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A purely analytical perception...


BAHAMAS

Continued from page 5

The Bahamian dollar is kept at parity with its U.S. cousin by the Government and although the United States is more than unhappy with the Bahamian drug dealing, the country is a member of the U.S. -Caribbean Basin Initiative whose largesse has proved to be quite beneficial for the Island-chain's residents. The Hawksbill Creek Agreement established a duty-free zone in Freeport and the Hong Kong-based, Hutchison Whampoa has responded by opening a container port there. The Commonwealth of The Bahamas became a member of the United Nations in 1973 and the Organization of American States in 1982. Almost 3 million American's visited The Bahamas in the latest year in which statistics were available.

The Bahamas has had its fair share of characters who took its reputation as a shelter for pirates, drug dealers and other misanthropes seriously. Sir Harry Oakes, who was born in Sangerville, Maine in 1874, found that the islands suited him to a tee. Oakes got as far as Syracuse University Medical School when he began to believe that things were getting dull. He struck out for the Klondike with a couple of bucks in his pocket to make his fortune. He used his amateur medical background to get enough money for a grub-stake and prospecting in and around Dawson Alaska for the next seven years combining his search for gold with surveying in New Zealand, prospecting in Coolgardie and Kalgoolie Australia and ultimately in Death Valley California. From there he headed back to Alaska, and thence on to the Belgian Congo.

Oakes, pushing middle age, eventually landed in the town of Swastika, Ontario, where he teamed up with the Tough brothers, George, Tom Bob and Jack. They struck it rich in a mine that for some reason was named the Tough-Oakes mine. With some bucks in his pocket he staked claims in Canada on the southern shore of Kirkland Lake, and once again used initiative, naming the digs the Lake Shore Mine. This time he really hit the jackpot and he renounced his citizenship in the U. S. to become a British Citizen. After accumulating a substantial family, he became a Bahamian citizen to avoid Her Majesty's Government's taxes.

Oakes quickly became known by giving money away, and was elected to the Assembly in the Bahamas in 1938. King George VI granted him a Baronecy. His playmates were people like the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. With these credentials, he soon became the man with whom to deal in the Bahamas, and was the founding member of the Bay Street Boys. During the 1940’s he built the Bahamas Country Club, the Cable Beach golf course, and Nassau’s first commercial airport. Pan Am had been making a daily flights to Nassau since 1929, and Sir Harry had created the infrastructure to make tourism the island's most profitable industry.

Harry had vision, and his escapades in the Bahamas became legion. Until his death, possibly at the hands of the Count Alfred de Marigney, his son-in-law, Harry represented both the best and the worst of the Bahamas. His influence had much to do with solidifying the free wheeling atmosphere that pervaded the economic thinking of the island chain, and set the stage for its manifest destiny in the later half of the 20th century.

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