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Historic St. John Author and Educator to Sign Books Friday

Thanks to steady demand for "Me and My Beloved Virgin," the classic book about St. John life in the early 20th century, local author and St. John resident Guy Benjamin decided to re-release the book.
The public is invited to meet Benjamin when he signs copies of his books from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday at the Friends of the Park store in Cruz Bay’s Mongoose Junction Shopping Center. The event is sponsored by the Friends group.
"We thought it would be a really nice thing to do," store manager Carl Pytlik said.
Benjamin, 96, first published the book decades ago.
"I wanted to leave a record so anybody interested could have a record to go back to," Benjamin said.
The book makes a good read for anyone interested how people used to live on the island’s East End, where Benjamin was born and grew up.
"East End was a self-sustained village. We had our cows, goats, pigs, chickens, fish and seafood, sea grapes from the shore, fruits from the land, our school, and six or seven sailboats to go to St. Thomas for all our other desires," he writes on page one.
He discusses a big hurricane in which "the wind rose to a banshee’s howl, the seas were pounding on the surf, and the rain was falling in torrents." The roof went with the wind, and when the eye passed over, Benjamin’s family fled 50 yards to a house with an intact roof.
"All nature had been disturbed," he writes.
Benjamin also writes about the days when Carolina plantation was the chief employer in the Coral Bay area. It was owned by Harry Marsh, and Benjamin writes that the good the Marsh family did for the community will always be remembered.
In the book, Benjamin recounts a trip to St. Thomas to see aviator Charles Lindbergh, when "Lucky Lindy" paid a flying visit to the island. The trip from Coral Bay took six and a half hours.
"We saw so many houses, cars and trucks, horses and donkeys, people running into each other, confusion and noise," he writes of St. Thomas.
He also writes about his early years as an educator. He started teaching at what was then the Horace Mann School, now home to the John’s Folly Learning Institute and the island’s Montessori School. The year was 1934, and he earned $18.75 a month.
He spent his entire career as an educator, and the elementary school in Coral Bay is named in his honor.

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