Blog Schedule

I post on Monday with an occasional random blog thrown in for good measure. I do my best to answer all comments via email and visit around on the days I post.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Crime and Punishment

Times were quiet on St. John in '50s and early '60s. There was very little drama. People lived their lives, took care of their families, and enjoyed their friendships. We were a village where everyone knew everyone.

When something did happen it was a big deal. Years before we moved to St. John there had actually been a double murder. The murderer was released from jail not long after we arrived and as children, when we saw him pass, we would hide, afraid of being seen by him. Then there was the time a house burned down and the occupant was killed in the fire. And there was a man who killed himself. These were huge tragedies because all of us knew the people involved, knew their families. These kinds of things were personal and the incident would be talked about for months.

But mostly, St. John was a sleepy place where we kids were free to roam, our parents' only concern being that we might get hurt while scrambling over the rocks like goats or falling out of trees.

We had a collection of characters like Old Mr. Penn, who, no matter how drunk he got could dance with a beer bottle balanced on his head. Or the Russian tenor, John (Ivan) Jadan, or the mystery writer, Richard "Duke" Ellington, or Miss Agnes who had to give you something to eat if you passed by her house, or Trumps the humpback who swept the park.

Then there was Leroy Smalls. He was our resident thief.

Everyone knew Leroy was a thief. Mostly he stole fruit like mangoes, guavas or limes off of Neptune Richard's fruit trees. Then he would try to sell them. When he came around with, say, a bag of limes the question would be, "And where did you get these limes, Leroy?" To which he would adamantly reply he had gotten them off his own tree. But everyone knew he had no lime tree of his own. His thieving was harmless and for the most part tolerated.

But one time he stole a suitcase. Why he would steel a suitcase is beyond me. I doubt seriously he needed it to go somewhere. If he had ever been farther than St. Thomas or Tortola I'd be surprised. But none the less he stole a suitcase, was caught, put in jail, and had a trial.

At the end of the trial Leroy was given a sentence of a few more days in jail where he would be well taken care of and fed three meals a day. But Leroy had other plans. He got up, went to the front of the courtroom, picked up the suitcase (which had been used as evidence) and started to walk out with it.

Our fine and wonderful policeman, Captain Jurgen, said, "Leroy, where you tink you goin' wid dat suitcase?"

And Leroy said, "Well, tis mine. I teef it."

That was the extent of crime and punishment on St. John.


  1. Bish, I absolutely love hearing about your life in the Virgin Islands. I think there is a story there with Leroy. I believe St. John was a pretty safe place to live, that's for sure. Great post, keep 'em comin'! (^_^)

  2. What a wonderful cast of characters in your neighborhood growing up, Bish!
    It sounds like a beautiful setting to grow up in!

  3. I teef it. That's brilliant! I think you've got a great mine here for some future characters!

  4. Hah! I teef it is the classiest. I sure hope these people show up in your books. What memorable characters.

  5. Hope you're writing about these events and these people. They will make for a lovely story. The setting will take care of itself. Lovely.

  6. Thanks Robyn, St. John WAS a very safe to grow up.

    Kelly, I think all of us were characters of one sort or another. Had to have been to be living on such a tiny island, in the middle of nowhere, with very few amenities.

    You're right Angela...lots of material for stories.

    Vijaya, some of these people do show up in various forms.

    Well Lee, That's kind of what this blog is, a place where I write down these snap-shots from my life.

  7. I can just hear Captain Jurgen and Leroy! Wonderful. And now, more than usual, I wish I was on an island. Thank you for this, Bish.

  8. I felt like I could hear all these people too. And if I lived in St John, I'm afraid I'd be sorely tempted to thieve some mangoes and limes myself.

  9. Great story. You really have to appreciate small town stuff. The town I grew up in was small too, but nothing like an island town. And of course, things have changed so much.

  10. You're welcome Cynthia. If I have been able to blow a bit of the tropics your way I've done a good thing.

    Mary, dere be plenty mango and lime for sale 'long de road-side. No need to teef. :O

    Ahhh Rena. St. John has changed so much from when I was a kid it is hardly recognizable.

  11. Great story!!! I happened to just fall across your blog and glad I did! I love new blog buddies!

  12. The main characters in your real life are more fascinating than some/most fictional characters in the books/movies I've read...I love reading about your childhood...Hugs...

  13. some awful stuff - use it in your writing.


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