Saturday, April 15, 2017

1980 (18) - St. Maarten

Collaged postcard.  Hand-painted silk.  4" x 6"  by Jean Baardsen

To go to the beginning of this book, Tropic Moon: Memories, click HERE.

Mother’s Day had fallen on the weekend we were in Antigua.  On Saturday, we went to the Cable & Wireless building to call our mothers.  For one thing, I wanted to check on my sister, Lynn.  She’d been due to have a baby two days before.  I knew my Mom was planning to help her, so I put the call through to my sister’s home in Virginia.  Reaching my Mom, I learned that Lynn had delivered her second son, Danny, on the day he was due. 

Now for a bit of back-story.  In 1960, when I was in the 7th grade, and Lynn was in the 5th grade, my father, a sergeant in the Air Force, was transferred to Selfridge Air Force Base in Mt. Clemens, Michigan.  When we moved there, base housing wasn’t available, and we looked for a house in town.  We rented a house owned by Dorothy and Bill Noellert – whom I’ll now refer to as Bill (1).  They had three children – Sunnie, Bill (2), and Ray.  Dorothy was pregnant with their fourth child.  Liking my sister’s name, they called the new baby girl, Lynn – now referred to as Lynn (2).  Our families were close, but little did anyone imagine that when we grew up, my sister, Lynn (1), would marry their son, Bill (2).  That made Lynn (1) sister-in-law to Sunnie, Ray, and Lynn (2).  When Lynn (1) and Bill (2) were expecting their first child, Bill (1) died of a heart attack.  Thus, they decided to name their first son, Bill (3). 

Palm Trees.  Digital Art by Jean Baardsen

Now back to May 1980.  During the course of the conversation with my Mom, she mentioned that Lynn’s mother-in-law, Dorothy, and Lynn’s sister-in-law, Lynn (2), were visiting Sunnie in St. Maarten.  Yes, the Sunnie who visited us in Grenada, and whom I’d worked with at International Supply during our stop in St. Maarten the year before.  Dorothy and Lynn would be in St. Maarten for most of the next week.  After that, they’d be flying to Virginia to visit Lynn (1), Bill (2), Bill (3), and newborn, Danny.  My parents would still be at my sister’s house.  (Okay, I’ll drop the numbers…)

I told my Mom I was sorry we weren’t going to be able to meet up with Dorothy and Lynn.  We wouldn’t reach St. Maarten in time, since we were planning to stop at St. Barths first.  Back on the boat, Ed and I decided it would be fun to buzz straight up to St. Maarten to see them.  That way, when they reached Virginia, they’d be able to tell my Mom they’d seen Tropic Moon and us.  We had bought Tropic Moon in Grenada in 1978, and had yet to leave the islands, so none of our family had seen our boat.

We left Antigua on May 11th at 6:00 p.m., and reached Philipsburg, St. Maarten, at noon the next day.  We had another uneventful sail; I was starting to feel quite optimistic about the whole sailing business.  Once on shore, we walked to International Supply, where we surprised Sunnie.  We also saw James, Sunnie’s boyfriend (and future husband).  James’ parents owned a vacation home on St. Maarten.  While Sunnie and James usually lived on Sunnie’s houseboat, they were spending that week with Dorothy and Lynn at the villa in the hills.  Sunnie called Dorothy to say she was bringing us home for dinner, and James invited us to stay for the night.

When the family wasn’t using the villa, it was rented out to vacationers.  The house came with two cars, and a maid.  It was high in the hills, overlooking vistas of bays and ocean, with the island of St. Barths visible off to the south.  The house was beautiful – a long, one-story building, with ocean views from the living room, kitchen, and the three bedrooms.  A balcony ran along the ocean side of the living room.  A swimming pool was located in a secluded garden area off the end of the house.  Backing the living room and the hall was an outdoor shuffleboard court.  There was an indoor rec room with billiard table, and a cupboard full of games.  The living room had a stereo, a record collection, and four large bookcases filled with a variety of reading material.  All the rooms were furnished in rattan and bamboo.  There was an oriental rug in the living room, and ceiling fans in all the rooms.  The kitchen was decorated with three-foot tall ceramic animals perched above the cupboards. 

Fabric postcard, 4" x 6", Hand-painted silk, by Jean Baardsen

Dorothy and Lynn wanted to see Tropic Moon, so we invited them for lunch the next day.  Sunnie, who was bopping back and forth from work to provide chauffeur service, took us to the dock in the morning.  Dorothy and Lynn liked our boat, but the very (very!) gentle rocking at anchor bothered them.  They both got queasy, but wanted to stick it out – and even managed to eat lunch.  They were very glad to get back on shore again. 

Dorothy’s comment to me:  “I can’t believe how well you’ve adjusted to this life!”
Loose translation:  I can’t understand how you can live like this!  (So much for a good report to my Mom…)

Sunnie showed up, and we barreled back through the hills to the house.  Ed had decided to stay on Tropic Moon, but I wanted another night in the villa.  Sunnie dropped us off at the house and went back to work.  Dorothy and Lynn napped through the afternoon to sleep off their seasickness, and I had the house to myself.  I accepted a delivery of chlorine for the swimming pool, did the breakfast dishes, which we’d left in the sink, then stretched out on a chaise lounge.  I chose a John D. MacDonald mystery from the bookshelf.  One could really get used to living like that all the time.

(2017 Update:  Bill (3) turns 40 this year.  He and his wife, Cate, have two young sons.  Happily, neither of the boys is named Bill.)

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