Cottage by the Sea

Dad loved to reminisce of his boyhood days on Green Turtle Cay.  IMG_E6658He longed for any opportunity to return.  In the early 1990s, my wife and I discovered that Disney’s Premier Cruiselines offered an itinerary that cruised the Abaco islands.  Their Big Red Boat made stops to Green Turtle Cay, Man-O-War Cay, and Guana Cay.

Twenty years had elapsed since Dad last visited his birthplace.  He and Mom Doreen eagerly packed for this memorable journey  accompanied by my wife and me.  The four of us departed Port Canaveral on July 2, 1992.

scan0004

IMG_E6663

IMG_E6662

After a routine evacuation drill and slide presentation of the upcoming ports, we feasted on Italian cuisine.  That evening we scouted around for the cruise director to explain the unique circumstances of their Green Turtle Cay native passenger.  We were given permission to spend the entire day on the island instead of the typical shorter excursion.

For over two centuries, Dad’s ancestors called this New Plymouth settlement home.  The guided tour by Dad would be the highlight of any vacation to date.

0541.jpg
Dad’s boyhood home in the center with the dormer window overlooking the harbour known as Settlement Creek.

As we entered the harbor, Dad pointed to a modest cottage nestled in this seaside community.  A simple wooden structure stood full of history and memories.  This home had miraculously survived the catastrophic 1932 hurricane.  According to Dad, the home was built by his father, Howard Lowe.

Kendrick
The Walter C. Kendrick family

Inside this home a medical missionary doctor, Walter C. Kendrick, guided Bessie Caroline Curry Lowe as she delivered a son John Wesley Lowe – my Dad in June 1925.

As a common safety precaution in those days, the kitchen was detached and located behind the main living structure.  An upstairs room with a dormer window overlooked the harbor.  Enough space existed to accommodate Bessie’s widowed father, Thomas Wesley ‘Pa Wes’  Curry.

A portion of the property was donated to allow construction of the first Church of God on the Cay (building pictured on the right in the photo above).  The first pastor of the church was Dad’s paternal grandfather, John Aquilla Lowe.

 

During the early years of my life, my father passed away.  Mother was now a widow and had the sole task of looking after a little boy who was left fatherless.  Pa Wes (Wesley Curry) lived alone and needed assistance.  My mother invited him to stay with us.  She was the youngest of his four daughters.  Her sisters were Dora, Edith and Emmie.  Pa Wes had only one son, Herman Curry.

Our house was built by my dad and had a second floor, suitable for Pa Wes.  Since the house was by the water’s edge, it was an ideal place for a farmer to have his sail boat anchored nearby.

Journals of John W. Lowe

scan0011
Dad John Lowe and Mom Doreen Lowe in front of his childhood home.

When the cruise ship tender docked at Settlement Creek, we raced to our first stop, the Albert Lowe Museum.  Here we met curator Ivy Gates Roberts and husband Noel Roberts.  First cousins Noel and Dad were also lifelong friends.  They shared many island memories formed in Green Turtle Cay and later in Nassau.  Ivy proudly provided a detailed tour of the museum’s collection and artifacts.  Afterwards, she invited us to  their home a few doors down for a tasty Bahamian lunch.

Photo Apr 18, 4 11 16 PM
Left to Right – John Lowe, Noel Roberts, Ivy Gates Roberts and Doreen Lowe in front of the Albert Lowe Museum.

The next destination was the historic cemetery.  Dad desired to see the graveside where his father was laid to rest at a young age of 29.  The cemetery revealed generations of ancestors that occupied this island settlement.  Dad located the tombstone of Bianca Curry.  With a spirited resonance in his voice, Dad recalled how “Binkey” (1801-1860) is considered the matriarch of our Curry line in the Bahamas.  Photo Apr 18, 6 56 20 PMHe noted that her ancestors emigrated from Scotland to South Carolina.  They remained Loyalists during the Revolutionary War who left South Carolina after the war for the Bahamas.

From the cemetery we walked up the hill and the thirty steps that led to the schoolhouse.  It was the first time for my son and his wife, but for me it was a flashback of the ten years of my life that I attended this school.  Mr. Herbert Roberts was the principal at the time.

Photo Apr 18, 4 25 32 PM
Mom & Dad at the base of the steps that lead to the schoolhouse.
Photo Apr 18, 4 25 45 PM
Mom & Dad at the schoolhouse on the top of the hill.

After leaving the schoolhouse, we determined to locate my friend Laine Curry.  He lived within a stone’s throw from the cottage where I was born.  We were the best of friends during our boyhood days!

Journals of John W. Lowe

We found Laine inside the family business, Curry’s Food Store.  After he and Dad reminisced of their boyhood days, we enjoyed refreshing treats on that hot summer day.  In like manner, we had memorable visits with cousins Chester, Thalia and Pearl;  cousins Sidney Lowe and daughter Martha; cousin Danny Albury and retired school teacher Amy Roberts.

danny
Danny Albury & John Lowe

Our last stop was to the modest cottage of Roger and Nell Lowe.  We enjoyed their company and the amazing wild boar hunting stories that Dad and Roger shared.  The view out their window that faced west across the Abaco Sea to the Abaco mainland was simply breathtaking.

Dad spent the first 15 years of his life in New Plymouth.  Around 1940, Pa Wes needed urgent medical attention in Nassau.  Widowed Bessie sold the small cottage for 120 British pounds.  With her teenage son and ailing father, Bessie boarded the mail boat bound for Nassau.  Though Dad had physically left the place of his birth, Green Turtle Cay never left his heart.

Photo Apr 18, 4 25 11 PM
John Lowe in the Memorial Sculpture Garden

 

Royalty on Island Shores

The month of March not only brings blossoming spring flowers,  but also British royalty to the shores of the Bahamas, whose clear aquamarine waters and white sandy beaches are simply breathtaking for both the poor and the prosperous.

The island nation’s British legacy started in the early 1700’s when King George I appointed an English sea captain, Woodes Rogers, as first Royal Governor of the Bahamas.  British monarchs reigned until the nation’s independence in July 1973.  The country remains a member of the British Commonwealth.

A few weeks ago Prince Edward and wife, Sophie, the Earl and Countess of Wessex arrived in the Nassau for the GGYA (Governor General’s Youth Award) presentations.  Their Royal visit  included a quick stop to Abaco, including picturesque Hope Town, a loyalist settlement rich in Bahamian history.  Explore its island heritage with a stop to the Wyannie Malone Historical Museum. Wyannie Malone (my 5th great grandmother) is considered to be the first documented resident of Hope Town.  The South Carolina widow and her three children arrived in 1785.

Hopetown, Elbow Cay.jpg
Hope Town on Elbow Cay, Abaco, in the Bahamas with its candy-striped lighthouse – one of the last manual lighthouses in the world.

Queen Elizabeth II stepped onto Bahamian shores while touring Caribbean Commonwealth nations in 1966, 1975, 1977, and 1985.  Her last visit was in March 1994. On these historic occasions, an air of excitement builds on the island as locals crowd the streets to catch a glimpse of Royalty.

594626305.jpg
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip – Rawson Square, Nassau, Bahamas (1966).

Sailing into Nassau Harbour aboard the 412 foot-long Royal Yacht Britannia, Princess Margaret (the Queen’s sister) and her entourage landed in Nassau in 1955.  On this voyage, the 24 year old Royal emissary toured several of the British Colonies in the West Indies, including Jamaica, Trinidad, Grenada, Dominica and the Bahamas.

The Governor of the Bahamas greeted Princess Margaret at Prince George Dock.  She observed a local regatta from the yacht of Sir Stafford Sands, dubbed the Bahamian  “Father of Tourism.”  Incidentally, his wife, Winifred Maude Moore, is my cousin.

Other trip highlights included a public school address at Clifton Pier and a reception at the Government House with over 1600 guests, dignitaries and notable residents. A quick getaway to a private retreat on Rose Island provided a brief respite for the busy princess.

Perhaps the most notable event was a tour of the recently opened Bahamas General Hospital.  During this ceremony, the hospital’s name was officially changed to The Princess Margaret Hospital, and a tree planted in honor of this occasion.

Below are a few of the pictures contained within Dad’s souvenir booklet from this Royal visit (February 26, 1955 – March 2, 1955). Uncertain as to how he obtained this piece of history.  Was he amidst the crowd of eager bystanders?

The cover is stamped with  the succinct and swift motto from Governor Woodes Rogers…Expulsis Piratis/Restituta Commercia – Piracy Expelled, Commerce Restored.

scan0078scan0075scan0077scan0080scan0076scan0079scan0074

 

Everything to Build Anything

As a teenager in the early 1940s, Dad John Lowe left the Abaconian shores of Green Turtle Cay.  His widowed mother Bessie sought medical attention for her ailing father, Pa Wes Curry.  The three travelers headed by mailboat to the Bahamas Colony’s capital city of Nassau.  Upon arrival, Bessie’s sister, Emmie Moree, greeted her new boarders.  Shirley Street resident Aunt Emmie provided meals and lodging to help her out island family transition to their new life.

In Nassau, Dad immediately sought employment to help support his mother.  Green Turtle Cay’s two-room All-Age School gave Dad a seventh grade equivalent education of solid basics.  After a short stint at a gas station Dad spent a few years at City Market grocery store on Bay Street.  Around 1947, Dad was offered a job at Maura Lumber Company on Bay Street.  For nearly two decades Dad exceled and broadened his business skills.  He was widely known for exceptional personalized service to his patrons.

Capture.JPG

Maura Lumber Company was situated on Bay Street’s harbor waterfront in the island’s center of commerce.  Founder and owner, William Henry Handford Maura (1880-1959), oversaw the operations. Just east of Victoria Avenue, the store supplied islanders with lumber, hardware, paint, marine supplies and equipment, housewares, and toys.  On the other side of the street The Horse Shoe Restaurant attracted patrons in the hot climate to cold banana splits, ice cream sundaes, milk shakes and snow cones!

bay street.jpg

Bay Street storefront - local newspaper photo 
Courtesy of Wendi Bates, granddaughter of W. H. H. Maura.

A local newspaper reported:

In the 1920’s William H. H. Maura, “Willie” as he was known to his friends, was a sponge broker with offices at the Vendue wharf…In the early 1930’s he became the retail agent for the Bahamas Cuban Company…Mr. Maura became the manager and agent of their Nassau operation.  The company had sole lumber rights to all timber grown in the Bahamas…He bought the Bahamas branch of the Cuban company and launched out as WHH Maura & Sons, suppliers of lumber and building materials. 

As a sideline to his lumber business, Mr. Maura sold wholesale provisions – flour, sugar, Canadian canned goods and bales of hay…In 1938 WHH Maura & Sons became the Bahamas Lumber Co.  In 1945 its name was changed yet again to Maura Lumber Co., Ltd. 

car2.jpg

W. H. H. Maura standing in front of the original Bay Street storefront
Courtesy of Wendi Bates, granddaughter of W. H. H. Maura.

The following year, John, the youngest of the three Maura sons, returned from active service in World War II and with his older brother, Montague, started the rapid expansion of the family enterprise.  In 1954 the two brothers built and operated the first modern self-service hardware store that adjoined the lumber and building supplies operation.  Within a few years marine products, boats and accessories, housewares and toys were all sold at Maura’s.

maura and sons

W. H. H. Maura with sons Monty (left) and John (right)
Courtesy of Wendi Bates, granddaughter of W. H. H. Maura.

The Maura estate Fleetwood was located on Bay Street east of Okra Hill.  On Nassau’s harbor, it included a long dock with a dockhouse as well as a large aviary in the back yard.

fleetwood.jpg

 Fleetwood Estate
Courtesy of Wendi Bates, granddaughter of W. H. H. Maura.

W. H. H. Maura had great stature of character, a fine gentlemen. An active member at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Kirk, his community service visited lepers isolated at the Lazaretto in the pine barrens of the undeveloped Carmichael area.  He is listed as owner of several vessels, including Lady Hennessy, MascotArticCoral, and Teaser.  His niece told,

In the early days of the Savoy Theatre downtown, he would dress to the hilt (white suit with hat), and pace the sidewalk outside the theatre to greet the movie-goers. This was a social time for him.

His brother, Bruce Maura (1885-1945), was one of the Gallant Thirty who served the British Empire during World War I.  Shell-shocked, Bruce was fortunate to return home.

The original immigrant Maura is said to be Don Juan Maura from Catalonia, Spain born in the 1780’s. He was Spain’s first consul in Nassau.

Maura don juan2.JPG

Special thanks to Ann Morley Carmel for providing this 1848 ship's manifest.  
Note Don Juan (John) Maura's name five up from the bottom.

After Don Juan married Mary Amelia Catherine Patou in 1836 at St. Matthew’s Church in Nassau, the couple had 11 children.  She fell victim to the 1852 cholera epidemic in Nassau.  Her obituary reads:

We deeply regret…to record among the few cases that remained yesterday, the death of Mrs. Maura, the amiable partner of the Spanish Consul for this port…This amiable lady was a most devoted wife and mother, and beloved by all who knew her. The flags of the shipping in the harbour were lowered to half-mast to-day, as were also the Spanish, American and French flags at the Consulates” 

Don Juan Maura’s great-grandson, William Henry Handford Maura continued the family’s legacy as a prominent family in the Bahamas.  In 1908, he married Amelia Kathleen Butler.  They raised three sons and two daughters in Nassau.

1074095_10201390348541996_1645638909_o.jpg

Top Row (L to R) Monty Maura (son), Amelia Kathleen Butler Maura (mother), 
W. H. H. Maura (father), Alice Maura (daughter)  
Bottom Row (L to R) Bertram Maura (son), Helen Maura (daughter),
Sadie Poole Maura (wife of Bertram), John Maura (son)
Courtesy of Wendi Bates, granddaughter of W. H. H. Maura.

A. Talbot Bethell in his book The Early Settlers of the Bahamas and Colonists of North America describes W. H. H. Maura as follows:

…a large importer of Canadian Manufactured Goods and carries on an extensive Lumber Business.  President of the Nassau Sponge Exchange CO., Ltd., and is himself a Sponge Broker.

maura 1.JPGmaura 2.JPG

A Nassau resident stated,

I remember that he (W. H. H. Maura) always wore a white suit. He would come in the store, and look around to see that everyone was doing something. His second son, Monty Maura, ran the lumberyard and the third son, John Maura, ran the hardware section.

Maura 4

W.H.H. Maura (left) with the Duke of Windsor and Captain Holland.

The eldest son, Dr. Bertram Maura, DD, PhD, studied at a university in Canada. He returned to Nassau to teach. One of his Queen’s College students had fond memories of him as her English Literature teacher in the World War II years. Under his tutelage, many excelled. She recalls the impact of his godly influence in one of his many thought-provoking quotes.

 It doesn’t matter what or who you came from…it’s where you choose to go in life.

This thriving operation of Maura Lumber Company not only provided essential supplies to the community, but also jobs for the locals.  Here, Dad formed friendships with coworkers that included Jack Roberts, Donald Cates, Allan Curry, Noel A. Roberts, Eddie Maura, Sammy Malone, B.C. Malone, Fred Cadman and Peter Lowe, to name a few.

My sister, Paula, recalls:

When I was a little girl, Dad bought me a hula hoop from Maura Lumber Co. on Bay Street. I  loved to carry it to school at Queen’s College, which in those days was at Trinity Methodist Church on Frederick Street.  Dad would drop me off to school on his way to work.

Dad was placed in charge of the paint department under the leadership of the son, John Maura, World War II pilot.  My oldest brother, Paul, tells:

This was the era before today’s technology. Customers would come in with a color they wanted to match. With a careful blue eye, Dad would look at it and produce the exact color the customer desired. He would add tint of one color, shake the can, then add other tints until a perfect match was achieved. He was a human paint machine.

Since Dad excelled in the paint department, the company sent him to tour a few paint manufacturing facilities, owned by American brothers.  One plant was located in Tennessee, the other in New York.

His first tour led Dad to Cleveland, Tennessee, in May 1955.  Dad, Mom (pregnant at the time) and my sister Paula left Nassau on a ship headed for the port of Miami.  Mother made plans to stay her uncle Henry Griffin in Miami while dad traveled on business.

1

Dad and my sister Paula in Miami after his return from Tennessee.

Dad met up with Lamar Ingram, an American sales representative, and together they boarded a train bound for Cleveland, Tennessee. Dad recalled his island boy excitement as he gazed on the scenic mountains for the first time.  He spoke of the graciousness of their hosts and the comforts of an estate nestled in the countryside.  Dad returned by plane to Miami with a souvenir puppy broach in hand for his daughter.

A few years later, Dad and Donald Cates boarded a plane for New York.  In addition to touring the paint plant, they also had the opportunity to sightsee around the Big Apple city.

4

 
John Lowe (left) and Donald Cates (right) - New York skyline in the background.

5

John Lowe (left) and Donald Cates (right) - sightseeing cruise in New York.

Upon his return, eager young kids awaited souvenirs…a doll adorned in a teal green dress, high heels and earrings for my sister…two crinoline slips, a 50 yard for my sister and 100 yard for mom.  Not sure what my brother received!

doll.jpg

My sister posing with my brother and her New York "American" doll in hand.

In 1962 Maura Lumber Company opened a branch on Shirley Street, almost across from St. Matthew’s Church.  Soon afterwards, John Maura offered Dad a position to manage this new location.  Here he worked with Eugene Albury, Elwood Pritchard, Lois Higgs Roberts and Jack Lowe, to name a few.  An accident involving hot wax, perhaps while sealing marine accessories, left third degree burns marks on dad’s hand and forearm.

Even though Maura Lumber Company is no longer in existence, to this day former patrons remember their Toyland during the Christmas Season.  Extended business hours accommodated the holiday shoppers.  Dad would race home for supper and return to the store until closing.  Even Santa Claus made appearances to greet the youngsters.  You always knew Christmas was just around the corner when Toyland opened!   

3

My sister on Santa's lap.  
Nassau resident, Noel Pinder, would often appear as Toyland's Mr. Claus.

maura 2.jpg

 1960 advertisement in the Nassau Guardian.  
Special thanks to Salvatore Re for sharing this photo. 
He is the boy riding the bronco rocker.

My oldest brother, Paul, shares:

I remember how dad converted the store to the Toyland for the Christmas season. They decorated the windows with displays that had movable characters. People would drive by the store in the evenings so their kids could enjoy the displays.

I remember Dad selling train sets and Scalextric racing car/track sets. Toy cars were controlled by a trigger handle wired to the track that generated electricity to wire brushes on the bottom of the car.  He had set up on plywood an elaborate figure 8 track that was about waist height for a child. He encouraged the kids to race their own cars on the track for brief periods of time…a good marketing strategy.  He also sold Vespa scooters and British motorcycles in the store.  

In the warehouse he had large wooden crates full of all types of marbles.  These sold by the pound.  When I would go to the store, I would immediately head for the marbles. I dug through to find ones with unique designs.

MLC3.jpg

 Opening of the Shirley Street branch in 1962.  
Photo taken by Stanley Toogood.  Published in Nassau's The Tribune
Courtesy of Wendi Bates, granddaughter of W. H. H. Maura.

MLC1.jpg

 Cousin Peter Lowe (top) - Lumber Department Manager.  
Cousin Jack Lowe (bottom left) - Lumber Sales Manager.
Published in The Tribune
Courtesy of Wendi Bates, granddaughter of W. H. H. Maura.

My dad’s cousin and Nassau businessman, Anthony ‘Tony’ Roberts, approached dad to manage his new acquisition of a furniture store in Centreville around 1966. The opportunity to help his Green Turtle Cay cousin appealed—both were grandsons of Pa Wes. It was a bittersweet decision for dad. To leave a successful career, satisfied customers and coworker friends had a tinge of sadness. After dad’s retirement in 1988, he would reminisce often on the many experiences at Maura Lumber Company.

dad card 001.jpg

dad card2 001.jpg

 

The Mystery Roberts Photo

My dad, John Wesley Lowe, enjoyed the simple, carefree island life that Green Turtle Cay, Abaco offered during the 1930s and 1940s.  A meager handful of tattered photos exist today to capture his life during that era.  Dad’s eyes always gleamed in delight as he reminisced of the summer fun memories and the selfless people who comprised this close knit community.

After dad’s passing, I realized that my documentation of his memories was far from adequate. I discovered this Green Turtle life photo below in his collection.  No names detailed on these mystery faces: a handsome teenager dressed in Sunday’s best posed with two island youngsters.  A New Plymouth cottage complete with dormer windows and a wood burning stove provides the historic backdrop.

11126668_1589716981284400_76742524_n
The “mystery” photo – Reginald Harold Roberts with niece Estella Lowe and nephew Allan Curry  (Photo from John Wesley Lowe).

My quest for answers began.  I emailed the charming picture to several contacts with Green Turtle Cay roots.  A quick reply from my cousin Estella Curry Lowe (named after Pa Harry’s wife) identified the young teenager as her uncle, Reginald “Reggie” Harold Roberts, born in April 1925 to seaman Harry Roberts (1892-1976) and Estella Louise Lowe (1895-1927).

Pa Harry 2
Harry Roberts (1892-1976).  Photo courtesy of Estella Lowe and Allan Curry

Reggie’s mother, Estella Louise, is the daughter of Jabez Gilbert Lowe Jr.,  a great-great-grandson of our patriarch Captain Gideon Lowe, Jr.

The amazing twist it that my cousin also identified the two toddlers as her brother Allan Curry and herself!  These siblings soon shared with me Green Turtle Cay memories of their Roberts family heritage.

In January 1927, two years after Reggie’s birth, tragedy struck the home of Harry and Estella Roberts.  Ma Estella lost her life during childbirth.  The baby girl perished as well.  Pa Harry faced the daunting task of rearing their five children, four brothers and one sister, ages 11, 9, 7, 5 and 2.  Hawkins Havlock Lowe and wife Paulena  Lenora Roberts cared for Pa Harry’s five year old daughter, Roselyn.  At the age of 12 years, Roselyn returned to Pa Harry to be his helper at home.

Capture
Lines 5 and 6 record the death of Estella Lowe Roberts and her daughter

thumbnail_IMG_3172Reginald Harold Roberts (passport photo courtesy of Estella Lowe)

Reggie and my Dad were born in 1925.  They hiked up the island hill to school in the mornings and horsed around on the docks in the afternoons.  They both left for the capital city Nassau to seek employment after finishing Green Turtle Cay’s All Age School.

Reggie’s older brother Reuben had already moved to Nassau in 1936.  John Reuben Roberts was born in Green Turtle Cay in 1915 and named after his grandfather John Roberts IV (1864-1908).  Reuben married Lula Alberth ‘Bertha’ Roberts in 1935 at Green Turtle Cay.  They separated and divorced in 1946.

In Nassau, Reuben worked for Stafford Sands, Sr. at City Meat Market where he trained as a meat cutter.  Reuben later recounted that his salary in 1938 was five British pounds per week.  Reuben played a key role in securing my Dad’s employment at City Meat Market in the early 1940s.

In 1943 Reuben and former Green Turtle Cay buddies, brothers Gussie and Jack Roberts, volunteered to serve in World War II.  Reuben joined the U.S. Army on November 11 at the age of 28.  After training in southern England, he was deployed to Easy Red, Normandy.

In 1946 Reuben became an American citizen.  That same year misfortune met his brother Reggie.   Seaman Reggie often ran on a banana boat to South America with Green Turtle Cay native Kenneth Lowe.  On a trip from Nassau to the United States, he was brutally assaulted while at port in Miami.  He received no medical treatment and headed back to Nassau where he died as a result of internal injuries. Reggie was 20 years old and engaged.  Pa Harry was devastated.  Summoned, he went to Nassau to identify Reggie’s body.  Reuben also flew to Nassau to check on his brother.

Cousin Allan shared with me several war stories that Reuben had recounted to him.

One day when my unit prepared to hit the beach, we encountered resistance from the enemy on the shore.  We were located about three to five miles off shore at that time.  The commander of our ship called for the big guns that could reach up to seven miles.

thumbnail_IMG_3173
John Reuben Roberts (1915-2004).  Photo courtesy of Estella Lowe and Allan Curry.

When the ship fired, she rolled from side to side.  It felt like we were about to capsize. After an hour of bombing the shoreline, our troops landed.

To avoid being shelled during the attack, I positioned myself firmly pressed against the ramp of the landing barge.  But when the ramp dropped, I fell in the water.

On another night, the Sergeant arrived at camp to enlist ten volunteers for a mission.  I was selected, but since I was the only barber, the Sergeant needed me to stay behind to cut the hair of several men, including my commanding officer.  The group of men that went on that mission were never heard from again.

I remember a night mission to blow up a bridge once our troops landed.  However, our unit was ambushed on the bridge. Only one other soldier besides myself survived that dreadful attack.

I can’t forget freezing nights of prolonged huddling in fox holes.  Soldiers emerged from the fox holes extremely cramped.  They screamed in pain while Army Medics warmed and stretched out their limbs.

thumbnail_IMG_3174
John Reuben Roberts (1915-2004).  Photo courtesy of Estella Lowe and Allan Curry.

 

After the war Reuben was discharged in Jacksonville, Florida.  He soon headed south to Miami to be with family.  His maternal Uncle Curtis Lowe operated the first barbershop in the Miami International Airport.  Able and ready, Reuben applied his barber skills.  Opposite the barber shop sat Pan American Airlines’ check-in counter.  Here Reuben met and married Marjorie Hanford Pippinger in 1947.   Reuben transitioned back to the food service industry.  He worked as a meat cutter for Winn Dixie and later as a store manager for Food Fair.  In 1969, Reuben and Marjorie moved to Key Largo where he continued his career well into retirement years.  He passed away in 2004.

Allan registered his Uncle Reuben as a World War II veteran in the National World War II Museum in New Orleans.  On this Memorial Day weekend, we pause and honor John Reuben Roberts and all those who have sacrificed at great cost to preserve our freedom.

One mystery photo initiated an amazing journey through this Roberts family!

 

On the Street Where You Live

Pa Wes’ health continued to deteriorate and Grandma Bessie made the decision to seek treatment in Nassau.  Not knowing what the future would hold, she sold the homestead in Green Turtle Cay and with her son (my dad) and her dad (Pa Wes), set sail for Nassau, the country’s capital situated on the island of New Providence.

Upon arrival, the weary travelers sought respite in the home of Emmie Pinder, Grandma’s sister.  Aunt Emmie lived in the “suburbs” of Shirley Street.  With an exceptionally pleasant and outgoing personality, Emmie would soon introduce her new boarders to next door neighbors, Mr. & Mrs. G. Basil Lowe.

Dad recounted in his journal…

At the age of fifteen, my grandfather, Wesley became very ill.  A decision was made to take him to stay with his daughter, Emmie in Nassau, New Providence.  My mother and I went along on the mail boat. While down there, we got to know the family of Mr. & Mrs. G. Basil Lowe, who were neighbours of Aunt Emmie.  They had three girls and one son.  Little did I know that one of the girls would become my dear wife.

Grandma Bessie, a widow of 15+ years, would find love again in New Providence and in 1942 married Ashbourne Lowe, a fine carpenter by trade.  Shirlea HouseThe newlyweds resided in a two bedroom home built by the groom in the Shirlea subdivision off Shirley Street, a few blocks away from Emmie’s home.  Dad, sixteen at the time, and a proud owner of a bicycle, peddled down Shirley Street to his new job at City Market on the corner of Bay Street and East Street.

Mr. G. Basil Lowe’s carpentry workshop was situated in back of his home on Shirley Street and equipped with the finest of tools.  His nephew, Renard, was this carpenter’s “right-hand” man.  Renard and Dad – just a few years apart in age – soon bonded and developed a lifelong friendship. Dad would often bike to the workshop to hang out with Renard.  During that time period, Dad started courting one of G. Basil’s daughters, and in 1951, Dad and Mom were married.

Before marriage
One of the few photos of Dad and Mom before marriage

Working with a frugal budget, they were married by Pastor Davies at the Assembly of God parsonage off Shirley Street with the reception across the street at the home of the groom’s parents. Family and friends gathered around the modest home to share in the joyous occasion.

Mom located stylish platform heeled shoes from along the storefronts on Bay Street where she found a seamstress to fashion a wedding gown for that special day.  Family members lent their creative talents and added a special touch.  Grandpa Basil’s sister, Aunt Winnie crafted the wedding arch from Coconut fronds and other tropical foliage while older sister, Marie delicately constructed the bride’s veil.  A bouquet of white gladiolas served as the bride’s bouquet.

scan0003

Wedding - Basil on far left
The Bridal Party (l to r) G. Basil Lowe (father of the bride); Gail Smith (friend of the bride) Mom, Dad, George Lowe (brother of the bride). Photo taken by Maurice Lightbourn (cousin of the bride)

scan0002

On March 2, 1951, two loyalist descendants made a vow on Shirley Street that would last over 60 years.  After the wedding, Grandma Bessie moved back to Green Turtle Cay while Mom and Dad settled into the house in Shirlea and began their lifelong journey together.

Celebrating Dad

Two years ago, my Dad, John Wesley Lowe, was ushered by angelic escorts to his heavenly home.  Even though a void remains that cannot be filled, we continue to celebrate his life until we meet again.  Dad was my inspiration for this Out Island Boy blog.  His boyhood stories of life on Green Turtle Cay always fascinated me.  He married and started a family in Nassau.  There he built a successful career over four decades.  At home, church, and work, his life was characterized by a giving spirit.  He impacted more people than he realized.

As I reflect on his life today, I share a few excerpts from the program printed for his memorial service in Jupiter, Florida.  There is also a video clip created by his grandson Jason Lowe.

John Wesley Program pages 1,12

John Wesley was born on the small island of Green Turtle Cay of the Abaco chain in the northern part of the Bahamas on June 7, 1925 to the late Howard Lowe and the late Bessie Caroline Curry.   His name was chosen from each of his grandfathers’ names: John and Wesley.

John’s paternal grandfather, John Aquila Lowe (Grandpa Johnny) served as pastor of the Church of God in Green Turtle Cay.  John’s father, Howard, was the church clerk.  The church was situated on property adjacent to their home.   John’s mother took pride in making sure that kerosene lamps were filled with oil and that the church was clean and ready for the services. John was given the task of ringing the church bell to let the entire island know that the church service was about to start.

John’s mother became a widow at an early age, when John was only 2 ½ years old.  His maternal grandfather, Wesley (Pa Wes) Curry, moved in their home and was a major influence in John’s life.  Pa Wes was a fisherman, but after a long, frustrating day of no fish, he threw all of his fishing equipment overboard and purposed to farm the Abaco land. John loved to visit his farms and see the bananas and smell the sweet pineapples. Perhaps this is where John developed his love for fruit.

When John was 15 years of age, Pa Wes became ill, and a decision was made to take him to Nassau for medical attention.  John’s mother sold their little home for 120 pounds (less than $400) and boarded a boat to Nassau. John & his mother lived with his Aunt Emmie during this time, and at an early age John went to work to support his mother.  John’s mother would later remarry another fine Green Turtle Cay gentleman, the late Ashbourne Lowe.

In Nassau on November 8, 1946, while riding his bicycle, John passed by a revival service at a small brethren church.  John heard the preaching of Bill Patterson, jumped off his bicycle, and stuck his head in an open church window to listen. The gospel seed was planted, and later that evening after talking with his Grandma Millie, John accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior. God had preserved John’s life through the disaster of the 1932 hurricane (Category 5) which decimated the small island. John also recalled God’s protecting hand when as a young boy, he and his cousin were almost crushed when a heavy loading dock wagon that they were joy riding slipped off the pier.  Both John and his cousin landed safely into the compartments of a dinghy below as the large wagon landed on top of the bottom.

John soon became acquainted with his aunt’s neighbors, the late George Basil & the late Amy Lowe and their children, in particular, with their second daughter, Doreen.  John would marry her on March 2, 1951 and have her as his faithful wife for 61 years. God blessed their marriage with 4 children, 15 grandchildren, and 12 great-grand children.

 

 

Boys will be boys

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. imagesKM7ZGWADThe 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.

Waterfront
New Plymouth Shoreline (circa 1920) Photo courtesy of the Albert Lowe Museum

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.

photo 2

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.

1947557_323159387871602_1414966865_n
Photo courtesy of Randy Curry, grandson

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.

minutrd
Excerpt from 1937 journal of the church.

 

1229485_323159947871546_1831903170_o
Photo courtesy of Randy Curry

beach
Descendant Randy Curry standing on the bank across the harbour at low tide. Note the Lowe residence and the Curry residence flanking either side of the church – Photo courtesy of Randy Curry

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.

10588871_296845050503036_373743348_n
Photo courtesy of Randy Curry, son

 

Laine2
Photo courtesy of Randy Curry

10705279_323539627833578_562125615_n
Photo courtesy of Randy Curry, son

10596140_296654173855457_887400033_n
Laine & Pauline Curry Photo courtesy of Randy Curry, son

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.

10712251_323897237797817_1766092103_o
Photo courtesy of Randy Curry

 

10706394_323898017797739_1754372075_n
Laine, Pauline and children, Randy & Debbie. Photo courtesy of Randy Curry

 

10453176_328462370674637_1710135945_n
Aerial view of the Curry homestead (blue and white two story building on the left and Curry’s grocery store on the right). Photo courtesy of Randy Curry.

 

School Days

During our recent day excursion to Green Turtle Cay, our clan of eight covered more territory than expected, thanks to local transportation (golf carts) provided by Kool Karts.  With a seemingly endless list of people and places to see, we had to budget our time to not miss the last ferry back to Treasure Cay.  On that list was the school house Dad attended and often reminisced about.

After pausing to savor a fabulous lunch at the Green Turtle Club, we ventured back to New Plymouth.  At the bottom of the hill,  we parked the golf carts and climbed the steps in our flip flops to see this historic school house.  An unexpected flashback occurred of the visit over twenty years ago via the Big Red Boat.  On that day Dad was the one ecstatic to show me the school house, nestled on top of a 65-foot hill overlooking New Plymouth, and the 30 steps cut into the side of a limestone hill.  As my kids climbed the worn and distressed steps, I paused on the crest of the hill to cherish the picturesque view of the settlement below and imagined the path Dad would race along each day to school – barefoot.

scan0001b
Dad and Mom at the Green Turtle Cay School House in 1992.

…From there we walked up the hill. We had to go up thirty steps to the school building. It was the first time for my son and his wife, but for me, it was a reminder of the ten years of my life attending school. Mr. Herbert Roberts was the principal of that school. After many years of service, he was transferred to Nassau to be the principal of a government school…          Journals of John W. Lowe 

scan0002
Dad & Mom at the bottom of the school house steps in 1992.
IMG_4026
My kids on the school house steps in 2014.

Children attended the All Age School around the age of five until fourteen.   Dad recollected writing on slates in class under the tutelage of principal, Herbert Roberts and teacher, Amy Roberts.  It was not uncommon for Amy Roberts to move the classroom outdoors to teach subjects that did not require a blackboard.  Every morning she began the day with a lesson from the Bible.  A tamarind switch from a nearby tree helped to keep order in the classroom.

What we may consider today a simple education, Dad had utmost appreciation for the wisdom and  instruction he received.   At the age of 15, he embarked for Nassau to start a successful career and emerged as a respected businessman in the Bahamian community for nearly 50 years.

IMG_4022
The Amy Roberts Primary School – 2014
scan0003
Herbert Roberts on the left. Photo found in Dad’s album.

While in Nassau, Dad reconnected with former principal, Herbert Roberts, who became a lifelong friend and mentor.  Not only was Mr. Roberts a great educator, but also a successful businessman.  During the era that Dad operated and managed one of Nassau’s thriving furniture companies, he would swing by the office of Mr. Herbert Roberts just a few miles away for counsel.  At that time, Herbert owned Home Furniture in Palmdale, a friendly competitor who often joked with Dad about joining forces with him.

Richard HERBERT Roberts, M.B.E. was born in 1911 in Green Turtle Cay and died in Nassau in 2003 at the age of 92.   In 1929, he and Lambert Lowe were sent by the Bahamas government to Alabama to study agriculture.  And in 1931 he became the principal of the All Age School in Green Turtle Cay, a calling that he would embrace for approximately 12 years.  Joy Lowe Jossi reflects on her Uncle Herbert…

He married my dad, Clarie Lowe’s sister, Emma. Quite the romance with the young school monitor sent about 1929  from GTC to Marsh Harbour to relieve the long-career teacher John GOODWIN Roberts for a sabbatical of travel to Portland, Oregon to visit his oldest son. He befriended Emma’s father, Eldred Lowe, built a boat for him, and asked for his daughter’s hand in marriage in 1932. They married in August 1932 at Marsh Harbour, moved to GTC just before the terrible hurricane in September.

An energetic, friendly, talented teacher who turned business man in Nassau to better provide for his growing family. Downtown Nassau furniture store owner, Joe Garfunkel, tapped the young teacher to come work with him. Many years later, Uncle Herbert became owner of Home Furniture. His three surviving children are in the store today.   Every summer Uncle Herbert and Aunt Emma and family spent a month at Abaco between her Marsh Harbour and his GTC.

Uncle Herbert’s bearing and manner exemplified diligence.  He was a tall, slim man – black hair, dark brown eyes – a quick wit with humour – kind and generous.  His influence impacted his students like your dad, Tony Roberts, Peter Lowe, and Donald Saunders. All became leaders in Nassau’s industry. Their bond with him and esteem stayed strong. He taught them bookkeeping at night school.

Amy with Herbert 001
Mr. Herbert Roberts at Green Turtle Cay All Age School. Mrs. Amy Roberts in the back row.  Photo courtesy of Annabelle Cross, granddaughter of Amy Lowe Roberts.
 
In honor of his years of service to the community, R. Herbert Roberts received the award and title Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (M.B.E) from Queen Elizabeth.  The April 15, 2003 issue of the Abaconian stated,

After moving to Nassau, he never forgot the people of Green Turtle Cay and was there to offer assistance when asked.

IMG_4024

As my kids walk down those steps, I found myself reminiscing on that day in 1992 when Dad and I made the same trek.  Not long afterwards, a message came to us.

…I received a message that my former school teacher would like to see us. Her home was about one hundred yards away. I was very glad to see her after many years. She was then a retired school principal. The school building was named in her honour, The Amy Roberts School. Later in life she was honored by the Bahamian government for her dedicated service…     Journals of John W. Lowe

Amy Isabelle Lowe Roberts, B.E.M. was born in Green Turtle Cay in 1910 to John and Maysie Lowe and died in 1993 at the age of 83.  I considered myself blessed to have met her a year before she left this earth on that day when she summoned to see Dad.  As it is not uncommon for residents of GTC to find a common ancestor, likewise Dad and Amy were 3rd cousins, tracing back to patriarch Captain Gideon Lowe.  She married Mr. Albert “Nick” Roberts in 1937.   In recent days, I was able to connect with a granddaughter of Mrs. Amy Roberts, who shared her grandmother’s unpublished autobiography written in the late 1970’s. Some excerpts…

The structure was a two story building with two floors, an open floor downstairs, two rooms on the second floor, which were connected with wooden steps. There were three porches; one to the East side, one on the North and one on the West.  There was a small room on the South East corner where students hung their hats and coats on pegs, when they arrive at 9:45 A.M. giving ample time for an Assembly on the school grounds at 10 A.M.  The Assembly consisted of the singing of a hymn or multiplication tables, followed by the Lord’s Prayer.

In 1915, at the age of five, Amy herself attended the All Age School with Miss Annie Saunders as her Grade I teacher. At age 12, she was appointed a Monitress (student in training) and later Pupil Teacher at the age of 15.  Amy developed her passion and talent under such notable head teachers as Maitland Malone of Hope Town, Lucerne Pinder of Spanish Wells, Mr. R. Herbert Roberts of Green Turtle Cay and Mr. Lambert Lowe of Marsh Harbour.  In her autobiography, she esteems principal R. Herbert Roberts…

He was determined with the Staff’s assistance to bring the school to the top in Education. Mr. Roberts and I worked together for 12 years, studying day and night the best methods to explain the various subjects to the students in the school.

Amy taught for over 55 years, filling in as principal whenever there was a vacancy. Teaching 4 generations of Green Turtle Cay students, her pupils, scattered around the globe, have been successful businessmen, teachers, ministers and leaders in the Bahamian community.  Amongst her many medals, accolades and achievements, in 1983 she was awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) for meritorious civil service by former Governor General of the Bahamas, Sir Gerald Cash.

At the age of 77 years, I attribute all praise to my Heavenly Father, and my redeemer Jesus Christ, for the years I have lived, and all the accomplishments I have obtained, and my assistance I have given to the 1st – 2nd – 3rd – 4th generations on the island.

school-children-photo-from-museum-copy-edited
BACK ROW (standing) L-R: Joyce Curry, Lurey Curry, Gerald Key, Zeddith Saunders, Neville Key (brother of Gerald), Delores Saunders and teacher, Amy Roberts. FRONT ROW (seated) L-R: Anthony Roberts, Merriel Roberts, Joyce Pinder, Iris Roberts, Merlee Lowe. Photo courtesy of Annabelle Cross with facial identifications by Amanda Diedrick
The Girl Guides welcome the Governor General of the Bahamas to New Plymouth.
The Girl Guides welcome the Governor General of the Bahamas to New Plymouth.  Estella Curry, Ena Roberts, Shirley Roberts, Anne Roberts, Beverly Curry, Ivy Saunders,  Julieann Key, Linda Roberts, Rosie Saunders, Hilda Curry, Mavis Lowe, Cynthia Lowe, Amy Roberts & Linda Key (holding flowers).  Photo courtesy of Annabelle Cross, granddaughter.
Amy
Amy Isabelle Lowe Roberts June 12, 1910 – October 13, 1993.  Photo courtesy of Annabelle Cross, granddaughter.

The school was later renamed Amy Roberts Primary School in her honor for her years of service and remains in operation today.  Their mission…

to inspire each child to reach beyond their potential so as to secure the future of our country.

“Homeward Bound”

Just a few weeks ago,  my family was blessed to spend the better part of a day on Green Turtle Cay.   It would be the first time my children would see the birthplace of their grandfather…a place that he reminisced of often.  We arrived by taxi to the Treasure Cay ferry dock for a fifteen minute ferry ride.  The anticipation built as we boarded Lowe’s Green Turtle Cay Ferry.  Owned by descendants of our Green Turtle Cay ancestors, it was the first realization that we were back to our roots.

As we crossed the Sea of Abaco, our eyes were peeled on the horizon for the first glimpse of this New England style seaside village.  I pondered on the stories Dad recounted as he and Pa Wes would make similar treks from the Cay to the mainland of Abaco to tend to their farmland.  Their journeys were not on engine-powered ferry boats but small man-made sailing skiffs, subject to the winds and changing weather conditions.

As the town of New Plymouth on Green Turtle Cay grew closer, the excitement triggered a flashback from over twenty years ago, when my wife and I made our first trip to Green Turtle Cay with Dad and Mom…

Twenty years ago, our youngest son and his wife, Dona, decided to take a vacation on the Big Red Boat.  scan0005aThe destination was to Abaco in the Bahamas.  My wife and I were invited to join them.  I thought it would be nice to visit my birthplace, Green Turtle Cay.  Some of my family were living on that island.  The ship sailed from a port in the northern part of Florida and headed for Abaco. 

The next day we had the privilege to go down to my birth place, Green Turtle Cay. It was a pleasant boat ride, about twenty miles to the West. On our arrival to the dock, there was the cottage that dad had built and the place where I was born and lived for sixteen years. Many thoughts came into my mind. I was overjoyed to be back home.

scan0007

scan0008 scan0009The first place we visited was at Noel and Ivy’s home. There we greeted each other and spent a little time together. They prepared lunch for us. Many years ago in Nassau, Noel and I would worked for the Maura Lumber Company. During that period we closed the store at midday on Fridays and prepared for our fishing trips. I cannot forget those experiences. We were successful in bringing back home an abundance of fish each time.

scan0015
L-R Dad, Noel & Ivy Roberts, Mom in front of the Albert Lowe Museum.

scan0014
Dad in the Loyalist Memorial Sculpture Gardens.

The second place we desired to visit was the cemetery. There, my dad and his fore parents are laid to rest. As we strolled in the cemetery, we came to a large tombstone. It was the place where my great great grandmother was buried. Her name was Bianca Curry Lowe. She was the great granddaughter of John Walker, who came from Ireland to the USA. We were very glad to find her grave site.

From there we walked up the hill. We had to go up thirty steps to the school building. It was the first time for my son and his wife, but for me, it was a reminder of the ten years of my life attending school.

scan0012

The next decision we made was to visit the cottage I knew as home for sixteen years. Upon our arrival, the owner of the building gladly let us have a tour of the house. It was the first time that my son and his wife had the privilege to see this small cottage where I spent those early years. It was indeed a great joy for me to be at that cottage possibly for the last time.

Journals of John W. Lowe

scan0011scan0010

As we stepped off the ferry onto the shore of New Plymouth, I was overwhelmed with a sense of responsibility – the baton had now been handed to me twenty years later.  Off we went with our backpacks, Tervis tumblers, iPhones and digital cameras ready to record every memory – times have changed from the Kodak roll of 24 that we used to capture that first visit.

IMG_3875IMG_3879IMG_3888

Our first stop – a quick breakfast snack – fuel to power our walk around town.  Recommended by Little House by the Ferry, Mo-Mo’s Suga’ Shack seemed like the perfect spot.  No doubt, an old cottage remodeled and converted into a charming store front.  While the seating capacity was nearly maxed out with our family of eight, the display of homemade bread and fresh pastries quickly grabbed our attention…cinnamon rolls, cheese and guava pastries.  We were off to a good start.

IMG_3890

IMG_3893

With our tummies full, we embarked on a tour of the narrow, picturesque streets of New Plymouth.  It was quickly obvious that we were walking paths steeped in Abaconian history.  Paths that our ancestors had travelled for at least five generations.  So much history is nestled in this quaint village and so much of it relates to my ancestors.

10462457_10152325523146225_101824343362290367_n
The boys in front of the John Lowe House.

IMG_3895
Gwyn & Dylan in front of the Albert Lowe Museum.

IMG_3901
The girls in the Loyalist Memorial Sculpture Gardens

After a stop at Lowe’s Food Store toIMG_3903 visit cousins, we headed to the cottage where my Dad was born.  A modest but charming 900 square foot cottage, surviving the Category 5 hurricane of 1932, stood before our eyes.  Although a picket fence, new windows, a cistern and some window a/c units have been added since Dad’s era, the structure remains the same.  The upstairs with its dormer windows was where Pa Wes lived after Dad’s father passed away.

10363879_10152319057531225_1627956082815273781_n

While walking the streets, I saw a familiar face heading towards us with shopping bags in hand.  The strong Lowe facial characteristics cannot hide.  Dad’s first cousin…Pearl Lowe.  Pearl’s father, Osgood and my Dad’s father, Howard were brothers, growing up together on the Cay and working together on the mailboat M/V Priscilla.  Pearl was overjoyed to see us, and we stepped inside, out of the heat of the sun, to listen to her reminisce about family, past and present.  She remains a strong, faithful, godly lady that bridges the generations.

10535586_1454745534781546_5196779251802496797_o

Afterwards, we decided to visit the local cemetery.  As ironic as it sounds, the cemetery there is a beautiful stop.  Although, weeds and tombstones provide a vivid reminder of the curse of sin, the surrounding sea, sky and shore remind us the beauty of the Creator, who provides everlasting life.

IMG_1658

IMG_4011

Afterwards, we connected with Kool Karts, a local golf cart rental company.  Yes, owned and operated by cousins.  The transportation was a welcomed relief after walking the streets for couple hours in the summer heat.  We were now able to travel to other parts of the Cay.  We drove through Black Sound on our way to the Green Turtle Club located on the White Sound harbour.  As we sat down to enjoy a  fabulous lunch of cracked conch, peas ‘n rice and macaroni, a local thunder storm swept in to cool things down.  By the time we were finished eating, the rains had subsided enough for a photo opp and the purchase of some fresh conch salad made before our eyes by a local vendor.

10462545_10152319057516225_3437408674769263441_n

On our way back, we parked along the road and walked down several beach paths, admiring the exceptional beauty and collecting beach treasures along the way.  Next stop was the school house at the top of the hill.   (Stay tuned for an upcoming article regarding Dad’s school days).

IMG_4030

The rest of the afternoon was filled sightseeing, shopping, another stop to Mo-Mo’s for ice cream, and a stop to Lowe’s Food Store for drinks.  We returned the golf carts and headed to the dock to catch the last ferry back to Treasure Cay.  No words could have been more relevant to see as we prepared to leave…Remember These Shores.

IMG_1655