Perhaps one of the most oft repeated boyhood stories Dad eagerly shared gave us a glimpse into the mischief and tomfoolery on the shores of Green Turtle Cay. Before the days of television and other electronics, the “great outdoors” occupied the kids on the Cay. This particular story occurred amidst the excitement on a sunny, “mail boat day” not too far from the steps of Dad’s home. Mail boats, such as the M/V Priscilla and the M/V Stede Bonnet, were critical to the economy of the island during that era.
We were about eight or nine years of age. On a particular day when the tide was low, the freight boat used by the M/V Priscilla tendered the cargo to the public dock for the merchants on the island. Folks gathered with excitement waiting to receive their goods. A young man brought to the dock a very large wagon to help transport some of this cargo. It had four large iron wheels and a handle made of iron for the means of pulling and steering that large wagon. While waiting on the dock, that young man decided to give some of the boys a “joy ride” by pulling it around on the dock. Laine Curry and I were the two smallest of the boys, so we were placed in the center of the wagon while several of the larger boys sat around the edge. After several times around the dock and going a little faster each time, the operator lost control and the wagon plunged off the dock. The older boys who sat around the edge were able to jump off; however, Laine and I, stuck in the center, went over the edge of the dock. The wagon turned upside down with the two of us falling into a small dinghy, about six or seven feet in length, tied to the dock below. The dinghy was built with two open compartments. We landed perfectly inside the dinghy, Laine in one compartment at the bow, and I in the other compartment at the stern. That large iron wagon landing over us; however, we were sheltered inside those compartments. Another inch apart from where we fell, we would have been crushed to death. It was indeed a miracle from our heavenly Father. I just want to thank Him for His mercy and protection that day.
In 1992 when my wife and I visited the Cay with Dad, we stopped first to look at the home where dad was born, a quaint cottage by the sea. Dad’s journal noted…
After leaving there, we decided to go and see my friend Laine Curry, who lived about two hundred feet from the little cottage. We were the best of friends during our boyhood days.
Ladford Chamberlaine “Laine” Curry was born on February 19, 1924 to Bernice and Irene Curry at Norman’s Castle, Abaco, a pine logging town close to present day Treasure Cay Airport. Norman’s Castle was where Bernice found employment, however, he and Irene reared their children on Green Turtle Cay land that has been in their family for well over 100 years. Dad and Laine were basically next door neighbors until the construction of the small Church of God building sometime in the 1920’s. With just over a year’s age difference between Dad and Laine, one can easily understand why they shared many boyhood memories.
Laine’s dad, Bernice Curry, was born in Green Turtle Cay in the 1880’s. At the age of 20, he married Ida Bethel from Cherokee Sound, Abaco. According to the minutes of the Church of God in Green Turtle Cay, Bernice and Ida joined the congregation on March 7, 1914, less than a year after missionary Carl M. Padgett established the church on the island where my great grandfather, John A. Lowe, was the first pastor and my grandfather, Howard Lowe, church clerk. The minutes of the church from my grandfather note the unexpected death of Ida at age 31.
Three years later, Bernice found love again in the lovely Irene Curry, daughter of Ladford and Gracie Curry. In 1989 and over 100 years of age, Pa Bernice or “Ole B”, as he was affectionately known, was called by his Lord and Savior to his final home.
The original homestead was destroyed in the 1932 hurricane that devastated the Cay. Bernice rebuilt the home seen in the photo below. He is pictured on the dock and his wife, Irene, is outside in front of the house. Her sister, Annie Curry Lowe, wife of Albert Lowe renowned model shipbuilder, is standing in the door. The church stood directly between Dad’s house and Laine’s house. As encouragement for service to the Lord, both of these lads were paid by the church for various duties, including ring the bell on Sunday mornings.
In November 1950, Laine married Pauline Mae Albury, daughter of Jim & Hattie Albury of Cherokee Sound, Abaco. Pauline was born just a few days before the ’32 hurricane hit Cherokee Sound. Through writing this article, I was blessed to connect with Laine’s son, Randy, who shared the following about his dad’s entrepreneurial spirit.
Dad worked on the M/V Betty K and also his brother Clifton’s boat, the Flying Fish. After moving to Nassau, he worked at John S. George Hardware & Marine. In the mid 60’s, he opened his own clothing store next to Home Furniture in Palmdale right under the bowling alley. We moved to Miami in the late 60’s where he owned apartments next to the Hialeah Race Track. In 1973, he moved back to Green Turtle Cay where he resided until his passing on March 28, 1999.
The legacy lives on…today the Curry homestead shares a residential and commercial two story building owned by Laine’s son, Randy, as well as Curry’s Sunset Grocery owned and operated by his daughter, Debbie.