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Offbeat news and upbeat thoughts from Dunmore Town
Harbour Island, Bahamas

Volume II
In this issue:
Big Briland Bang: | A Bit of Junkanoo History | Shops, Restaurants Expand | Ask Miss Ling
Golf Cart Gridlock | WWW. Debuts
Internet Access Ideas for Library, Community | Briland Bests Y2K | Island Passages
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 time!

"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.

Organizers pleased
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 event happen.

"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 Pigly Wigly.

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 classics.

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 welcome.

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.

My Story
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 age 10-14.

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 Debuts
With speedy graphics and a far-reaching site plan,, 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 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.

Internet 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 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
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 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, simple place.

 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 without computers.

-- Jim Reno, lover of all things Bahamian

Fig Tree 7
Island Passages
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.

Briland Bests Y2K:
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.
How 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 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 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 etc.

*The Briland Experience - Stories about "What Briland means to me."

*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 community centers.

*Libations - Interviews with island bartenders and recipes for their special concoctions.

*Eco-Briland - Knowing and caring for Briland's flowers and fauna.

*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 month.

*Hotels/Rentals - Where To Stay - A comprehensive list and review of a different place each month.

*The Briland Eye/Picture This! - Photo gallery section, updated monthly.

*Bahamian Calendar - Available for sale in November, December, January.

Who are We?
The Fig Tree is published by
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: