or twice a month from Puerto Rico with all kinds of goodies – big juicy papayas, pineapples, bananas, greens, fresh herbs, sauces – because as you may remember, fresh produce pickings were slim to none at Miss Lilly’s grocery.

  5. I can almost hear the Bomba Charger’s diesel coming into the main dock at Cruz Bay. Going back to St. John at the end of this week after 35 years. Should be quite a contrast.

  6. I lived on St. John from 1989-1999. Wish I never left. It is the most beautiful island in Caribbean. I am fighting traffic and smog every day in Southern California. Maybe one day I will return to Paradise.

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