It was hilly with an array of houses and quaint cottages clustered along the waterfront, painted in bright pastel colors with contrasting shutters, with a profusion of white roofs gleaming in the sunlight.
As the small ferry drew closer, an unexpected feeling came over me. Could this be where I was meant to be?
The next morning he walked me to the property along a footpath from town. It ran across the cove frontage through sea grape foliage, just wide enough for single file. When we reached the property, we were standing at the bottom of steps cut into the coral that led up to the hilltop, fifty feet higher. It was lined with stately palms with their fronds rustling softly in the light breeze. Hibiscus ranging from deep red to a pastel pink interspersed with bougainvillea blossoms in purple and orange proliferated on either side of the steps. Halfway up I was able to see the house through the overgrown foliage. Perched atop the hill, was a white two story red-roofed structure with a covered porch framed in three arches. I was awestruck. “What is the asking price, Hoppy?”
“It can be purchased for $150,000 including an old Oldsmobile 98 convertible and an outboard boat,” he responded.
I was beyond any pretense of feigning disinterest to bargain and said, “I’ll take it!”
Hoppy’s reaction was puzzling; he was troubled about something.
“I had told Mr. Stevenson that you were a good prospect for the purchase of his Briland Yacht Club. Selling you a different property will place me in a “rathah” difficult position,” he said.
Having no patience with this seemingly ludicrous protocol, I came up with an equally ridiculous and irreverent solution. I went to the Telecommunication office and sent myself a telegram with a fictitious sender name that I thought fitting for the occasion. It read:
CEASE NEGOTIATIONS BRILAND YACHT CLUB STOP SYNDICATE MAKING OTHER ARRANGEMENTS STOP
Charlie was actually a neighbor of mine on Long Island, NY, and I wanted an Italian name to go with “syndicate.” When I showed it to Hoppy he was greatly relieved. He could now remain “propah,” never mind that I was now perhaps not so proper. On my third day on the island I was in contract to be a landowner and I belonged!