Grand Bahama in 1934

Grand Bahama has been a sort of lost child of the colony and only in the 1880's did it begin to attract any permanent settlement. Intermittently it has had lumber operations, for the last few years its dusky inhabitants have been engaged in fishing, turtling and sponging. Traveling up Hawksbill Creek among the mangroves is a picturesque adventure, but getting ashore thereabouts has its difficulties.

In town I met a little man whose pockets were as full of blueprints as his head was full of plans.
"Palm Beach sixty miles away - cheap liquor here - only twenty minutes by aeroplane; how about building a Casino and drawing the Palm Beachers who wish for a real exclusiveness?"/

Well, how about it? I could not say. The place seemed to possess the great advantage of being near to the home of the plutocrat - with only a stream between, so to speak. I heard from time to time tales of Baron this, or Count that, of the Duke of Hither-and-Yon and the Honorable Whoosit, yet it seemed evident that no money was available. So Palm Beach still exists without its would-be competitor.

What my promoter friend is doing now I do not know. He had some other sort of title to a handsome island - if nothing else. The place has loveliness, charm, and all of the characteristic features of the Bahamian sub-tropical scene.

No matter how gloomy the promoter's day may be there is always a bright spot somewhere. I found one at West end, where were moored a fleet of grey, low-hulled motor-engined cruisers and some half dozen aeroplanes. Nearby an old Cambridge graduate dealt in the stuff that made "Pussyfoot" Johnson a hero. Here was a spot to tie to, good food, ice, fresh meat, the very best of wines; and for companionship, the world's latest company of the "lost legion." The mangrove bush furnished excellent shooting and just offshore one found the best of fishing. A world outside of the usual world of men, where the conversation was about air trips that paid - or concerned the best engined planes, the fastest marine engines. Englishmen and Americans vied with each other in boosting their respective motors and wings./

There were, of course, big gaps in the conversation: "Big Nick" or "Red" had been "copped" and "sent down" for a "stretch." There was a tale of the bootlegger who had towed a coastguard cutter through a dirty sea and had the ship safely inside the Miami bar, only to be held up by the man he had saved. This Samaritan was "sent down" for seven years, so the story ran. The liquor we drank was liqueur Scotch of a kind connoisseurs in my Montreal club took as cannily as if it were an old brandy. With these men it was "In the sky today and in the pen tomorrow, but there's a kick to it." That was the expression of an ex-R.A.F. who had come in the day before with his wings riddled with bullets that had followed him from the Everglades back of Miami. Another three trips and he would quit and go back to Canada; he had had enough. Many nationalities were represented in this collection of game birdmen who so recently had been heroes in a war.

The liquor stocks at this port of missing men represented hundreds of thousands of dollars; to guard them the British law provided one Commissioner and one native policeman. Outside the harbour was a pitching and heaving thirty-footer with a gun forward and a big number on her hull plates; representative of the other side's idea of maintaining law and order. Tossing about in a small dinghy near her and jollying her exasperated crew was a "Conchie Joe,"/ fishing for food as well as for the information which replies to his sallies might contain. Of course, the cutter was inside territorial waters but she was "under way," so there was no breach of international relations. Unless perchance one counts "Conchie Joe's" farewell to his visitor: "'Bye, you sons of Beelzebub (or something like it)! Come again."

The answer from the revenue cutter was so fiery that the propeller shaft almost developed a hot bearing. The descendant of the buccaneers thumbed a stumpy salute from his nose; so, too, his ancestors may have behaved in the days of blockade running into Wilmington.
Some day it is said a great tale concerning these goings-on will be written by an elegant young gentleman of the colony who left school suddenly ten years ago to enter the "coastwise trade."

Bell, Major H. MacLachlan. Bahamas: Isles of June. New York: Robert M. McBride & Co., 1934. p. 130 -133