In the years before she passed away, I’d sit with my grandmother in the evenings. She’d rock back and forth in her creaky glider chair and reminisce about her childhood in Green Turtle Cay.
She’d talk about picking sea grapes and digging shells at Gillam Bay, cleaning conchs before school to feed the family’s hogs and farming watermelons on Black Sound with her father.
My grandmother told me about the day her six-year-old sister, Mirabelle, suddenly took ill and died, and about surviving the 1932 hurricane, which demolished her family’s home, along with most of the New Plymouth settlement.
Though she often couldn’t tell you what she’d had for breakfast that morning, she could describe – in surprising detail – events from many decades before. More than seventy years later, she could recite the full mailing address of Molly Mayberry, her British childhood pen pal.
Though my grandmother shared her memories informally, a number of her contemporaries have published their memoirs, creating a valuable source of historical information and providing fascinating insights into Abaco life in the early to mid-20th century.
Some of my favourite Abaco autobiographies include:
A Man of Many Firsts, by Green Turtle Cay’s Floyd Lowe (available at Curry’s Foods or the J.S. Johnson Insurance office in Green Turtle Cay.)
My Life – The Abaco Boy Story, by Marsh Harbour’s Jack Lowe (to order, email email@example.com or write to Jack directly at Box AB-20042, Marsh Harbour, Abaco)
I Wanted Wings: The Autobiography of Leonard M. Thompson, and Sea to Sky: From Island Boy to Flying Man, by Hope Town’s Leonard Maurice Thompson
Man-o-War, My Island Home, by Haziel L. Albury
Island Captain: The Memoirs of Earnest Dean by Sandy Point’s Captain Earnest Dean and Gary Woodcock
Out Island Doctor and My Castle in the Air by Evans W. Cottman. (Though Cottman wasn’t Bahamian, he was certainly a prominent figure in Abaco in the mid-1900s, and his memoirs offer a vivid glimpse into local life at the time.)
Most of these titles may be purchased at Green Turtle Cay’s Albert Lowe Museum, or at book and souvenir shops throughout the Bahamas. Outside of the Bahamas, many can be purchased on Amazon.
No doubt there are other Abaco autobiographies out there. If you know of any I’ve missed, or you have historic family stories or photographs you’d like to share, drop me a note. I’d love to hear from you.