'Love Train' Leaves the Station. Grand Cay's Bossman Is Dead
Bahamian Rosie Curry Succumbs to Cancer
The timeless message of “Love Train” is that if we pull together, we can make things better for everyone.
—Walter Williams of the O’Jays, referring to their 1972 hit song.
Grand Cay makes you feel like you’re at the end of the world. The northernmost Bahamian settlement in the Abacos is a mile-long island with a population of 400, engaged mostly in fishing.
For decades this tiny place was ruled by a benevolent dictator named Roosevelt “Rosie” Curry. Rosie, whose VHF handle was “Love Train,” died of cancer in a Florida hospital on February 12. A memorial was to have been held on Grand Cay last Saturday.
I somehow missed the news of his passing, or you would have been reading this story sooner.
When I first visited Grand Cay in 1992, nearby Walkers Cay was a billfishing center that employed many of Curry’s constituents. The Walker’s marina and facilities were destroyed in back-to-back hurricanes in 2004.
Arriving again couple years later, I made the mistake of bringing my boat up to the dock at Grand Cay, unaware that even though Walker’s was in ruins, Customs & Immigration were still at an office at the end of the runway on Walkers. By the time we had arrived at Grand, it was after hours.
“What do I do now?”
“You are now cleared-in,” Rosie replied.
“You are cleared-in. Now take down that Q-flag,” he ordered.
This was before Rosie built the marina that’s there now, but we enjoyed an evening of Rosie’s Place, with its conch, lobster tail and grilled grouper combo meals. Back then, they served turtle as well, and the wounded creatures were stored outside the front door, upside down in their shells, kept “on the hoof” for slaughter.
Rosie was credited with saving the Grand Cay after the catastrophic loss of its biggest employer and economic engine. Only now is Walkers being restored to its former glory. Besides a restaurant, Rosie’s Place incorporated a marina, gas dock, grocery story, hardware store, liquor store and t-shirt shop,
There’s a great story about the theft of some rods from a boat visiting Walkers during a tournament. The marina management didn’t call the police. They called Rosie. It took a few days, but this…as recalled by a commenter on the Hull Truth forum:
Then one morning the crew of the affected boat crew came down the hill and noticed something strange. The boat was right where it was supposed to be, but the rod holders, which were empty when they toted their borrowed tackle to their room, were full of Penn International rod and reels—their rods and reels, which they were resigned to never see again!
The Harbormaster didn't have a clue how, only guessing that Rosie had come through. When the affected crew rode over to Grand to talk to Rosie, he denied all knowledge of how it was resolved, but did advise them to not ask any questions and to enjoy the rest of their trip.
Another Hull Truther recalled Rosie's ordinary kindness and hospitality:
I asked him one morning if there was any coffee going anywhere. He said, "Coffee? Hmm...let me see what I can do" I go back to the cottage, eat breakfast and get dressed. Some 15 minutes or so had passed and I walked out toward the boats and there it was. On the wooden table by the dock was a 3/4 full pot of coffee, some sugar and powder creamer and a handful of small styrofoam cups. Awfully caring man right there. I often wondered if he just went into someone's house and told them he was taking their coffee and would be back shortly.
Rosie was also a bonafide political leader, having served as Abaco chief counselor for many years, representing the Free National Movement party. According to his obituary in the Bahamas Free Press, Rosie was among 14 Local Government officials who attended the 7th biannual conference of the Commonwealth Local Government Forum in Kampala, Uganda in 2013.
I’m planning to return to Grand Cay. “Old Florida” is rapidly disappearing. To some degree, the same thing is happening to the Bahamas. Grand Cay was always, as one sportfisherman said, “not commercial, kinda gritty and rough.” It’s also a welcoming place, surely Rosie Curry’s greatest legacy.
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After we left Grand Cay, we formally cleared in at Spanish Cay, also in the Abacos.