Paperback: 160 pages - size in inches 6.0 x 0.5 x 9.0
Publisher: Sombrero Publishing Co.; ISBN: 0964122022; (March 1,
2001) by Gerald
Rutnik and Bob
Tales of St. John and the Caribbean is an
elegant and friendly book of short stories that people can carry
to the beach with them and taste the flavor of the islands. "Tales
of St. John and the Caribbean" has some something for everyone.
All your friends who flip through your copy will want to borrow
it when you're done.
Singer came to the Virgin Islands in 1969. He became a
commercial fisherman in partnership with John Gibney. He later
managed a vacation rental villa and served as a captain and guide
for "adventure" boat charters. He is also the author
of the popular guidebooks St.
John Off the Beaten Track, and St.
John Beach Guide.
Bob Tis is a career newspaper reporter, sailor and anarchist with roots
in St. John and New Hampshire. He is also the author of Down
a successful entrepreneur and talented writer, is best known on
St. John as the developer of the prestigious Peter Bay Estates.
He was born in New England and attended a one room school house
in Nabnassett, Massachusetts. At the age of 17, he broke his neck
in a diving accident and became the first person in medical history
to survive a cervical spinal fusion. In the unprecedented procedure
his head was wired to the rest of his body with a silver wire.
Jack feels that this wire now acts as a built in antenna through
which he receives otherworldly guidance. His next big project
after the completion of the Upper Peter Bay development is to
build a time machine atop the 962-foot-high Peter Peak in honor
of Enoch and the angel Uriel.
Curtney "Ghost" Chinnery was born in Jost Van Dyke in 1954, a time when there were no roads,
cars, electricity, telephones, TVs, tourists or white people on
the island. It was a time when people survived by fishing, tending
gardens and raising cattle. As a youngster, he moved to Tortola
and became a "water rat" diving for coins thrown into
the sea by visiting tourists and sailors of the British Navy.
He later served as a mate on a private yacht that sailed throughout
As a young man Curtney moved to New York City, receiving his
education at NYCSU (New York City Streets University). After too
many misspent years in and out of trouble with the law, Mr. Chinnery
(a.k.a. the Ghost) returned to the Virgin Islands where he has
slowed down long enough to put a few of his stories in this book.
A lively raconteur, he is now well known on St. John as a poet,
storyteller and philosopher.
John Gibney was born on St. John. His parents, both writers, came to the islands
in the 1940s and built a house at Hawksnest Bay (now known as
Gibney Beach). John, a gentle but imposing island fixture, reminiscent
of a Caribbean Tarzan, lived on Gibney Beach, along with his wife,
Teri and son, Tommy, where he wrote and tended his magnificent
garden of tropical fruit trees, until his death on January 14,
2003 at the age of 48. John was loved and respected by all segments
of St. John society. Almost 1,000 people attended his memorial
service at his home at Gibney Beach.
Andrew Rutnik came to St. John in 1969. An ex-hippie, dedicated family man,
and grower of fine fruits and beautiful tropical foliage, Andy
now serves as Commissioner of Licensing and Consumer Affairs for
the Virgin Islands Government.
(Lynda Lohr, The Daily News March 16,
"Tales of St. John and the Caribbean"
is a potpourri of stories by St. John resident, Gerald Singer,
and other island residents.
Some are stories about Caribbean life and people
that Singer gathered to tout Marina Market, a local grocery
store. They ran on the back page of a local newspaper.
Others are fresh from the computer about island
characters and places that will be well known to the readers.
Even the cover will be familiar. It is a painting
by artist David Wegman titled "Out Where the Buses Don't
It depicts the artist hanging on to a rope ladder
aboard his boat while a storm rages around him. The painting
hung for years in the now-closed Sea Breeze Restaurant in Coral
In fact, the first story in Tales of St. John involves Wegman, a sometime St. John sailor well known up and
down the Caribbean for his salty adventures. Wegman got involved
with burying a body of a friend, Kenny Capen, that didn't stay
put when he was buried at sea.
Singer said he started writing the stories for
Marina Market about two years ago. The weekly job served as
the germ of a book, and Singer soon decided to include others.
"I loved everyone's stuff," he said
of work by St. John residents, John Gibney, Jack Andrews, Andy
Rutnik and Bob Tis and Jost Van Dyke resident, Curtney "Ghost"
Gibney writes about the first ice cream stand
on St. John, run by a man named Papa Doc. To increase profits,
Papa Doc extended his vanilla, chocolate and strawberry flavors
with crushed Styrofoam cups blended with Mazola oil. Papa Doc
went on to open the island's first motorcycle rental shop before
fleeing the island with the feds hot on his tail.
"Maybe some in the long line of carpetbaggers,
unscrupulous Realtors and con men who have followed in his footsteps
have stopped to wonder why their actions have barely raised
an eyebrow among St. Johnians. Why, because we knew Papa Doc,"
And then there's this wild story about a man who
had a crab in his ear. Related to Singer by Dr. Robert Walker,
who practiced here in the 1980s, the story tells the true tale
of a man who had a crab crawl into his ear. As if that wasn't
trouble enough, when Walker pulled the crab out, it had the
temerity to crawl right back in.
Don't miss the story by Rutnik, who by day serves
as the territory's Licensing and Consumer Affairs commissioner.
In a story that will be familiar to all the island
residents who lived through 1995's Hurricanes Luis and Marilyn,
Rutnik writes about surviving the storms.
"We were near the eye. Communication had
to be by instinct because we couldn't hear each other even at
distances of one foot. Screaming did not work; 27 years of marriage
did. We got the job done," he writes.