Saturday, 2 April 2011

West Indies Trip 1948

WEST INDIES TRIP - 1948

Diary kept by Ruth Verrill

Document provided by Mike Holland and digitized April 2011 by Mike Holland, Cathy Conrad and Doug Frizzle

(Pictures and attachments, indicated by brackets, to follow)

(Copy of Passenger Clearance Information)

(Copy of Passenger Ticket)



(Copy of: Floor Plan)

British West Indies, May 25, 1948.
The bus ride to Miami was uneventful aside from a car that dashed out of a side-street and across the front of the speeding bus with but inches to spare! The driver missed a few heartbeats and an East Indian looking fellow sitting in front of us stuffed his fist in his mouth, a thing I had never seen a man do, in all my adult years.

I like Miami but Nandi does not. We walked a square of six or eight blocks while we waited for the bus to take us to the air-field.

The bus that took us to Miami gave us over sixty miles of action that could well be compared to the gait of a saddle animal that had in some way evaded a milk-cart. The action was lumpy, bumpy, jerky and full of unexpected side-curves.

The bus to the air-field was mostly filled with Latin Americans, Cubans and Puerto Ricans. The little ladies apparently go in for rather large sized and exotic hats in form and color. Bows, loops, roses – tiaras, lace –.

We were met by porters and the luggage was taken into the hotel like lobby and each in turn had his or her luggage set upon the several scales and their papers and tickets looked over and checked upon. It was some time before the plane was to arrive on which we were to leave so we had a chance to look at the people.

The Spanish and Latin American girls looked to us as though they were half-grown children strutting and parading, trying ever so hard to appear as grown up ladies, wearing their mothers’ party dresses and shoes, – and yes – the hats too! How they adore the gaudy flowered silk, or rayon jersey styles! One had a really attractive cardinal-red suit, and was tastefully groomed. Consequently she ‘stood out’. Several others were tastefully dressed but were in the minority. A hook-nosed Cuban Army Officer strutted about his business, shoe-eyed, military moustache – bantam-like and pompous, studied as the movements of a mechanical toy soldier –. It was amusing to watch him.

Before we went into the plane the Pan-Am “Public Relations Man” interviewed Nandi and then took several pictures of us. At the desk in the lobby and out in the front of the plane, we watched the slacks-clad girls servicing the planes. Renewing blankets, pillows, towels, etc. Cleaning the interior quickly and carefully. The go-devil cars came with gas, oil and various cares and supplies were showered upon the silver monster. A ladder on wheels, or a stair-case on wheels made it possible to reach the plane’s doorway. Two girl workers drove off on a go-devil with an attached bin of soiled linens etc. – for some place. A tractor of wee size, compared to the plane’s, hooked into it and towed it to another position. Some minutes after all had hustled up the rolling stair-case the smallish propellers churned and whirred, warming up and waiting for the signal to taxi around to the far end of the run-way. The huge thing taxied smoothly. Gathered speed when on the run-way and soon took off. We were snapped inside our safety belts, given chewing gum and made to feel quite at ease by the nice young stewardess.

I felt a bad pain in an old lung scar for a few seconds and then I was okay.

We watched Miami and the rest of the earth slide from view and the heavy pulsing of propellers and engines beat a rhythm even equal to the monotony of the tick of a well ordered watch.

Then began the neck-stretching! Looking at each new color of the ocean as the type of bottom changed –. Looking down on the clouds and blue sky, instead of up –. Places in the medium blue of the ocean showed dusty-navy-blue in distance, – sort of gashes of navy-blue, past which floated wisps of light clouds. These were distant islands or keyes. Now and then the ocean and its bottom looked like “West Point blue” crushed or creped paper – in long series of crepe-like-rippled areas, others were just like patterns on a zebra’s skin, – but two shades of blue. When a larger island or key was in the offing shoal waters became more and more frequent, then reefs – then sandy beach and then the variegated topography of the island itself.

The water was becoming gem-like in its blues and greens. Clear, pure as crystal colors.

Then, after these phases had been repeated once more, a sight so weird, so bizarre and entirely un-natural came into sight. It would do very well indeed as a background for most fanciful tales of some remote planet –. I will try to describe this, but whether I can do so in a manner that can convey even a modicum of reality, I do not know.

The water was of intense annaline, but crystal blue, clear blue. As its edges the water was aquamarine shading to lettuce green, all of crystal clearness, this fading as the water lessened in depth until it was pearly-ivory-pink –, this is the beach-strip –. Then in irregular, fungus like areas, – spawned here and there – (it appears –) is this higher area of the island –. The foliage of shrubs and trees against the ivory beaches and sandy interior of the islands appears to be rusty black, from spatters and speckles to large masses, just like mold in a slice of bread, long since dried out, and ‘dead’. These bizarre surfaces are broken up now and then by lagoons, or cross-canals, and on Andros by rivers or sounds or inlets. The colorings are so clearish and bold and as we saw it with the air above so clear, there is a sense of unreality about it –. Hard to believe your eyes –. But all in all the patterns or lack of patterns are just about on par with the marbled edges of pages of some fine hand made book, combining the shades of blue ranging from a heavenly midnight sort of dusty navy-blue to sapphire, copperas greens and blues, aquamarines, lime and lettuce greens, turquoises and baby-blues all of course as one would see these colors and shades in the finest glass or clearest quartz.

When it came time for dinner the stewardess placed a soft oblong pillow on our laps and soon arrived with a tray for each of us. On the tray was a card-board mat cut out in places for the plastic dishes to set. Paper napkin, paper envelope of pepper, one of salt and one of sugar. The salt one had four or five tubular sections and one might tear off one – or all of their ends and let the salt free. A cup of clear broth, a large slice of roast beef, broad noodles and brown gravy, a salad, roll, butter, water, cream, French dressing, a pickle, an olive, mints and coffee. There were toothpicks too! A silver-ware and pickle (with the olive) were in crystal plastic envelopes. We had ‘seconds’ on coffee and sugar and I had 3 salads! Not being able to eat meat etc. There was brick ice-cream to top it all which I could not have, of course. After that the air was regulated. Lights arranged to suit, as well as the aisle ceiling lights between the seats. The seats were in sets of three and there were 10 ports or windows on each side so there were about 60 seats for passengers. The stewardess showed us how to let our seats back, gave us pillows and also soft blankets to those who wanted them and we settled down to wait for the unloading at San Juan. We waited our turn to have luggage and papers inspected and watched the glitter of gold and silver ornaments of the Latin ladies, their sky-high-heeled sandals of jewel-like styling and materials, or the ballet-styled ones –. The new-look on these little, vivacious ladies but emphasizes the illusion that they are kids in mothers’ French frocks. Cascades of deep brown or black hair, softly curling over active shoulders and backs, or jet black, ‘varnished’ hair-dos that savour of ‘inter-planetary influence’ seems to be the most popular among those who travel the air-ways. Some had conventional bobs and hats –, but were in the minority.

The customs over and the sour, “frost-bitten”, hard and very austere visaged army chaplin and his comrad out of the way, we started a search for a taxi and a sensibly priced hotel. We had to take our luggage (6 pieces) and so did everyone else, as there is no place to store luggage at the customs house. So we drove to Santurce or how it is spelled and after a test-trip to two hotels, settled on the “Grenada”. It is a large hotel, well built, quite in the Spanish mode and ornamented tastefully with bas-reliefs in symbolic form of the conquest and development of Puerto Rico. This is in the fore part –. In the lobby all is tile, tile – –, dadoes of glass and colored tile in the style of Old Spain. Even bits of mirrors are used in the decorative borders, panels and odd star-shaped ornaments. The wall lamps are bold, but richly styled metal double eagles flat against the lobby’s walls. These hold the “torches”.

When the taxi driver came in with the luggage, Nandi suggested that he take us for a drive about the city and country and the desk clerk’s jaw dropped, his rather bulgy eyes bulged the more and he looked almost scandalized and rolled his eyes toward the clock –. “Now?” he gasped –. Nandi said, “Yes, now!” The amazed clerk’s face seemed to register his general thoughts as being: “These loco, Norte Americans! Oh –, well, – as they are, – they be –, and what else can a poor Puerto Rican hotel clerk hope to expect! Caramba!!” It was nearly eleven pm. but the dim city lights and clear night permitted us both to see much of the yard – fences, gates, shrubs, houses and steps, iron grill-work of balcony, window and door to get a general idea of the quaintness of the places. As it is in Cedar Key, Florida, it is in this part of Puerto Rico, the partly completed sky-scraper block of a new bank, is but a few doors from once fine places of business and domicile and manufacture which are going to rot and ruin. Some buildings look so bad they would look normal in a blitzed area in England! Some buildings seem cherished, fresh-painted and enhance the contrasts –. New and old, glass block, cement, carved wood and stucco elbow one-another –.

After seeing the harbor lights and glassy waters, hearing the various frogs and smelling the musky-sweet perfume of flowers through rain-masked air, we went back to the hotel. (It had rained before our plane came in.) Our taxi driver, 24, has a wife (señora) 21, and 2 muchachas and 2 muchachos! We headed for bed somewhat after midnight.

The beds had innerspring mattresses and I had one heck of a time getting to sleep. (They bother me!) At half past one I got up and stirred about and then went back and put my solid hulk as near the firm margin of the mattress as I could, and went to sleep. Awoke at 4:30, got up –, went back to sleep and slept until 5:15 – went to sleep once more by sheer will power and awoke at six.

Nandi and I got up, picked up, dressed, packed up and went to look for breakfast. No place open to feed “Crazy Norte Americans”. We walked a bit, enjoyed houses, yards, flowers and views. Nandi took some views I wanted. Another desk clerk who almost knew no English gave me some local post-cards. I said as nicely as I could, “Gracias.” I either did badly or well. I don’t know which, for he looked surprised –.

Our last night’s taxi driver did not come at 7, 7:15 or 7:25 so the driver of the Grenada Hotel taxi took us bag and baggage to the air-port. A red cap took care of our luggage and told us if we had to eat at the restaurant upstairs to eat only buns and coffee, which we did, only “buns” were bun –, a huge one. Coffee was good.

Characters galore. By types we are familiar with they would be: Texan farmer, Lupe Velez the actress, Queen Victoria, Cubans, –, Latins –, sound effects as would not to be too different from a love-bird, parakeet and parrot store – in full sound! One old time Spanish Duenna type as perfect, – I liked her, and also “Queen Victoria”, dear old, old ladies!

Came time to go and as we were just to leave the inspector’s shelf or bench, the fellow recognized Nandi. He had known him in Panama many years ago. We carried but one piece of luggage. The rest was, as before, cared for by the attendants and customs men.

At the head of the wheeled stair-case was another stewardess, lovely, brunette and looking so much like the one of last night’s route that Nandi thought it was she. I didn’t for I noticed on second look that she was a smaller, shorter girl.

The plane’s take off was of no trouble to us, the belts were safely buckled and the smaller plane got going. The play of colors in the water was much the same in several places, but coral heads partly bleached, and reefs just awash were a solid block of intense apple green. Brain corals or –? Reels upon reefs, but deeply submerged give a silver tone to the blue above. We passed cloud masses like balls, loosely rolled from “angel hair”. We sailed over islands and passed big ones on our right but these looked like islands should as we think of them.

There were few on the St. Thomas plane and when we got off there was but one man with Nandi and me. Where the rest scurried off to, I didn’t notice. We stopped at the edge of the landing field while Nandi talked with a man he saw there. He told the follow what we wanted and why we were here and it ended with our getting into the man’s station wagon and heading for Charlotte Amalie. (He had a hotel –.)

The landing field is towered over by multiple conical little mountains, some piled one back of – or above and against its neighbor. Steep sided, covered with a blanket of close brush and vegetation. A high –, ridge-high, mule – or carriage road traverses the summits or borders of the summits of these weird ‘peaks’ and now and then side-roads stem downward or upward from it and at the ends of these are all sorts of types of architecture. The paved road we followed to town passed row after row of shacks, huts, cottages and houses of the colored folk. Goats, ‘naked’, scrawny sheep, donkey and chickens seemed to cover the domestic stock angle, unless you care to count the cats and a few, fairly decent looking dogs –. No matter how ruinous a place may be, – and for the good places too, there are flowers. Gaudy blobs of joyous and fragrant bloom. You do not have to peer about to see them –. You couldn’t miss them!!

Nandi talked with his new friend of the old friends here – and mutual interest grew and when we reached town our present housing cares were at an end. We unloaded at our new friend’s hotel and found it very clean, practical and reasonable.

The morning was spent in the shops, at the docks and in the central market. Nandi bought custard apples, fig bars, anas and mangos.

We ate at a “tea-shop”, a white chicken strolled calmly out just as we came to the foot-bridge (boards) across the drain ditch, and as we entered more flies came along to see what we were to order for ourselves and the flies inside. It had sprinkled a little and the streets were more or less sticky and this made the dirty floor of the “tea-shop” worse! The salt shaker cap was full of rust and damp salt, the flies were getting excited and kept up their constant flights to see what had come to the table if anything, stopping now and then to sip the damp sugar on the sugar dispenser’s “sweet lips”. Dextrose, of course (sucrose?) is well recognized as essential to those who expend too much energy over too long a time –, so –: Well, I had suspected before this, that flies were very intelligent, – sometimes (!!)

Little black brother was caring for baby, and nicely too, holding the pretty little (feller?) girl in his arms. It’s apparent, by damp, and rather dingy knit panties creating no hazard. When mama came, baby exchanged arms, and a grimy, obviously soiled set of dish towels occupied sonnie’s hands as he took up the polishing (?) of beverage glasses at the bar.

Yes, I ate. The food was well prepared and was good, but an odd sensation was haunting my middle –. I shooed flies with one hand and ate with the other and Nandi and I got it over with in due course of time. We hoped there was another place where we could eat – though –, and afford it!

We bought local ginger-ale and it was delightful! Truly fine –. Nandi tried very hard to work out some sort of plans for going on with our work, – and it was slow, tedious work –. But out of nearly all new discussions, one theme prevailed. “Where the U.S. owns, the prices are patterned after the Hollywood and Washington trend.”

The custard apples are not bad. I ate half. The little bananas are lovely, sweet as can be.

All are doing what they can to help us, and Nandi is getting things lined up to where he will know what he can do, and what can be done –.

I am yet weak from the vaccination and Nandi was very tired as we came back by taxi to the hotel.

We informed our host of our rather unhappy choice of an eating place and we decided to try the “Bamboo” at supper time. Which we did. Steaks, chops and chicken, all U.S.A. food for U.S.A. patrons – and no fish. (I can’t have meat or eggs.) So –, no choice but to return to the “tea-house”. Nandi had a delicious chop and – – –. I had fried fish – – –, and –. But there was an ‘and’ I had not counted on. “– – – and the fish smelled like the water at the colored boy’s dock!!”

The fish was removed with sincere and acceptable apologies and the remainder of the food was relished. There were but two flies, the floor had been cleaned, the salt shaker had been cleaned and given a new cap, or replaced entire and the dear, but superfluous infant was missing. (Who put a ‘bug’ in their ear about our reaction to a native meal au fresco?) (Fresco of fly-specks!)

Nandi helped the woman manage to make mixed drinks, he wanted a Manhattan, what ever that may be, and she was pleased to see how it was concocted. We had a pleasant walk back to the hotel and now I am finishing the day of May, the 26, 1948. Charlotte Amalie (?) Or is it? A very fine, but very ill Canadian service man has the adjoining room. He has been sent here to get well. (His spine, shoulders, or something –.)

Our landlord or host is a fine man – and we are enjoying his hospitality and are to eat breakfast with him, beginning tomorrow. Nandi has taken several pictures here. The houses cling to the sides of the little mountains back of the town like swallows’ nests to a mud-bank. Their coloring is distinctive, and their architecture ideally suited to the climate. Photogenic as a character place, – haven of beautiful flowers, but I would not want to live here. The vegetables are sorry looking and I would not call their fruits at all first class. (I may be expecting too much.)




May 27, 1948
(Photo)


(Photo – Ruins at Caneel Bay Resort …)


(Photo – French Village, Home of Handicraft)


Virgin Islands, May 28, 1948, Charlotte Amalie.
We hired Swan and his fine new Hudson Taxi to take us about the island’s bays. He came a little after 8 am. and had his wife Esmerelda with him. A superior type of colored girl –. (Swan is colored.)

We started out of town following the incredibly steep streets, and turning corners that look impossible to do with a car. These little mountains are as abruptly up as they are abruptly down, but a fine paved road crosses the island and practically runs all the way around it. Side roads of hard packed red clayish earth go out into the bush.

There is a tall, dusty turquoise cactus that is beautiful, a cereus we saw by the road had huge buds waiting for night and the time to bloom. Other cacti were in flower and lovely. A lot of wild pineapples are ‘all over’, a few were in bloom. The outside leaves of the plants were the usual color, but the inside or central leaves were a violent cerise-red. A vine that is fairly common has yellow flowers shaped like verbena blooms. We saw several of the exotic breadfruit trees with their green velvet fruits. They are one of the handsomest trees in foliage I have ever seen. Mango and guava trees seemed to have gone wild in many places. The calabash trees had green fruit and are impossible appearing trees and the fruits too. The hibiscus here is red for the most part and the edges of the petals are serrated. They are not as large as the usual red hibiscus. Some of the blue cacti that were damaged or ancient and had little birds nesting in holes in them.

We saw a lot of wild egg-plants and wild cotton bushes and one ceiba tree.

Much of the bush is “just bush” with no outstanding feature. One shrub has leaves much like holly but crisper, smaller, and the places where the veination comes is sharply raised. These leaves are mahogany reddish brown and dark olive green and have an intense luster. The lantanas are weedy and poor.

We saw little garden patches and large ones. Most are terraced, the soil the color of that in Georgia, U.S.A. Nearly all are very stoney and we saw a few stone walls. Some of the places pitiful in man’s attempt to survive and raise his family –. It would be a God-send if some kind soul would buy a small tractor and a disk plow and ‘co-operate’ it at a small fee to farmers who could use it and relieve these men of this unsatisfactory, heart breaking inefficient toil. It is sorely needed. Some have goats, all have donkeys and dogs, well kept, and some have chickens. We saw a few excellent horses and several herds of beautiful cattle. Mixed to be sure, Holstein, Ayrshire, Jersey, Brama, Dutch Belted – and what not. Many of the rural areas look like the grassy rounded hills of New England. Some of the hills feeding sheep look just like hills in Vermont where sheep are also grazed. One farm of a rather finer order had a huge flock of sheep. The sheep here have no wool.


(Page of 3 photos)


(Page of 3 photos … Writing for top photo: Back of trees. We live in the Guest House this side of “1829”. Kon does not show. It is back of the mango and big plum tree –.)


(Page of 3 photos … Writing for right-hand side top photo: Now built into the architecture of an expensive, modern hotel.)


(Page of 3 photos … Writing for middle photo: We bought my native made hat and basket here ?.)


(Page of 3 photos … Writing for top photo: We buy ice-cream, breads, and soups in cans here ?.)


The water of the island is rain water. Huge cement ‘aprons’ on sides of the hills trap the rain and sluice it into huge reservoirs. Some towns have their own rain-water systems and electric pumps.

We saw a cement watering trough way up in the hills, fed by a spring somewhere higher up.

The poor whites (French) are called by the natives Chachas. We saw several humming birds, wrens and one brilliant yellow warbler.

We took our lunch and working equipment with us. The first place we stopped to work in was Hull Bay. We didn’t get much there and went to Cokie Bay. We didn’t stop at Magens Bay. Then we stopped at Red Hook. We got our shells at Hull Bay and Red Hook. We got several sorts of turbots, 2 cymatiums, many limpets and of several sorts, some mitres, tegulas, 1 asaphis, and quite a few others of names I do not remember. The areas we worked were rocky for the most part, one shallow area had several sorts of coral in the grass under the water. The handsomest was a light cinnamon brown of a very pretty shade, and deep ivory color at the edges. It looks like moose antlers. The sea urchins are huge in the grassy areas, red and black on and in rock.

The hire of Swan and his car cost $27 dollars, which was reasonable for a whole day and the wear on his car up and down those sharp hills and mountains.

I got so tired I had to slide down the larger rocks, my weak leg would not hold me, I stumbled and slipped as I got more tired and had to stay away from deeper water, the surf shoved me around so. I worked right up to the time to quit, but was too tired and weak to eat my dinner. I was sick in the night. “Nandi” took it all in his stride and was fine!


May 29, 1948

I worked the shells, cleaned out the animals and Mr. Cancryn gave the meat to a cat. “Nandi” rough cleaned the exteriors and is wrapping them up and putting them in a carton.

I could not eat much of the food the “tea-room” had, so Nandi got a sterno stove and groceries, a papaya and a loaf of banana flour bread and Nescafe coffee. I ate green olives, 2 mangos, a can of chicken soup, bread and coffee for lunch. I was so weak I began to cry and decided to lie down and sleep and let my food work.

Mr. McKenna told us Hitler’s former yacht was in town. We saw it as she crossed the bay. It is of course a magnificent ship –.

“Nandi” has gained weight and looks fine. He sleeps a lot here. He says we got over 200 shells yesterday –. He just called in to tell me –. Mr. Keller, a guest here, went out to play soft-ball this pm. Army mess vs. colored local team. (What a game that would be!)

Nandi had been down town through the middle part of the day searching for knowledge of places where shells are and data on various islands.

The donkeys are cream color, mostly quite tiny, and all look ancient. Big heads, lean, almost bony frames – and apparently very docile.

(We hear from one of the players that the army won the soft-ball game.)

We just got the latest news on the handsome yacht. It belonged to the King of Norway and was confiscated by the Germans. When the war was over it was returned to Norway –. The American Express Co. has it on a charter cruise from New Orleans to the Mediterranean Ocean.

I saw what I thought was a jet black humming bird hawk moth but Nandi says it is a humming bird, deep green on top, green on the throat, almost black underneath, smallest bird in the world, weighing about 20 grams or 1/25 of an ounce. He says they sing beautifully.


(Photo – Inter-island Shipping, St. Thomas …)


(Photo – Business and Residential District … Writing: Hotel 1829, “Adrienne Guest House”, Mr. Downing’s Home, “Grand Hotel”, Cooperative Building)


Charlotte Amalie, June First, Tuesday, 1948. Virgin Islands.
At breakfast along with the rest of the roomers, Mr. Keller, Mr. McKenna, our landlord, Mr. Cancryn, Mr. Verrill, Mr. Coombe and myself, was a vast, flabby man that we all disliked at once. He is around 6 feet, weighs perhaps 240, has pale-blue, pig-like eyes, baby pink skin, several chins, light, thin hair, a wicked little mouth with small slightly over-lapped upper front teeth. He has several chins, an ‘equator’ of considerable size, a nervous manner and Mr. V. says the fellow packs a gun! He has the atmosphere of a “punk”, – or low type gangster. His conversation with me covered unions, Lewis, labor, capital, coal-mining and valuable by-products of coal, etc. He is over 40 I should say and under 50. When he finally turned in for the night he wanted to change the room he had for a better protected one unexpectedly vacated by Coombe, who was re-called by wire to Puerto Rico, who did not know he was about to leave at breakfast time. The big “Bufo Americana” locked, bolted and barricaded his door, our landlord said, which is unheard of here –.

The room he has is right over ours and I heard him turning and tossing all night long . I was having a bad time with my sun-burned back and only slept by little snatches until four, when I wearily got up and took one ‘sleep-pill’ much as I hated to do so. How much “Bufo” banged around after that I don’t know. Our landlord is thinking about asking him to leave – – –.

The mangincil bush poison is nearly gone from my hand and neck. I have masses of small blisters and several huge broken ones. One on my right shoulder and one big one on the lower part of my left shoulder blade and some other smaller ones.

We sat and watched the big “fruit bats” last evening and one rather small owl. Just before dark a little lizard sat on the top of the garden wall and did what is probably the lizard version of the rhumba. We laughed at his or her antics for some time. It would make jerky, convulsive rhythmic motions with its back and long tail, bunching, humping up, curving down, tail curved up, tail curled down, hump and curl up, curve and curl down –, legs akimbo and placed rather closely together, the two fronts –, and two hinds –. It’s the craziest, zaniest ‘dance’. I’d like to see Carmen Miranda do that!

Barbara sent us a clipping with the Pan Am photo and short article about us. My ‘curly’ nose had been retouched but aside from that it is a neat little article and a good photo of the both of us.


(Photo – St. Thomas from the Air)


(Photo – Emancipation Garden and Grand Hotel …)


(Photo – Government House, St. Thomas …)


(Photo – Municipal Building, Charlotte Amalie …)


(Photo – Residential District, St. Thomas …)


(Photo – Post Office and Custom House, St. Thomas …)


(Photo – French Village, St. Thomas …
– Writing: Compare to the first post card on Page 10)


(Photo – The Center of Charlotte Amalie …
– Writing: Nook of the street we live on, Post Office, Cooperative Building)


(Photo – Matchless Magens Bay)


The water is sulphate – of copper-blue, crystal clear and its bottom is lovely white sand. It has several beautiful beaches. It is a place of great beauty and readily accessible by car. We saw no shells here, but terabra-flammeas (did I spell this correctly?) are said to have been found here. They are sand loving shells –.


June 10, 1948.
We arrived in St. Croix yesterday am. The trip by air was not particularly pretty except for the beautiful colors of the ocean’s waters. We met Mr. Armstrong, son of an old friend of Mr. V’s, at the air-port. We called for Wilhelm Samuels, the colored boy, and his taxi. There were several along with us. We saw the Bethlehem estates, the Diamond, Ruby and others. The ride was the prettiest part of the day’s sights. The highway is well paved and from the air-port to Christiansted is a long way. The old wind-mills of European type are gone. Metal wind-mills of modern make are now on the bases where the old ones once were and many are abandoned completely with no wind-mills on them at all. Wreckage and ruins of old estates are to be seen from the air and along the highway. The cane crop, what little is yet raised on St. Croix, has recently been harvested. Little agriculture is carried on as far as I could see.

The interior of the island looked as if it had recently undergone a long drouth. Many large trees were dead. I saw a few goats, donkeys and horses and only one fine herd of cattle among which were some mouse colored Brahmas. Wilhelm took us to a Mr. Norbes’ house and we settled down to wait for Mr. Norbes. We went out to eat lunch and there seemed to be but two places to eat in, outside of the costly hotels. These two are: “The Blue Room” where only sandwiches and drinks are served, and “Franchette’s” where a good, well-cooked, plentiful meal is $1.50 per plate, coffee 15¢ extra, or tea, 25¢ for a can of beer extra, no dessert . Ice cream can be had. There is some up-hill and downs, the streets are paved, all buildings are large, in reasonably good condition, nearly all second stories extend over the side-walks and the outer edges are supported by Spanish style arches under which you can walk, free of the sun’s rays, or rain. There is an air of a town recently left deserted during a holiday, but the “holiday” desertion is probably a permanent one – for business aside from Rum seems to be at the low ebb – these days.

Ancient cannons ‘hold up’ street corners –, and there are many of them.

I saw the old fort and several public buildings –, but all in all it is a very un-interesting place to see and fearfully hot and sultry.

We couldn’t get a row-boat, sail-boat, or power-boat of any kind to take us to the reefs. We could not get a place within several miles of either end of the reef –, we could get places in the town; all but Norbes’ were high. Norbes wouldn’t let us boil shells at his place, and a taxi to and from the beach all those miles was more than we could afford, to say the least and with food at $7 a day for us two –, well, we just packed up and came right back to St. Thomas, and are we glad to get back!


(Photo – Writing: Hospital, Frederickstead, St. Croix)


(Photo – Writing: Out of Globe Hotel window, St. John’s Antigua, B.W.I.)


(Photo – Writing: From back yard of Adrienne’s Guest House looking up toward the higher land. Charlotte Amalie, Island of St. Thomas, V.I. U.S.)


(Photo – Writing: Christiansted, St. Croix, V.I. St. Paul’s (Old English)


There is a wealth of shells in St. Croix for we found many excellent kinds in the water at the edge of the municipal docks. All were dead and no good, but it showed what a fine lot could be had if one could get a boat and a boy to take one to where the live shells are –. Breva-spinas, mitres, top shells …


June 10-11, 1948. Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, Virgin Is.
We went to bed about 11 pm., later than we usually do. At 1:45 am. June 11, our bed-room door (double ones) burst open with a crash. Mr. V. awoke instantly and went to look outside from the open door-way. No one was in slight. All was quiet. He remarked that Mr. Cancryn surely had some lively ghosts here, but it couldn’t have been a “Siconyea” as they come in through key holes, not by crashing in the door. The doors were pushed shut once more and the top bolt shut closed. Some minutes after, a sound of the door’s being pushed gently around us but the sound was slight and we went to sleep once more. Some time later I heard the shutter by my window make a snap or pop. I dozed off and the sound came again and louder –. I was wide awake by that time and was lying there very quietly, watching the jalousie and shutters. I saw the shadow of arms, saw the arms pushing the shutters back, and the bulk of the man’s body nearly filled the half lighted window area. A hook, I believe it to have been, was slid between the cleats of the jalousie and the man tried to lift the hook that held them closed and it did not work. He took the jalousies and shook them slightly to release the pressure on the hook inside. Then tried hooking the hook upward from its eye and it worked this time, the hook dropped.

Then the robber or prowler turned on a dim flash-light being careful to not shine it in my face and began to work on the top hook. All this time I was trying to think of something to throw at him but there was nothing near me so I called as sternly and calmly as I could muster, “Who are you, and what do you want here? Get the h--- out of here quick! And to Mr. V., I said: “Get your gun Honey, there is a prowler on the porch and he is unlocking the jalousie.” Mr. V. obliged with appropriate sounds and words – and no sound came from outside. We didn’t dare turn on the light for fear the prowler had a gun and would see us through the jalousies and shoot, – if murder was his objective.

Mr. V. tried to call Mr. Cancryn but he did not hear. Then we feared he was hurt or maybe killed, and by this time our near neighbor, Mr. Downing, had awakened and I suggested that he call the police and tell them of our ‘caller’, which he did. Mr. V. wanted to call Mr. Cancryn (if he was uninjured) so Mr. V. began a tattoo on the side wall of the room and as no reply came, we were more worried about Mr. Cancryn. I asked Mr. V. if I should yodel for Mr. Cancryn and he thought I had better so I did –. Finally I heard Mr. Cancryn coming to the stairway and certainly felt relieved to know he was okay. He said someone had tried to get into the outside bathroom some time earlier in the night. As Mr. Cancryn turned on the porch light Mr. V. saw the dull glow of a flash-light at the foot of the inner-yard stairs – and it disappeared – around the angle of the wall.

The officer arrived after about a half and hour and Mr. V. showed him what the story was about and gave him all the information he could. The officer, or another, remained near-by until daylight. We went back to bed and to sleep.

After breakfast Mr. Cancryn and the rest of us, Maude, the maid, Mr. V. and I moved our belongings to a room on the main floor and opposite Mr. Cancryn’s room. There are no other guests in the place. The 'Bufo' left yesterday am.

Our prowler was a very tall man, six feet or over, heavy set, wore a loose jacket or sweater, wore no hat, and may have had a small cap or bandana on his head –, but of this I am not positive. I told Mr. V. that it was the height and build of Swan, the taxi driver. I had layed there a minute or two watching for every bit of evidence I could see, to help toward identifying the prowler, and it must have been a fearful shock to the fellow when I called to him from a dead-quiet room. My cot was so close to the wall where he was trying to get in that he would have just about stepped onto me as he came through the window, if he had gotten that far –.

Another officer came to look about and take notes and said he would send another officer up to try to pick up some finger-prints from finger marks in the dust on the jalousies. Meanwhile, Mr. V. went to see the Chief of Police about it all and to ask about getting a gun. Mr. Beretta said he would see Mr. V. later about one, but he has not called as yet and it is now late afternoon.

Guns must be registered here, the police make a test shot from each one and file its number and the description on the shell and bullet fired in the test as a precaution against un-solved gunnings that might happen in the future.

The finger-print officer found all surfaces too rough and dusty to yield a liftable print.

Swan’s wife is said to have told an officer that he was not at home this am. at 4 –. Later in the day they picked him up and two others. Swan and his cronies said he went home at 11:20 pm. yesterday. His wife said he came home at 7:30 pm. yesterday but wouldn’t swear that he did not leave the house later. On being questioned at the police office about where he was etc. but no particular mention of anything being made, he got surely and ‘up in the air’ and wanted a lawyer before he even had an idea why he was asked to go to the police station and the chief told him he was just making it look bad for himself for he was not accused of, or charged with, anything but he could have a lawyer if he wanted one. Swan has had a horrible head injury and since that time has been before the police quite a few times for one thing or another –. The chief and others think Swan is our prowler and that he should be sent to a competent hospital for a check up and care.

We are to have a guard for a week and Swan is to be ‘tailed’ carefully –, just in case –.


Charlotte Amalie, June 13, 1948, Sunday.
We had Harris, the taxi driver, call for us at 7:15 this am. We were not ready as Mr. C., Mr. V. and I had gotten our own breakfast. Charcoal is kindled by pine splinters laid over a wee grate sunk in a fairly deep, square area in a ledge built across one end of the cook house. There are 2 of these built in charcoal pots in this ledge and head high above and over them is a vast chimney made of brick set edgewise. It is a work of skill, and very interesting.

Harris took us to Bovoni to shell fish. Along the way the previously dry little brook-beds were filled with rain water, the roads on the hills were gutted from the recent down-pour and it was very hard on the car. Cacti and wild flowers and various trees were in bloom. The cacti are varied indeed around here. The country was fresh and green and really lovely. We had to hunt for the Bovoni estate but finally found it. It is a new cottage now, built beside the ruins of the old and original plantation house. There are scraps of walls all over the area where buildings once stood. One ruined area covered an underground cellar, now filled with debris half way up to its side walls. I did not attempt to drop down the well-like opening to the bottom to see what it was like farther under. There are pomegranate trees there in bloom by the new house, cream color and flame colored flowers on the shrubs, the 2 colors represent 2 varieties of pomegranate fruit, there is some difference in the shape of the flowers too –. There are several cherimoya trees with green fruit. The pomegranate fruits were green too. They, – the pomegranates – are gracefully lovely fruits in themselves, the way they grow and in their flowering.

There are other lovely plants and shrubs about the place too.

The cottage has a broad porch with 2 huge, comfy fences on it. The place is on the crest of a high hill and the breezes are fresh and delightful. You can see the waters of the ocean on two sides of St. Thomas from here, it is so high. The water is rain-water collected from drains from the roof and piped into a very fine and huge white painted reservoir which is completely closed over. There is a baking oven and chimney in the back yard – and altogether it is a charming, airy, restful and appealing place – miles from town or anywhere. Remote and great in its sun-lit peace, and a look out view over a scene of unusual variety and beauty. Back of the area are higher hills, verdant with bushes, sprinkled with cacti and century plants. Some of the latter are in bloom. The flower stalks are 18 to 25 feet high for a guess and at the top of these are masses of egg yolk yellow flowers that look completely solid at a distance. The seed pods are exotic too. There are several kinds of these century plants and many are higher than a man and 6 to 9 feet in diameter. There was a small bush that had fine, shiny leaves and crimson and ruby red berries on it (some were green, some were half ripe or orange color). These berries have an exceedingly high gloss and are about ½” in diameter and beautiful to see. There were several sorts of lizards about and all sizes.

The upper sides and tops of the hills back of the estate have quite a few huge trees. Some of the more distant hills have cleared areas on their sides. There are several charcoal burning places not too far from here. Acacias are mostly used for this purpose.

I saw some sort of construction beyond a narrow path that leads into the brush and went to see what it was. There were 4 graves. One, the best, walled or sided up with stone and fenced in, had a fine white marble slab marker on its top. It is Sigñor Josephi Bovoni’s. All in Italian. I think it said he was born in Ginoa, Italy. The second was to a ––– Violet, born 1876, at the head of this grave is a very large cross and a medium sized white marble marker. This is also walled in with stone. At each side of this grave are two un-marked graves, apparently adults. These are surrounded by stone ‘fences’. Low, little walls.

Near the graves is a huge, venerable old gnarled tree. All is peaceful here, the sun filters gently through the foliage, many little lizards scootle about, some on the ground, some on the tree trunks –. A very nice place to go to one’s eternal rest – –. Somehow, I feel that Josephi Bovoni was a rare fine man.

We got about 150 shells at low tide, but the surf was pretty rough all the time and worse when the tide began to come in. We got nothing rare. Mostly turbos and limpets. We ate our lunch in a rocky shelter back from the beach.


(Photo)


Harris came for us about 1:15 pm. On the way back I saw some ripe calabashes on a tree, a breadfruit tree full of rotting fruits and some fine sheep, cattle and chickens. In town, Harris took us past the Bluebeard’s, and Blackbeard’s Castle Hotels, the fine local hospital staffed by local nurses and doctors, and the Roosevelt Memorial Park, Baseball Park and Government House. Mr. V. had him stop twice so he could take some photos of the long street to street stairs from one level of the town to the one above it –. The scenic bits about this town are precious and an artist would find it a golden field of bizarre, unique, graceful, scenic or picturesque opportunities for ‘do-able’ subjects.

Its art value is of the highest quality. Architecture such as I have never seen in pictures or life – is to be found here, flowers, shrubs, century plants, cacti, African yucca, walls, arches, alleys, gardens, types, characters, street scenes, donkey carts, galleries, miradors, ornate windows, chimneys, iron-grillwork–, gates –, patios –. Distinctive, so new to work on –!

I boiled the shells on Mr. Cancryn’s charcoal ‘stove’ and have them ready for the rough cleaning. We have some fine limpets. I found a few snails in Mr. Cancryn’s flower gardens and began a hunt for all sorts I could find and got at least four sorts.

We brought Mr. Cancryn a “Bishop’s Head” cactus for his garden and we are trying to coax him into getting some of each cactus on the island and devote one of his walled in gardens to them as a beauty spot, and an attraction to visitors as well as being of educational value.

The “Bishop’s Head” is round, covered with sets of rose colored spines and is a very attractive dark-green globe.


June 15, Tuesday, 1948. Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas.
Harris came for us about 8 o’clock am. We drove west and into the hills. The flowers and cacti are lovely. Many I had not seen before. The view of the islands, harbors, bays and points, and the ocean lying hundreds of feet below was a sight to please the most blasé. I cannot believe that anyone could see this magnificent panorama and turn away un-impressed.

We could find no road to Flamingo Bay that a car could follow. A foot path descended from the main paved highway and wound down, – down – down, past ruined estates – and ended somewhere back from the beach. Mr. V. flatly refused to walk that mile and a half or so – and decided to drive back to town. Harris followed a lower, un-paved road back, which was below the paved one –, following the contours of the sides of the combined foot-hills. It was water rutted, stoney, steep and turning –. We had to go very slowly. I doubt if a car could go up it.

When we got back to the public beach, we saw some colored boys and an old sail boat about 14 feet long. Mr. V. asked Harris to ask them if they would take us to Flamingo Bay. (Nearly all of the shoreline of this island can only be reached by boat!) So they said they would for $3.00 an hour.

The sail was an old army tent based into the rude shape of a sail. The mast was spliced with another stick at the top and wired together. The main ropes were pretty well worn and the smaller ones were electric light wire!! The oars were guava sticks with pine paddles wired onto them. The ‘oar-locks’ were pegs driven into the rim of the boat –. The hull of the boat was very heavy, strong and in good condition though. The seats were boards laid across the boat. I clambered in with no trouble, sat in the center or near it and the older boy sat in the stern and steered and managed the sail. I had to bend double as the sail was set at a different angle and got my head bumped with it once –.

It was my first ride in a sail boat and my first ride in a small boat on salt water. The water was like liquid crystal glass of aqua, Nile green, turquoise and sulphate of copper colors as the depths and light changed. The rising and falling of the boat was fun and I enjoyed my ride.

Flamingo Bay wasn’t as well surrounded by land as we had supposed and there was some surf. The surf increased as a small shower came over and also after it had passed. We found it impossible to see shells in the water so lifted dead and living corals to the surface and dug shells off them as best as we could with the surf crashing against our legs and hips. We lost some shells by their being knocked from our fingers before we could slip them into bags or bottles. One wave came from ‘nowhere’ and hit me like a board on the backside once and I came as near to going on my face in the water as I ever will and not. It was getting worse and worse so we quit. Our two boys had been to some old estate and gotten mangos and green coconuts while they waited for us to work.

They took the mast down and put it away with the sail and took up the oars. Mr. V. asked if they were to row back and they said they had to –. The sail and mast wouldn’t stand up under the breeze that was blowing.

As soon as we headed from shore I began to wonder how this ride was to end. The sea was choppy, getting worse and some swell came with it. There were 4 of us in the little boat, the boat was awfully heavy built – and those wired oars – – –! The water slopped over the edges now and then and came to the edge of the boat over and over, at the front and right side. The boys rowed very well, carefully judged the roll of the waves or run of the sea and did their best to keep from shipping water. I sat on a board at the stern and shifted my weight to help lift the boat when I saw a wave coming that could have slopped onto us seriously. It helped some. No life preservers, no extra oar, no anchor – –!! Several times, minutes at a time, with both boys rowing hard as they could we would not do more than hold our own as I saw by watching places along the shore. As the wind let up a bit the boys made headway. I told the one who sat on a board inches from the end of my nose, he could put for a little beach up ahead if he thought best and we would wait until the sea quieted, but he said that he could make it and kept on with his younger companion fighting as hard as they could to gain a few feet at a time. Then the rocky point and boulder strewn shoreline and cliff appeared ahead –, the swell was fairly high further out, froth and breaking surf was lashing the rocks. I was scared all over and Mr. V. wasn’t enthusiastic over the out-look either –. The boys rowed between the surf and the swell and were not drawn toward the rocks at all, and when we passed that point I felt weak inside, but said nothing –. We were still slapped by the tops of choppy waves, but did not take on enough water to cause us to have to bail it out –.

The older fellow, the one in front of me, began to grunt and dragged his oar now and then, he was so weary. The youngster, fourteen or so, seemed to be more experienced, was all in too and sweating rivers, but endured it for better than his older companion –. The older one said, when I asked if he was awfully tired: “This is mighty trying work!” The battle to win the shore continued until we were directly opposite the landing place. The boys maneuvered the boat about until it was stern on toward the shore and they let the surf carry it up and onto the beach –.

The younger boy gave me an armful of mangos and 2 jelly coconuts –. He was very kind. I don’t know if it was because I did not have hysterics or cry with fear, or not, but I appreciated the gift –. They got $9.00 for 3 hours, we got $10 worth of shells and Harris got $5 for driving us out and back.

Mr. V. was rather ill after we got back. We rough cleaned the shells. I rinsed my clothes and shoes free of salt water and got lunch. I wasn’t too tired either –. My ability to eat anything I please now is helping me regain my strength.

The chef at “Hotel 1829” gave Mr. V. a large dish of baked custard to help him out, as he did not feel equal to any other food. We have lots of fun with the chef. We call to him as he works near the hotel’s kitchen window and tell him we want him to go away for a minute so we can steal a pie he has cooling in the window – or Mr. Cancryn will call to him to put shoe polish in something to give the guests a nice polish inside – etc. The chef said one day that he had “put everything” into the coconut custard pies he had cooling and Mr. V. said, “Now I know where that yellow cat disappeared to!” We all rag him but he likes it and has an ivory-white toothy smile for all of us.

We just about ‘bust out buttons’ the other night when Mr. Cancryn mentioned a certain man as having taste like a shark –. He, Mr. Cancryn, is full of corkers like that.


June 18, 1948.
Left Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, V.I. by plane for St. John, Antigua Island. We saw the islands of St. John and Tortola, Saba, St. Kitts and Nevis. Now Mr. V. has seen the islands from the water, by traveling about them and over them, and now – from the air. A little town nestled in a bowl-like depression in the heights of a mountain in Saba. It seems to have no shores at all.

We arrived in Antigua after lunch. The lunch on the plane consisted of a tasty, rich meat broth, tomato juice, a roll, pickles, a big chicken leg, shoe-string beans, a potato, a slice of cake and coffee. All deliciously cooked. There is nothing particularly interesting from the air-port to St. John unless one sees the six oxen yoked together by the horns drawing a moderate sized wagon-load of cane stalks. I saw the little engine cars and track that carries the cane to the mill.

There has been a great lack of rain here for over a year and what it means to the sugar cane can readily be seen. The cane stalks look as juiceless, lifeless as dead and dried bamboo. It is more of my affair but it made my heart ache for I realize what that ‘dead’ cane means to the island’s commerce and people. The crops are poor quality and stunted –. Later in the afternoon we visited the church yard and cathedral. Several of the oldest tombs are most ornately carved from fine white marble. They are moss and weather stained but their beauty cannot be obscured. I copied some of the data from the tombs and some from plaques in memoriam inside the cathedral.

There is one badly damaged but yet fine, huge marble statue in the corner of a part of the cathedral. A classic beauty –, her neck patched, toes gone –. The pathetic ruin of a pretentious sculpture, caused by a hurricane some years ago.


(Photo – Interior. St. John’s Cathedral …)


Earthquakes have cracked some of the tombs or vaults in the yard. But the interior of the church is protected in a unique fashion. The church is two churches, a natural colored wood one as seen above and a second of stone that covers it over on the outside. It is a very imposing edifice.

We got room and meals for $5 per day each, and will have to remain here until Monday, when we take a boat to Dominca.

There is no water for the bathroom, a pail of water is handy to flush the toilet, and a pitcher of water and a slops pail is in each room. We had “tea” (ginger-ale and pound cake) and dinner. The kitchen is very clean and the food nicely done. How they keep as clean as they do is beyond me!


June 19, 1948, St. John, Antigua.
We went to see the public market –. Colored women sitting on the pavement, wares spread on a cloth on the stone flagging. One old auntie had 1 egg, a few limes and peppers for sale. We saw cashew fruits, pineapples, several sorts of peppers, various sorts of bananas, ghastly green, yellow and white coconut candies, greens of various sorts, chickens, bread, simple pottery undecorated, a few poor baskets and hats, yams, sweet potatoes, ginger-root, mangos, squashes, etc. All were inferior in quality. The fruits were mostly picked too green.

The ginger-ale here is most excellent! I have never tasted such fine ginger-ale.

There is nothing to see here, nothing to do –. The town is about what would correspond to a ‘mill town’ in the “States”. Cars dart here and there, are quite silent and are about on top of one before he is aware if its presence. A stroll on the streets is a chore and your eyes are not on what sights there may or may not be –, they have to be on cars, carts and donkeys or you don’t survive to see anything anyway.

Sidewalks are not to be taken for granted, architecture juts into the street or lies at the edges of it, so you weave in and out –, into the street, back onto a building with a curb, up a step or down one, into the street, and so on – all the while keeping an eye on trucks and cars etc., or mammies with huge wood head-‘baskets’ – or trays –.

Some sort of lizards whistled their two-note whistle all evening –. A lovely breeze blows all the time –. Huge mosquito nets are suspended over the beds –, a huge red roach or two scamper quietly in the dusk under chairs and other pieces of furniture. Windows are wide open with no screens of any sort. Flies and mosquitoes move about at leisure –. But, I do like it here better than I did St. Croix.

The tea and eggs are excellent, the bread tough – and coarse, meats are well cooked and have tasty sauces to go with them. A waitress brings a dish at a time with a large spoon or fork, depending on what the food is, and you dip up your own serving and place it on your plate –. We had pot roast of young pork, gravy, carrots, riced potatoes, bread, ice-cream and coffee for dinner last night and bacon, 2 eggs, toast, butter, tea or coffee, condensed milk, sugar (Demerara crystals) and grapefruit juice for breakfast.


June 20, 1948, St. John’s, Antigua, Sunday.
We went to see the movie “Henry the 8th” last evening. The story wasn’t too clear, the speaking was less so, but the costumes and accessories and color photography was most beautiful and interesting. I had wanted to see the play and now we have –. Sunday was passed by reading, chatting and napping. Mr. V. and I were napping after lunch when I was awakened by loud and angry voices from the dining-room which is just below our room. The argument which sounded to be between two women grew louder, more excited and heated. I heard one shriek “I’ll kill you!!” then sounds of a scuffle and a few ‘body’ sounds, a thin scruch, a crash of some glass or pottery object –, running feet, more voices and heavy scuffling –. I began to think that the police must be called, but after fifteen minutes or so of lessening arguing and fewer squeals all settled into quiet but for a heavy sobbing, then all became quiet as a tomb’s interior. This was some time after two pm.


(sketch at top of page + “1/4 of screen in detail. Used over a single doorway.)


Miss Jardine, Miss Defreytus, another woman with a daughter –, ate very early. Miss Jardine’s eyes were swollen, and she wouldn’t speak when I came into the dining room but the rest looked cheerful and normal, so it must have been Miss Jardine and some servant. I doubt if it was a guest –.

There is a scientifically trained detective here to help clear up a murder and an arson case. He is a lot of fun and we yarned and swapped stories and anecdotes with him until eleven, then we ‘turned in’.


June 21, 1948, St. John’s, Antigua, Monday.
We leave this pm. for Dominica –, and a young man who is also a guest here is going too –. He lives there, but has been over here on vacation.

The water problem is becoming worse here in St. John’s. The city turns on the water for one hour every other day. Flushing the toilet is something to consider with a hotel full of guests! A bath is out of the question. Miss Defreytus, the housekeeper, says she does not know what they are to do about the hotel laundry.

A young English matron who works on the local telephone switchboard was telling me yesterday about the supply of water the U.S.A. government has achieved here for the troops and she says, and rightly too, if the United States can get water for her troops on this island and have it so successful, Great Britain could too –. The water shortage here in St. John’s is a disgrace –. In spite of it, nearly all are cleanly dressed and I have seen no filth because of it –. The natives are very courageous about it.

Men and women carry most of their hand loads on their heads. Bottles and pails of water, live chickens, baskets, trays, – just about anything! The wagons, push carts, pull carts and other modes of conveyance are amazing and amusing –. The “Bobbies” and Police Officers wage pride, self importance, poise, dignity and efficiency all at one time. These attributes are so obvious that it is amazing that one lean, black soul could express as much, just standing or walking about on duty. One must admire them.!


Tuesday, June 22, 1948, Roseau, Dominica.
We arrived about 7 am. After a rather rough trip in the 100 foot converted sub-chaser. There were four cabin passengers and a number of deck passengers. The twelve or thirteen hour trip was hard on all of us. We had to settle ourselves as best we could in chairs and on one couch. I was the only woman. A young fellow going back to Dominica, Ronald Baine (24), a pale, Germanish past middle aged man and an ex-sailorish chap and Mr. V. made up the lot. All slept fitfully and Ronald looked miserable and the “ex-sailorish” fellow was obviously ill, but did not vomit. I did violently through the night. Ronald and Mr. V. helped me what they could and the steward took the pan out as I could spare it –. It poured most of the night and the water was fairly rough but the little boat rolled smoothly most of the time and rose and slid, rose and slid comfortably with about three exceptions. We did get a shaking, “Germanish fellow” fell cushions and all from his chair, baggage slid and banged here and there once Ronald, Mr. V. and I piled into a heap and then lurched sidewise and Ronald bumped his elbow against the cabin’s wall. A tackle block banged against one of the cabin windows and splintered the glass and rain came in for awhile. Walking was out of the question at times even when hanging on and creeping, or trying to.

I was “sick as a cat” about five and in pain –. I didn’t feel well enough to sit up but we were getting along toward port and Mr. V. wanted me to see Dominica! I did through waves of sickness –. The sight was worth what it cost me –. Mr. V. wasn’t sea-sick at all – praise be!

When we reached port quarantine the nun came aboard, made inspection and roll call. We went down the gang-way ladder to various boats for shore. It was still raining some.

Mr. V. looked at one of the rowers of our boat and said, “I know him, his brother was one of my men when I was here before, but this fellow was but a little boy then. I know him I am sure.” He was right. All held the boat and helped me up to the dock and we went to the Customs office – where Mr. V. met more men he knew. (There was a fine black named Daley on the “Monticha” from Monserrat that he knew.) From here on it was a joy and heart warming. We went to Mr. Harris’ “Sutton Hotel” where Ronald boards and she was ever so glad to see Mr. V. again. Then we went to see Madame Casey, another dear old friend of years gone by. She is part colored but a perfect dear. We chatted for a while and then went to see the town. More friends were discovered, many others gained. We saw the post office, native canoes on the beach, the fine paved streets and sidewalks –, the local open air market, some stores, etc. We met the Greenwiches who we heard had left for Barbados – and swapped news with them –. We visited the local handicraft store and I bought a perfect little Carib basket box.

Rose Etienne came in to see Mr. V., she heard he was here. She is a fine, big, middle aged woman. Never married. She gave us lots of news – and Mr. V. is very happy. We met Jimmie Lowdat’s daughter January on the street and more friendly news was exchanged. After lunch and a nap we went to see the local library Mr. V. got for the people through Andrew Carnagie, some years ago, and the museum. The librarian was very kind and took us about. Mr. V. gave the library two of his paintings of Dominica and she was pleased indeed!

There is a tastefully, well laid out yard, a gold-fish pool, fountain and an amazingly grand and huge saman tree. There is also a fine banyan tree there –. The local specimens housed in the museum are mostly well preserved and good –. Insects and butterflies and moths especially.

They have but one of Mr. V.’s books so he is to send them a set of his natural history series. The books on the shelves are well read – if wear is the indication of use –.

I went to ask if I could copy vital records for genealogical purposes at the Registrar’s Office and they consented kindly, so I’ll go tomorrow am. and begin on book 1 if prior to 1880.

We walked to the “Pen” where Mr. V. and his family once lived, now a club, and so changed that he was quite sad about it. Then we walked about the lush, gracious and well groomed areas of the famous Botanical Garden – and I saw cocoa pods, cannon ball tree balls and flowers, sawage trees and fruit, ripe nutmeg fruits, edible pandanus, tallow pot palms and hundreds of other fine, lovely and interesting specimens. On a distant hill we saw a huge spray of deep yellow orchids in a tree –. Orchid tree flowers, frangipani and goodness knows what else, bloom in lush perfection. A vegetable garden, watered by irrigation had corn, tomatoes, carrots, collards, egg-plant etc. in it. We became very tired and had to sit for a while – then walked back to the hotel and had some of the fine local ginger-ale, then tea, then dinner –, and what a dinner! Boned wee jacks (fish) decorated with parsley were the most delicious fish I have ever tasted, the pumpkin soup –, well it’s super! And there was a salad, curried rice and stewed guavas with cream. Mr. V. had native coffee and raved over it and smacked his lips in delight –. I feel far better tonight and so ends our first day in Dominica.


(Small copy of a coat of arms-?)


24 June 1948, Roseau, Island of Dominica. Thursday.
Mr. Agar called this morning and asked us to his home for tea this afternoon. He is an artist, collector of birds, birds’ eggs and insects and butterflies and moths.


I went to the Registrar’s Office to copy data and Mr. V. went out to see several people on business. Particularly about working the sulphur mine that was once his years ago. A new group are interested in it. A friend sent us a bouquet of fine white “Peruvian Daffodils” and I put them on our table in the dining room.


(Photo – Roseau Dominica Washers)


(Photo – Cenotaph, Roseau … Writing: Museum, Library, Old North –)


(Photo – A Fishing Ground, Dominica. Writing: Calabashie’s beach.)


(Photo – St. Joseph Village …)


(Photo – Freshwater Lake …)


(Photo – Roseau from the Cathedral – Dominica)


(Photo – Old Street, Roseau, Dominica)


(Photo – Bishops Palace, Roseau, Dominica)
(small sketch beside photo)


(Photo – Grandbay Road, Dominica …)


(Photo – Long Lane and Hanover Street, Dominica)


(Photo – Market Street, Roseau, Dominica … – Writing: I met Mr. C.G. Phillip)


(Photo – River Bank, Roseau, Dominica)


(Photo – A Village, Dominica … – Writing: Marigot)


(Photo – Market Square, Roseau, Dominica …)


(Photo – Malbouro Street, Dominica, …
– Writing: Streets are now paved – very well with tar – and have good sidewalks. Note drain in street centre.)


(Photo – Roseau Valley, Dominica … – Writing: Laudat)


(Photo – The Water Fall … – Writing: Laudat – falls.)


(Photo – A Carib Belle)


(Photo – Writing: Little church in Santurci, San Juan, Puerto Rico. Dear little gargoyles on the belfry do not show well.)


(Photo – Writing: “Hotel Granada”, Santurci, Puerto Rico. (San Juan.))


(Photo – Writing: The plane that took us from Miami to San Juan, Puerto Rico.)


(Photo – Writing: Mr. Beruford Cancryn, owner of “Adrenne’s Guest House”, Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, Virgin Island.)


(Photo – Writing: Mr. Cancryn’s front gate, walled and terraced gardens and stairs to his guest-house.)


(Photo – Writing: Lower guest room, and stairs to the second floor, or main rooms of the “Guest House”.)


(Photo – Writing: A view from Mr. Cancryn’s front gate.)


(Photo – Writing: A further view of the wall at the left.)


(*arrow between the two photos noted above – Writing: Flowers cover the wall’s top.)


(Photo, Photo – Writing between the two photos: A view from Mr. Cancryn’s dining-room window. The hill back of the town.)


(Photo – Writing: Stairs run from one street level to another in Charlotte Amalie.)


(Photo – Writing: A drain or gutter between a higher and lower street level.)


(Photo – Writing: Vermillion stair, white walls and green bordered blinds.)


(Photo – Writing: The “Old Nort”, Charlotte Amalie.)


(Photo, Photo – Writing between the two photos: Gun of 1801 near the Old Nort, Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, Mr. Verrill.)


(Photo – Writing: Post Office, Charlotte Amalie.)


(Photo – Writing: Harbor, St. Thomas, from Denmark Hill.)


(Photo – Writing: An oddly elevated walk in Charlotte Amalie.)


(Photo – Writing: The little fellow brought bananas to town. Ruth Verrill.)


(Photo – Writing: Street in Charlotte Amalie.)


(Photo)


(Photo – Writing: Government House, Charlotte Amalie.)


(Photo – Writing: Dusty-blue Cacti. “Bovoni Estate”.)


(Photo – Writing: Ruth Verrill watching a lizard.)


(Photo – Writing: “Popes Head” cactus at Bovoni, St. Thomas.)


(Photo, Photo – Writing under the two photos: Bovoni, St. Thomas. Part of the estate of Joseph Bovoni, long since dead. An immigrant from Italy. Bovoni Bay and reefs.)


(Photo – Writing: St. Croix, (Christiansted).)


(Photo – Writing: Government House, St. Croix.)


(Photo, Photo – Writing under the two photos: Saint Croix.)


We went to Layou. Mr. Percy Agar called for us in his station wagon. We admired the well surfaced road on up to the estate and learned that he had had it done by himself at an expense of $12,000.00. As we neared his home there was a little donkey (foal) beside the road. All quizical ears and head, and wooly as could be. At the edge of the yard his mother was calling loudly for him to come back.

A heap of limes sprawled beside the drive. Colored help were getting them ready for market in town.

We went up a few steps and met Mrs. Agar, a young matron with regular features and large hazel eyes. I was a bit surprised to find her so young –. She has a daughter about 10 and a son 12. The son goes to school in Barbados.

The vast, broad spacious beauty of the place and its vista would be difficult to put into words after seeing it the first time and for but 2½ hours so I will only put down the things that impressed me enough to remain clear enough to describe.

The “Queen of Flowers” our crepe myrtle of the U.S. is lush, delicate orchid, deep rose red, white and pale lavender. The flowers are in well formed masses. Huge hibiscus flowers peer out from the masses of flawless shrubbery. Pale shell pink ones big as bread and butter plates, rose ones, red ones with fringed edges, the tarong one with copper over-tones and scarlet throat that Mr. Agar has created –, 16 sorts in all, if I remember correctly. The huge tulip trees with their flame colored flowers, frangipani, white with waxy yellow throated blooms, and rose madder frangipani – that has no sweet odor as has the white-jasmines – heavy with perfume, gigantic mango trees vine, air-plant and orchid encrusted of limb. Begonias taller than a man with rose wax-like flower clusters, some grow from the ground and others upon the crotches of limbs of the huge trees about the dark, level well kept lawn. Orchids of many sorts, some in bloom, some not are about the place or on trees. There is an underground cellar, built 1789. A hurricane shelter or – some say, a reservoir of old times – has as much floor space as a small cottage. It is covered with grass, earth and many fine ferns.

We had tea near the edge of the mountain shelf high above a valley, across which is the broadside of another verdure clotted mountainside. Back toward the right the panorama of ocean and shore is to be enjoyed. Ferns of several sorts add to the beauty of the huge trees’ limbs and other areas. A flock of wee ducks followed the servant across the lawn to the tea table, and back to the house.

A young dog made friends and begged with his eyes and tail for bits of our food. Mrs. Agar rewarded him later with a saucer of milk. She says he eats eggs. The background for the acre of lawn is a bank of crotans apparently selected for color, a yellow flowered shrub, a green and white leaved rose-colored flowered hibiscus, a huge white frangipani, a rose colored one, the mass of gigantic begonias all in boom and a casurina of some sort, the fern covered hurricane shelter etc. All shrubbery is 10 to 17 feet high – and forms a complete ‘back-drop’ for the emerald lawn –.

Later we visited the house and I admired the works of art, Mr. Agar’s, and other’s –. Mr. Agar has a unique style and gets fine atmosphere in his sceneries. He is an excellent artist. Mrs. Agar’s embroidery is most excellent. They have a small, but neat library –. The furniture is simple and well selected for this place.

A great many birds are all over the place. A wild parrot pet came to be fed. There is food and water for birds and they enjoy the Agar hospitality.

As we left they gave me flowers and one of the Agar hibiscus blooms – A rich and warmly beautiful flower.

Layou is an earthly fairy-land. A perfection of nature and enhanced by the sympathetic care given it by the Agars.


26 June, Saturday, Roseau and Soufriere, Dominica.
I finished boiling the shells, a colored girl helped me scrub the whelks and I cooked them and got them ready for soup. Mrs. Harris, our land-lady, likes them so all of us had whelk (Livona-pika) soup for lunch. January Laudat brought fuy? (berries) and we also had those for lunch.

The Greenwiches found a house and our ‘boy’ Bushwa found them a cook who seems to be competent. He also found us a boat to Soufriere, leaving at 2 0’clock pm. We ate lunch early, took two pieces of luggage, the typewriter and my big basket and found the boat. Everyone, including the women and “Bushwa”, shoved on the grounded boat until it was nearly all ready to float then they helped me climb in and then Mr. V.

We sat in the after part. A mixed load in back of us, in front of us, and several empty casks in the middle, then two colored women and Daniels, who rowed facing us. It was a long ride but comfortable aside from three or four light showers. We had our rain coats so did not mind. I watched other boats and the up-right walls of green cliffs and gorges and valleys that make up the Island of Dominica. The eroded sides of pre-historic volcanoes, the cliffs whose faces show in what has long been stone, the flues, mud-balls, melted rock and blow-holes of former volcanoes. I was completely fascinated with these old volcanic places.

The water was midnight blue in places indicating immeasurable depths. Other places the water was liquid crystal of the paleish blueish aqua. The bottom with its rocks, corals and fishes were readily seeable. We saw several rocks off shore with various shells on them. La Buena (“The Depth”) is the most awesome spectacle and most impressive and beautiful. Thoroughly outstanding among other scenes that are wonderful by themselves.

The boatman tied up to a recently built dock and two men helped me up out of the boat. All hands took up our things and we went to “Stephanie’s” and a crowd following at our heels and growing by the second – – . (This is a colored man’s world.) The “Noseless One” who worked for Mr. V. years ago was there, Minta, of whom Mr. V. is very fond, was sent for, Stephanie was almost in tears for happiness to see Mr. V. again and when Minta came, she too was overcome –. Someone asked me to use Stephanie’s bed-room and get my rain soaked slacks and shoes off. (I had kept my back and shoulders dry.) I heard some sort of a dance, it seems that some of the old girls wanted Mr. V. to know that they were not too creaky to shake a leg –. I guess it was funny, I heard everyone laughing uproariously –,

When I got my clothes changed and came out, ten or a dozen little children were crowded on the step, all ages and ears, staring at me, probably the first white “madame” they had ever seen. I felt at a loss as to how to appear friendly and not stiff or silly, and decided that I’d get on with them as I used to do with my children and their little friends. All were shy, politely curious and very forthright when they found that a “madame” was just a friendly matron. I began to notice each as an individual, all are healthy looking, sweet and simple, fine looking and all shades. In the lot there were 3 from one family and 2 from another. Oddly enough eight had deep scars about their foreheads. I asked how this happened to be so and rough play and stoney earth seemed to be the answer. Just for fun I asked them if I stayed here for a long time, if I too would get bumps on my head because so many do get them here and the lot of them became very serious and looked quite concerned and replied in chorus, “Oh, no Madame!”

One baby brought to me, a son of Mr. de Praitaius, a Portuguese by descent but white, named Rex, is adorable! He is coffee color and a handsome baby boy. His mother is pretty black. Mr. de Praitaius took us to visit his aged mother. They have a cottage up the hill and it is neat as can be and ever so clean.

There is little food here. No rice and almost no coffee. There was no fish, and only bananas and mangos for fruit. If we had known, if someone had told us, we would have brought food and rice. Stephanie was puzzled as to what to feed us, but she had a loaf of bread, chickens and onions –. So, we had chicken, onions, Creole gravy, bread and fine mountain water for our dinner. Mr. de Praitaius said he would send us some red beans to help out. Monday we can send to Roseau for food.

We did not know where we were to sleep but Mr. Gaschette and his lovely young wife, Rufina said they had an empty room and would hunt for furniture for us, so a bed, chairs, wash stand etc. materialized from some occult place. There is no toilet or bath. A “utensil” removed by a maid is the answer. The mattress is hard but the room is cool and comfortable on the second floor and has a porch or balcony where we can sit.


27 June, Sunday, 1948, Soufriere.
Stephanie will cook for us, she says it is her personal business! Rufina wanted to do so too –, but Stephanie can’t be set aside. We had eggs, bread, coffee for Mr. V., water for me, milk, sugar, lettuce and cucumbers for breakfast. Mr. Gaschette came over and we finally settled on $15 a month for room and the chamber maid. Don’t know what Stephanie will ask as yet. It rained a lot this am. But before noon the sun was shining again. We walked about the town, up to Bellot’s old castle, saw the cane and rum plant, the old bell (now hanging from a tree in the yard), the old stone work zigzag stair-case now filled in, other large stone buildings belonging to the estate. A boy took us to see the donkeys in the stable – Three handsome ones! Smooth haired and very fine looking.

The boy asked if we would like to walk up to the dam so we went. The paved road ends just before one comes to the dam which is across a deep ravine below the road at the left. An excellent masonry lined gutter runs from back of town on up to the sulphur beds. The water is considerably below the top of the dam but enough water trickles from the gate and ‘vents’ under the dam to enable the women to wash.

We passed the police station on the way up, and along the way Mr. V. met several he had known years ago. Mrs. Ogilvie, a handsome brown-skinned old lady, said her husband had gone to Cuba 30 years ago and she never heard from him. Mr. V. says he was a fine man. We met the town’s tailor, a dandy , smooth chap with a British accent. He also “manages a fish trap”. He is married to Minta’s sister.

Naked babies run about everywhere. A Pekin duck swims about a yellow muddy brook, sheep are tied about the town, all short wooled or woolless, black, brown, tan and white –. A few soot-black pigs are penned or tied up here and there –.

I haven’t seen a lizard and very few birds and 3 butterflies so far. Across the town as we see it from the porch is the spire of the nice catholic church and about back of that a roadway supported on the outer edge by stone work, zigzags up the side of the mountain like a set of letter Ms (MM) only vertical –. The steep sides of these mountains going almost straight up would seem to preclude all travel except that done on foot.


28 June, Monday, Soufriere.
We had crapeau (mountain frog) for breakfast, mangos, wilted cucumbers, bread and coffee. We got up late as it had poured rain nearly all night and up to seven this morning. Mr. V. has sent by Stephanie’s maid Eena to Roseau for food etc. Stephanie charged us $5.00 for three days meals which is not bad. The crapeau and the iguanas taste much alike and both are delicious.

We watched the fishermen unload a net yesterday and the fish were about the size of large sardines. No others came in that we heard of. At one end of the town, the right as you walk down to the bay, are cliffs, rocks and a cleft that is impassible. The ocean splashes into this cleft and at its shore end is a masonry arch-way of stone and back under this is cement, the place the arch leads to is walled off. I wonder where it went? Was it part of “Red Leg’s” old passageways? He was the one who built the ‘castle’ that is now known as Bellot’s place. (Bellot is dead.) We looked at the coconut trees under one of which was buried an enemy of Red Legs. A skull was dug up some time ago and may have been this man’s.

Stephanie’s boatman came and we went along the shore to Scot’s Head. We looked at all rocks all the way down and got two shells. A boatman sold us two and when we got back Mr. V. bought 2 more. Another boy is here now with shells. Our boatman called to all within hearing distance that we wanted sea shells. A flock of black and brown children followed along the coast up rocks, along ledges – –, way up on the face of cliffs –. Many were as naked as the day they were born. Some were ten or eleven –. All wanted to help hunt. Some crept up onto the point of Scot’s Head and I feared they might slip and fall 60 or 100 feet to the rocks below. None did however.

I saw the remains of the Old Nort on Scot’s Head top –, not much left. Probably built by the early French.

Shells are coming in streams and many now are asking what sort of shells we want. They kept on coming until dark. After we ate our dinner we went to bed though it was a little after 8 o’clock. For a light we have a kerosene lamp but use it only a little while each evening. Mosquitos were rather thick but their bite is not noticeable. All do not bite anyway.


29 June, Tuesday, Soufriere.
Shells began coming early, before 7 am. The bacon and fried yams and bread were hard and tough this morning and flies thick –. On the other hand the air is delightful, the drinking water is excellent, the people are ever so nice and it is a lovely world here. I got the shells cooked, had lots of help about it. More little shells came in but we have 500 of them and sent the last away.

Mr. V. has gone to La Beme with the boat and boy to look for shells. Cille came with some fresh water crayfish which I ordered Stephanie to buy for Mr. V.’s dinner. Later in the afternoon a hell broke loose at Stephanie’s and along the alley. The crowd claimed that Eena had told me to not pay a dollar for the crayfish which was not true, Eena had nothing to do with it. Stephanie Blue our cook told Cille while I was looking at the crayfish to not pay more than a shilling for it but I told Cille I’d pay 30¢ for them –, Stephanie said “no” and as I had no change and Mr. V. was out for shells, she would pay for the crayfish. And actually that was all there was to it, but the fighting that is going on up and down the alley – is simply furious. How such a tempest in a tea-pot started I don’t know! There seems to be no possible angle that could evolve from the purchase price of the crayfish, but there they are, jumping in the air, beating their arms, whacking things with sticks, beating pans and yelling as loud as ever they can all at once. A few more shells came in. We had a nice dinner and got ready for bed early.


30 June, Wednesday, Soufriere, Dominica.
A small rain, a few more shells, a huge deep sea crab came in. Stephanie Blue bought some ‘sereceeks’ (crabs of land variety) for our lunch. The sea crab had almost no meat in it –, it was mostly filled with water. (This is to equalize the pressure inside the shell, to the pressure of the deep water in which they live.) Eena cooked the few shells I had to have done, there were not enough to cause me to get the fire pot going.

We bought cashew nuts from Rufina Gashette. Many are large nuts.

Mr. V. is cleaning the big crab’s shell and will prepare it as a specimen.. It is a very handsome red and flame and ivory colored crab.

The girls here roast the coffee beans grown on the island. I cannot drink the coffee, it gives me a headache and I get sick at my stomach, but Mr. V. enjoys it ever so much as I give him all of mine at each meal and drink water or lime juice and water only.

The ‘street’ between this row of houses and the next is a downhill drain for the torrential rains that come at times and water and soap suds from the houses. It is just water washed natural earth and rock. Most of the surface rock is loose, many as large as quart bowls. Chickens, dogs, cats and some pigs wander about and little children eating fruit throw the remains on the ground. Frequent rains keep the earth sticky and slippery –. One has to watch their step and how!

An old woman was selling candied ginger, 2 pieces for a pence, so I bought two. It is native sugar and altogether is very good.

More shells are coming in and for the most part they are rarer than the others brought in before.

After 3 o’clock we walked to the sulphur mines. On the way we looked at plants, orchids, air-plants, cane fields, ferns, limes and cocoa orchards, we met quiet a few men and women with cane, limes, bananas, coconuts and herbage on their heads coming down the steep mountainside. At the sulphur beds we ate some ripe cashews. The red ones tasted like concord grapes, the yellow ones like apples. The part to be eaten is the juice which can be sucked out easily. The nut at the end of the fruit is poison until roasted.

The sulphur beds look like old ash and slag heaps and these are huge areas of the deposits. Mr. V. tested the brook nearby to see if I could bathe but the water was just as hot as it was 40 years ago so I gave the idea up quick. We walked about the place and the view is wonderful – either up, down or sideways. We rested for a while and came back down slowly. A lot of fine cattle graze along the roadside, one fine grassy field had cows and calves, ewes and lambs and a donkey, a shed shelter of good size and men and boys to look after the animals. The cows are blooded stock and well cared for. A good road goes all the way up and beyond the mine. Several women begged for money for food but we had to refuse. If we gave to one we would have dozens on our necks.

Before we came to the dam we hunted for and found a path to the “Alum Brook” which follows the road more or less all the way from the sea to the mine. We went down the back of the bank and back up the brook out of sight and I unrolled my towel, wash cloth and soap and tooth brush and sat in the tepid water and took a good scrubbing which I felt I needed badly. A pan bath is not too thorough for an oily skinned soul like me.

I cannot bathe in the ocean here as the town’s slops are thrown off the dock and there are two public toilets at each side of the local harbor. Natives go in the water with their babies but I don’t care to do so, for the tide is not heavy enough here to leave pure water.

One of the children brought a sea horse, the first we got here –. We got quite a lot of small shells today –, and good ones.

Two children sit here back of me asking for food or something –. One wants to give to such little kids in rags, but it just won’t do.

Just before we went to bed (8:15) about a dozen youngsters gathered in the ‘street’ and played games and sang. “London Bridge” in patwa is most amusing. Some of the games I had never seen or heard before. The youngsters became somewhat over enthusiastic and loud and one ‘old crow’ who lives about two houses up and diagonally across from us yelled at them to shut up. After several outbursts of song and games and ‘old crow’s’ fussing the youngsters made a game of bothering her and made more noise than ever. Eena our maid was having a great laugh at the ravings of the old woman. Finally some of the children went home, the parents got some of the others and all was quiet once more. It was very interesting and we appreciated it.

The women have no panties, so when they squat to wash or just sit, they either pull the front of their skirts down and back between their legs and then sit, or bring the back of their skirt tight over the buttocks and as they sit, pull the hem of the skirt tight under their knees and by the time they are fully set, they are covered to the knees and across the underside of the thighs. They do it so cleverly and neatly that it is not obvious or un-graceful.


1 July, Thursday, Soufriere, Dominica.
The poor little ‘rag muffins’ came again and brought some worthless shells, and as no one was here to know, I gave them a loaf of bread we had on the breakfast tray. They began to gnaw on it ravenously. The 3 youngest of this family were here this time.

Children are coming in fast this am. A few good shells have come in, and many more common ones.

To wash the women have dish pans, cold water and a cake of soap and sit on their haunches and scrub the clothes between their hands. One old woman, mother of our maid Eena, sits day after day on the stones before her house and washes in this way. She seems to be a wash-woman.

Coffee is parched by putting it in a skillet with butter or some oil and the skillet is set on a charcoal pot and then a girl stirs the beans constantly until they are the desired shade of brownness or blackness.

Fried plantains made me very sick this morning and I was sick all day from them. I vomited so much and felt so sick I asked Eena if she could get some “bush” to stop it and she said she could and came back about twenty minutes with a cup of rose tinted liquid steaming hot and spiced. I sweetened it a bit and drank it slowly and it was but a few minutes before I felt easier and less sick. By night I ate a little and felt no further trouble. The “bush” was woman’s tongue tree.


2 July, Friday, Soufriere.
We went to bed before eight and had not been asleep long when two dogs began to bark in front of the house, two babies cried, the rum mill became awfully noisy, they were putting in the huge shaft to the water wheel. The old one had to be replaced. We watched the men the other day notch the ends of the huge wood shaft and saw it later when the axles and bands had been driven in place. The log that made the shaft must have come from a huge tree.

Later in the night we heard the crapeau (frogs) barking on the mountainside. The bark seems to sound like the blend of the turkey’s common call and the bark of a small dog. Dogs barked and babies cried until late into the night and twice there was a booming sound and the house shook. This seemed like a disturbance at the sulphur mine area.

There are several smoking areas up there, and the smell of sulphur is pretty heavy when one gets near the place.

Toward morning things quieted down and we slept hard.

Our cook’s kitchen is in the end of her yard. The back fence of boards is the back of her ‘kitchen range’. The roof is a strip of sheet iron held up by sticks. The fire is a series of cans and pots with charcoal in them. On this muddle she cooks large and complete meals. Rain and wind blows in but she does not seem to mind or even notice.

Rufina Gaschette has learned to do blanket stitch in crochet and it took but a few minutes to teach her. She is very pleased to learn and I am glad I could help her.

We saw the word TETRAGRAMATUM chalked over several door ways in the house and thought it a charm so we asked Rufina and she said it was to keep the devil away –. Mr. V. teased her about the two doors in our bedroom and only one protected by the charm. He told her the devil must be simple to not see that there were two doors, and that he did not use the chambers door.

Mr. de Praitaius the white young man who has a black mistress with a beautiful baby boy, Rex, says the doctor told him his woman is to have twins and he is awfully troubled and hoping the doc is just joking. He has a 13 year old son by another woman, who goes to school in Roseau. He told us about his first wife who drank a quart of rum a day and smoked cigarettes at the rate of a tin a day and of his divorce. He told us about his idea of raising peanuts. They are three peanuts for one pence here –. He had just sold 6,000 mangos and 100 pears to the huckster.

Minta came with her dear little grandson 2½ –. She had had a fever and hadn’t been out. That was why we had not seen her. She has four sons and a daughter. One son was in Antigua. Her children’s father was or rather is Mr. Gaschette, our landlord. Mr. V. took pictures of her and her grandson.


3 July, Saturday, Roseau, Dominica.
We came back to Roseau this am. Robert Eli rowed us over. Eena our maid and Rose the rug maker came along with us. So Mr. V. and myself would have more room on the narrow seat of the boat, I put my arm in back of him and held onto the edge of the boat on his side with that hand. Eena, who was sitting in the tail of the row-boat, reached over and tapped me on the back and told me I had better not leave my fingers on the edge of the boat as a fish might come up on a wave and snap at my fingers. I moved my hand to the safety zone of Mr. V.’s rib area and held onto him.

As we neared town we saw a boat capsized – lying on one side, mast lying along the water’s surface. It is Mr. Harrison Peter’s boat. She listed last night and they moved the ballast and she promptly flopped on one side as the ballast shifted. In the beginning of the trouble she was leaking –. She sure is wet now! I enjoy these row-boat rides as I can see the various parts of the island and also enjoy the sight of the lovely water.

The “Monica” was in port too –.

There was a great deal of mail and we sat and enjoyed it in the post master’s office then Mr. V. saw Mr. Bellot and discussed business with him and he feels as Mr. V. does, that a tanning plant will be a valuable asset and other business ideas of Mr. V.’s appealed to him.

“Bushwa” our ‘boy’ was on shore waiting for us, he had heard we were coming. One cannot sneeze here without every one knowing about it, but all are so friendly and kind you can’t get sore about it.

We have the same room at Mrs. Harris’ and I feel so sure we are to stay for some time that I unpacked at once. At lunch Eena came with her niece, a fine black girl studying to be a teacher. She graduates the 13th of this month. Several boys brought shells and “Jimmy” Laudat came in to chat with us. His sister’s daughter (Matilde’s) brought vegetables, fruit and flowers and chatted for a while. She is very nice. All adore Mr. V. and call him “Papa”. As usual “Jimmy” wanted some change –, he got it. He’s short, stocky, medium dark, neat of dress, negro in looks and has as canny looking a pair of eyes I have ever seen –. Craft and wise cunning peers at you, from those smoky brown eyes. He is about 70 years old. Has been to Cayenne and other places outside of Dominica.

Our maid Eena is the daughter of Stephanie Blue’s sister. (Stephanie is a sister of the late John Blue, whom Mr. V. liked so much.)

They bring all fresh milk here to a near bubble as soon as possible after it has left the cow, whether it is to keep it from souring or to pasturize it, or both, I do not know.

We visited the Parish Priest at Soufriere yesterday and found him a fine, weary expressioned elderly and rather frail man. He is France French, well educated, well read and very intelligent with a good grasp of outside affairs. He has a young priest to assist him who seems to understand no English.

Our visit was well worth the trouble for the old Priest was fun and interesting indeed. We took a picture of the church inside and out and do hope the inside one proves good. The church’s interior is most tastefully done and lovely in a delicate, simple fashion. Its design seems to have been done by a master. Alec Revere gave the huge timber across the front interior under the bell tower, and 2 of the fine bells in the tower.


4 July, Sunday, Roseau, Dominica.
We wrote letters, worked on shells and odds and ends. “Bushwa” dropped in for a while. We had a peaceful night, no babies crying and the “Flit” took care of the mosquitos. This is the first time we have unpacked our stuff since we left Florida and put the stuff in a clothes closet and bureau. Seems sort of odd! Not much news as yet and it is almost 2 pm.

About 4 Mr. Greenwich came in and told me his doctor had told him to leave for home as soon as he could get passage for him and his wife. So, Mr. Greenwich came to ask about the two boats, one tonight and one tomorrow headed north –. I told him he should take the boat tonight if he could and for two reasons, one being that the drinking he and his wife do is the scandal of the town according to what we hear and what we have seen too –, for that matter, and the condition that he is in right now and the condition of his wife from drink and the fact that he had sent the taxi driver for another quart!! caused me to tell him how much better tonight’s boat is in comparison to the French boat that sails tomorrow –. I really do think that this quart could well end his life – for his ankles are swollen and inflamed, his arms are full of rash, his throat is swollen to the point of his chin, his eyes are glassy and he is pretty ‘full’ right now. It wouldn’t sound well to have an American die here of alcohol poisoning would it? He said he would call later and tell us what accommodations they got if any. He was having his taxi driver hunt for the steamship agent –.

“Bushwa” had a fellow come in with shells and a “flat lobster” for us.


5 July, 1948, Roseau, Dominica.
“Jimmy” Jules “Laudat” came in for a chat, so did Anne and an old lady now, who was employed years ago by the Verrills to care for the children. Valerie is her favourite. She asked if we could hire her, which we cannot, of course. Mr. V. gave her a pair of new shoes that did not fit him well and they are just right for her.

News came that the Greenwiches are to leave on the “Monica” when she goes north. What a trip that is to be! Someone saw them coming this way but they did not get up here. He was limping and she was ‘loaded’, our informer said.

Mr. “Laudat” was telling us about a house in the Roseau Valley that we might buy or rent and it sounded so charming that I could cry for sheer frustration at not being able to have it. It is simple, not expensive, and in a beautiful place.

We had a big laugh and amusement over Mrs. Harris’ old tom-cat that took it for granted that the tin of earth with cuttings growing in it was his special convenience. He climbed out, turned toward us and winked his left eye quite deliberately. By that time “Auntie” was after him.


6 July, 1948, Roseau, Dominica.
Mr. Laudat arrived and later his daughter Etheline (“January”) came. She brought me a Ramie, a sort of dove to cook for dinner. During the morning Mr. Taylor, his Carib wife, her brother, and four delightful children arrived. Taylor is studying grammar and language of the Carib Indians here and in or near Belise, Honduras. He is 47, English, has a daughter by a previous wife, living in France. He is very tall, has a thatch of graying, sandy colored hair and is a lean nervous, jerky type. His wife is wee, yellowish-tan color, not particularly good looking and has an unconfined mane of dead wool-black hair. Her brother easily might be taken for a Philippino, Chio-American or even a Malaysian. He too is small but he is darker than his sister. The oldest child, a boy, is of delicate form, has charm and an easy, pleasant graciousness about him, though I do not suppose that he is 10. The eldest girl is a beauty. None look alike, all are lively as can be, but quiet and well behaved. They were going out on the “Monica” for Barbados. That is, Mr. and Mrs. Taylor and the older boy were – the other children remained with Mrs. Taylor’s brother.

Mr. “Laudat” came again after lunch and said that the little house he told us about needs a lot of repair and the owner is very ill, but there is another house above that one, for rent, but not for sale. Mr. Laudat says that he can get anyone one of those ciceros (parrots) anytime. It is quite simple. When they come to roost at dusk and are ‘talking’, just shoot right past one’s face by his beak, he gets confused and plops to the ground. Then as he thinks of biting and opens his beak, but a strip of sugar cane in his mouth and he finds it sweet as he bites and forgets about being mad and you can pick him up!!

Mr. Agar says the Library Museum has but £25 a year for maintenance so it cannot hire Mr. V. to build them a bird collection. Mr. Agar says he cannot give a collection to the museum either. He has too much to take care of as it is –.

We took a taxi to Green’s Estate to see Mr. Lord and Smith, the American (U.S.) young men who are putting in a saw mill and wood working plant. They are very green and should have a man to advise them. They said they would hire Mr. V. to run, take charge of, and design for their furniture factory in 6 months (Jan.) for they haven’t a soul to do this and don’t know how to do more than run the machines. It was a pleasant ride to the Estate. I saw a lime mill, looked about at the brook and old buildings. Saw cows munching lime rinds by the peck –.

No word from Trinidad men about the sulfur mining idea! Must be Greeves has gone to England on his vacation earlier than he hoped to.

Mr. V. does not feel at all well, his appetite is failing, he coughs so much and he has a fever every little while. It is very difficult for him to get out and carry on his business affairs. He lies down much of the time and is loosing weight. “Bushwa” looks at him with concern in his dusky eyes and tries ever so hard to relieve him of all chores that are possible for him to take care of. We are fortunate to have this ‘boy’ to help us.


(Photo – Writing: Mr. Cancryn’s and “Adrienne’s Guest House” Charlotte Amalie.)


(Photo – Writing: Another view of the same house.)


(Writing between two photos above: St. Thomas, V.I.)


(Photo – Writing: Air port, St. Thomas where we landed and later took off from.)


(Photo – Writing: Bay, Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas and Harbour.)


(Photo – Writing: “Flamingo Bay” St. Thomas. Br. Berreta’s place.)


(Photo – Writing: “Flamingo Bay” St. Thomas.)


(Photo – Writing: St. John’s, Antigua.)


(Photo – Writing: Roseau, Dominica.)


(Photo – Writing: Anglican Church, Roseau, Dominica.)


(Photo – Writing: Roseau, Dominica, water front.)


(Photo – Writing: Roseau Street, scene.)


(Photo – Writing: Percy Agar’s “MaHaut”.)


(Photo – Writing: Cloud pattern, Dominica.)


(Photo – Writing: Scene from lawn of “Mahaut”.)


(Photo – Writing: Shore of Soufriere, Dominica.)


(Photo – Writing: Water front of Soufriere)


(Photo – Writing: Roman Catholic Church of Soufriere, Dominica.)


(Photo – Writing: Zigzag road up a mountain, Soufriere, Dominica.)


(Photo – Writing: Street scene in Soufriere, Dominica.)


(Photo – Writing: Sufrier homes and one of the many mountain.)


(Photo? (blank) – Writing: Verdure on Dominican mountain.)


(Photo – Writing: “Red Legs” Castle. Later owned by Jaby Bellot.)


(Photo – Writing: Bernard Gashette, grandson of Minta’s.)


(Small sketch? Hand-drawn on page.)


(Photo – Writing: Minta and Bernard, her grandson.)


(Photo – Writing: Rose’s baby. A poor picture of a beautiful baby.)


(Photo – Writing: Rufina Gashette’s baby, a little girl.)


(Three photos, side-by-side – Writing under all three: Soufriere Sulphur Mines, Various Views. One area.)


(Photo – Writing: ? Up. Paved highway leading toward the distance precipice where the sulphur mines lie at its base –.)


(Photo – Writing: ? Down. Looking toward the sea at Soufriere Village.)


(Photo – Writing: ? Mountain back of the town of Soufriere, Dominica. Also showing boats and cathedral.)


(Photo – Writing: A crab from 200 feet, had almost no meat but was filled with a liquid. We have him.)


7 July, Wednesday, 1948, Roseau, Dominica.
1930 hurricane killed 2,000 in Guadalupe, 45 or 50 in Montserrat. 1928 hurricane centered over Dominica, coming in from the west.

We called on Bishop Maurice who is retired. A fine, wholesome sort of man, 72 – and tall, straight and well preserved. He took us about the porches that we might see as much of the place as possible from under cover as it was raining. The Bishop was anxious to hear about Mr. Verrill’s children and we passed a most pleasant mid afternoon –. We had a delicious lime drink. The Bishop told me that the church’s records date back to 1734. Practically all French families in the early years.

We went shell hunting in “Bushwa’s’” canoe (he rowed) this am. All we got was a soaking from the rains that came, some fine tegulas, limpits, a cone and some chitons. Nothing valuable at all.

January Laudat brought me some beautiful cucumbers, and Anne, the old Verrill child’s nurse, came with thruppence of sapodillas and 2 lemons. I gave her my best pink rayon dress. I need the space back, I had the best wear of it and she needed it so badly –.

There were 2 weddings in town this afternoon –. Bishop Maurice told us that the slide at the sulphur mine at Soufriere came at the same time that a rather heavy quake was felt a few years ago.

The audience room or salon at the Bishop’s palace has an unusual color scheme that is beautiful! A floor sized velvet rug has ivory, cinnamon, mahogany, cocoa, tan and brown shades in a soft toned rose and scroll motif with a wee touch of delft blue between the motifs. The wide-walls are pale sulphate of copper-aquamarine and the trim is a much deeper tone of the same color. Emerald chenille drapes are at the sides of the doorway leading to the dining room, and the chair seats in the salon are cut velvet in colors to match the carpet-like rug.

At the back door of the palace the porch’s floor has an inset square of beautiful decorative tile. The palace and other buildings belonging to the church form a huge square carpeted with a plushy green lawn. A big fountain is its only ornamentation. About the lawn strolled 2 huge turkey gobblers, chickens and a dog, content and each a very fine specimen of its kind. Each of the buildings forming the square had a huge verandah or porch. On one lalled a fine Belgian Police dog.

Raining as it was it did not spoil the charm of lawn, fountain, animals and fine gracious looking buildings –. I loved it.

When we were about to leave Mr. V. discovered that our taxi was not waiting and leaving the Bishop and myself on the front porch of the palace, went to search for him in the rain. The crowds at the center gate saw me on the porch with the Bishop and this created a sensation that momentarily diverted their attention from the wedding. Then as I got into the car the girls and women noticed my American dress hat, which is pretty cute if I do say so. Eyes ‘bugged out’, amazement and admiration was as frank as though I was deaf – or a creature to be studied. They are sweetly childish and I just had to laugh in amusement at their awe.


8 July, 1948, Thursday, Roseau, Dominica.
I copied the 1872 map of Dominica that is in the Post Master’s Office today. It came out very well. The post master went to a great deal of bother to please me, make me comfortable and at home with his chair table and map.

Mr. Laudat brought us a cock Ramiae. Poor old man plodded in the rain on the mountain all day yesterday to get it for us and then apologized for not having more for us. His daughter, January (a widow for 2 years) has walked from Laudat and back for three days now, – down in the am. and back in the night, 14 miles, seven each way and the poor dear has very bad varicose veins in her legs. How she endures it I can’t understand for her case is a very bad one!

We wanted to get horses and ride to Laudat tomorrow but it poured all night and nearly all day and the mountain trails would be slippery as glass and even slides might occur so we gave it up –, badly as Mr. V. wanted me to see the high-bush.

We decided last night to go back to Antigua this week. There is no business development to permit us to remain and the advance on Mr. V.’s book re-print hasn’t come and the publisher does not say when it will come –.

No more shells are coming in –. Nothing – –, nothing – –, nothing –.

Mr. V. wanted to hire a taxi and take me for a ride up the Roseau Valley as long as we couldn’t go to Laudat but the rain has made a scenic view impossible all day.


9 July, Friday, Roseau, Dominica.
Not much news for today. Poured torrents nearly all day and some rain all the day. “Bushwa” and Mr. Laudat got us a few ‘horns’ but it was too wet for any man to be out. Mr. V. got our boat tickets for (Antigua) tomorrow’s sailing of a boat on her maiden voyage and cancelled his tickets for the “Monica” which sails Sunday night.

Eena’s cousin from Soufriere came with a nice shell from a fish-pot. He is a fine looking boy and was scrubbed like nobody’s business and dressed neatly –. I didn’t know him! I finished copying the map at the post office and chatted with the post master for over an hour.


10 July, Saturday, Roseau, Dominica.
Poured all night, still is at breakfast time. We are all packed ready to go. We have given away everything we can spare and the request for clothes is yet so heavy that a good sized store stock would be needed to satisfy it.


(Photo – Writing: The fish boat is in at Soufriere.)


(Photo – Writing: Stephanie’s kitchen where our meals were cooked.)


(Photo – Writing: “James” Laudat of town of Laudat.)


Our guests are many, January Laudat, “Jimmy”, her father –, they brought me an eggplant, limes, a cucumber and 5 crabs (cereeks). Minta (half sister of Stephanie) came and so did Eena, her (their) niece. Eena brought 2 eggs, limes, mangos and a pineapple from Sufrier. “Bushwa” brought word that the “Cariffee” would not be in today but tomorrow am. which pleased us for that means that we will only have to stay in Antigua one night and we will save $4.00 on that account. Two gentlemen (white) came in from Barbados on the “Monica” and as is usual with the unfortunate passengers who must ride on that boat, they were also worse for wear and had no food since day before yesterday. They came here after breakfast and ravenously hungry.

It isn’t raining now and it seems odd to see the sunshine. We called on Madame Casey and took a picture of her, also a picture of Eena.


(Photo – Writing: Mrs. Pascal’s donkey and foal. Soufriere, Dominica.)


Several shells were brought from Soufriere, one a fine dolium but slightly chipped. Roberto Eli came in to say “Hello” too.

Many plead for clothes. Anne, the old Verrill nurse, called and said she wanted clothes, so did Laudat and his daughter January. Mr. V. gave the latter $2.00 for she is a widow with 3 children –. Mr. Hawlis--? from Mt. Joy Estate came in and chatted for a bit. A wee little old bachelor, an artist who specialized in fish paintings all over the world and later on East African types –.


11 July, Sunday.
We are preparing to leave. “Bushwa” found what time the boat was to leave, went and bought the cabin-berths so I could rest if I needed it, lying down. We said our “good bys” and all were so nice. One colored woman who does beautiful tatting gave me a medallion, Mr. Fernandy gave me a sheer and very pretty handkerchief, some brought mangos, cucumbers, limes, crabs, a pineapple, flowers, a jar of live fish! and other things including a jar of Dominica pepper-sauce from “Bushwa’s” mother. We had lunch early and went aboard before 1 o’clock. “Bushwa” and Lawrence rowed us out. The steward showed us the toilet, how it worked, the bunk and other arrangements on the “Cariffee”. She, the boat, is most excellent in equipment, design, quality and finish. The tiny cabins with bunks (2), two in each cabin, are comfortable and the mattresses and pillows are soft.

We watched the Canadian steamer being unloaded of its cargo of flour and other stuffs by the Roseau men and their canoes and boats, a swarm of them straining, rowing, heaving and struggling, as such men have done from the earliest freight by ship times. Black, brown and yellow – sweating and striving –. It is a sight to watch.

We started off about 2 o’clock and watched the coast and its mountains slide away –. The mountains’ caps are wreathed in clouds and mist, their sides ‘quilted’ in rank verdure and mighty trees, whose tops only are seen, and their under areas but to be guessed and studied as one may any unknown –. The greens are pure emerald, mossy-green, willow-green, bottle-green, coppery-green, willow-green – and a few bluish-greens. The coppery-greens are the tender new tips to the mango trees’ limbs, the willow-greens are probably bamboo groves –.

We came to and passed little villages snuggling in the valleys’ mouths that open back of the sea shore, and it would seem that those abrupt and haughty green-quilted mountains endured the presence of these little villages rather grudgingly – and with scant toleration –. Disdainful of man who has encroached into the primeval wild beauty of their precincts –.

We passed the peer like area that juts into the ocean where they had thought of creating an air strip. The surface is fairly flat and fairly large and on top of a palisade of high cliffs – that, as mentioned above – jut into the ocean as if built out there by man.

We put into Portsmouth, Dominica Harbor from 4 to 6. We sat on the rear decks on settees padded by comfortable cushions and studied the shores, the village and the coconut orchards at leisure. The place looked very South Sea Islandish. The village and its church looked like an exquisitely done water-color that by some charm or magic had come to life. The coconuts are shipped whole to Trinidad and another island to be processed. Mr. V. said it is too bad that they don’t have a nearer plant and also sent out only copra and not waste room carrying the whole nuts.

The cook gave us crackers which Mr. V. ate with peanut-butter and guava cheese and ginger-ale. I ate a few dry –. Dominica slid away into the mists and was gone. Mary Galant and another island of the Saints group could be seen ahead in the gathering dusk of the evening. Then my stomach said it was just about ready to unload. I went into the deck lounge and flopped into one of the adjustable reclining chairs with a basin in my lap. I rested for a while and nothing happened though I knew it would before long so we went down the stairs (ladder) to the cabins. Mr. V. stayed but a little while and went up top again. I vomited three times and slept well between –. I heard the bham –, bham– bham – slosh of the sea against the ship’s side – and marveled at the resistance of the ship’s sides.

There were but three bad rolls during the trip but no trouble ensued. Mr. Wall, the ship’s owner, had paid out $57,000 on the boat – and it is a right nice little job. The captain is Basil Gomy. We met his sister on the dock at St. John’s.

Mr. Wall and the capt. saw two unlighted sloops in the dark just in time to avoid a dreadful crash –. We arrived in the harbor at Antigua at 4 am. where we rested until the quarantine officers cleared us. The customs officer was not around so we left our stuff and went to the “Globe Hotel” to eat breakfast. We were famished. I had had no drink from yesterday noon and not much to eat. Mr. V. had a ginger-ale, crackers, peanut-butter and guava cheese.

The taxi took us over quickly and was Miss Gussie and Miss Jardine surprised to see us! The got us toast, tea and coffee, bacon and eggs at once and we gave Gussie the news of her friends in Dominica. They were as glad to see us back as could be! We rested and slept nearly all the time. Poor Mr. V. is coughing yet – and was ever so tired. I bought a wad of seed work belts, bags and bracelets –. During the evening, Miss Jardine showed us her stamp collection and her photographs of Antigua and other islands. She gave me some of the photos of Antigua places.


13 July, Tuesday, Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, V.I.
A car called for us at the “Globe” and took us to the air port. There was another passenger, Major Winlaw of England going to St. Thomas and Tortola. I told him of Mr. Cancryn’s “Guest House” and he was very pleased.

On the plane was a young attorney from Washington, D.C., U.S.A., who was a fan of Mr. V.’s and yet is and was delighted to meet him. They had a fine chat. St. Kitts was shrouded in clouds but Mr. V. tried taking pictures from the plane of another island. I enjoyed the colors of the ocean’s water and what I could see of the various islands. We circled about St. Thomas and we saw much of it all at once. A pretty little island! We had a snack on the plane, grapefruit juice, a ham and cheese sandwich and 2 cookies.

Harris our former colored boy was at the air port with his station wagon and we went to “Adrienne’s Guest House” with the Major in tow. Mr. Cancryn was joyous to see us again. We told him about the air freight service for vegetables from Dominica and to here and our need of an agent here and he is pleased and says he is willing to act in that capacity. The air company “P.A.A.” is pleased with Mr. V.’s report and is sending a man to go over the area and see how things stack up. The report on Mr. V.’s letter of information is accepted and considered good enough to warrant further investigation with a sea-plane service in view for passengers and freight.

Mr. Cancryn says that the burglar or prowler has tried to get into the room we had down stairs twice since we left. The police sent a man to stay in the room one night but nothing happened then, of course!

Mr. V. is all in, so I went and got food and brought it back and we ate in our bed-room. (The one we had when we left.) The Major went out to eat.


(Photo – Antigua Beach Hotel from South)


(Photo – Beach Hotel and Grounds, Antigua … – Writing: ? Manager’s home – .)


(Photocopy – Dominica, B.W.I., Suggested Car Drives)


(Photocopy – A Page from the Clipper’s Log)


(Photocopy – Globe Hotel …)


(Photo – Writing: Court House, St. John’s, Antigua.)


(Photo – Writing: ? X. A cottage where a very much disliked governor was assassinated. The building in the foreground is a private residence.)


(Photo – Writing: ? Gateway to the Cathedral, St. John’s, Antigua. Some call the male figure Adam, others call him St. Joseph.)


(Photo)


(Photo – Writing: Lord Nelson’s Naval Base and Officer’s Quarters. Little building on left is the kitchen, one on its right is workshops. One in rear was Lord Nelson’s quarters. Ones on right are officers’ and personnel’s quarters.)


(Photo – Writing: ? Refectory.)


(Photo – Writing: This view is seen from a Duke’s former home.
Now the home of the governor.)


(Photo)


(Writing beside above three photos.. though probably only referring to the last two of the three: These views are from the immediate area of Nelson’s Dockyards.)


(Photo – Writing: Miss Olive Jardine, St. John’s, Antigua)


14 July, Wednesday, Charlotte Amalie.
The Major left for Tortola. Says he will be back Saturday night.

Maude the maid cannot take our wash as the people in her locality have little water to drink, and if they use it to wash, they have beg more for their drinking purpose.

It rained hard for a few minutes this morning. – – a bit later, and it is pouring hard. The people will welcome it –, poor things.


15 July, Wednesday, Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas.
We visited the chief of police this am. to hear what he could tell us about the death of Mr. Hand of Syracuse, New York, a man who obviously fell to his death on a flight of steps in a local hotel’s annex.

This captain had careful and most complete records of the case, testimony, photographs etc. all on file. There is no doubt that the man had had far too much to drink and either suffered a stroke and fell, or was so drunk he fell, and got the back of his head bashed on the cement landing. He had only a bath robe on and in its pocket was a partly consumed bottle of ‘Scotch’. Mrs. Hand is a close friend of a friend of ours, but I have never met her. Mrs. Aldsworth my friend of Lake Worth, wrote to me and asked me to enquire about the death of her friend’s husband. The police submitted these details to the victim’s attorney.

It has been a rainy day. We went shopping and while out met Mr. Cancryn who was quite unhappy over his colored maid Maude and her annoying ways. Maude is a simple soul and sub or abnormal in her outlook and ideas and this makes for difficult situations here among the various guests –.

(Photocopy – 1948 Tariff of Automobiles for Hire… – Writing: Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, V.I. Places to go – Most roads are fine. Dirt roads are to be found all over the island that are suitable for horseback rides.)


18 July, 1948, Charlotte Amalie.
We went to bed about 10 last night. Sometime before 2 this am. I heard what I thought were footsteps in the hall and a board creaked. I sat up on the back edge of the bed and listened hard for a few minutes then a sound at the jalousie near the bedroom door caused me to stare at the slowly opening shutter or jalousie. Then it was wide open and a head and shoulders were fairly distinct against the light of the sky and town.

Then a slim colored boy, a large 12 or small 15 or so, appeared in the window, his hands on the window sill ready to spring in, but he first turned his flashlight toward the bureau and end of the bedroom where our stuff is. When I saw that his next move was to bring him into the room I called “Nandi, a nigger boy is climbing into the room through the window.” Mr. V. was sound asleep and said, “What?”. I repeated and by that time he had his flash and was up and looking down on the vacant back stairway. The boy had dropped backward and down 7 feet or so to a shelf-like buttress in the angle of the house and el and then to the brick stairs and fled from view quicker than I could count 5.

Our windows on the second floor were the only two in the house that had not been closed with the storm shutters for safety, except Mr. Cancryn’s bedroom, his jalousie and our 2 were closed and bolted but one of ours was not secure as it is worn and can be pushed open.

Mr. Cancryn awoke, we gabbed for a few minutes and went to bed. I was scared silly myself as the light switch was across the room, past the boy intruder. We had nothing to club or hit him with and as he was nude above his waist anyway I feared he might be greased and that he might carry a knife like the imps of Satan did in Cuba a few years ago. So, I called as quick as I could stop him from coming into the room for if he had gotten in it was so dark we could not tell where he was and our flashlight was under the side of the bed on the floor by Mr. V.

Later we were sure we heard more footsteps and then all of us went on a room search together but found nothing.

Mr. Cancryn felt pretty bad about it all –; it worries him – so! Mr. V. closed the storm shutters and the jalousies, and shut in as we were we felt safe enough to go to sleep.

Mr. V. says he thinks the boy was sent by an older person as it is tricky walking to inch along a cornice that follows the side of a house the way this boy did. A grown person would have a hard and hazardous time trying it. The cornice is but 5 inches or so broad and slopes downward slightly at the outside edges. The only hand-grip is the storm shutter hooks and window ledges of the elpart and the bedroom wall. (? Sketch). Today is a lovely day and the world is at peace. (Here anyway.)


19 July, Monday, Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, V.I.
The cord to slam the shutter on the prowler as he stood on the cornice at our window was not needed. The boy felt the paint on the beginning of the cornice and knew there was a trap, or felt that there must be one, as it was the only window un-shuttered on the house. I kept the end of the cord on my arm all night. I am sure a flashlight was turned into the room 10 minutes after we had put the light out and had gone to bed. Nothing else happened. Harris took us to the air-field, Mr. Cancryn was there to see us off. We left at 10 am. The plane was crowded.


(Photocopies – Photo, articles, and Caribbean Atlantic Airlines coupons)


We delighted in the clouds, lovely water and islands all over again. At San Juan, Puerto Rico we had to wait about 2 hours for the plane to Miami. We ate ham and crackers and bought coffee.

The flight from San Juan affords one of the world’s finest beauty sights –. The loveliness of water, reefs, islands and clouds beggars description. We saw many many islands clearly and completely –. The pilot took us in a curving flight toward the north – Bahamas and Bahama Banks are wonderful sights. The ocean’s blue in many places was like the blue wings of the metallic wings of the Morpho butterfly incredible as it sounds.

We got a bus at Miami air-port to the Grey Hound depot and had only 15 minutes to wait for a bus to Lake Worth. At nine pm. we had our car and groceries and were calling on Barbara Mettern in Lake Worth – and getting our mail and parcel post she had kept for us. Then – back at 312 5 Avenue North once more –. Barbara asked if I was glad to be home again and I told her I felt no sense of hominess, just that it was a place lived in passing to other places. Dominica does seem like home to me –. I feel content there and as one does when they have come home –. We expect to be home (in Dominica) in January 1949. May it be so –. It’s hot here, I get heat headaches – and it is much cooler here now than it has been.


(Photocopy – Maps)


(Photo – Writing: Mrs. Casey, Roseau, Dominica. One of the old time friends of the Verrills.)


(Photo – Writing: Portsmouth, Dominica.)


(Two Photos, side by side – Writing below: Roseau Public Market, Dominica. Here are sold: pottery, calabashes, cucumbers, avocados, cabbage, peppers, eggs, pigs, chickens, bananas, tanyea, lettuce, tomatos, carrots, baskets, beets and many more things.)


(Photo – Writing: Roseau Harbour looking toward Scot’s Head. (Distance))


(Photo – Writing: The “Monica”)


(Photo – Writing: Shore of Roseau Harbour. Post office and other government buildings.)


(Photo – Writing: St. Thomas scene. Dove and a cat on the posts –.)


(Two Photos, side by side – Writing below: Flambeau trees in bloom. Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, V.I.)


(Photo)


(Photo)


(Two photos, above and below each other – Writing with arrows: Girls at Mrs. Harris’ Sutton House Hotel, Roseau)


(Photo – Writing: cloud masses taken from the plane.)


(Photo – Writing: Hayden (“Bushwa”) Weekes. Mr. Verrill’s helpful ‘boy’.)


(Small Photocopy)


(Photo – Writing: Ann Rhyner, the old nursemaid of the Verrill children, Roseau, Dominica.)


(Photo – Writing: Eena, niece of John Blue and Stephanie Blue. Our maid at Soufriere, Dominica.)


(Photo – Writing: Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, and harbor.)


(Photo – Writing: Cloud masses at 1500 to 1900 feet, taken from the plane’s window.)


(Photo – Writing: Cloud masses taken from the plane.)


(Photo – Writing: St. Kitts Island.)


(Photo – Writing: Cat Island from the plane.)


(Photo – Writing: Bahama Banks. A reef, a ‘shelf’ and deep water.)


(Photo – Writing: Grand Caicos Island.)


(Two Photos side by side – Writing: Cloud effects photographs from the plane window.)


(Photo – The Antigua Beach Hotel …)


(Photocopy – Map – Cuba)


(Photocopy – Map – Antigua)


(Photocopy – Map – St. Thomas & St. John)


(Photocopy – Map – St. Croix)


(Photo – Writing: The Roseau Valley. Lime orchards.)


(Photo – Writing: Carib Indians, Dominica)


(Two Photos side by side – Writing above: Beché’s wife. Mr. Verrill bought her for a pair of scissors as a child.)


(Writing at top of photo page: Dominican Caribs)


(Photo – Writing: Beché’s father.)


(Photo – Writing: Beché –.)


(Photo)


(Photo – Writing: Beché’s sister and part Carib girl –.)


(Photo – Writing: Carib Indian baskets, Dominica.)


(Two Photos side by side – Writing: Cathedral, St. John’s, Antigua, and gateway to the Cathedral grounds.)



(Photo – Writing: Botanical Garden, Roseau.)


(Photo – Writing: Botanical Garden, Roseau.)


(Photo – Writing: Botanical Garden, Roseau.)


(Photo – Writing: Botanical Garden, Roseau, Dominica.)


(Two Photos side by side – Writing: Botanical Garden, Roseau, Dominica.)


(Photo – Writing: Limes, Dominica.)


(Photo – Writing: Limes, Dominica.)


(Photo – Writing: Limes, Dominica.)


(Writing at top of photo page: Sufrier Bay, Dominica.)


(Photo)


(Photo)


(Photo)


(Writing between above two photos, with up/down arrow: Sufrier sulphur mine.)


(Photo – Writing: Sulphur bed, Sufrier, Is. Dominica, B.W.I.)


(Photo – Writing: Toward the ocean from the road to the mine and interior.)


(Photo – Writing: Same road higher up the mountain looking toward ---?.)


(Photo – Writing: Beach at Sufrier, Dominica.)


(Photo – Writing: Street scene, Sufrier, Dominica.)


(Photo – Writing: “La Bim” and village of Sufrier, Dominica.)


(Photo – Writing: Fresh water lake of Dominica.)


(Photo – Writing: Native boats of Dominica.)


(Photo – Writing: A fire at Roseau (years ago.)


(Photo – Writing: Scot Head in the distance and a native canoe.)


(Photo – Writing: Sulphur at the Sufrier mines, Dominica.)


(Photo – Writing: Botanical Gardens, Roseau.)


(Photo – Writing: Roseau.)


(Photo – Writing: Water front at Roseau, Dominica.)


(Photo – Writing: Old time costume, no longer seen.)


(Photo – Writing: Roseau cemetery.)


(Photo)


(Photo)


(Photo – Writing between above two photos: Street sweepers, Roseau, Dominica)


(Photo – Writing: Botanical Gardens, Roseau, Dominica.)


(Photo – Writing: Road repairing, Dominica.)


(Photo – Writing: -----------?, Roseau, Dominica.)


(Photo – Writing: A Carib Indian of Dominica.)


(Photo – Writing: Carib and Negro mixture.)


(Photo – Writing: Carib and mixed bloods.)


(Photo – Writing: Beché’s brother.)


(Photo – Writing: La Bim.)


(Photo – Writing: Fire at Roseau, years ago.)


(Photo – Writing: An old picture of Roseau water front, Dominica.)


(Photo – There is always room for …)


(Photocopy of photo – Steeply to the cloud-capped mountains …)


(Photo – Cooking in a crater …)


(Photo – Cooking ina crater …)


(Photo – Writing: “The Pen”, Roseau, Dominica when the Verrill family lived there.)


(Photo – Writing: The Boiling Lake, Dominica.)


(Photo – Writing: Water front of City of Roseau, Is. Dominica, B.W.I.)


(Photo – Writing: Closer view of the above water front.)


(Photo – Writing: Grand Hotel back door, St. Thomas.)


(Photo – Writing: Old church, Sufrier, Dominica, B.W.I.)


(Photo – Writing: Deep water fish trap, native canoes and beach at Sufrier Bay, Is. of Dominica, B.W.I.)


(Photo – Writing: Same beach looking the other way.)


(Photo – Writing: Port of Portsmouth, Is. of Dominica, B.W.I. A huge coconut plantation is at ….?)


(Photocopy – Police and Prison Department … Writing: His widow employed me to investigate and see if the coroner’s report was true. This I did, for Mr. Hand –. I later saw photos of the deceased, and talked with Inspector Charles, a grad. of our F.B.I.)


(Photocopy of Letter from Stephanie Bleau)


(Photo – Writing: Water front of Charlotte Amalie, Island of St. Thomas, Virgin Islands.)


(Photocopy of article – Writing: Apr. 18, 1951.)


(Photocopy – The Colonial Postmaster …)


(Photo – Writing: Pink conch shells, St. Croix.)


(Photocopy – Adrienne Guest House …)


(Photocopy of Letter to Mr. and Mrs. Verrill from Ann. Two pages.)


(Photocopy of Letter to Mrs. Verrill from Emma Harris. Three pages.)


(Photo – Writing: Carib thatched hut, Dominica.)


(Photo – Writing: Carib girl of Dominica.)


(Photo – Writing: The boiling lake, shrouded in steam. Island of Dominica.)


(Photo – Writing: Sufrier sulphur mine in distance, Is. Dominica, B.W.I.)


(Photo – Writing: A different view of the same mining area.)


(Photo – Writing: A sulphur bed at the above mine. 1902 +.)


(Photo – Writing: Looking into the crater of the boiling lake, Dominica.)


(Photo – Writing: Village of Soufriere, Island of Dominica, B.W.I.)


(Photo – Writing: Charlotte Amalie, Island of St. Thomas, Virgin Is., U.S.)


(Photo – Writing: Botanical Gardens, Roseau, Dominica.)


(Photo – Writing: Leper Hospital Antigua.)


(Photo – Writing: A highway scene. Island of St. Croix.)


(Photo – Writing: Street scene in Frederickstead, Island of St. Croix.)


(Photo – Writing: Sulphur deposit at the mine. Soufriere, Island of Dominica. Mr. Verrill mined these deposits and refined the stuff at the site of the mine, in the early 1900s. The deposits in 1948 were greater in size and cover more area. New deposits have also come to the surface.)


(Photo – Writing: Mr. A. Hyatt Verrill standing on a bed of sulphur, Sufrier, Is. of Dominica, 1902-1904 or so)


(Photo – Writing: Mr. Beresford Cancryn and nephew. Adrienne’s Guest House owner. Charlotte Amalie, Is. St. Thomas, V.I., U.S.)


(Photo – Writing: Lime juice mill, Roseau, Dominica.)


(Photo – Writing: Bathsheba, Barbados)


(Photo – Writing: Harbour view and Water Island in the distance from Adrienne’s Guest House yard, Charlotte Amalie, Island of St. Thomas, V.I., U.S.)


(Photo – Writing: An old view of the Botanical Gardens in Roseau, Is. Dominica, B.W.I.)

No comments:

Blog Archive

Countries we have visited

About Me

My photo

As an armed forces brat, we lived in Rockcliff (Ottawa), Namao (Edmonton), Southport (Portage La Prairie), Manitoba, and Dad retired to St. Margaret's Bay, NS.
Working with the Federal Govenment for 25 years, Canadian Hydrographic Service, mostly. Now married to Gail Kelly, with two grown children, Luke and Denyse. Retired to my woodlot at Stillwater Lake, NS, on the rainy days I study the life and work of A. Hyatt Verrill 1871-1954.