The Saba Islander

by Will Johnson


The following story is taken from the Saba Herald Vol. 17, Friday August 24th, 1984, # 193.

Scan1316The Saba Herald was mostly used as a political newspaper or scandal sheet as my opposition was wont to call it. However since there were not elections every year I would give my readers some articles of interest. Many of these were about the lives of our former seamen.  This article is bout the life of Diederick Ambrose Every in an interview which I had with him when he visited Saba back in 1984.

The article reads as follows: ” In our effort each month to bring you the life story of one of our older Sabans this month we present: Diederick Ambrose Every, born on Saba January 9th, 1902 and living in Baltimore U.S.A. He visited here recently and we had an opportunity to interview him. His mother was Bernadina Elizabeth Every born Hassell, and his father John Leverock Every whose mother was Elizabeth Holm. His parents had six children. 1. Marie Louise Every (Miss Lou). 2. Julia Johnson b.Every (Edwin’s wife)3. Diederick Every. 4. Doris Johnson b. Every (Harry’s wife) 5. Winifred Soares b. Every and 6. John Clarence Every.

As a young boy Diederick went to the Roman Catholic school above the church in Windward Side. He used to take care of Capt. Ben’s (William Benjamin Hassell) horse which was named “Shamrock”. He remembers that Mrs. Gertrude Johnson (Daisy’s mother) used to teach in Capt. Tommy Hassell’s house

The first nuns to come to Saba were sisters Bertranda and Sister Winifred; they used to teach. He remembers Father Mulder and Father de Groen.

At the age of TWELVE (12) he started working with Capt. Ben on the schooner the “John Hazel.”, later on the “Maisie Hassell”, the “Esther Anita” and the “Buma” all of them schooners, 2 masted around 85 to 100 feet.


The schooner the Eszter Anita docked up in New York. Saba schooner back one hundred years ago and beyond traded regularly with New York.

After that he went on the schooner the “Estelle” with Capt. Tommy Vanterpool, then he worked under Capt. Knight Simmons of The Bottom who was her captain when the government bought the schooner.

He started out as a cabin boy then ended up as an able bodied seaman. Reuben and Joe Simmons of Hell’s Gate all went to work on the “Estelle” at the same time. Wages then were $14.– (FOURTEEN).dollars a month for a seaman and $20.- (TWENTY) dollars for a cook. Captain Ben used to give him $10.– a month coming from Curacao. Reuben Simmons was the mate. They used to cover all the islands. They would carry Bay Rum from St. Thomas to Barbados, cattle from Tortola and Nevis to Barbados and Trinidad. Capt. Ben was a trader. He didn’t just transport goods but would buy and sell from one island to the next. According to Diederick, Captain Ben was a hard man to work for. They seldom got to come ashore, as they were usually anchored in the road-stead. Only in Barbados and Trinidad did they go ashore as the boats anchored to the pier. In those days there were no social laws so therefore there was no vacation or free time, and no regulated working hours.

On board the “Estelle” there was a chicken coup with chickens, also they carried a lamb or two. Diederick at the age of FIFTEEN (15) was the cook on board. He did the baking on a wood stove. He worked from 5AM until 9 or 10 pm at night. Boys in those days had a mans responsibility at the age of 14 or 15. Diederick worked this way for $20.– a month until he reached the age of 17.

I am inserting the following to this original interview. Several reports were made to the Governor on conditions on the schooner the “Estelle” and the hardships endured while crossing the Caribbean Sea from Curacao to St. Maarten which sometimes took nine days or more. One of those reports mentions that the cook was a mere boy and despite the hardships the writer of one of these reports Canton Judge Mr. F. G. Schalkwijk, and  both the Judge and Lt. Governor Van der Zee had nothing but high praise for the crew who under these circumstances nevertheless managed to be extraordinary helpful to the distressed passengers.”

Schooner Estelle at Fort Bay 1934.

The schooner “Estelle”  here at anchor at Fort Bay Saba. She first belonged to Capt. Tommy Vanterpool and then was sold to the Government for the transport of passengers and mail between the Windward Islands and Curacao as well as St. Kitts and St. Thomas.

In the interview Diederick goes on to tell the following ” He remembers that once he was anchored in St. Kitts road stead  on board the “Ester Anita” in the hurricane season when a hurricane came up quite suddenly. This was around the year 1915 and they had to put out to sea to weather out the hurricane. He was 13 years of age then. While working on the “Buma” they traded between Trinidad and British Guyana and carried drums of oil. The longest he remembers staying away from Saba at sea was pretty near a year or so. He was sailing under Captain Lawrence Johnson at the time. With Capt. Ben he used to get home every two months for two days. In the other islands he mostly stayed on board of the vessels as he had to do the cooking.

In 1919 he went to New York to Mr. Herman Kaliski, as all Sabans used to do in those days. He carried with him a letter from Mr. Thomas Holm (local Councillor and Act. Lt. Governor!) Mr. Kaliski was a Jewish merchant of Russian origin who ran a clothing store at 27 South Street which was headquarters for all the Saban seamen who used the port of New York. Mr. Kaliski got him a job on the steamer named the “Edith” which transported coal between New York and Puerto Rico, and then brought back sugar to Yonkers New York.

Hyman Kaliski Original

Mr. Herman Kaliski a Jewish merchant of 27 South Street  New York who took care of the Saban sailors for more than forty years.

Capt. George Irvin Holm of Saba was at the time first mate. Diederick sailed on that ship for about a year, then he transferred to an old coal tramp on which a Simmons from The Bottom was first mate. After that he went to sail on a brand new ship named the “Collin H. Livingston”.

The first trip he made was to Duinkerk France. He then came back to Norfolk Virginia and sailed around the West Coast of the United States with general cargo. On that ship he had trouble getting paid and the crew walked off the ship in Seattle Washington. Seven of them joined up and bought an old “Lizzie” touring car. they came through the Rocky Mountains to Montana in the month of May. They then sold the car for $100.– after two of them had backed out.

He took the train to Baltimore with a transfer in Chicago. It took him three days and nights to get there. In that city he had three uncles living. They were his mothers brothers: William, Frederick and John Hassell.

William was a Coast guard officer. He came back to Saba once with his wife and three children. Frederick was an engineer for Standard Oil. He never returned to Saba after he left. John was a seafaring man- a boatswain -. He was married to Leisha and was the father of Marcus N. Hassell who worked for the government and who was married and died in Santo Domingo. John’s other child Crystalline was married to Cyrillus Leverock who together had 11 children. The entire family moved to the United States and at the time of this writing they are still living in Florida and Cyrillus was here last month with his daughters Marilyn and Altagracia and their families.

Diederick Ambrose Every with his niece Lucille and her husband Ronnie and children.

Diederick Abrose Every here in Baltimore with his visiting niece Lucille Therese Johnson and her husband Ronald Leon Johnson.

Diederick then joined the Standard Oil Company and started to sail on the tanker “Mosquova” for about 8 months, after which he transferred to a barge which transported fuel from the refinery in Baltimore to Washington D.C. and Norfolk, Virginia. The last barge he worked on only operated around Baltimore for 6 (six) years. He then got married and moved into the refinery on shore and he worked there until 1957 when they shut down the refinery. By then he had 36 years service with the Company. He only had one son who died of a heart attack. His son was a Lutheran Pastor and was named Diederick Clarence Every.

Diederick Every Sr. had been married fifty six and one half years when his wife died. Her name was Mary Magdalena Burton of Baltimore.

Clarence Every and wife

Clarence Every here with his wife who was a native Aruban. Together they had a large family some eleven or twelve children.

W hen I caught up with him for the interview, he was here on Saba with his brother Clarence from Aruba, visiting their brother-in-law Edwin Johnson. At 82 he looked like a man just turned 60.

His uncle Frederick was killed in a car accident in Baltimore by a tram. Killed in that same accident with him was Ellis a brother of Miss Gladys and a son of Richard Hassell.

Diederick has two grandchildren and they live in Baltimore. It will be difficult for our readers to imagine a boy of 12 going to sea and at 15 being he cook on a schooner plying the passenger trade through the stormy waters waters of the Caribbean, but such was life in former times.'”

P.S. I would like to thanks Mrs. Lucille Therese Johnson for supplying the photo’s of her uncle for this article.

Diederick Ambrose Every 1982 Baltimore.

Diederick here in front of a hospital in Baltimore in 1982. Already sailing out at 12 and cook on the schooner the “Estelle” at the age of 15.

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