Fig Tree main page
Offbeat news and upbeat thoughts
from Dunmore Town
Harbour Island, Bahamas
In this issue:
Big Briland Bang: | A
Bit of Junkanoo History | Shops, Restaurants
Expand | Ask Miss Ling
Golf Cart Gridlock | WWW.
Internet Access Ideas for Library, Community
| Briland Bests Y2K | Island
How to subscribe | Writers
Wanted | Who are we?
Big Briland Bang: Junkanoo an' Oder Tings
Harbour Island greeted the Year 2000 with a fantastic, professional
fireworks and two-night party that began New Year's Eve. One of
the largest crowds in recent memory gathered in perfect weather
as seemingly everyone from North Eleuthera joined the locals and
usual holiday visitors.
The festivities began on Boxing Day (December 26) with the drums
and whistles of a Junkanoo rushout and an island party on the waterfront.
As a backdrop, a 16-foot Christmas tree at the site of the dearly
departed Fig Tree formed the centerpiece for street decorations
from all over the world.
On New Year's Eve at sunset, the band from the Church of God passed
through the village with the congregation following on the way to
church, with the Boys Brigade band playing and marchers waving glow
sticks to the beat. Church services were held at all of the Island
churches that night.
Brilanders started gathering for their New Year's Eve on Bay Street
in front of the Harbour Lounge about 10 p.m., with James Major on
guitar inside the Lounge. Beside the Christmas tree was a count-down
clock to the New Year, lit by giant halogen lights that brought
a daylight glow and encouraged picture taking in front of the clock.
The Hogsheads - Eardley Mackey, Gregory Higgs, Lorenz Hutchinson,
Wade Stewart- got the crowd moving to their island beat as they
started to play under the ghost of the Fig Tree past. Lots of dancing
in the vibrating street, thanks to Briland locals and visitors and
many friends from throughout North Eleuthera. The dress for the
occasion, from T-shirts and bare feet to "veddy formal" to men in
skirts with tuxedo-tops was classic Briland, with several folks
bejeweled in glow stick jewelry and millennium hats and Y2000 glasses.
| Fireworks and Champagne
The midnight fireworks over the harbor was beautiful, and cemented
the incredible camaraderie. Champagne flowed freely for hours, even
after Harbour Lounge closed its doors and made Briland Booze's improvised
bar under the tree the destination of choice. Taylor Farnum of Dunmore
Cottage noted, "No need to worry about a date for the party. Harbour
Island is the party!" At the stroke of midnight, the band transitioned
to a sound machine, and sounds of 'Celebrate' filled the street as
everyone sang in unison at the top of their lungs. In fact, the community
loved the song so much, that the group decided to play it one more
"No need to worry about a date
for the party. Harbour Island is the party!"
Midnight services at St. John's Anglican Church, Blessed Sacrament
Roman Catholic Church, Church of God, Church of God of Prophecy, and
the Wesleyan Methodist Church ended just as the new year began, and
the street swelled with more celebrations that rocked Dunmore Town
until the wee hours. A few diehard fans stayed up around... ahem...
unauthorized bonfires on the beach to watch the first sun rise of
the Year 2000.
Fundraising for the New Year's Eve festivities was coordinated by
Jill Curry Lorey of Dunmore Deli and Briland Booze and Tracy Barry
of The Landing. "We wanted to have a central celebration that everyone
could come together for and enjoy," notes Jill. Several thousand
dollars were raised from individuals and businesses to make the
"Everyone pitched in to help," says Tracy. "Dunmore Deli and Briland
Booze collected checks from a lot of great people, Valentine's offered
housing to the three fireworks operators from Nassau, and the local
clubs designed some terrific Junkanoo floats. And once again, the
old Fig Tree was the top meeting place for the island."
| New Year's Day night:
Junkanoo the sequel
Never mind the overindulgences of the night before, an island fashion
show launched New Year's Day evening with Island beauties sporting
swimsuits and outfits made from authentic Bahamian material from the
shop of Linda Lewis. An Island dinner of chicken and barbecue, peas
and rice, slaw, macaroni and cheese was served under the remnants
of the fig tree. More dancing in the street ensued with a DJ, as everyone
waited for the arrival of the Junkanoo rushing bands. Whistles, cow
bells, goatskin drums, and brass instruments set the beat, and the
costumes, fit for the Rose Bowl parade, were wow!!!
Despite the September onslaught of Floyd, during which many of the
painstakingly-prepared crepe paper costumes were destroyed or damaged,
the Junkanoo display went on with all of its brilliant flare and fantasy.
The Junkanoo rushers made their rhythmically powerful pass down Bay
Street twice before an emotional crowd of grooving Brilanders. The
evening ended with...yes..more dancing in the street!!! ¨
| A bit
of Junkanoo history
The Junkanoo celebration is unique to the Bahamas. In one version
of its history, according to local participant Franklyn Barry--who
also captains the Four Girls water taxi--the day originated among
17th century slaves from the tribe Jan-kan-oo who were given the day
off on Boxing Day and New Year's day. Originally celebrated with body
paint and the ringing of cow bells that had been used to summon the
tribe, the ritual grew until the first Junkanoo parade on Nassau's
Bay Street in 1801.
In late 1950 Erol Saunders brought the first Junkanoo to Briland.
Costumes evolved from crepe paper over cardboard with wire to the
current technique developed in the early 90's -- using aluminum tubing
to build a framework. This opened a vast range of possibilities for
costumes, "good enough for TV," as one onlooker said. At about the
same time whistles and drums were added to the cowbells to produce
that distinctive Junkanoo beat.
Harbour Island sports a friendly competition between two Junkanoo
groups of about 30 members each: the Zulus from the south end of the
Island ("up yonder") led by Duke Davis with Ryland Cash creating costumes,
and the Hilltop Rockers from the north end of the island ("down yonder")
led by Lamont Mather.
Zulu member Franklyn Barry pronounced this year's costumes "Breathtaking...
Being the year 2000 gave the guys more of a push to work harder,"
he says, "and we've never had a better show." The storage facility
for the Zulu's elaborate costumes was heavily damaged by Floyd, and
they are raising funds to rebuild.¨
Zulu member Franklyn Barry pronounced this year's costumes "Breathtaking.
Being the year 2000 gave the guys more of a push to work harder,"
he says, "and we've never had a better show."
Shops, Restaurants Expand
This year's retail update witnesses two proprietors of Briland establishments
having to commute to work in exchange for no longer having customers
traipsing through their living rooms. Charles Carey of the Princess
Street Gallery has moved his artworks to the former Monty's Hardware
next door. He now has four times the gallery space, and his house
back to himself. And likewise, Gabriel Kennedy has moved her gift
shop from her home at Blue Rooster to a brand-new site across from
Meanwhile Harvey Roberts has opened a brand-new gallery of his popular
work on Bay Street, beside Bonefish Joe's and across from Miz Jacqueline's
Straw Work. And Arthur's Bakery has been totally remodeled with
snazzy curved glass display counters and new equipment in the kitchen.
Recent reports are that everything on display looks like it came
from Gourmet Magazine, and the frozen yogurt has to be experienced
to be believed. And just across the street Charlie's Town Center
Bar continues to pull in the rave reviews for its new look and feel.
Lovely holiday things--music from Sweet Emily, island-themed knick-knacks,
picture frames, and great children's books--were recently found
at the newly opened Dilly Dally across from Island Real Estate and
just beside Tip Top Store. Avery's Restaurant on Colebrooke Street
is a popular breakfasting hangout for early risers and a.m. SCUBA
divers. Juanita Percentie at Tingum Village is putting the finishing
touches on her brand-new boutique. And the retail expansion continues
along the waterfront, with the announcement that Cookie and Cathy
Ross' former home between Harbour Lounge and Sugar Mill will now
offer store space on both floors. The straw markets beside the Fig
Tree continue to add new items to their catalog, with Miz Curline
Higgs showcasing new beaded jewelry designs and Vivreen and Eva
Mather offering recently-expanded space for their traditional straw
Cuisine-wise, to the north, Richard and LaVaughn Percentie continue
to amaze with their original take on scored conch and conch salad.
Wade Higgs has opened the north bay complement to his wife Joy's
popular main dock 'Sea View Take-Away,' offering fried chicken and
hamburgers at the foot of what remains of the PLP dock. Leonard
'Big Red' Carey's supply store up Narrows Hill offers a great selection
of groceries for that end of the island. Word on the street has
the PLP dock being first on the list for renovation, which is good
news for all of the island's fishermen, conch and curb-gatherers
who have been without a commercial home since the storm. ¨
Ask Miss Ling
by Miss Elodie Ling
U.K.-born-but-Brilander-forever teacher Miss Elodie Ling was
honored last year by the Bahamas Ministry of Education for her outstanding
contributions to the Island over a lifetime of service to its school-age
children. This month, she begins a regular column to share with
us from her observations and her four score years of wisdom. Your
questions on manners, punctuation, or the history of Briland are
I have been a resident here in the Bahamas for the last 36 years.
I do not entertain a television or telephone. My information about
the outside world comes from London in the form of The Manchester
Guard Weekly and a publication called "The Week."
I will begin with the aftermath of Hurricane Floyd. The evidence
of the damage done last September was most evident on the two coasts
of Briland. At the same time the signs of the Community bouncing
back are also most evident at the beach and on Bay Street. As I
write this in mid-December, on the ocean side, men and machinery
are busy restoring the dunes and replanting. On Bay Street the road
between the Straw Market or Government dock and Fort Point is well
under construction. The Landing (Hotel and Restaurant) one of the
Island's most significant landmarks, whilst sustaining some of the
worst damage is now, thanks to the benefits of insurance, undergoing
an almost total transformation to restore it to beyond its former
beauty, and has continued to serve its excellent cuisine throughout.
Clemens and Nancy Von Murvelz (German) of Pink Sands Club arrived
two days after Floyd, and set about a recovery programme, and have
been open and busy since the beginning of the season. All the rains
at the end of the Summer have helped to restore the Island's greenery
both wild and in the gardens.
Many of you may have met me, Elodie J. Ling. I have been teaching
here since 1963, since finding the Island on a spring break in '62
from The Bird school, a private institution for girls in Orange,
New Jersey. Coming by way of the Italia -- a ship from New York
to Nassau -- and further by mailboat to Harbour Island. The Principal
had 120 children to himself, so I offered my services to him for
the following September. Much to my surprise I was on my own. Mr.
Colin Wilde came from Bermuda to be Principal. A piece of wood down
the middle of the one room separated 60 children age 5-10 and 60
The Community gave a banquet for me recently, with many exciting
speeches, singing and dancing.
| Church of England Abbot
Colin Tatem recently noted in the Nassau Guardian: "The Dunmore Town
Harbour Island walking tour, which highlighted Loyalist buildings
including St. John's Anglican Church, now celebrating 241 years this
December,-- one of the oldest churches in the Bahamas, and the birthplace
of Sir George S. Roberts, the first President of the Senate -- was
both enjoyable and informative. But the most memorable part of the
day was the hour spent chatting with Miss Elodie Ling at the Sir George
S. Roberts Memorial Library. Miss Ling is a charming, very spiritual,
soft spoken person, who has mastered the art of conversation in this
age of computerization, but who is equally at ease sitting
quietly amidst her books and photographs and paintings. She has a
wealth of information in her God-given memory banks. A teacher, Miss
Ling is a lady well past retirement age, who in addition to serving
as Librarian and local historian, tutors Haitian speaking students
at the Library. She is also a staunch member of St. John's Church.
This kindly lady, an everyday hero, has dedicated more than half a
century to the development of impressionable young minds."
Letters and questions for Miss Ling can be forwarded to her at the
Briland Modem, via e-mail at
Miss Ling is a charming, very
spiritual, soft spoken person, who has mastered the art of conversation
in this age of computeriz-ation, but who is equally at ease
sitting quietly amidst her books and photographs and paintings.
She has a wealth of information in her God-given memory banks.
Our First Editorial: Golf Cart Gridlock
Harbour Island saw its first traffic jams as the larger-than-normal
crowds over New Year's made heavy use of golf carts, including the
requisite careless driving and thoughtless parking. Some creative
drivers even left carts double-parked at key intersections requiring
some impromptu "towing" (read: shove the cart into neutral and push
it out of the way!) on the part of the affected islanders. Traffic
jams are also a recent fact of life at the government dock for the
daily arrival of the Bo Hengy fast ferry, with everyone trying to
position their cars, bikes, carts, or trucks as close to the ferry
as possible. Some interesting gridlock results on a regular basis,
with some locals wondering whether local police will have to step
in to moderate the situation.
One of the main charms of Briland is its slower pace. To fully appreciate
the beauty of Harbour Island and to help preserve its pristine air,
please consider using golf carts, cars, or trucks only when it's
very hot or there are heavy things to carry. (Bicycles are an amazing
invention. See Michael's Cycles for more information.) And please
drive and park responsibly. The roads have never been that wide
... and it has also been interesting to note the difference in air
quality down at the harbour after the boat's just come in. We're
only three miles long and a half-mile wide, and motorized vehicles
really do have an impact.
Gone fishing --
Dunmore Grouper, travelling editor
With speedy graphics and a far-reaching site plan, WWW.Briland.com,
the mother site to this journal, was given a "soft launch" on the
Internet December 23 by publisher Kimberly King-Burns. And even with
just a few of the links in place, you could already see what a comprehensive
undertaking the website is. Every week since has brought something
new as Briland.com blossoms with a full range of information and links
about Harbour Island.
"We are designing this site to serve the local community," says Kimberly.
"Over the coming weeks and months, it will continue to grow and to
encourage a flowering of creative talent by local writers and artists."
Check it out. ¨
Access Ideas for Library,
Community, & School
A program is underway to gauge interest in providing computer
and Internet access support to Harbour Island's All-Age School, the
Sir George S. Roberts Public Library, and several establishments throughout
the Harbour Island community. While the Briland Modem Relief Fund
development staff has been approaching software and hardware companies
with such an effort, key private members of the island community have
also weighed in with their thoughts. All such coordination suggestions
are welcomed, and can be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
or faxed to 1 818 761 0024 or 1 800 861 4606.
The following note that was posted on Briland Modem shows how one
Northern Californian was moved to offer computer support by his love
of the Island library:
The Harbour Island Library is probably my favorite place on
the island, if not in the Bahamas. Sitting on the front steps I
am reminded of what history the place has; it's also a great place
to watch all the beautiful Bahamian people stroll by. Inside the
building, the familiar smells of early learning send me back to
kindergarten. The wonderful art exhibits rival many I've seen in
our neighboring >
Highlights from Briland.com
I've caught striped bass and bluefish in New York waters all
my life, and I doubt if anyone will argue they are exciting, powerful
fish. Definitely a tough act to follow. But bonefish are different...
Somewhere through their evolution they redefined the word speed.
These are the words of former Romora timeshare holder
Ken Smith as he tells the exciting tale of catching his first bonefish
with the help of local waterman Stanley Johnson. You can read the
full essay on Briland.com at the link for Marinas and Water sports.
| San Francisco. The
lack of a librarian or a door lock reminds me of what a beautiful
place Harbour Island is and how I wish I could sail there and then
burn my ship. I know there are many who feel as I do about this enchanted,
It is my sincere interest to do whatever I can to help the library.
By help, I do not mean Westernize, or to demean what the place means
to me by updating it. Rather, I wish I knew what the users of the
library itself wanted or needed. I know there is no computer in the
library, and with the internet, the children of Harbour Island could
visit the world, if only electronically. The people of the island
could use it for letter writing, bookkeeping, record storage, etc.
Whatever they needed. In The Bay Area of California, with Silicon
Valley right next door, it is difficult to see how we ever got by
-- Jim Reno, lover of all things Bahamian
Fig Tree 7
New Year's Day memorial services were held for Deborah Johnson,
daughter of Bonefish Stanley of Harbour Island, who passed away at
the age of 37. In other December passages, Richard Malcolm, former
owner of the venerable Pink Sands Club, was awarded the Order of the
British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II, as thanks for his contributions
to the Bahamian tourism industry. Sadly, Richard's father Allen, nephew
of Pink Sands founder Herbert Malcolm, 88, passed away on Harbour
Island on January 12. Services will be held January 22 at the Methodist
Church. Our condolences to the bereaved families.
As of mid-January, residents report all phones in excellent working
order. The Princess Street Art Gallery is now officially open, and
will soon launch its colorful website from the Briland Modem. The
beach looks terrific, many thanks to the efforts of Humphrey Percentie,
Pat Barry, and their staff. ¨
No Problem, Mon
Brilanders generally showed themselves to be smarter than the rest
of the world by giving a big yawn to all the talk about Y2K computer
glitches. Just before New Year's, it was reported on the Briland Modem
that the American Federal Aviation Administration had certified the
Eleuthera airport to be Y2K compliant, never mind the fact that it
doesn't even have a tower. An FAA official reached by Fig Tree in
Washington commented off the record that FAA had considered creating
a separate list for airports like Eleuthera that were "Y2K irrelevant."
But most Brilanders took the attitude expressed by one old-timer,
"If Floyd couldn't hurt us, nothing could."
Perhaps the most reassuring news during this period was that real
estate business on the island was never threatened. Long-time broker
Geraldine Albury of Island Real Estate was relieved to find that her
Smith Corona typewriter with its late-model correction tape was certified
Y2K compliant. In her wisdom, Geraldine has elected to wait out the
millennium and think about buying a computer after all the hubbub
dies down. Dozens of offers of tech support continue to pour in, as
the Briland Modem board looks forward to helping Island Real Estate
with its expected partial transition to the online world. ¨
can you get The Fig Tree?
We will release a fresh issue of Fig Tree in the first
week of each month. Here's how to get yours:
Back issues: are available free of charge
online from our archives.
The current issue: is available on-island
in hard copy and is also available via e-mail by subscription. In
other words, if you send us a check, you will receive a fresh copy
of Fig Tree each month without having to wait for it to be
posted to our free archives online at the end of the month. You
can subscribe by using our online subscription
form or by picking up a form at Island Services in Dunmore Town.
Cost: $120 per year, Special
discount: for permanent residents
of Briland, $12 per year
Proceeds will help us pay local writers, including students from the
All Age School, to encourage their talents. We'd also like to
donate computers -- and Internet access -- to the island library,
All-Age school, and a few community posts up and down yonder.
Coming next month:
Fast Ferry offers new way to arrive in style
A tribute to Briland's top students
Perhaps some local sports news
And surprises--especially for your editors
Your Byline Here: Writers Wanted
Hey, Hemingway used to fish the waters of the Bahamas
... which obviously inspired his phenomenal works. Let us
know about an island topic you've been yearning to write about.
Our "coconut notes" editorial team needs both articles for this
monthly journal Fig Tree as well as pieces to help us fill
out the remainder of the Briland.com web site.
So don't worry if you've never written before or if your spelling
is a bit rusty. Our editors will help you out. And one day soon,
we may even be able to offer pay. Just pick one of the topics below
or a similar one of your own. E-mail email@example.com
to get started, or send a fax toll free to 1 800 861 4606.
*Colorful Characters - Profiles of Big Red, Harvey Roberts,
Brother Gundy, et al.
*Music of Briland and the Bahamas - Ronnie & The Ramblers,
Peanuts Taylor, Funk Gang, Baha Men, Sweet Emily, Percentie Brothers
*The Briland Experience - Stories about "What Briland means
*Historical Tid-Bits - Perhaps including a "Did You Know?"
section edited by the students at the All-Age school.
*An Artist's Perspective - Regular reviews and interviews
with artists, with links to their sites so people can purchase pieces.
*Dive In! - Review of the hottest dive spots, interviews
with local dive masters.
*Briland Recipes Sales of the Briland Modem Cookbook
on and offline will support activities of the Briland Modem Relief
Fund, e.g., Internet access costs for the school, library, and various
*Libations - Interviews with island bartenders and recipes
for their special concoctions.
*Eco-Briland - Knowing and caring for Briland's flowers
*Coverage of special events: Bahamian Independence Day,
Regatta Review, Junkanoo, Goombay Festivals.
*Soon Come: Travel Tips - How to get to Harbour Island,
what to bring, taxes, currency, links to travel agents, special
deals, etc. Various languages as correspondents are available.
*Shopping - A list of all places to shop on Briland. Each
month features a different spot.
*Food/Where To Eat - A comprehensive list of restaurants
and cafes on the island, and a review of a different place each
*Hotels/Rentals - Where To Stay - A comprehensive list and
review of a different place each month.
*The Briland Eye/Picture This! - Photo gallery section,
*Bahamian Calendar - Available for sale in November, December,
Who are We?
The Fig Tree is published by Briland.com.
Publisher: Kimberly King-Burns
Editorial Review Board: Glenroy Aranha, Harvey Roberts, Kimberly
King-Burns, Sharon King
Editor: Teri Murphy
Editorial staff: Karol King-Black, Richard Haskell
Reporters: Glenroy Aranha, Elodie Ling, Harvey Roberts, Julie
Ullrich, Taylor Farnum, Lanie Haskell
Proofreader: Andy Murphy
Bar graphic from Karen Shader designs: