A St. John Story from the 1960s

St. John Books: Tales of St. John and the CaribbeanPapa Doc
by John Gibney
Excerpted from Tales of St. John and the Caribbean

From whence he came, I have no idea; whither he fled, not a clue.

He was a cross between Popeye the Sailor Man and a main-drag Vegas loan shark, a paternal hank of angelic white hair ringing his nearly bald pate. His beady thrushie eyes could soften and radiate kindness to a schoolboy with a quarter in his hand. Yet in a brief instant those same eyes could be as cold as a viper ready to strike, if the kid tried to sneak an extra dollop of catchup on his half-cooked greasy french-fries.

Yes, we were afraid of Papa Doc; yet I, for one, held him in awe.

One day, the yard across from where the Chase Bank now stands was the home of Henry “Limejuice” Richards and his family, and then, presto, the next day, a plywood and putty stand materialized.

Red and white stripes, multicolored strings of plastic flags, multiple roofs, deep fryers, drink coolers, plastic chairs with greasy splay-footed plastic tables to match, and, glory of glories, a state-of-the-art 1966 instant ice cream machine with levers and dials, bells and whistles.

From a narrow slot in the plywood, we witnessed Papa Doc pouring in packets of “Easy-Freeze” ice cream powder, a garden hose connection amidships where water did its magic. An old Texaco oil drum on the roof easily took the place of a municipal water supply, and the reliable force of gravity took the place of the electric water pump.

At the business end of this space-age, stainless steel, ice cream cow, were not two but three taps. Man had yet to land on the moon, but we were launched into the ice cream age, three flavors: chocolate, vanilla and strawberry.

Papa Doc must also be given the credit for bringing the Styrofoam cup to St. John, also recycling. After the morning coffee rush had cleared, we would see Papa Doc collecting all the used cups, crushing them in his wizened Midas hands into an empty gallon can of Miss Filbert’s Margarine. Then the little white chips were dumped unceremoniously into a Waring Blender, a cup of Mazola Oil and, voila, there is white paste poured into the Easy-Freeze Machine. “Filler,” muttered Papa Doc between his stained teeth, taking a pull on his Tampico Cigar and spitting out the bitten-off end…. read more

St. John Events

St. John Film Society
Cases by the Sea
Coral Bay
Featuring a Raffle Prize from Cinnamon Bay Surf Shack

Surfing for Life
Directed by David L. Brown & Roy Earnest
72 minutes, Documentary, 1999
Wednesday, March 20/ 7:30 pm
Suggested Donation $5

Ten legendary surfers weave a remarkable history of surfing in California and Hawaii. Not just about surfing, Surfing for Life reads like a metaphor about how to live and encourages viewers to pursue whatever hopes and dreams inspire their passion. Critics call it “wise and refreshing, told with artistry and a celebratory spirit,” Newsweek, and, “a treasure, perhaps the most intelligent treatment of surfing ever captured on film.”
San Francisco Chronicle.

Virgin Islands News

St Thomas – St. Croix Ferry
CHARLOTTE AMALIE, Virgin Islands – Senate President Shawn-Michael Malone has appealed to officials in Alaska to transfer ownership of a state-of-the-art passenger and car ferry to the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Officials in the Alaskan borough of Matanuska-Susitna are offering the $78-million vessel free to any government entity in the U.S. that has use for it. The vessel can carry 120 passengers and 20 cars and is also suitable for carrying emergency and heavy equipment between the islands.

“The V.I. Government is now in the process of trying to procure a new ferry to take over the St. Thomas-St. Croix route and a vessel like this is ideal,” Senator Malone said. “And its maintenance costs will be dramatically offset by the fact we would get it for free.”

Senator Malone said that loss of regular ferry service could not have come at a worse time for the territory. There has not been regular ferry service between the two districts since the ferry ran aground in July of 2011.

“As we struggle to rebuild our economy we need affordable transportation between our islands so that people, goods and money can better circulate through our territory,” Senator Malone said. “With a ferry like this St. Croix farmers could bring a truckload of produce over to St. Thomas and more residents and tourists in this district could make day or weekend trips to St. Croix.”

The Senate President appealed to the Alaskan borough officials to consider the Virgin Islands’ need for such a ferry.

“I let them know our situation and that this ferry would operate along a federally approved marine route,” he said. “I also asked them to forward the ferry’s detailed specifications to the Department of Public Works – the agency charged with obtaining a new ferry for the Virgin Islands.”

Senator Malone said he was optimistic about the territory’s chance of acquiring the ferry.

“Other cities have expressed interest to include Los Angeles, but I think our need at this time given is most compelling,” Senator Malone said. “And we certainly have nothing to lose by asking and running the numbers to see if this is a good option for us.”

High Utility Bills at the Heart of Business Shutdowns
By James Gardner — March 19, 2013
As utility costs continue to increase, even some of the territory’s more established businesses are finding it hard to stay open.

One of the most recent examples is the shut down of Trans Caribbean Dairy Corp., doing business as St. Thomas Dairies, which officially closed its doors on March 1. The official announcement was made through the V.I. Department of Labor, which issued a press release on Feb. 28, stating that counseling and employment services were being made available to the dairy’s employees.

Trans Caribbean’s St. Croix counterpart, Island Dairies, shut down in late 2011, with owner David Schuster citing among the reasons an increase in the price of raw materials, the inability to compete with lower priced imported products, and a $22,000 a month utility bill. In 2005, the government failed to assist the dairy in obtaining a Grade A certified label on its milk, which also kept the company from being able to sell milk to cruise ships…. read more

John D. Merwin, First Native-Born V.I. Governor, Dies at 91
By Source Staff — March 19, 2013
John David Merwin, the first native-born Virgin Islander to become governor of the territory, died Tuesday at his home in Ohio. He was 91 years old.

In Merwin’s honor, Gov. John deJongh Jr. directed that flags on all Virgin Islands public buildings be flown at half-staff from Tuesday until the day of burial at sunset.

Merwin was born Sept. 26, 1921, on St. Croix to a prominent Crucian family…. read more

St. John Weather

First Day of Spring (Vernal Equinox at 7:02 AM AST)
Clear with rain showers
High of 81 degrees F
Breezy: Winds from the East at 15 to 20 mph
Chance of rain 20%
Water temperature (Charlotte Amalie harbor St. Thomas): 84 degrees F
Sunset: 6:30 PM AST

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