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.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Island Idylls, Question of the Month, Being Thankful

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Island Idylls: Or, stories of growing up in the U. S. Virgin Islands.
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A Fishy Handshake 
I'd say by the time I was six I was fishing off the rocks with a hand line, smashing whelks for bait. But it wasn't until about age eight that I learned to fish with a rod and reel. That's when we got our little boat, the F. D. O., which stood for Father's Day Off.

In 1958, Dad was working as head of maintenance at Caneel BayLaurance Rockefeller's  private resort hotel. One of the benefits of working there was that housing was provided for the staff. We lived in a tiny house we called the Bee Hive, with the best view on the place. At least that's what Adlai Stevenson told my mother when he and his wife happened to wander through our yard.

Because the F. D. O. was small, neat, and clean, we were allowed to keep her pulled up on the main beach. She fit under a large Sea Grape tree where we could keep her tied up and out of the way and.


Picture, in your mind, the Caneel Bay of the 1950s. There was a concrete pier where guests and their luggage were loaded and unloaded from the resorts private ferry. The pier turned into a concrete walk-way which led right into the lobby. To the right of the lobby was a comfortable airy lounge with couches, chairs, and tables. To the left was the main dining room. Realize that all of this is open air, basically a roof, supported by pillars covering tile a floor. (All tastefully elegant) Just fifteen or twenty feet away from the lobby and dining room is the beach where guests can swim and sunbathe. No matter the time of day one could see guests walking around in anything from silk, linen, and mink to swim-suits and sandy bare feet.

So there we were. I had just gone on my first solo fishing trip. Just me and Dad. We had each caught a fish, but mine was bigger.  He got a Blue Runner and I got a Bonito. While Dad got ready to transport the motor, gas can, fishing gear, and boat cushions, I had the fish, one in each hand, and carried them by their tails through the lobby to the parking lot where the jeep was parked. There I was to unload the fish and return to help Dad carry cushions and fishing gear.

As I passed by the reception and check-in desk a large man stopped me and introduced himself as Allston Boyer. He asked me about the fish. I explained I'd been out fishing with my father and that I'd caught the big one. He asked me several other questions before saying, "There's someone I'd like you to meet." He disappeared into a room and returned moments later with a tall handsome man.

"This is John Denham's daughter, Bish, " he said to the tall handsome man. "Bish, I'd like you to meet Laurance Rockefeller." Having been taught to be polite, I slapped the fish in my right hand into my left and stuck it out. Mr. Rockefeller, having been taught to be polite, shook my fishy hand.

It was just about then that Dad walked up. Further pleasantries were exchanged, employer to employee and vise versa. Then we went our separate ways.

At eight years old I didn't realize I'd just shaken hands with one of the wealthiest people in the world, the man who owned Caneel Bay, the man who had bought up three quarters of the island of St. John and donated it to the National Park.

As for Allston Boyer, he was a contract lawyer, for LR with a gift for remembering faces and names. Although he had never met me, he had met my father, and it didn't take him but a second or two to figure out who the little girl carrying the fish belonged to.

So it was that my fishy handshake became one of our favorite family stories.

***
I decided to join this monthly bloghop because answering thoughtful/challenging questions is one way to expand one's mind. Hosted by Michael D'Agostino at A Life Examined ,  the question this month is: What's the best job you've ever had?

Hmmm, I've had a lot of jobs in my life, from pumping gas at my parent's gas station, to glazing ceramics. However, the absolute best job was working for 23 years with abused, neglected, and emotionally disturbed kids. Their resiliency and will to survive was/is humbling and awe inspiring.

And now, all these years later, many of those kids have made it a point to tell me that I made a difference in their lives. And my girl A. (the one who is dying and has guest posted here and here) gave me the greatest gift ever by saying, "Thank you for teaching me how to live before I die."

What could be better than that?
Being Thankful

Today I'm thankful for the Texas spiny lizard. 
Can you spot him/her?





What are you thankful for? What's the best job you ever had? Ever get to meet a "famous" person had shake his/her hand? 

29 comments:

  1. Rockefeller shook your fishy hand - that is quite a story.
    I bet you made an impact on those kids you worked with.

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    1. I'm honored to know that I did make an impact.

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  2. Such a cute lizard. We have lizards and skinks here.

    What a way to meet one of the richest men in the world.

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    1. I love lizards! I've always wondered what he thought about shaking my fishy hand... :)

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  3. Always great to be thankful. Great photos.

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  4. Hi Bish - what an amazing story - with a fishy undertone ... how fantastic and how philanthropic the two guys were ... to appreciate the little girl. Brilliant and I loved reading it ...

    Your Texas spiny lizard is so well camouflauged ... cheers Hilary

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    1. I meant to add about you helping the kids to appreciate their lives and others ... you obviously made a huge impact, as well as helped her through tough times ... so inspiring - both of you .. cheers H

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    2. Thanks, Hilary. I never thought about it as being appreciated. :) As for the kids, yes, I made a difference and it's only been recently that I've been able to really own that and be proud of it.

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  5. Hi Bish, I’m really glad you provided the close up picture of the lizard – I was having a hard job spotting him. I loved the story of the fish & Laurance Rockefeller – good on you for being so polite, but how funny!
    I’m thankful because the sun is shining today, I hate being cold. The most famous person I’ve met was Rebecca West, but I was just a little girl, so I don’t remember if she shook my hand – probably not. My mum was her housekeeper when she lived at Ibstone House in Buckinghamshire. Like you, I’ve had lots of jobs, but I enjoyed the last one best (selling books).

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    1. That story is definitely one the family has always laughed about! I had to read up about Rebecca West. What an interesting character! Ahead of her time, I think. I can easily understand how selling books would be the best job ever!

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  6. What a wonderful job you have! And I loved the 'can you find the lizard' photo op.

    Susan Says

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    1. I'm retired from the job, now, Susan, but it was THE BEST!

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  7. Lovely photos. Being grateful is a good thing, Bish!

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    1. I agree, Rachna. I make it a point to grateful for something every day!

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  8. Oh, Bish! I loved your story. I could picture you with that Rockefeller guy and the fish. Glad you posted about that moment and about your favorite job. You and the kids were very lucky.

    The lizard photos are perfect. What a clever disguise that guy has.

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    1. You're very right about me and the kids, Lee. We were all lucky and very blessed.

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  9. Oh, my gosh, Bish. You made me tear up with that last bit. Absolutely lovely.

    What a great memory with your dad, fishy fingers and all.

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    1. I hope they were good tears, Donna. They were for me.

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  10. Working with those kids would've been life changing. Not only for them but you. I can't even imagine the impact that has had on your life. How amazing that they've gotten in touch with you to tell how much you did for them.What A. told you made me tear up. XOXO

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    1. It was life changing, Chrys. The wonder and surprise is that I didn't expect anything qhile I was "working." Those rewards have come much later.

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  11. I love your story. And how wonderful to know you have made a difference in someone's life.

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    1. Thanks, Liza. All I can say is it's humbling.

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  12. Such awesomeness! You must have made such an impact. Loved your story.

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  13. I'm sure you made quite a difference in the lives of the children. Interesting story about meeting a Rockefeller. I've met a few famous people, but never someone that wealthy. The nicest celebrity I met was author Pat Conroy.

    Love,
    Janie

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  14. He was very polite. :) Wonderful post, Bish.

    I did not spot that lizard at all until I got to the closeup.

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  15. That's a really nice story. I tend to just embarrass myself in front of public figures.

    Also, I love your Response. The feeling of knowing the difference you made in those kids lives would be phenomenal.

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    1. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1174370342580256&set=a.191122934238340.54861.100000219030702&type=1&theater

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