Bahama Tales - Devil's Point

Most of the time, our family lived on Cat Island. This long thin island was originally named Sal Savador and believed to be where Christopher Columbus landed in the New World. In 1926, another island was designated as San Salvador, and this one was name Cat Island after Arthur Catt, a pirate who regularly visited it.

My father started a little church and nursery school in Devil's Point. I'm sure there's a story behind the name of this settlement, but I don't know it. Maybe it was because of the reefs and hazard of sailing around the end of the island. Maybe it has something to do with the spirit worship practiced there.

We lived in abandoned houses, believed to be cursed. As Christians, we were not afraid of the curses and lived quite well in them. The Bahamians lived in concrete houses topped with thatched roofs. Usually, there was a front door and back door with two rooms on either side of a center hallway. Our house had a dirt floor room in the back that we used as a kitchen. The walls were just thin panels reaching six or seven feet up, leaving the rafters exposed. I remember standing on the top of my bunkbed and peeking over the wall at my parents wrapping Christmas presents.

The nursery school began because the parents had no place for their toddlers during the day. Either they would take the tiny children into the fields, or have an older child stay home from school to care for them. About ten little kids came our house everyday, with a chunk of bread and a penny for a cup of diluted evaporated milk or powered milk. Cow and goats were rare, and the only milk they got would be from their mother when they were infants. To this day, I gag at the taste of skim milk or evaporated milk. I hated it, but obediently drank it. My mother did well in making sure we ate well.

My baby brother was born while we lived there. We had gone to Nassau for his birth, but returned to Devil's Point. He was often sick. Once my father had to borrow a neighbor's motorcycle to take my mother and baby Jonathan to the airport in New Bight.
(see map)

My mother was a nurse and we saw many horrible illnesses - babies with worms, a woman with epilepsy, drunken men, scabby sores. I remember being scolded by one of the Bahamian mothers, for cleaning out the crud under my playmate's fingernails.

Originally uploaded by down-to-earth

We were not far from the beach and often watched the fishermen return in their dingies. One showed us where a shark had bitten the bottom of his boat and left teeth in its hull. My brother, Phillip, (age 3) loved fish. Once when he asked if we were having fish for supper, my mother jokingly said, "You'll have to catch some, if you want some." She soon realized that he wasn't around and remembered their conversation. She sent me to the dock. Sure enough he was there, waiting for the fishermen to come in. He probably would have gotten some. The dark Bahamians loved his bleach blond hair and blue eyes. His head would be greasy by the end of the day, with them patting his head all the time.

It was here (wish I had a picture) that I accepted the Lord as my Savior. I was six years old. Each evening, we sat on the bottom bunk for our family devotions. My father read books to us - good classic stories and poems. Then we'd sing, read the Bible, and kneel in a row to pray. I don't remember all that we talked about that night, but I do remember learning of Adam and Eve's sin and heaven. I know my life was changed after that, and that I belonged to God.

There are so many little things that happened;
I can't tell them all.

Christmas gifts - cradle and wooden rifle for Phillip
Ma Zelpa (100 yr.old woman with chickens)
Riding to Uncle Roy's house on a little Suzuki
Pounding rock for money
Learning to pull water out of a well
Getting lost in the "bush"
Finding the note in a bottle
Doing school at home
(multiplication, Morse Code, poems, etc.)

Next week, I'll share about our time in Nassau.


Joel Wiggin said...

I just read your post and really enjoyed it. I was having fun trying to picture your parents doing all that stuff since I have known them for many year and never knew that about them. I still wish I knew the story behind devils Point. Did you ever run into any evidences fo pirates as a kid? Thanks for sharing.

Vonnie said...

No, Joel... I was just a little kid, but I don't think we ever found any pirate stuff. There's a new kind of "pirating" now. Lots of drug trade is going on there.

Becki Meek said...

Oh, Yvonne, we have GOT TO meet some time (hopefully soon!). Reading this brought back so many memories of mine - we were missionaries to the Navajo Indians in the middle of the reservation in Arizona, until I was 5 1/2!!! We had to haul our water 25 miles (an all day affair back in the '50's) and we went to Flagstaff every 6 weeks for supplies/groceries (another all day, sometimes 2 day trip) I accepted Christ as my Savior when I was 4 1/2, when my mother was teaching a women's sewing class and telling them why they needed to be born again. She said that even if your parents are Christians, that doesn't make you a Christian, but everyone must accept Christ's gift for themself. I realized that must apply to me, too, so when she prayed, I prayed too, and told her afterwards! I have a LIFETIME of memories from that time in my life, and greatly treasure my Christian heritage.

Vonnie said...

NO WAY!!! We've got to meet!

My grandparents (Paul and Mary Beverly) worked with the Navajo's near Flagstaff. (in the 1940's?) but I remember visiting Window Rock.

Catrina Bradley... said...

Loved this post, Vonnie. Can't wait for more tales from your childhood on Cat Island.


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