Home > 1, Music > Book 4. Little Ellie… Book 2. Nelteburg Bay, Book 1. Saved By The Belle

Book 4. Little Ellie… Book 2. Nelteburg Bay, Book 1. Saved By The Belle

Book 4. Little Ellie…

It’s Sunday again and after a Sunday morning meeting, I will go up and over Crown Mountain to see m’ lady Sula.

Tuts made a special batch of the Kalaloo for her (aside from the batch that he made for the concert) and we took it up to her this past Monday, I also gave her the “Sweet t’ing” that I brought for her, two bags of Hershey’s kisses, (actually one of kisses and one of kisses and hugs).

 I say “Ah bring sum sweet ting fo yo Sula, ah bring sum sweet ting fo yo” and she says “Oh yeah? Wha ee tis eh? wha ee tis? I say “Silvah tops” and she says Oh Yeah? Tank yu man, tank yu Scott”. And if it were sixty years ago, she would have bent over, picked me up and put me on her lap (she would have been forty eight and I would have been four) and given me a big hug and perhaps a kiss on the golden haired noggin. As it is, I bend over and give her a kiss on her silver snowy plaits.

 It’s sort of an odd line of thought about one’s girlfriend, however it does relate to why every one including her sons call her “Aunt Sula” She has perhaps raised as many children as the old woman in the shoe, and treated them better by far. She is loved near and wide for that part of her history, rather, herstory.

Sula was the “abso perfecto” beautiful dusky mountain maiden, fleet of foot and as elusive as a midnight shadow. She was as “slight” as a willow fawn and every bit as wild as the wind. Still, she gave birth to two sons, and survived typhoid Fever and super toxemia and Lord only knows what other Latin lingo conditions responsible for two still births.

 Sula has always loved having little ones to hug and hold and she has hugged and held a lot. However, “bucu” years ago,  long before we met, (when Sula may have been a lassie in her sixties,) I came upon a lonesome little grave  in the tangled vines and old ruins of Nelteburg Bay, and wondered sadly who had lost their little sweetheart in the realm of the why, once so long ago.

 It turned out that the little grave was well known to Sula, it was that of a little one left in the care of Sula’s mother “Mama Tally.”  Sula says that Eleanor, (called Ellie) was the most well behaved and beautiful little girl any of them  had ever seen. Ellie’s mother (Sula’s sister, and Mama Tally’s daughter Lenore) sent her back to Nelteburg from New York when she was two years old, for Mama Tally and Tan Tan and Sula to look after. (In those days, that “sending back” kind of thing happened all the time.)

 One day little Ellie running happily through the kitchen, tripped and tipped a huge tin of boiling water off a coal pot, scalding herself. Mama Tally ran with the little one in her arms all the way to town, but Little Ellie died two days later. They buried her there by the bay in 1932…though it was seventy eight years ago,  I still feel the incomprehensible sadness of it  as she speaks.  Sula will never get over how beautiful and joyful she was and the God awful hurt she suffered..and the missing of her.

Another odd line of thought perhaps but these lines are all part of a portrait of Sula..she IS all that and more. God willing she will be one hundred and eight in April and I will be able to come back home and sing for her at her Birthday Party, as I did last year.

 Sula and I will be talking about the fact that I need to turn right around and go back to the states within the next week or two. I have to finish recording the spoken pieces, and we need to mix, master and print the official recording of “The Virgin Islands Songs” so that it is available as soon as possible. I have just arranged for Tut’s daughter Jarmaine to bring her camera and come with me next Sunday when we will try to film/document a little bit of the grace of Sula, for posterity.

 Book 2. Nelteburg Bay

Nelteburg Bay is one of those places that you just can’t get out of your mind, it is not primarily a beach for bathing, but rather a place for living and dying.

It is most certainly (if such things exist) haunted, and if that is the case they are haunting up a storm down there. And so many kinds and types of Jumbies, not the placid checkers playing ones, or the green fanged vengeful people eaters ones either, but mournful, moaning wind blown displaced souls with no way out.

 About two thousand feet beyond the surf line is a little Island perhaps a mile long that lies perpendicular to the shore, “Inner Brass” it’s called, and strong currents sweep through the channel between Neltiburg and Inner Brass with a vengeance. The sort of currents that create dramatic wild water vistas, a sort of hopeless fear settles upon you when you look out there and imagine your self in that water. Within moments you realize (even in your day dream) that you are swimming for your life and that if you somehow ever, ever manage to get back to solid earth again you will never never go back in the water at Nelteburg Bay.

 It’s a dramatic and powerful place. The exact kind of place that (when you are young and “foolishly” fearless,) invites you to the foolhardiest kinds of bravado, and lord help you if there is a pretty girls watching.

That kind of crazy Nelteburg bravado is what fueled my thinking early one sousy New York City morning, when I thought it was a great idea to dive into the East River and swim across to Welfare Island to see and be where my poor orphan young girl grandmother Sally, had died in the TB Hospital there. (In turn, leaving my poor father Frankie, an orfink laddie himself.)

 It could only have been a well organized coalition/delegation of my own yet unborn children, (not wishing to be orphaned before birth) that intervened that morning, because all the prerequisites were in place, for another tragic, pathetic, vainglorious East River drama featuring a “stale-drunk” drizzlebrained alcoholic dream boy from the Islands and a beautiful young girl that he hoped to impress. (although the girl was already impressed beyond any reason and needed not one iota more… in fact fifty good smooches would have suited her just fine) I guess fellows susceptible to Nelteburg bravado just never know when enough is enough, or perhaps even more accurately, just never know.

 Nevertheless I know this, Nelteburg, it’s history and the people there are really something, and I am grateful for the many times that I have been allowed to be a part of their reality, and I pray this,  “God please bless little Ellie by the bay”.

 Book 1. Saved By The Belle

 So after spending hours on the internet yesterday, reading reams of “digidots” by “experts at odds on everything”, I did what reasonable people (who  are no longer interested in getting juiced and wrecking a bar) in the islands do. I went to Lindburgh Bay, to “sit beneath the seagrape tree,  in raptured contemplation of the deep blue sea” yep.

 While thus engaged, a hefty shapely maiden caught my eye, actually my ear because she was engaged in conversation with quite a pale older fellow thirty feet away, up to his chin in the water. He was saying “Yes, they all came to my ordination”, and then, “Did you bring a towel?” she said no she hadn’t and then got up off the sand and walked (like she was in some kind of voodoo trance) fully clothed right into the water . Now, walking voodoo tranced into the water fully clothed is nothing new to me, having done that many times myself, however in her case, I must confess that I felt a small jolt of anticipation when I realized the vision she would present when she came out of the water fully soaked.

 It then occurred to me that there is surely a very special corner of hell reserved especially for poor wretches like me, who dare to lust after the secret concubine girlfriend of a priest. And THEN it occurred to me that if that is the case, they will be ferrying me from special corner of hell to special corner of hell all night and day for ever and a weekend for all the “special corner ” offenses (see my upcoming book “The True Confessions of Don Wha?” that I am guil… ah…have been accused of. (Just joking Daughters, just joking, Grand Daughters)

 My attention was drawn away from the impending presentation of sparkling shining feminine pulchritudals, by the sight of an even more shapely and swollen delicacy that was mine for the having. A promise of instant gratification with much more to follow. The most perfectly purple seagrape that I’ve seen in over half a hundred years. Beautiful, sweet, tart and tangy.and no rebound, hangover or promise of eternal perdition.

It’s amazing how a fellow changes over time; this must be another benefit of the instant wisdom and sanctification that occurs when a boy turns sixty four. Giving up a soaking wet salty wench for a sweet little seagrape…interesting.

 I’m looking out to sea at the waves breaking against the reef, approximately – in fact exactly, where I was drifting in a broken masted eight foot sailing dinghy  forty nine years ago, about to be flung upon that  very same conglomeration of razor sharp rocks out there known as “The Dolphins” Yes, and had to be rescued by the Carnival Queen, and her consort (Ok, ok, he was Eddie Elkins, the Carnival King, my friend, and a very fine fellow on top of that, but man O man what a pretty Queen Ms. Digna Feliciano was) and how embarrassing for me to have her see me as one in a boat full of hysterical red-faced fourteen and fifteen year old teenage boys begging and pleading for help.

 It’s a good thing that the special boat ride that was part of her prize for being the purdiest and most perky and engaging and (did I mention purdiest?) teenage girl on this island earth, happened to be passing our misery just in the nick of time, or you might be reading “The Is That Never Was” or “Backstage With Barry Manilow” instead. (By the way, I do know Barry Manilow AND Bette Midler, both, each and separately, but that’s two or three other stories. (See my upcoming tell all “Confessions Of a Guy That Knows People” or “Wha? Wha?d I Do? Wha?d I say?”)

 Meanwhile back at razor sharp “The Dolphins”, When I realized that we were going to be saved and bound for the future rather than to be sliced and diced on the bottom of the sea, I immediately struck a very cool pose with one arm and leg wrapped around the the cockamamie crooked mast and the other hand shading my eyes, scanning the horizon like any good Captain, looking for interesting ports and possibilities.

I can’t say for sure how completely the Queen was able to appreciate my cool, but the King noticed and appeared to be quite amused, in fact he laughed quite a bit. That’s the problem with  dudes.

 Anyway, they towed us back into Honey Moon Bay on Water Island, the home port for “the Dingy of a thousand Humiliations” and we went back to the “Free Sunday Beach Buffet” table laid out by “The Water Island Hotel” which is why we were there in the first place.

That may also be the day that I ate a world record “twenty seven brownies” and the Morciglio Brothers had a heck of a fight on the beach.

For some reason they discontinued the “Free Sunday Beach Buffet” shortly after that, which was too bad, because us Bournefield Boys could eat a whole weeks worth of food in one sitting, that buffet was an important, all but essential dietary supplement for me.  Boy it was fun while it lasted, except for the almost shipwrecked part.

 Well look at that, two hours have passed, I saw a vision of sparkling pulchritudes, had a head full of imaginings, a bellyful of Seagrapes, and a  good laugh at myself.. Now back to business.

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