by Gerald Singer www.SeeStJohn.com
One day back in what some refer to as the “good ol’ days” on St. John back in the 1970s. Our little gang happened to be walking past Caneel Bay. In those days it was called the Caneel Bay Plantation, changed now due to the negative political and social connotations of the word “plantation.”
(Rumor has it that the new designation,”Resort,” may have negative implications in today’s rough economic climate with the word, “Hotel,” having a less expensive connotation.
With us that day was Trinidad Charlie. Charlie had come to St. John around the same time as I did, in the late 1960s, me from America, Charlie from Trinidad. Charlie had a new girlfriend at the time who was shortly thereafter to become his wife, in a memorable ceremony including a traditional native style pig roast on Little Hawksnest Beach. Her name was Cathy Hartford.
Anyway, as we were passing Caneel Bay, we just happened to be bemoaning the state of our finances, which better put, were practically no finances at all, when Cathy spoke up and said, “I can get us some money. Nixon is staying right here at the hotel and he’s a good friend of my father’s. I can ask him for some money.”
Cathy’s father was the multi millionaire, Huntington Hartford.
President Nixon, was in fact on the island at the time and was staying at Caneel Bay, as did, and still do, many other giants of politics, industry and entertainment.
Well you can imagine our skepticism. Like, “yeah sure, Cathy.”
“No it’s true, I can do it,” Cathy maintained.
She then walked over to the guard at the gate and spoke with him. The guard picked up his radio and we all stood there wondering. Next an employee of the Plantation picked up Cathy in a Caneel Bay golf cart and they took off down the driveway.
We still couldn’t believe it, but it was getting interesting. About fifteen minutes passed and Kathy returned on the golf cart. She was smiling and holding a one hundred dollar bill!
Trinidad Charlie still lives on St. John where he makes Trindad Charlie’s Hot Sauce, which if you haven’t tried, you really should.
More of a condiment than a hot sauce, Charlie makes liberal use of the Indian and Caribbean spices and tastes of multi-ethnic Trinidad where he grew up. The mildly “hot” hot sauce is used by the top chefs in several of the finest restaurants on St. John. It goes good with just about everything, meats, fish vegetables, rice – I use it on pancakes.
Trinidad Charlie mentioned in a new Kenny Chesney song:
Nowhere to go and nowhere to be,
“Trinidad Charlie” on a stool next to me,
Readin’ his book ’bout the “haves” and “have-nots,”
In between chapters we take another shot.And one by one we slide from reality,
With nowhere to go, and nowhere to be…Kenny Chesney