Monday, January 17, 2005

The man of the hour, Poley Dickenson, pictured earlier this year at the unveiling of the Salt Shed mural.

Copyright Fresno Chile Pepper Co 2005

A Trip Down Memory Lane--Photos Galore!

Poley Dickenson Celebrates 73 Years

I wish I would have been there as I consider Poley Dickenson to be one of the finest men I have ever known. But, since I am here in murky California, I am relying on my erstwhile reporter, Marilyn James for the rundown.

The celebration was held on January 16 at the Salt Shed. All of Poley’s children were there, and just about every relative–40 or so came to Salt Cay for the event.

Apparently a videotape was done of Poley’s life and everyone had tears in their eyes. I’ll have to see that on my return.

Seated at the head table were Poley, Miss Natalie, Miss Pat, Herbert Simmons, Jim and Junie Tews, DC Dottis Arthur and a minister from the church. Poley was later surprised by the entrance of Father Been himself to honor Poley.

The Dickenson sons made eloquent speeches about their dad while their sisters were in the kitchen getting ready to serve, for the entire island and guests, a display of food not often seen on Salt Cay. Refreshments of sparkling cider and sodas were passed around to toast Poley.

The guests at the head table spoke while Poley beamed. The kids, grandkids, nieces, neighbors and friends who were there–and obviously love Poley, celebrated and beamed with him.

The meal consisted of ham, turkey, chicken, peas and rice, cole slaw, potato salad, macaroni and cheese and a corn pudding that was to kill for.
Many island people got up to express their well wishes, including Barba doing a religious hymn, Gary Lightbourne and Noile–and of course everyone was dressed to the nines.

Time to perk up my own wardrobe I guess as these social events are starting to put some pressure on my usual Hawaiian shirt and khaki slacks attire. Though I WON’T bring high heels in any form.

Anyway, pass on your best wishes to Poley as you see him as I imagine he is still beaming.

Whale Sighting!

Whales were seen by the harbor of Salt Cay on Sunday–must have been there to wish Poley a happy birthday.

Crab Races Continue

The second crab races were held on Salt Cay on January 15, 2005 with the funds generated going to the windmill restoration project. BillyBobJack’s heir apparent– is yet to be designated by Lionel. He must have one in training, eating a diet of dense carbs, proteins and Crisco.

Racing divisions were Pee Wee’s, Lightweights, and the big boys, the Heavyweight/Unlimited division. The racing masters for the evening were Mike and Marilyn James.

Turnout for the races was lighter than normal given the post holiday flux and flow of guests and residents. Attendance should increase as the flow of tourists seeking legal crab racing events on which to bet, flock to Salt Cay with their steroid infused crabs.

Soon we’ll need the island nurse to be doing testing on the crabs–though how you get saliva from a crab I don’t know–to make sure they are not using performance enhancing drugs, foods or steroids.

Government House:

The Government House restoration STILL remains on a schedule as never before seen. Nothing continues to happen at an abnormally fast pace and the project is expected to never be completed as scheduled. Weed clearing is done on an as needed basis though so it is much easier to see the holes where you would not want to step and fall into the former plumbing system.

Paymaster’s Office Souvenir Stand:

Be sure to get a beautiful piece of rotted wood before prices skyrocket and supplies become limited. There remained a good stock of souvenirs before this reporter left the island.

Car Repairs and Dismantling:

As you all may know, there has been at the foot of Victoria St. and Compass Rose Boulevard (what else can I call it?) a lovely example of visual pollution–the old Pirate’s Hideaway Ford F150 that died a couple of years ago. Not much useful remains on this salvage except as a marker where to turn to get to the Compass Rose.

Much has been said to various folks about this visual atrocity in an effort to see it make its way the rest of the way to the dump.

However, on our last day Allan Dickenson (Shine) told me he has been waiting to surprise Joel but that his front loader forklift forks had not yet arrived on island. He’d been trying, throughout our stay, to get those on island and ceremoniously haul away the black Ford from the foot of our drive.

Since he couldn’t surprise Joel, he at least told us his plan. We can’t wait for this to leave as it really detracts from the island.

Thanks to Shine for appreciating just how bad this looks and appreciating how important it was to us.

Movie Reviews:

Since I have returned to reality, and found it rather cold, too news filled and busy, we went to the movies immediately and hid in the dark.

Since we just loved Phantom of The Opera, and saw it twice in LA, we hit that movie first.

If you are a Phantom fan, you will love this movie. It really fills out the play where if you don’t know the story already, you can be left in the dark.

Christine is excellently cast; Minnie Driver is the Diva and steals the show; Patrick Wilson (the Mormon lawyer from Angels in America) is Raoul and Gerard Butler is a great Phantom. His voice isn’t Michael Crawford–but then Crawford is in his late 60's and a Phantom in a wheelchair (so to speak) would be bad casting.

The Masquerade Ball scene reminded me of 50's Hollywood musical. It is really grand and great.

I will always remember how in the play you felt, even 10 rows back, the Phantom’s consuming love of Christine just by his touch to her face–chills went up your spine. And here, when they sing "Point of No Return" during Don Juan...well, your toes curl up, chills run wild and you are torn between Raoul and The Phantom on who get’s the girl.

5 thumbs up for Phantom.

The movie to see—after the Golden Globes show, Rolling Stone’s reviews, and word of mouth is Sideways. This is supposed to be a terrific buddy movie filmed in the Napa Wine Valley. And Million Dollar Baby by Clint Eastwood is another that will be seen soon and reviewed.

Other Social Events:

As the parting social event for the McNairs, Debbie hosted a wonderful dinner for the McNair’s and James’ at the Coral Reef. What a great dining room she now has!

The McNair’s hosted their last event of the season with the Tew’s, James’ and Deb attending to cheer on the St. Louis Rams versus the hapless Seattle Seahawks.

Butterfingers should have been served as the main course for those of us who were Seattle fans.

Instead guests were treated to 1 ½" thick Porterhouse steaks that needed to be eaten, BBQ Chicken Thighs, fried rice (I was DONE with peas and rice), fresh fruit, and pesto salad. Since I didn’t have Butterfingers to serve we did homemade chocolate ice cream, key lime pie and a chocolate cake.

The Rams went on to a victorious, though short lived experience in the playoffs.
Debbie hosted two playoff parties for Ram’s fans (adios) and Patriot’s fans (Tews). Since Deb has satellite and my satellite is occupied by renters–the fans will be seeing a lot of Deb’s place between now and February 6.

The Coral Reef Café sponsored a volleyball event and Horseshoe Tournament on Saturday the 15th. Deb has imported a truly awesome, official type volleyball net and made a sand court to get folks playing.

Critter and Injury Report

Just as we were leaving and the weather was changing for the good, mosquitos made their appearance. Not too strong, but we left before they got to us.
Palmettos were still strong, though not as strong as Raid Bug Bombs. As we packed to leave, our closet tops disclosed a few Palmettos who couldn’t take the gas.

Comings and Goings

Jeff and Joni are now on island.

I’m not sure who else is slated to arrive soon–so keep me posted out there.
Ann and Mike Hawkins are still apparently now arriving in late January. They are in Florida preparing to launch.

Weather Report

Marilyn reports the weather is marvelous and it is time to start floating. Clear, calm and wonderful.
Figures, we’re gone.


Now that I am back on broadband, I will put more pictures on the News, some of
which will go back to about 2000 or so when I first went digital.
That’s about it for now. It isn’t easy doing the Salt Raker News from Fresno, CA. It isn’t easy BEING in Fresno CA actually. I hate 41 degrees and foggy 24/7.

So, here’s a trip down memory lane. Most, if not all are my photos going back to 1997. There are some photographs I took of Bram’s old pictures, and a scan of a photo from 1940, when Rosalie Harriot stood between her folks on the White House dock.

I would really like to get scans of the old photos that are on island. It’s easy enough to do with a little patience. We can preserve history a little more if we make the effort.

So, since the news is thin, I'll fill with more interesting photos most of you have never before seen.

An original donkey cart behind the Methodist church. It soon disappeared and I haven't seen it since. 1998

Copyright Fresno Chile Pepper Co 2005
What's an island BBQ without inviting the donkeys? Here Shari gives "Mikey" a rib bone--one of many he shared with us that evening.

Copyright Fresno Chile Pepper Co 2005
The Salt Shed gas station at what is now Sunset Reef
How time flies...Marilyn James, Miss Irene Been and Debbie Manos on the brand new dining patio at Miss Irene's Bed and Breakfast. October, 1998. It was shortly after this she became ill and passed away. What a loss...what a chef, what a baker.

Copyright Fresno Chile Pepper Co 2005
This was Debbie's house on the eastern shore at one time. I think things have changed. 1998 as I recall.

Copyright Fresno Chile Pepper Co 2005
When the boutique was then the dive shop.

Copyright Fresno Chile Pepper Co 2005
Recognize this place? This is now Tradewinds, Suite 1 during construction. This was an old abandoned building that Debbie had the foresight to turn into Tradewinds.

Copyright Fresno Chile Pepper Co 2005
Looking south from what is now the Blue Moon, across Metten's now back yard to the old Salt Shed that Jackie owned then. That's Mike James in the golf cart.

Copyright Fresno Chile Pepper Co 2005
Mike and Marilyn James' lot, sans house. Ma Lucy's house next door.

Copyright Fresno Chile Pepper Co 2005
I called this "A Day At The Office". I'm sitting where the Coral Reef Cafe is now located, reading a book and watching the world go by. 1998.

Copyright Fresno Chile Pepper Co 2005
Can you remember a time when Island Thyme wasn't there? 1999 or so and it is in progress.

Copyright Fresno Chile Pepper Co 2005
This ruin in 1998--it is almost gone now. This was located behind Miss Natalie's in the North District.

Copyright Fresno Chile Pepper Co 2005
1999, staying at Sunset Reef. Lionel caught this tuna for our dinner. I forgot a bucket and had to carry it home this way. He went on the grill about 10 minutes later.

Copyright Fresno Chile Pepper Co 2005
The Tews' home, Victoria St. looking south. Unknown year.

Copyright Fresno Chile Pepper Co 2005
Victoria St., courtesy of Bram and Eleanor--looking South. That is the Tews' home on the right by the pole.

Copyright Fresno Chile Pepper Co 2005
Courtesy of Bram and Eleanor--this is their house just off of Victoria St. and the edge of the Salinas. No idea what year.

Copyright Fresno Chile Pepper Co 2005
1940 Paramount Pictures in preparation for filming Bahama Passage. This is Rosalie Harriot between her parents on the dock at the White House. That is the mill at Dunscomb Point behind them.

Copyright Fresno Chile Pepper Co 2005

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Nathan and Ned Kennedy share a moment at The Green Flash one morning.

Copyright Fresno Chile Pepper Co 2005
It's a dog's life and someone has to do it. Marley enjoys the cool floor while work surrounds him.

Copyright Fresno Chile Pepper Co 2005

2005 Arrives On Salt Cay

New Year’s arrived on Salt Cay in a variety of ways.

There was the thumping good New Year’s party at Island Thyme to the beat of Allan "Shine" Dickenson’s DJ skills. The joyous crowd danced in the Coconut Room all evening and into the night–apparently 3 am. Guests and residents alike had a ball.

The more traditional Belonger New Year involved bringing in the New Year at their church of choice. Services started at 11 pm and lasted into the new year with the DJ music in the background.

Windmills’ guests departed Island Thyme early and returned to the North Beach to celebrate with a beach bonfire (reportedly) made from the remains of the old Paymaster’s office which fell down in Frances this fall.

Then there was the good old stand by of watching Dick Clark’s (sans Dick) Rockin’ New Year’s Eve with the ball on Times Square (real time for those of us on Salt Cay).

This reporter suspects some folks may have celebrated in the age old tradition of going to bed and waking up to the new year the next day.

Whale Sighting!

Sue Malcolm reported she spotted 2 whales off the Green Flash New Year’s Weekend. Nothing since though and no reports of "singing" in the water so far. But then given the crash of the waves and high surf we’ve had, you can barely hear yourself think.

Crab Races Return
The first crab races were held on Salt Cay on December 29, 2004 with the funds generated going to the windmill restoration project. $211 was raised in this one evening. Absent were Lionel and BillyBobJack’s heir apparent–yet to be designated.

Racing divisions were Pee Wee’s, Lightweights, Middleweights and the big boys, the Heavyweight/Unlimited division. Clearly, size does not matter when it comes to the Pee Wee’s and the Heavyweights. Of course BillyBobJack’s clawprint was empty and greatly missed. Those will be hard claws to fill this season.

Several stables were represented at the races. The McNair Stable sported entries in all classes and managed to not win, place, show or apparently finish any of the 4 division races.

More successful were the crabs from the Frangipani Stables with numerous entries in all classes. These Ann Arbor visitors, consisting of Mom, Dad, numerous kids, grandparents and such, having been housebound all day due to weather, managed to pretty much clean up on the races.

During the races, several people visited Porter’s "Zoo" and we hear from Nurse Joseph, lived to tell about it–barely. Apparently the proprietors of the victorious stables visited the Zoo, including Grandma, in the joyous glee over winning, placing and showing in all divisions. Word is Grandma almost finished the Zoo Tour but failed to appear for the last animal drink.
Porter is not telling how he makes his Zoo drinks, but this reporter suspects that the basic ingredient may be some form of 151 proof rum brew.

Nurse Joseph

This reporter got to spend a few extra minutes with Nurse Joseph–our temporary nurse the last month or so.

Nothing against the incoming nurse, but Joseph has been a real asset to this island in his short stay. Normally based on Grand Turk, Joseph is a native of St. Lucia and now lives in the TCI full time.

Joseph indicated his desire to stay on Salt Cay and start some programs he has long wanted to implement on an island like Salt Cay. He would like to start a Weight Watcher’s type group, and go around doing outreach, more so, on blood pressure and other issues confronting the residents of Salt Cay.

During one visit to an establishment early in his stay, Joseph noted the number of Belonger men enjoying themselves. After a little chatting, he pulled out his trusty blood pressure wrist unit and got all the men to have their blood pressure taken. He’s even gotten a couple of guys to "cut back" a little on their liquid refreshments.

The men seemed to be responding to him also and showing up at the clinic for more help and information. He looked at everyone’s medications to make sure they were balanced and appropriate.

While visiting, our son Corey was immediately hit with some form of violent intestinal problem. After a few hours of realizing it wasn’t going away, we brought Joseph into help. Corey was pretty glad to see him and Joseph’s bedside manner was such that you had excellent confidence in his abilities and immediately relaxed. He checked him out, called the doctor on Grand Turk, and prescribed the necessary drugs to deal with food poisoning. (Honest, it wasn’t my cooking!) Joseph then came up the next morning to check on him, and the following day.

But, regardless of what the island folks wanted, and what Joseph himself had requested, his tenure did end. It’s too bad really. Salt Cay deserves to have the best of something, some time, not the left overs (like the old ferry boat) that no one wants. This does NOT mean or imply that our nurses have been that way, or anyone else for that matter. Joseph’s training clearly was more advanced than what we have known, to expect and have on this island.

BUT, we do get the rusty equipment and such that needs repair instead of the new tractor, new boat, or new dock for that matter. In fact that old ferry boat is back on the dock. Just once, can’t we have something we really want and need? Please, can we? Huh?

This is certainly not to say our new nurse will not meet or exceed Joseph’s abilities and style, or that our prior nurses were lacking. Joseph just had that "way". You knew the instant you met him you were in capable hands.

Clinic Needs:

Joseph has indicated that the Salt Cay Clinic is badly in need of the following
items and was the subject of an email by Porter Williams:

If you or if you have contacts who might be able to supply these items to the Salt Cay Clinic they will be greatly appreciated:

1. Automated External Defibrillator (the type that anyone can "follow the dots" and use;
2. Pulse Oxymetre;
3. Stretcher;
4. Oxygen gauges for small and large cylinders (two);
5. Cardiac Status Kits;
and6. A Computer (software would probably be good too)

Though Joseph will not be our nurse now, he is still very interested in his new
friends and "family" on Salt Cay. You can direct your questions directly to Nurse Joseph at or at 649-231-4985 or 649-242-6698.

Government House:

The Government House renovation remains on a schedule as never before seen. Nothing continues to happen at an abnormally fast pace and the project is expected to never be completed as scheduled.

Paymaster’s Office Souvenir Stand:

For those folks seeking a reminder of the old Paymaster’s Office (the two story wood and stone building north of the White House) a convenient souvenir stand has been set up on the South End of Victoria St., just south of Pirate’s Hideaway.

This historic old building blew down in Hurricane Frances and was the only apparent building to be so damaged. The office once looked out across the Salina and was connected by a bridge to the White House. This old office was used for a scene, apparently, in the movie Bahama Passage, which this writer recently watched while on Salt Cay. The scene involves Madeline Carroll’s character sitting in the office with her father and has the door, windows, and view across the salina while they berate one of the island workers (Morales).

Anyway, I digress. The stand consists of several large piles of nail-filled wood, most likely termite infested, that is pretty much worthless except for purposes of a bonfire.
Be sure to get a beautiful piece of rotted wood before prices skyrocket and supplies become limited.

Movie Reviews:

Since I mentioned Bahama Passage just now, I should do a brief movie review for those who have not seen this 1940 adaptation of the book Dildo Cay. That should give it away right there....the book really, really is entitled Dildo Cay.

The movie was shot on Salt Cay and the White House is featured prominently in it. In fact, Rosalie Harriott told this reporter that the "rushes" were done in the basement and the film was sent out daily by boat for processing. Quite the daily routine.

Other than seeing Salt Cay and a few shots of Grand Turk in 1940, this movie rates 4 thumbs down. You can see Deane’s Dock, the Government Wharf at the White House, the salina, the Folly, the salt piles and how they relate to what is here now and Dunscomb Point to name a few things. There are some interior shots of the White House and the Paymaster’s Office. It’s really fun to pick out the spots we know.

The islander’s are represented mostly by the character "Morales" who is black and wears a South Caicos straw hat just like the one Stirling Hayden wears as well. For some reason the hats then look a lot better on those folks than we do.

Frankly, I think the Harriott’s must have had a fit when the mother character came on screen and did her role. Her opinion of the "natives" was pretty bad, no really bad. It would be hard to believe that any Harriott woman would even come close to being like her in any way. Especially after you’ve met Rosalie Harriott.

Other Social Events:

Debbie Manos celebrated her forty-something birthday the evening of December 30 at the Coral Reef Café. Numerous folks came by to toast her and have a piece of birthday cake beautifully baked by Zach McNair.

The Salt Shed and dock area rapidly recovered from two days of non-stop Christmas partying. Sagittarius, a popular TCI band, played through the night for two days with folks from Grand Turk and Provo flying in to party through the Christmas holidays.

Not much else happened, especially in the Customs Office. Obtaining one’s goods from them was not made easy this holiday season. I guess you could call it a social event, when the Doyle’s and McNair’s kept driving down to the dock most mornings to see if the boat was going. Did the stuff clear? Where is it? When? Did you talk to John Robinson? Did they find it? And so forth and so on. Whining was tried, stalking Shine and John Robinson didn’t help and begging just didn’t cut it with anyone.

Complicating matters was the weather (lots of it) and Customs being closed from noon on the Eve’s to Wednesday of the following week and Tuesday after New Years. So, not much was being accomplished from the government end of things. But, it did make for a running joke at the dock as to when anything would be arriving on island by any means.

Football took a turn for the good when the Rams miraculously made it to the playoffs. The James’, season ticket holders at Ram’s games, were pretty pleased with themselves Sunday evening. So, the pre-Super Bowl party season began with the St. Louis Rams at Seattle Seahawks at the McNairs, (Joel McNair is a Seattle boy). Debbie Manos, also having satellite access, will host the next Ram’s game and Patriots game (Tews) culminating in Super Bowl Sunday in February. Someone else will have to report that event as this writer will be back in beautiful Fresno practicing law until she gets it right.

Lastly, since not much has been happening other than the McNair’s and the Jame’s in the south end, we report the arrival of the domino game "Mexican Trains". It really is called Mexican Trains. After a few minutes of train lessons, Mike and Marilyn were ready to take off the training wheels. Listen for those dominos clacking away in the South District when the sun goes down as this game makes its debut on island.

We all look forward to new blood arriving soon so the Social Activities column can live on.

Critter and Injury Report

Flies, mosquitos and sand fleas haven’t been much of an issue of late–unless of course they can buffet 20 mph gusts of wind and keep those stingers extended while trying to maneuver a landing on you.

Mosquito futures remain strong as we’ve had little spots of rain, despite however many clouds have passed overhead. A hatch is inevitable and it’s only a matter of time before those little flying, biting rats come out to visit our dinner parties.

Mice continue to be in attendance more so than usual. Mouse futures, in this reporter’s opinion, are not a good investment at this time given continued efforts to eradicate them. More cats have been seen of late in the South District in the joint human/cat effort to rid the island of mice. This does not include Beans (James) as she lives indoors and is still recovering from her trip to Salt Cay.

Palmetto futures remain strong just by their sheer tenacity. However, should Raid Bug Bombs become more popular (which today’s polling on the Community Boat at the dock indicates to be on the upswing), then Palmetto futures could see a waxing and waning in the short term. As with all cockroaches though, given time, dark, empty houses and some form of food source, they will return and multiply. So expect Palmettos to return strong during the summer and fall months.

You really might want to do some research on the sand flea bite issue before you come down. These nasty &#^%)&*^!@’s really make a bite. This reporter noted that something for jelly fish stings was also good for sand flea bites. Which, to my way of thinking, indicates they leave a poison. And if you’re at all allergic or sensitive to them, they will wake you up from the dead with the most severe itching. Sue Malcolm says cortisone cream helps, but I know Benedryl cream and Campho-phenique don’t do ANYTHING to combat the itch. I tried hot compresses at 3 am one night and that (something I learned after a Sea Wasp sting) seemed to help draw the venom they leave behind out.

I and many others out here would like to know what takes the "bite" out of the sand flea if not stopping the little critters from opening their mouths and taking that first bite.

No new calves or baby donkeys as yet, though several are obviously ready to burst any day.

Radio Mike decided it was high time the Cockadoodles had their pictures taken to verify their existence. Of course the picture he took of was either quite large Cockadoodle or two caught at a rather indelicate time. Morality laws preclude this photo being exhibited on the internet without some sort of authorization by the morality police.

Not a critter event, but Radio Mike managed to discover just how many times a cactus the size of a golf ball can, and will, insert thorns into your forearm at one time. At least 6 stickers managed to grab and hold and it took some serious pulling to remove the thing. These little devils have barbs on them that hang on after they poke you, making removal a dicey proposition.

Robert "Chi Chi" Jennings (Maria and Coral’s son) managed to fall off a tricycle (no, not a bicycle) while trying to pop wheelies on Sunday. Apparently he was demonstrating on Uncle Sammy and Ma Lucy’s adult trike bike (a daring yellow number actually). He managed to break his fall with his left arm, but the wrist snapped on him. Fortunately a visiting ICU nurse was there and kept him still and quiet as the bone was about to come through and sever a vein in his wrist. That, according to Nurse Joseph would have really complicated things for everyone. Maria and Chi Chi left for Provo and then Nassau for fixation of the break. This reporter saw Robert and Maria in Provo returning to Salt Cay on January 11–with a cast about to his shoulder. 4 weeks in that thing.

This reporter once again realized (and appreciated) first hand how quickly things can happen if you don’t pay attention on island. While getting out of a truck loaded with lumber, and looking and thinking all was well, I caught a finger in the load when it shifted suddenly and a couple of fingers hadn’t left the pickup yet. Luckily, the damage was more bruising and sore than ugly and broken–but you have to pay attention down here and not forget what you’re doing.

Comings and Goings

Mike and Marilyn James arrived as planned. Radio Free Salt Cay will soon be
on the air as Radio Mike has gotten his Frances bitten antenna up and his radio running. Canned beet futures remain strong on Grand Turk with the news the James’ did in fact arrive. Corn futures are also strong as the preferred side to the canned beets is polenta. The hot water situation is now apparently solved for the James’, and the screams that were originating from their bathroom at shower time are no longer scaring the children in the neighborhood.

The Doyle’s were out the door on Sunday, the 2nd. Their delivery finally made it through Customs and was delivered on island the day before they left. They got to pull the furniture out of the boxes, sit on it a minute and run out the door. Of course the hot water situation at their restoration home remains unfinished. But the sink is in the kitchen, the tile laid and the dishes, now happily, in the cupboard.

June, Jim and little Willie Tews arrived on island on January 6 somewhat unannounced and under the radar. Willie is keeping a sharp eye out for hovering Osprey and other hawk like birds while sunning in the back yard. He really doesn’t want to be the first flying dog on Salt Cay, let alone the first flying dog with a prosthetic device to boot.
Matt Schiller arrived on January 8.

Ann and Mike Hawkins are apparently now arriving in late January. They are enroute to Florida to launch after Captain Mike lays siege to Harbor Freight, Costco and other popular stores.

Haidee Williams, having positively identified Porter as her husband once again, also had to depart for the real world. Next up on her project list is apparently getting an adjustor to the Vero Beach home post ‘canes. She’ll be returning soon for a longer stay when floating is more popular.

And, this reporter’s son and grandson departed on January 4 to return to Indiana. When they left, the snow level was at 32 inches and growing. Hopefully something had melted and they can actually get a car out of the garage, but apparently now it is freezing rain and another winter storm is on them.

The McNair’s departed the island January 11–and hope that somehow, some way, the shed is built in time with the lumber they bought 2 weeks ago. Time for an old fashioned Amish Barn Raising party here. Or a Haitian Shed Raising experience–it certainly won’t be a party. A report from the McNair’s house sitter in California indicated that the swimming pool had crested and was now overflowing from all the rains. If nothing else, at least there’s going to be good skiing this year.

It should be noted that the garage WAS raised, and finished with the help of Alexis, one of the senior carpenters on island. Fine job by.

Cecellia, the housekeeper for The Tradewinds, is in Provo with her daughter and about to become a grandmother. Pretty said on the 11th that the baby was still not here yet. Nurse Joseph was getting a little concerned about the travel plans as she was 38 weeks along (out of 39 weeks) and still on island. Though he can deliver a child, and Mid-wife qualified, that was not his first option for the delivery of this child.

Lastly, January 4th must have set a record for the number of people to leave on one plane with all their luggage. Air TAC’s Islander was filled to capacity when it left for Provo the other morning. One family alone had most of the plane with about 13 people from Villa Frangipani. Fortunately the plane managed to make it into the air and to Provo without any fanfare or problems.

Weather Report

The weather remains here. We’ve been getting the leftovers apparently from the States and have endured days of high winds, high seas, and pretty cool weather. No rain to really speak of for all this crappy sea and sky. Makes for good weather to work outside though–so no complaints there.

The full moon was brilliant this month and you could just about read a book outside at night. Star gazing was a bit off.

Radio Mike pointed out a comet in the sky. Looked more like a fur ball than a comet, but who’s keeping track?

We really do need some sort of really good telescope here don’t we?

Places To Go:

This reporter and her family hiked up to Taylor Hill on New Year’s Day. Not much really changed there as a result of the hurricane activity this year. The walls are still there, as are the rock piles and the beach.

"Home Depot" is well stocked with odd lot shoes, plastic packaging with no apparent use, plastic bottles and some of the heavier floats. We did find a very nice sponge specimen–not the man made type either. But those have been few and far between. The bamboo selection is quite good as is the coconut collection.

The Cemetery Beach is now back to almost normal. In September there was a fall off of about 4 feet from the high tide erosion–this is almost entirely replaced now.

The James’ and Metten now have a beach instead of rocks. Apparently, after the hurricanes, one of the sand dredge barges on Grand Turk cut loose and floated off. Unfortunately, as the story goes, the owner didn’t notice for some time and it made it all the way to Salt Cay before it gave up the ghost and sank just off the wall–complete with sand, elevator and other equipment on board. No new reef to dive to or a wreck dive as it is too deep. But, it did let go of its sand to the benefit of the rocky beach.

The Mangrove Swamp looks great from Taylor Hill. One of these days I am going to go in there in a canoe or skiff and see what the place looks like up close.

The McNair’s went stargazing and set up a great beach bonfire on the southeastern shore one night. No street lights and great clear sky made for stars galore.
And that’s the way it is on Salt Cay as we start 2005.

Watch’s End:

This is the end of my watch on Salt Cay. I’ll pass the gauntlet on to M&M and others to keep us posted on what is happening. I’ll do a couple more Salt Raker News posts with more pictures, better quality (given high speed internet), links to more pictures of what happened here and any news I collect.

The garage is done and the Marley Mobile safely put away for the duration of our absence. Kudos to Alexis, our "Senior" Carpenter who knocked this thing out in 4 days. We recommend him for your future work by the way.

My goal this trip was to learn the faces of the people who preceded us here and call this home. I wanted to put names to the faces once and for all.

Ned Kennedy is fading physically, but mentally he is sharp as a tack. Mrs. Kennedy gets around as well, but she too is getting quite frail. Miss Cecilia is also quite frail.

There will come a time when these wonderful people will pass on and take their history and heritage with them. I hope the photos I have taken of so many will help us remember them historically–which leads to more ideas and thoughts of an oral history being undertaken by someone, somehow to preserve this history before it is lost for good.

Jim Tews suggested I do a DVD for the library with the Faces Of Salt Cay, and I’ll work on that on my return. They are young and old faces, some are not even people, but donkeys and cows. But this won’t be an oral history.

I heard many things this trip. For instance, there were times on this island where many of the men were gone for months. The women did it all. If a ship passed by that needed a crew, they crewed–and thus know how to sail.

They all know how to ball room dance–because it was fun and there was no satellite TV to distract them. They play musical instruments.

Sammy Simmons wore out his last accordion. He knows hundreds of songs by heart. And, did you know he has, reportedly, never set foot off of Salt Cay? Not even Grand Turk. We need to verify that I think. Anyway, he grew up in the house that is the ruin in M&M James’ front yard and now lives next door. That is sticking close to home.

Junie Tews related to me a time when the Kennedy’s were separated for a week, while Ned was on Grand Turk. She said they hugged and kissed and held each other like they’d been apart for months. Not a week, and not like they’d been married for about 50 years. We should all care that much for our spouses and loved ones.

Junie also related how Poley Dickenson’s wife, Mary, cried on her wedding night because she had to move to the South District. She’d lived her entire life in the North District. Poley cried too apparently as he’d always lived North as well.

People in the South District thought the North District people were stuffy and the South District people easier going. You’d think we were talking the Union and The South with a Mason-Dixson Line at the Folly.

Edwin Smith, Nathan’s father, related to me how Hurricane Frances wasn’t much of a hurricane–the one is ‘45 "now THAT was a hurricane". He remembers it well, it took out docks, a house next to the Brown House of the same size apparently and did enormous damage.

The Jim and Junie’s, Bram and Eleanor’s–people who were here when it wasn’t a dive site–need to relate their stories as well. Write them down, spread them around.
These are stories we’ve never heard before. How did we miss them? We didn’t ask, we didn’t listen? Most likely.

Radio Mike just learned after all his trips here that the road through the salinas by the White House is The Folly. Why was it named that? I don’t know, I haven’t asked. Maybe I should. I assume it will somehow make some sense.

And do you know which house was called "Middle"? Do you know who Miss Irene was?

Some people think that everything north of the White House is North District and everything south is South District. No, it’s Miss Irene’s home, which was once called Middle per Debbie Manos. The Miss Irene’s home is the middle of the island and the dividing line for North and South. I’ve also heard it called Halfway House when Miss Irene ran a bed and breakfast there.

here is an old Bass Drum like you would use in a parade, in the old Benevolent Brotherhood building. I know Ann Hawkins rescued, through Lionel, the Registry of the Brotherhood, and that is now housed in the Library as I understand it. Do people know where the Benevolent Brotherhood is?

I know, a bass drum is kind of big, but it is a piece of history that still managed to survive Frances, visitors, thieves (not that we have any) and such. There is also the flag of the Brotherhood. These items need to be preserved and displayed somewhere other than an abandoned, falling down building. There are signs and such there too: Peace, Fraternity, Concord and a picture of a very, very young Queen Elizabeth. It was reorganized in March, 1915. I tall reflects the history of this island. The pews that are there, the caskets and such–all reflect a time that will never return and should be preserved.

Every time I look at the Mt. Pleasant I think of those first visits and listening to Bryan’s history’s and stories of Salt Cay, whether real or not. His "lawn chair" tour in a golf cart. The pictures that are on the walls show the people who lived there at one time–I just saw them and photographed them. I sincerely hope the Mt. Pleasant passes into hands that can bring it back to some level of what it used to be physically, economically and spiritually. But, there will only be one Bryan Sheedy unfortunately, just like there will only be one Ned Kennedy. Will we ever find a story teller again?

Many guests comment on the friendliness of this island, specifically the Belongers. Few places we visit do we get to be a part of the life of the society that lives day to day in the society. And a part we do get to play, whether homeowner or tourist.

For example. This trip the Police Band Christmas Dance...what a mix of people. The ladies were getting the tourists out dancing to the Caribbean Carols, the residents who were on island were dancing away. No one felt like a tourist, outcast or onlooker–it’s like that all the time. Then the food comes out and everyone is supposed to eat and enjoy. Where do you find that? Where do you rub elbows at the beach bars, restaurants and so forth? I don’t think Grand Turk even offers this level of involvement with the locals.

When I said my goodbye’s to Allan Dickenson (Shine) he said he was sorry he didn’t get to do the "surprise" for Joel. He hasn’t gotten the forks yet for his front loader. With those forks he was going to move Candy’s old black junk truck at the foot of our driveway and surprise Joel with it. Joel was genuinely touched by the fact that Shine remembers how much this bothers Joel–junk sitting there and the detraction from the island.

The expat’s who live here offer a level of involvement as well. Think back to the days of Bryan and the Mt. Pleasant Guest House. That is what brought us back, over and over was that conviviality and interaction with everyone on the island. Now others carry on that tradition for him.

I was at the airport to greet our son and grandson on a Global Charter with a couple staying at Windmills. It was pouring rain and I had no rain jacket. It was warm and I didn’t care. Besides hugging my kids, it felt really, really good to say to complete strangers in the rain "Welcome to Salt Cay!" and mean every word.

I have really, really enjoyed this trip. I know Joel was stressed with the projects and once again, having a last minute major project as we are going out the door. But he already is talking about what he’s going to do when we come down in Nov/Dec and told an airline buddy that we’d be back for 2 months it must not be all bad. And this next trip is going to be more play, less work–take those pretty days and do some diving, go to South Caicos and such.

There are lots of things for us to start watching and looking out for. What happens here when the old folks are gone? Is there a reason the government looks to us like we don’t exist for improvements? There are no votes here, let’s face it. So many things to think about. Yet when you’re here, it’s so easy to just look out the window, and why shouldn’t we? The trick is with each visit, I think, is to step out a little further, look and listen more, but never ever forget to look out the window.

I think I am coming back in June, alone, to paint the garage, make sure renters didn’t leave some "snake" sleeping in the house so to speak. Snakes are things like the toilet running, a dripping faucet, a slash screen, stuff like that. And, I just can’t stay away that long.

Doing this "blog" of a News Raker has been fun for me. I’ve been trying to get started on some writing and this was the right impetus. I’d love to do a Salt Cay Cookbook, with pictures, recipes and island life mixed in. Who knows....but I have to do something as I wind up this law practice that has been good to me, even if it did try to kill me off with stress.

Salt Cay has taught me there is a better way to live out the rest of my life. I won’t get rich, never planned on it, but my life is genuinely richer today by the choices I have made the last few years. Salt Cay is a big part of that.

Those of you on Salt Cay...KEEP ME INFORMED! Did Bruce Willis really come to Salt Cay? Tell me first so I can put it in the news. Whales there? Let me know.
Typical night at Porters, Rock in the foreground--no one's doing the Zoo tour though

Copyright Fresno Chile Pepper Co 2005
Marilyn James arrives on island, carrying Beans

Copyright Fresno Chile Pepper Co 2005
A new young cow on island, early one morning--another face of Salt Cay

Copyright Fresno Chile Pepper Co 2005
The men in my life: CJ, Zach and Joel at Dunscomb Point

Copyright Fresno Chile Pepper Co 2005
Ready to depart the island--a classic father and son Posted by Hello