Over the past six weeks, Tom and I have received so many kind calls, emails, texts, Facebook and Whatsapp messages and more, inquiring about our little house by the ferry and how it fared during Hurricane Dorian. Until now, however, I just didn’t feel ready to talk about it.
Early on Sunday, September 1, as Dorian barreled northwest along the coast of Abaco toward Green Turtle Cay, we began hearing how severely Hope Town and Marsh Harbour had been hit. At that point, Tom and I made peace with the fact that Fish Hooks would likely be destroyed.
True story – one day last summer, I was talking to our gardener about our plans for the front yard at Fish Hooks. I pointed to the plant above. “You may as well take that one out,” I said. “It’s not terribly pretty. And it’s never, ever flowered.” Three days later? I came out one morning to find this! Needless to say, it stayed.
Yes, I know. We’ve got some of the world’s best beaches just a few minutes away. Still, I’d love to have a swimming pool at Fish Hooks. Sometimes you just want a quick, cool dip without the salty skin and sand-caked dog.
For a bunch of reasons, though, a full-sized swimming pool isn’t
practical for us. An above-ground pool would require constructing a
permanent concrete pad, while an in-ground pool would require major (and
expensive!) excavation of our solid-rock back yard. And don’t even get
me started on the hassle and cost of maintaining either one, especially
when we’re off the island.
But recently, I’ve discovered a much better option — stock tank pools. Am I the only one who’s never heard of them? All of a sudden, they’re everywhere on Pinterest and Instagram.
When we moved Fish Hooks cottage in 2014, it was kind of a big deal. We had to stop traffic on the one route out of town, and the local folks came by to watch. Our local newspaper, the Abaconian even covered the move.
Moving Day at Fish Hooks, January 2014
In past years, however, moving house was fairly common in the islands. Several older homes on Green Turtle Cay were moved short distances on rollers. A few, we’re told, were even floated to new destinations on the cay before being set in place.
But that’s nothing compared to the sorts of moves some former Green Turtle Cay residents made back in the mid-1800s.
A few days after Tom produced this video, we were rooting around in Fish Hooks‘ cellar, and guess what he uncovered…?
Yep, a marble! We don’t know for sure whether it dates back to the childhood meeting of my grandparents that Tom describes in the cellar video, but based on a little preliminary research into vintage marbles, it very well could.
Also, turns out that Tom and I may both have been wrong as to the origin of all those glass bottles beneath the house. Since I posted the cellar video, a number of local folks have told me that, in years gone by, Green Turtle Cay residents collected glass bottles for toting water from the communal spigot, storing kerosene for stoves and canning tomatoes.
The latter seemed a bit strange to me. After all, these narrow-necked bottles don’t seem particularly well-suited for canning. But sure enough, in reviewing notes I made of my grandmother’s childhood recollections, Pa Herman grew what she referred to as “bottling tomatoes,” and my uncle confirms that, indeed, Pa Herman and Ma May preserved tomatoes in glass bottles similar to those in the cellar.
As you can see in this latest entry in our Fish Hooks video diary, Oral, Jason and Gavin have made great progress in the past few days. “Moving day” is growing ever near. We expect it will be sometime next week, depending on the availability of the crane. Will keep you posted!
A huge thank you to my husband, Tom Walters, for all the hours he’s put into documenting the restoration of our little house by the ferry. No doubt these are videos we will treasure in the years to come.
There’s a lot of work being done underneath our little house by the ferry in preparation for the big move. Over the weekend, Tom explored the old cellar beneath Fish Hooks, and documented his discoveries for our restoration video diary.
Oral, Jason and Gavin are making terrific progress, and the house should be ready to move later this week or early next. We’ll post a move date as soon as it’s confirmed.
As you can see in the above video, our restoration of Fish Hooks is finally underway. First thing Monday, Tom and I met with Jason and Oral Bethel to finalize plans for the project.
Almost everything will proceed as originally planned, except for moving the house. Instead of jacking it up and rolling it back onto its new foundation, we’ve decided to use a huge crane to lift and move it. Not only will this result in less stress to the structure, but, as a bonus, it should shorten the move time considerably.
Work officially began Tuesday morning. By the time I arrived at the property that day, the location for the new foundation had been marked off. By mid-afternoon, most of the 12 holes into which the 16”x16” footings will fit had already been chiseled out of the rock.
I’ve been blogging less than I’d like over the past month or so, partly because of holiday commitments and partly because I’ve been helping a friend with a project which I hope to be able to share with you soon.
However, we arrived in Green Turtle Cay this past Friday, and I’m excited to get back to Little House by the Ferry and on to the restoration of Fish Hooks.
It was a month ago today that I took a deep breath and clicked the button that made Little House By The Ferry visible to the public. Since then, the blog has had more than 2,000 site visitors and 5,100+ page views, and I’ve received some very kind comments and lovely notes. As you can probably tell, Green Turtle Cay and Fish Hooks hold special places in my heart, and I love being able to share them with others.
A warm thank you to everyone who’s taken the time to visit, comment on or follow the blog. Your readership and feedback are much appreciated. I look forward to sharing more of our Green Turtle Cay adventures with you in the days ahead.
Recently, I spent a morning exploring the attic at Fish Hooks. Though my expedition revealed little of material worth, it uncovered many items that, in terms of family history, are priceless.
The attic (site of our future master bedroom)
I found at least four bed frames (reminders that this cozy cottage once housed a family of five), and a dining table and several other small tables that I’m told were hand-made by Pa Herman and my grandfather, Lionel Albury.
While I don’t know the origin of the wooden dining chairs I discovered, I do recall them from my childhood visits, and old photos show they’ve been in the family for nearly 70 years.
There’s a suitcase stuffed with sheets, towels and curtains, and though most are yellowed and crumbling, I’m hoping a few pieces may be salvageable.
Beneath a mismatched assortment of plates, cups and glasses, I came across a lovely (and seemingly complete) set of vintage Grindley English china.
I found a weathered old cutting board and rusty scales, likely used by Pa Herman to clean and weigh the fish he sold. And the collection of tools I discovered – saws, a hammer, a pick axe, a wood plane – were no doubt used to build this house.
Pa Herman’s scales
Among my favourite finds were a battered, dog-eared children’s “West Indian Reader,” twenty-five years’ worth of electric bill receipts dating back to the 1950s, and what I imagine was Ma May’s version of a junk drawer – a soup tureen filled with the miscellany of life: a single marble, half a dozen rusty keys, light bulbs, loose buttons, bobby pins, a red plastic toy rabbit and (no surprise) tiny weights and fish hooks.
West Indian Reader
Decades’ worth of electric receipts.
I couldn’t help but smile at the dozens of greeting cards sent to Pa Herman and Ma May by their children and, later, their grandchildren. Such simple and universal items, but sweet reminders of those who lived in and loved this house before us.
Greeting cards from the 1940s and 1950s.
Many of my attic discoveries are worn, rusted or beyond use. These, we’ll restore and display or donate to the Albert Lowe Museum.
Happily, other items, like the bed frames and Pa Herman’s tables, can definitely be reused. There’s a set of gorgeous mahogany bedposts that I hope we can incorporate into a four-poster bed, and a wooden settee which, with some spiffy new cushions, will fit perfectly in Fish Hooks’ tiny living room. Once repaired, those ancient wood dining chairs will find new life in our kitchen, and the galvanized buckets in which we kids used to bathe before the house had running water might make pretty planters or perhaps ice buckets.
But the slop buckets we used rather than trekking to the outhouse in the middle of the night? Those I can gladly live without.
Tom and I now have something we’ve wanted for years – my ancestral home in Green Turtle Cay, Bahamas. It’s a small cottage on the New Plymouth waterfront, located next to (where else?) the ferry dock.
This property has been in my family for nearly 100 years. Prior to September 1932, my great-grandparents Herman and May Curry and their three daughters lived in a large, two-story home on the property. It had four bedrooms, including two upstairs, each with large dormer windows.
Below the house was a stand-up cellar where Pa Herman cleaned fish. And, as was customary at the time, to protect against fire and provide relief from the heat, the dining room and kitchen were situated in a separate structure behind the main house.
Herman and May Curry’s house (far left) prior to 1932 (Photo courtesy of the Albert Lowe Museum)