March 29, 2004 — Three legendary musicians and a former politician-turned-child-advocate were honored over the weekend as expatriate Virgin Islanders celebrated Transfer Day in the City of New York.
Lt. Gov. Vargrave Richards and Senate Majority Leader Douglas Canton joined with members of the Virgin Islands Freshwater Association in recognizing the achievements of calypsonian Earnest "Prince" Galloway, former Sen. Judy M. Gomez, Ira "Dr. Sax" Meyers and Liston "Matey" Sewer as part of their 13th Annual Transfer Day Dinner Dance and Awards Ceremony at Eastchester Manor. Richards told the roughly 250 people gathered there that he felt at home in their presence and was glad to join them for their annual fete.
He also thanked the Freshwater Association for its continued interest in events taking place back at home. During his remarks, the lieutenant governor conveyed many of the sentiments expressed by Governor Charles W. Turnbull during his State of the Territory speech in January. "The state of the Virgin Islands is well. There are many challenges that still confront us, but we are working to make St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John a better place to live," he said Saturday night.
Canton also offered his thanks, saying, "No matter how far you travel, I sense in this room, in everyone's heart, the Virgin Islands is alive and well and a thoughtful, caring presence in this room."
Richards also acknowledged and congratulated the honorees one by one, starting with Galloway, who he recalled from his childhood days on St. Croix when Galloway sang calypso about the issues of those days.
He also recalled working beside Gomez in the days when he was president of the 23rd Legislature and she served as his vice president.
In recognizing Dr. Sax, Richards hearkened back to his own days as the lead singer in Tarco and the Playboys, when the band shared the billing with the legendary Milo and the Kings, the band in which Meyers has performed for the past 49 years. Richards acknowledged Sewer as "a pioneer of sorts," leaving the Virgin Islands in the 1950s to play steel pan on the U.S. mainland at a time when steel pan music was still considered a novelty.
"We thank you for everything you have contributed, and we appreciate everything you have done," the lieutenant governor said to all of the honorees.
Each of the four individuals received a trophy with the inscription, "In recognition of your work and dedication to the people of the United States Virgin Islands, and to all those that you have touched and continued to inspire with your exceptional gifts."
Each of them took turns thanking the association for its tribute. "It's a great honor to be here with you. I'm also honored to be recognized for my contribution to the preservation of our cultural heritage," said Galloway.
As she accepted her award, Sen. Gomez wondered aloud about sharing the spotlight with three renowned musicians. "Yes, it is true that my karoake singing at Pilgrim Terrace on Thursday night has become legendary, but when I thought about the melodious voice of Prince Galloway I knew I was not being honored for my singing…. Then one of the association members assured me I was being honored for my work with children," Gomez said.
Meyers accepted his trophy and told the crowd he was not big on speeches, but he was very happy to see them all there. "I feel so happy to see my people here, and I know you came because you wanted to come and make me happy," he said, adding, "49 years and the band's still kicking."
When the program was over Dr. Sax pulled his instrument out and took the stage along with the Image Band from Washington, D.C., to warm up the crowd celebrating on the dance floor.
Sewer told the audience he didn't like to fly and thought he had taken his last air trip when he left New York on September 11, 2001, just a few minutes before the attack on the World Trade Center began.
"I was never so frightened in my life. I never thought I'd take a jet plane again in my life, but the Freshwater Association inspired me to take a plane and return to New York to accept this honor," he said.
Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name, and the city and state/country or island where you reside.
Publisher's note : Like the St. John Source now? Find out how you can love us twice as much — and show your support for the islands' free and independent news voice.. click here.