Coral Bay, St. John Stories: Miss Anesta and Tony Sewer

Shipwreck Landing
One of the places I lived during the St. John, when I first arrived there in the early 1970s was an apartment on the property which is now known as Shipwreck Landing. he owners at the time were Tony and Anesta Sewer.

There used to be a gas station there, St. John’s first, I believe, but it was closed before I got there. Tony still ran a small general store there, but it was hardly ever stocked with anything.

Tony and Anesta were an unlikely couple. Tony was a hard drinking, retired sailor, who had been all over the place during his days at sea. Miss Anesta was a quiet, polite and hard working woman and a devout church goer.

Their nephew, Dennis Whitehead, lived in the main house with the Sewers and helped them a great deal. The venerable old fisherman, Walter Dalmida, also lived on the property in a tiny apartment .

Miss Anesta had a wonderful fenced-in flower garden, and all over the property, she had planted and tended to a variety of fruit trees, coconuts, papayas, sugar apples and soursops. Tony had single a pig and a small herd of fine sheep. By the time I moved on, there were no more animals there.

The pig
I remember the pig very well because he really had a bad smell. I know pigs aren’t supposed to smell like perfume, but I mean this pig really stank. I would get a whiff of his particularly foul oder every time he would pass by an open window. Stinky pig!

In late December of that year, I noticed that the bad smell that was a daily experience just stopped, went away. Shortly after this realization, Dennis invited me for dinner. I put two and two together and declined.

The sheep
That spring, Miss Anesta left island. If memory serves me well, she went to Europe. While she was gone, Mr. Tony took advantage of her absence to increase his alcohol intake, which was normally quite high, the result of which was that he became somewhat careless. And in that carelessness, he neglected to keep the sheep out of Miss Anesta’s flower garden.

Miss Anesta returned to a completely ruined garden. I don’t believe she so much as mentioned a word about it, but, the next day a large flat bed truck arrived to the house. Neither Tony nor Miss Anesta were anywhere to be seen. The driver methodically rounded up every last sheep and loaded them aboard the truck. When his work was done, he got into the truck and drove off. As far as I know the sheep were never replaced.

Don’t smoke in bed
“Don’t smoke in bed, ” is very good advice. Even better is, “don’t smoke at all,” but back then I did both and one night I dozed off with a lit cigarette and the bedding caught fire. It didn’t actually go up in flames, it sort of smoldered, but it didn’t go out easily, even after pouring glasses of water on it.

There was a hose outside, so I decided to haul the bedding outside and squirt it with the hose. Unfortunately on the porch were cans of fiberglass resin and other flammable stuff, I kept for my boat. These did go up in flames. It was fairly dramatic, but we were able to extinguish the fire before too much damage was done.

While we were cleaning up Mr. Tony came out of the house, shouting, “Dennis, get my gun!” He was angry with me, justifiably so, but the gun was a little extreme.

Luckily Dennis was not blindly obedient and he relied, “No uncle Tony.”

“Get my gun!” Tony demanded again

“No, Uncle Tony,” Dennis pleaded.

Realizing, finally that the situation was not as bad as it may have seemed, Tony relented. He gave up the idea of shooting me and instead returned to bed. By the next morning, everything was cleaned up and all forgiven.

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