(Lynda Lohr, The Daily News March 16,
"Tales of St. John and the Caribbean"
is a potpourri of stories by St. John resident, Gerald Singer,
and other island residents.
Some are stories about Caribbean life and people
that Singer gathered to tout Marina Market, a local grocery
store. They ran on the back page of a local newspaper.
Others are fresh from the computer about island
characters and places that will be well known to the readers.
Even the cover will be familiar. It is a painting
by artist David Wegman titled "Out Where the Buses Don't
It depicts the artist hanging on to a rope ladder
aboard his boat while a storm rages around him. The painting
hung for years in the now-closed Sea Breeze Restaurant in Coral
In fact, the first story in Tales of St. John
involves Wegman, a sometime St. John sailor well known up and
down the Caribbean for his salty adventures. Wegman got involved
with burying a body of a friend, Kenny Capen, that didn't stay
put when he was buried at sea.
Singer said he started writing the stories for
Marina Market about two years ago. The weekly job served as
the germ of a book, and Singer soon decided to include others.
"I loved everyone's stuff," he said
of work by St. John residents, John Gibney, Jack Andrews, Andy
Rutnik and Bob Tis and Jost Van Dyke resident, Curtney "Ghost"
Gibney writes about the first ice cream stand
on St. John, run by a man named Papa Doc. To increase profits,
Papa Doc extended his vanilla, chocolate and strawberry flavors
with crushed Styrofoam cups blended with Mazola oil. Papa Doc
went on to open the island's first motorcycle rental shop before
fleeing the island with the feds hot on his tail.
"Maybe some in the long line of carpetbaggers,
unscrupulous Realtors and con men who have followed in his footsteps
have stopped to wonder why their actions have barely raised
an eyebrow among St. Johnians. Why, because we knew Papa Doc,"
And then there's this wild story about a man who
had a crab in his ear. Related to Singer by Dr. Robert Walker,
who practiced here in the 1980s, the story tells the true tale
of a man who had a crab crawl into his ear. As if that wasn't
trouble enough, when Walker pulled the crab out, it had the
temerity to crawl right back in.
Don't miss the story by Rutnik, who by day serves
as the territory's Licensing and Consumer Affairs commissioner.
In a story that will be familiar to all the island
residents who lived through 1995's Hurricanes Luis and Marilyn,
Rutnik writes about surviving the storms.
"We were near the eye. Communication had
to be by instinct because we couldn't hear each other even at
distances of one foot. Screaming did not work; 27 years of marriage
did. We got the job done," he writes.