The Saba Islander

by Will Johnson

Archive for the month “March, 2015”

Before Mass Tourism

Old Lamp Lighter

Travel in the days before regular electricity was available involved getting accustomed to no electricity or if there was the lights would go out at 10 pm or so. Once when the Philispburg Electric Company wanted to expand their service to eleven pm, teacher Lionel Conner rose up to defend the public morals by stating: “Which God fearing person would want a naked light bulb in their home after ten pm?? And his argument carried the day.


By. Will Johnson

Throughout the first half of the twentieth century there was no mass tourism to the Eastern Caribbean. Only an occasional travel writer would come around and wealthy people like J.P. Morgan and others would stop by in their yachts. The Lady boats of the Canadian Lines serviced the island and carried some passengers. It was not until after 1960 that North American tourists started coming in their numbers building up to the millions who visit the North Eastern Caribbean today.

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Room with a view. In the months of October and November 1961 this was the view from my room at the Government Guesthouse on St. Eustatius. It is now the Hon. Vincent Lopes Island Council Hall. In subsequent years when it was still a Guesthouse I stayed there many times. Wonderful memories of those days.

And there were no large hotels as we know them now on most of the larger islands. At best you could lodge with single old ladies who would take you into their homes and some small inns with no more than ten rooms.

However there was a need for local people to travel among the islands. St. Kitts was the principal island for people living on Anguilla, St. Martin, St. Barth’s, St. Eustatius and Saba.

People went there for various reasons. The Dutch and French of the North Eastern Caribbean used St. Kitts as a transit point for their onward journeys to Bermuda and the United States with lines such as the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company. St. Kitts with its then modern Cunningham hospital which was started in 1848 functioned as a regional hospital. Doctors like Dr. Shaw first worked on the Dutch islands before moving on to St. Kitts where he was the general surgeon.

The Royal Bank of Canada also started the first real bank in the North Eastern Caribbean when they opened a branch in Basseterre in 1915.

And so because of the economic importance of St. Kitts there was a need to travel to that island in particular. While many people had either relatives or friends on St. Kitts others had to lodge in guesthouses. Captain Ernest A. Johnson in his Memoirs speaks for many former Dutch Windward Islanders when describing his first trip to St. Kitts in 1900. ‘On the 2nd May, 2 am the weather was moderate and we were close to West of Brimstone Hill. Two tacks and a hitch, and the good sloop “Lillie” was safely anchored in Basseterre, St. Kitts. There my maiden passage ended. I was stopping at the Montesaires Hotel waiting for the steamship “Tiber” to arrive, for Bermuda was the second part of my voyage. On the 15th of May the “Tiber” arrived to sail that day.

Shorty's Hotel -St. Kitts

The owners of “Shorty’s Hotel on St. Kitts. Many people from the islands used to stay there in former times.He came to St. Kitts from Germany around 1938 and he also had a brother who was a doctor at the old Cunningham Hospital.

In Basseterre there were several other small hotels such as Shorty’s Hotel, Barclays Hotel and so on. I recently had a request from Mr. G.P. van der Vorst for more information on Walter Strisiver known as “Shorty” who ran Shorty’s Hotel on St. Kitts. I thought he was of Portuguese descent but Mr. van der Vorst said there was a person with an identical name who lived in Berlin in 1938 and left Germany. If anyone on St. Kitts reading this knows anything about where Shorty came from I would appreciate it if they would let me know. And they did. Since I wrote this Mrs. Stephanie Voges-Every contacted her aunt Mrs. Agnes Skerritt who provided the information that indeed Mr. Striviser came from Germany and that he had a brother who was a doctor at the old Cunningham hospital on St. Kitts.

Mrs. Ada Edmead was also in the hotel business on St. Kitts and many people from the neighboring islands enjoyed her hospitality.

We have here an article from the Windward Islands Opinion of Saturday Nov, 19th, 1960. At that time I myself was living in Captain Hodge’s Guesthouse on the beach in Philipsburg a place where many from Saba used to stay as well. Besides that one Miss Browlia Maillard and Miss Zilah Richardson on the Backstreet used to take in guests from the surrounding islands. I remember in the nineteen forties when my brother Freddie was going to school on St. Maarten he stayed with some Davis sisters who had a home next to the Methodist Church on St. Maarten and they too would take in the occasional guest from the surrounding islands.


The Government Pasangrahan (Indonesian for Passing Big Shot) on St. Maarten. In Indonesia and in the Dutch West Indies there were these government guesthouses all over the place. These were mainly intended for government officials travelling between the islands buy they took in foreign guests as well.

Here follows the article in the Windward Islands Opinion of Saturday November 19th, 1960.

MRS. J.K. Edmead Opens Hotel in St. Eustatius

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Right the legendary Miss Cornelia Jones with Mrs. Coleta Hughes on the premises of the Government Guesthouse in Windwardside. Miss Jones was the first woman member of the Island Council of the Windward Islands and for many years she managed the Government Guesthouses on Saba.

Mrs. J.K. Edmead, well-known hotel proprietress, who has been managing three hotels at the island of St. Kitts, B.W.I. for many years, have turned the business over to her daughter Mrs. Ruby De Freitas, who has been assisting her for the past four years after her return from Aruba, where she worked in the Accounting Office as Senior clerk for the Lago, for many years, and has opened her first hotel on the evening of November 1st on the island of St. Eustatius.

A grand reception was held for the occasion to which 123 guests attended. Deputy V.A. Lopes presided as Master of Ceremonies, and after his opening address, the Hon. Mr. van Delden, Administrator of St. Eustatius responded with a stimulating speech in which he congratulated Mrs. Edmead very strongly for her establishment in the hotel business here at St. Eustatius, and after wishing her all success in the future, concluded by saying that Mrs. Edmead’s efficiency in the managing of hotels is no surprise nor secret to him as he had been told by persons at Curacao who lodged and boarded at her hotels when they visited St. Kitts, about the adequate service, luxury, and comfort they enjoyed while there, so that he was sure that the island will benefit greatly by her project.

Deputy Sadler also gave a wonderful speech, substantiating the information the Hon. Mr. van Delden had obtained at Curacao, for Deputy Sadler stated that he had spent his honey-moon at Hotel Royal at St. Kitts, and declared that comfort was divine, and service de-lux.

After this, champagne was served, then other drinks followed, including eating of chicken and souse. The rhythm of the steel-band became so impellent that the urge for dancing could no longer be available, chairs were placed to the side and dancing continued until the early hours of 2 am the following morning when the reception came to an end.

Mrs. Edmead is a native of St. Eustatius, and is the daughter of Mr. Jacob Simon van Putten, well-known businessman, social worker, and who held the position as Leader Senior Circuit Steward, and local preacher of the Methodist Church at St. Eustatius for over fifty-nine years. He died on the 17th. Of November 1958, in the home of his daughter Mrs. Alice Lopes, at the honorable age of 95.

This hotel is an annex to the Antillean Caribbean Hotel which Mrs. Edmead hopes to renovate and establish in the near future.”

Ada Edmead

Mrs. Ada Edmead who managed hotels on St. Kitts and on St. Eustatius. Many people from Saba and the other islands lodged with her on St. Kitts.

I remember my brother Guy telling me that he was staying at the Hotel Royal in Basseterre when President John Kennedy was shot and killed. He was advised by Mrs. Edmead who in the meantime was back on St. Kitts. At least she was there when he stayed in the hotel. He was advised to stay in the hotel and not wander around the town until tensions calmed down, as people were blaming the whites for killing Kennedy because of his support for human rights in the United States. In 1961 I spent the months of October and November in the Government Guesthouse on St. Eustatius. I walked away from that stay with wonderful memories of the island and the people. I also established lifelong relations with certain families I met there at the time. I had seen the island in the nineteen fifties when I stopped there briefly on the government schooner the “Blue Peter” but in 1961 I really got to know the island well. I worked in the Post office there and my boss was Miss Louise van Putten and the Act. Administrator was Mr. Carl Buncamper. I also got to know Mr. Vincent Lopes and Mr. Sadler, and Mr. Austin Woodley worked in the same building with me. My room in the government guesthouse for the last years has been the meeting room of the Island Council of St. Eustatius. Wonderful memories I have of those days taking in the way of life and relatively unspoiled atmosphere of sweet St. Eustatius.

Browlia Maillard 2

Miss Browlia Maillard here in the wheelchair by whom I lodged on the Back Street in the old Philipsburg. She was a schoolteacher and took in boarders from especially Saba and St. Eustatius.

The first hotel strictly aimed at Tourists built in the Eastern Caribbean was the Little Bay Hotel in 1955. Even so the hotel started with only twenty rooms. In 1962 it was expanded to forty rooms. A group of Dutch contractors who were established on Aruba built the Roman Catholic Church and the Convent in Philipsburg and then saw an opportunity to start the Little Bay Hotel. That same group were responsible for the establishment of the Banco Popular on the Front Street in the nineteen sixties as well. Mr. Kolaard was part of that group and managed the Little Bay Hotel when it first started up and remained on in various functions for a number of years.

Entrance to Capt. Hodge Guesthouse

I lodged for almost ten years in Capt. Hodges Guesthouse on the Front Street in Philipsburg. The owners were Capt. Austin Hodge and his wife Mrs. Bertha Hodge-Lawrence both from the village of Grand Case. Many happy memories of the years spent in this building.

On Anguilla there is Lloyd’s guesthouse operated by the Lloyd family for many years. In former times on St. Barth’s there was a guesthouse in the former Richard Dinzey mansion in Gustavia. I remember staying there on a trip with Bobby Every. A number of young men from Saba worked there. I learned from Mr. Franklin Every who worked there that the operator was Mr. Arthur Hanson who before that had operated the former Government Guesthouse in Windwardside. Besides Franklin there was also Carl Hassell, Kenneth Every and Al Hassell. This was in the mid nineteen sixties and Franklin also worked with Mr. Hanson for a couple of years at the Government Guesthouse on St. Eustatius. The building is now a Swedish museum. It was built by Sir Richard Dinzey of Saba who moved to St. Barth’s in the early eighteen hundreds. He was a son of Governor Thomas Dinzey of Saba. The last person to live there was Julia Dinzey and she left the property to her Saba neighbor Capt. Charles Barnes. The building was rented to a Mr. Hanson who turned it into a guesthouse. And there was a Mr. Ledee who had a guesthouse in town. I remember staying there and a full breakfast was only a dollar. If I can drift away to Aruba for a while I used to stay at the Seaman’s Club in San Nicolas for five guilders a night and a hearty breakfast included. Astoria Hotel not too far from that location was ten guilders a night and no breakfast included and the Victoria Hotel was fifteen guilders a night. It belonged to Fan Fan Croes and his daughter Lucy was married to a Saban , Vivian Hassell and since Fan Fan Croes’ death  the hotel is managed by Marilyn Hassell granddaughter of “Fan Fan” Croes.

On Curacao I lived in Hotel Washington for a year and after I wrote the history of my stay there which appeared on the front page of the NAPA magazine someone decided to restore it and now it is a hotel training school. Irma Hassell of Saba was the Matron there and such a jolly character that she and I remained friends until she passed away on Aruba years later. The article was in Dutch so I will have to translate it sometime for my English speaking readers.

Over the years I have had the good fortune to transit from the era before mass tourism. Because of holding various political and advisory functions I have stayed in most of the hotels in the Dutch islands and elsewhere in the Caribbean from Mallihouana in Anguilla to Young Island in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, from the Hilton in Trinidad to the Hemingway Marina Hotel in Cuba. But I must admit that I long back for the days of the five guilder a night accommodations with two fried eggs, large amounts of bacon and a couple of Johnny Cakes included in that price.

ELECTIONS 2015, Wednesday March 18th.


The horses are on the track and in their final lap. Place your vote on the WIPM party and they will continue to fight for increased economic and social activity and for a good outcome of the evaluation process which will start up in a couple of weeks time.


This morning an old friend called. He might have been voting for Ishmael Levenstone’s party. We know we. And so we discussed the candidates of both parties and made comparisons. The big question was:” If you were going away and had to leave your business in the hands of anyone, or your house, which of the 18 candidates running on the two parties would you trust with running your store or your house? His preference went out for 90% (ninety percent) to the candidates of the WIPM party.

His greatest concern was who had set up Ishmaels Levenstones list and why had the other candidates not objected to their position on the list. My friend is no fool. At the end of the conversation he understood the issue with the setting up of the list and the consequences of his vote.

At the end of the conversation he thanked me and told me that for the past days he had already been rethinking his position even though he had made a promise already, but a promise which can bring disaster on him and the island by voting for the right person on the wrong party and that vote go to elect someone else was a promise that can be broken.

The WIPM party has provided a stable government for the past four years. Good governance has been the reason there are so many ongoing projects on the island and why so many people from so many other countries have come to Saba to invest and to live here. Make no mistake about it. Just as my local friend is concerned those who have voting rights on Saba are VERY concerned as to the future of Saba and their investments. The WIPM party has again presented a solid program for the future. They have had three very successful and informative public rallies. The nine candidates on the list, without exception, have some form of higher education and good life experiences. They are hard working people and Island Council Member Rolando Wilson , WIPM party leader,over the years has worked hard and is an investor in the economy of Saba as are most of the other candidates. All our candidates know what hard work is all about. Each one is involved in some business or the other and are active in the community either in the Lions Club or in some other form of social and religious activity.

In an interview in 1995, Mr. Jocelyn Arndell said the following:” Campaigns changed in 1971,” asserts Arndell. “Before 1971, political campaigns concentrated more on personalities and mud-slinging. WIPM was the first political party to bring change in campaigns. WIPM started with issues and a program.” Mr. Jocelyn Arndell was the party leader of the WIPM  in the 1971 and 1973 elections on St. Maarten.

In 2015 WIPM has been very active in bringing the message of its program to the people of Saba. They have assumed the responsibility of informing the people so that when they go to the polls in two days time they can make an informed decision on what to do with their vote.

It is easy to blame government for things which do not even concern government. Decisions made in the general interest to protect businesses offend some and those who government try to protect are the first to vote against that very same government who has been trying to protect you and your business and your employees. What is the message you will be sending? There is still time for reflection.

Remember if you do not trust the person with running your business or with taking care of your home how can you trust that person with your vote??

There is still time for reflection. When the votes are counted will you want yours to be among those who voted for persons who you would not trust with your own money??

Since the public rallies of the WIPM started we see faces and hear voices of people who we never knew were going to vote for the WIPM party. We appreciate the message they have been giving. Saba people have proven time and again that they are aware of the people who are running for office. You cannot change the history of those who are running for office. People are aware of the great mistake which was made in setting up Ishmaels list and the fact that none of the candidates decided to back out of the fight or to demand a better position. It is way too late now to change either the history of those running for office or the position they occupy on the list.

So pray about your decision and do the right thing on Wednesday. In this election doing the right thing means to vote for the candidate of your choice on the WIPM list, the first list on the ballot. Addressing the concerns of my children I have stayed far from a tit for tat engagement with certain people in our community. At this time though I would be neglecting my responsibility as Party President of the WIPM party to give some words of caution and advice on the eve of Wednesday’s election. The issues which Sabans are concerned with are being addressed  by the evaluation committee and the WIPM elected officials will be dealing with that report vigorously in order to hold the Dutch government accountable for neglect in their departments which they are responsible for. Have no fear WIPM is here, we have defended our actions while at the same time pointing to the benefits of stable government, hard working people as your representatives on the Island Council and educated people who you can be proud of that. Do not throw away that traditional pride in work and good conduct by your ancestors on Saba. Vote for the qualified and hard working people on the WIPM list when you go out to vote on Wednesday.

Thanking you in advance for your support on Wednesday.

Party President

Will Johnson

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Reflect on each candidate. On their history of hard work. On their integrity. On their educational background. On their ambition to make a better life for their families and their community. Select the candidate of your choice and VOTE WIPM.


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To far right my boss Joseph Alphonse Constantine O’Connor in line to greet Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Beatrix in 1955 at the old St. Maarten airport.


By; Will Johnson

Joseph Alphonse Constantine O’Connor better known as “Fons” was born October 1st 1920 and died on February 9th, 1994.

The first time I saw him was on entering the harbor of Great Bay with Capt. Matthew Levenston on his sloop the “Gloria”. A piece of flotsam made it at times quicker from Saba to St. Maarten than the “Gloria” did. And as usual we were several hours late when we arrived in the harbor. The year was 1955. One which was to leave deep impressions on me, and the year in which I first met “Fons”.

He was in his “speedboat” which at the time was a locally built wooden fishing boat with a 20 horsepower Johnson outboard engine. Being that it was a Sunday afternoon Fons was in his cups and decided to play a sort of Russian roulette with the “Gloria” by constantly cutting in front of the bow of the sloop. No need to fear a collision however as the “Gloria’s” two speeds were “dead slow” and “full stop”. Nevertheless Capt. Matthew was quite upset as each time that Fons made his maneuver it was accompanied by a stream of bad words impinging on the captain’s maternal ancestry, and other foul mouthed accusations which had become a standard part of West Indian vocabulary long before Eddie Murphy was born. Especially white West Indians seemed to have refined the art of using bad words as if to make up for less physical strength than their brethren of African ancestry.


The two storied building on the right was the home of the O’Connor family in former times. This photo is from the nineteen thirties.

Fons’ show was in his way of thinking done in good faith as he and the Captain were good personal friends otherwise. And all Matthew could say was:” And look you cannot even curse the man back because he is the Judge and might lock you to hell up.” So we gave up on advising Matthew “Cuss he mother back Matthew!” Obviously it was no use as Matthew did not use curse words and he was not going to take that sort of chance with the Judge.

Either out of fear of running out of gas or having had enough for the day and while letting out one final barrage of bad words, Fons headed in the direction of the shore and the “Lido Bar.”

It was several years later when on completing my schooling on Curacao that I opted for a public service career on St. Maarten. The fateful day that I was again to meet with Fons was October 10th, 1960. Lt. Governor “Japa” Beaujon after reprimanding me about coming to my first day of work with rolled up shirt sleeves, sent me down to report to the Courthouse and to my future boss Fons O’Connor. If you wanted to get him real mad all you had to do was to spell his last name as Conner or Connor. Wars had been fought over lesser offences than to misspell the name of O’Connor if you were to believe Fons.

Anyway I parked myself in front of the then Monument on the square anxiously awaiting my new job. Another long deceased old friend Lorenzo de Lain who used to ring the bell on the hour at the Courthouse suggested that I stand under the awning of the building as “St. Maarten people don’t like Saba people.” And with what little traffic there was at the time “someone might try to knock you down.” At the time I did not know he was pulling my leg of course and that St. Maarten people liked Saba people to the extent that Lorenzo himself had fathered a son by a Saban lady.


M-50 the blue Buick parked up in front of the home of my boss Fons and the Courthouse was only a stones throw away from his home.

And traffic was so slow then that you hardly ran a risk of being run over. Michel Deher told me an embarrassing episode in his early childhood life when St. Maarten lost yet another battle to Curacao. Down by the Sea View Hotel opposite Maude Flanders house he and some other boys had been arguing with a Curacao official Schotborgh the Receiver, that St. Maarten had more cars than Curacao. “Oh yeah” said the official, “I’ll bet you a guilder (big money back then) that if you lie down on the street that a car won’t pass in half-an-hour.” Michel said that after negotiating for another half hour, and nearly sun stroked they gave up after an hour and a half of lying on the street. He said that he was unaware of any car passing down the Front Street at all that day, and Michael was very careful after that to make comparisons between Curacao and St. Maarten.

Lorenzo’s nephew Mooch Lake used to ring the bell at night. One night we wanted to go to Marigot to attend a “bull-fight” and drink up some rum. Mooch’s solution to the problem of having to wait till after the last bell at nine was to ring eight and five minutes later to ring nine and then we took off. At least we thought we had gotten away with it until the next day when Governor Beaujon caught up with Mooch and he said “Will Johnson make the suggestion.”

Anyway, as I stood there in anticipation of my first day on the job, I saw a man in a brown uniform on his bicycle coming in my direction. It turned out to be the Customs Officer Sydney Lejuez. You bet. St. Maarten had customs back then, though it consisted mostly of issuing a clearance for a sloop once in a while and the monthly government motor vessel the “Antilia.”

Shortly after properly introducing himself, we saw a lady approaching from the direction of Fons’ home with some keys. His house was just a stone’s throw from the Courthouse. Sydney took responsibility for opening the doors while under his breath I heard him saying “That drunken ass Fons got a new girlfriend in Grand Case and cannot come to work this morning.”

By the time Fons did show up, Arnold Scott, Laurel Peterson, Jimmy Halley, Whitfield Vlaun and Sonny Boy Lake had already taken charge of me and I was busy sorting out mail in the back. Even Eugene de Lain (“Mr. Bush”) who had just retired as the mail delivery man had come along and met the new boy from Saba who had just come from Curacao school.

Not a word from Fons, just a nod if he passed. And so it went on for about a week. Finally one night at Passangrahan bar I was to meet Fons officially. In his cups and with a flaming red head American gal in tow he came in my direction: You (can’t say it but implying an incestuous relationship with my own flesh and blood), who to hell do you think you are. You think you own the Courthouse? Saba buy the Courthouse now etc. etc.” I remembered Matthew Levenston’s words of caution “Mind you cannot even curse he back because he is the Judge and might lock you to help up,” so I held my  peace.”

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Wedding ceremony conducted by Civil Registrar the Hon. Constant Williams. Left to right Joseph Alphonse Constantine O’Connor, Will Johnson, groom Antonio Velasquez, bride Sheri Batson and witness Ruth Velasquez. 1960’s.


Fons’ Buick M-50 parked up in front of his house in Philipsburg 1960.

Fons was a bon vivant and I remember once he told me that the next best product from America which he favored most aftera Buick was an American woman. He loved a Buick. After threatening to shoot certain private parts of my poor old lady (literally translated from the offensive) he took off in the direction of the street with his new found red head to his most favored means of transportation the Buick.

The stories which circulated about Fons and his harassment of the town’s residents with his ungodly late night (10 and 11 o’clock back then) hours of speeding around the town are legion.

Fon’s late night entry with his Buick into Philipsburg that sleepy little town between the shores of the Great Bay and the Great Salt Pond reminds me of Scot’s description in “Lady of the Lake” of the “antlered monarch of the waste.”

“To many a mingled sound at once

The awaken’d dogs bay’d deep and strong,

Clatter’d a hundred steeds along.

Their peal the merry horns rung out,

A hundred voices join’d the shout;

With hark and whoop and wild halloo,

No rest Benvoirlich,s echoes knew.”

William O'Connor

William O’Connor (1941) Fons’ father.

Before the Buick he had a fancy for motorcycles. Once when coming from Marigot with the Captain of a K.N.S.M. boat on the motorcycle Fons lost him somewhere in the vicinity of the border monument. Only after passing through Cole Bay and heading up the hill, did he notice that he was minus a passenger. Fons who was not partial to his own ancestral maternal origins exclaimed “Oh me mother’s etc., I lost the (you know what or at least you can guess) Dutchman, and he headed back to pick him up stunned, bruised but alive and walking along the road.

Sydney Lejuez used to tell me how his father Roy was laboring one day with a large fish net on his head coming from “The Corner” in Simpson bay headed in the direction of Great Bay.

Under a cloud of dust Fons drove up and shouted out to Roy “Get your old backside on the back.” Balancing between hell and the deep blue sea Roy was asked if he was frightened and when smelling hesitation on Roy’s part, which Fons interpreted for fear, only then Fons picked up speed, Choosing between living to raise his many children or a certain death on Fons’ motorcycle, Roy threw caution to the wind and dumped his net overboard. “Lawd  Fons me net fall down.” Without slowing down Fons made a sharp turn and headed back in the direction of the net. After kneeling down and thanking God for a safe landing Roy decided that even if it took him a month to reach Great Bay and should he even face starvation on the way it was better than taking a chance with Fons on his motorcycle.

O'Connor family.

Members of the O’Connor family. 1. William Frederick O’Connor (b.1860 d. 1945) 2. Sister Maria Arcadia – Amaria Wilhelmina O’Connor b. 1902 3. Margaret Maria Fletcher Williams b. +_ 1862 – 2nd wife of # 1 4. William Adolph O’Connor b. 1888 “Uncle Willy” 5. Charles Wilfred O’Connor b. 1882 “Uncle Fred”.

One night I too, went through one of those experiences with Fons in his blue Buick sedan coming from a “bullfight” at Rohan’s in French Quarter. In later years I would read about people who had died and when their soul had left their bodies, they decided to turn back because their families were sad and so forth. Yeah, I thought, I remember that, it happened to me the night Fons gave me a lift from French Quarter to Captain Hodge’s Guest House. By the time the brakes stopped screeching in front of  the Guesthouse, every rooster in Great Bay was crowing at 1 am, and “Ah,Ah” the old neighbor from across the street was in hysterics with “Oh me Lawd, the devil heself take possession o Fons’ car at last. I sure only the devil could drive a car like that.”

I was later to learn that Fons’ drinking and cussin’ was only to cover up a real shy and nice person. After my encounter with Fons at the Pasangrahan, I decided it would be better to cut my losses early and head back to Saba and if need be fish for a living rather than face the wrath of Fons on Monday. But it was not necessary. Fons when he did come in to work never even noticed me, and not until the next bullfight at the St. John’s Ranch when in his fraternal manner he greeted me as “You (copulating pygmy illegitimate offspring of an unwedded mother who accepts cash for favors rendered etc.) I frightened you eh!’ When I learned to know the real Fons and I didn’t back down, Claude Wathey when he was pissed at something I had allegedly done would shout at Fons in the Lido bar “who the hell is the boss at the Courthouse, you or that so and so Will Johnson?) Claude could curse a bad word too when he wanted.

I have already described in my book “For the Love of St. Martin” Fons’ demonstration of the correct way of shooting ducks with a 16 gauge shotgun in the Pasangrahan bar the week before Christmas in 1961. Also how he was issued credit by Raffie Friday at the newly opened Little Bay Hotel bar under the name of Mr. “New Come.”

Suddenly Fons decided to throw in the towel. Captivated by a young Dutch schoolmarm the old cowboy put up his guns, retired his Buick and chose to live a quiet life in the country and to raise his kids.

Hang up his guns he did. That is yet another story. Fons was always at war with his neighbor the American named Gordon who ran the Lido Hotel next door to his house. When his favorite Labrador dog named Lion died Fons accused Gordon of poisoning him of course. It did not matter that Lion had already set several records for longevity of the canine species, any excuse would do to run Gordon out of town. The bartender Calvin Lake who had been to school with me on Curacao told me this one.) If Claude Wathey and Clem Labega had not been there the night when Fons entered the Lido bar with two loaded 38 specials at his side and with more ammunition than Pancho Villa had when he attacked Uncle Sam, blood would still be oozing out on the square if Fons had been allowed to carry out his threats.

When I later entered politics and left St. Maarten we kept in touch. When he retired from government service as Notary, Postmaster, Judge, Receiver, Marshall, Customs Chief Etc. he joined Windward Island Bank where he worked for a number of years while raising his children. He visited me once on Saba and it was remarkable to see Fons domesticated. Yet that he was and most people only remember the domesticated Fons, and not the wild man we all knew and loved.

I saw him at Bobby’s Marina just a week before he died and I gave him a lift to the supermarket next to the “Vineyard”. He was walking with a cane and told me he was living temporarily at the St. Martin’s Home. When I left Fons, little did I know it would be the last time I would see him. The last thing he said to me was:’ wish you luck with the elections, but I know you going to beat them anyway.” The night of my big political rally on Saba with Mrs. Maria Liberia-Peters and Capt. Leo Chance present, one of my brothers informed me that “Fons Conner “had died. It did not register on me until   a friend at Windward islands Bank informed me that she had just returned from Fons’ funeral and a flood of memories of Fons came back which I am now committing to paper. With each old friend going to their graves many years of good memories go with them.

One final note from his youth. Did you know that Fons could sing? Yep, that he could. Unprintable lyrics of course, but sing them he did. I cannot remember the lyrics and even if I did I could not commit them to paper, especially now that the clergy are down on calypsonians and the compositions of their songs.

Farewell Fons, old boy, fare thee well and I can see you now behind those pearly gates on a motorcycle with a flaming red head American girl racing down the road. (This was written on April 11th, 1994.)

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