Spanish Wells is a tiny island off the coast North Eluethera in the Bahamas. At the time, I remember reading Spanish Wells was supposed to be a spooky island with a closed German Menonite society of caucasian Bahamians. Of course, I was drawn to explore it and its people. I suppose it just goes to show that you can not believe everything you read. I found an honest, hard-working community, ready to share a story and a cup of tea. They have a movie theater, generate their own power and have the cleanest island I have ever seen. This year I had the good fortune to sit down with several of the natives of Spanish Wells including the Chief Counselor, Abner Pinder, for a little bit of life and philosophy.
We have our own web site. You can call up all the genealogies. Anyone on the island, you can just look them up. I didn’t even know mine was on there until someone told me about it. It has some pictures of people when they were young and handsome. And now they’re old and ugly, like me.
Devin Galaudet: How long has Spanish Wells been a settlement of the Bahamas?
AP: I think it’s sometime in the early 1700s, maybe before then. I’m not a history buff. I live for tomorrow. I can change, that's my motto. I can try to fix what could happen tomorrow. That’s the way I’ve always been. History was one of my were subjects. Geography, on the other hand, was one of my best because that was something I knew I was going to be using. History never meant anything to me. I’m not too anxious to find that someone in my past was a scoundrel. Why would I want to know that? If somebody else knows that then that’s up to them.
I’m looking around and I’m noticing that there are a lot of plaques all over your office in recognition of your service to the community.
They don’t mean anything. They can put all kinds of labels on people.
Jackie Gibson from Bahamas Tourism chimes in, “he’s just being modest.”
Don’t misunderstand me, they don't mean anything to me as far as making me any better [than someone else] because what I do in life. I don’t do for the awards. I do things in service for other people because I enjoy it. Those things [the plaques] come after the fact. Some people are thankful just like in the Bible. So that’s life. So my motto in life definitely is, to try and please the majority of the people. If you can please 75% of the people, you have accomplished a major thing in life, to me. If you please them all you’re not doing what is right. You have to be doing something wrong to please everybody because the crooks are out there and if your pleasing them. You must be doing something wrong. That’s reality
So what drives you to this noble aspiration?
My old man, I guess, is what drives me. From the time that I can remember when I was just a little boy I used to think he was crazy. He used to tell the way back then that there was nothing in life that gave you an inner satisfaction like doing something for somebody else. I thought there must be something wrong with my father. That can’t be right. But I found out for myself. There is not anything as great in life as helping another person "“ at least to me. The inner satisfaction and peace, there is nothing else that life can give you. And that’s the way that I’ve lived my life. For the last 25 years.
So is it fair to say that you’ve done a little rebelling from time to time?
AP: Oh yeah! When I was younger I was just like everybody else. When I was young, I sewed some wild oats. Doing things I shouldn’t have done probably. But the old adage “youth is wasted on the young” is true. Until most individuals reach 30 years old. They are not grown up. That’s the reality. You don’t know what you want out of life. And you don’t have your priorities sorted out until you reach 28 of 30 years old. Of course, this is not true for everybody I have met people who are 50 and he still working on it. It all depends on different individuals. I’ve tried. I guess the facts speak for themselves. We have elections coming up but nobody wants to run against the seven who are currently helping. Nobody really needs or wants things to change the way things are done on the island. People must be happy. So we're saving government money.
So there’s not going to be a new government election?
Not here. No local government election year.
So what is your secret for happy marriage?
AP: I’ve been married 33 years "“ to the same woman. The number one factor in any happy marriage, and I’m not sure that there can be a happy marriage, without children. It’s human nature that a man and a woman are to have differences of opinion; there will be a quarrel, there will be a fight. And me and my wife have had these things. If your priorities in life are right and you have children there are very few things that can’t get over, and ironed out "“ If you put the children first. This is why we have been happily married after 33 years. We had some rough times in the first 10 or 15 years. But it takes a good woman to live with me. A really good one, No doubt about it; I’m on the go all the time. Unfortunately, over the last 25 years of it I have not taken as much time as I should to spend with my family. Because for all I do for everybody else. But I suppose if I had to do over again. I would still do it same way. Today, I have two daughters and five grandchildren. Today we are all one big happy family. It was difficult for my wife to understand and still is when I have to go to Nassau sometimes for three days at a time. It’s difficult to know that I have to be away from them. But sometimes you don’t get anything done unless you go and do it yourself. I’ve been blessed. Thank God. So that’s what I a tribute success to a marriage. Of course everyone still has to have money. Without money people can definitely have problems within a marriage. If you are not working or making money you can’t survive. But I was working since I was 15 and so that’s never bothered me. I’ve always worked. And I don’t have any plans to retire in the near future. At least not right now. I’m still little bit too young. If a retired at 55, I probably wouldn’t be alive to see 60. I would go crazy and I love what I do. If you can have a job that you thoroughly enjoy doing, it makes all the difference.
There is more with Abner coming soon.
Edited by Devin Galaudet