Remembrances Of Eleuthera
By Gertrude Moller

Editor’s Note: Julius (Junkie) Fleischmann died in 1970.  Born to great wealth (heir to the Nabisco fortune), he was well-educated and exhibited a remarkably modest manner as encouraged by his paternal grandfather, who arrived in the U.S. from Hungary essentially penniless.  Instead of following the lifestyle of the characters of The Great Gatsby (penned by his contemporary F. Scott Fitzgerald), Junkie pursued a more productive and challenging lifestyle, becoming a student of cultural anthropology - not an armchair, ivory tower type, but a field worker with a distinctly hands-on approach.  Using his yacht, Camargo (which went through four reincarnations), he sailed the seven seas and immersed himself in the natural history, particularly the local culture, of places such as the Cocos Is. (off Costa Rica), New Hebrides, Solomon Is., New Guinea, Sri Lanka, and the Arabian peninsula.  His diaries, most notably those written during his trip to Melanesia in the early 1930's chronicled societies which, for all practical purposes, have become extinct as a result of colonialism, W.W. II, and "globalization."  His philanthropy was renowned, particularly in his native Cincinnati, where he supported numerous charitable causes, including the city's natural history museum - not just with money, but with the donation of hundreds of priceless artifacts, most notably of Melanesian origin.  His collections also included shells (see Gertrude Moller's memoir below) and flowering plants, some of which formed the basis for Caribbean Gardens in Naples, Florida.  It is gratifying to read how shell-collecting gave Junkie great pleasure, and it certainly no surprise that Gertrude Moller made her mark on this humble giant. 

Remembrances Of Eleuthera

By Gertrude Moller

     It was February 1956, and I was managing a small but lovely yacht club at Hatchet Bay Harbor, on the island of Eleuthera in the Bahamas, where we lived.  I usually arrived at the club about 7:00 PM, but my husband came home about 6:00 PM and mentioned that before he left the club, two couples came in, but he couldn’t recall their names.  As they walked through the club door, the taller of the two gentleman asked my husband if he knew who on the island could take them on a “shelling trip.” My husband answered, “You’ve come to the right place; my wife would be happy to take you.”

    Later that day when I arrived at the club, they introduced themselves as Donette and “Junkie” Fleischmann and their friends, the Haynes’es. I told them I’d be glad to pick them up at the dock the next morning and take them shelling if they “don’t mind our '49 Ford.” They didn’t.

    The next day when I arrived, they had gone to the nearby village and rounded up some natives to carry all the food for the day, since the beach to which I had planned to take them, required about a mile trip down a narrow dirt path, through thick bush, and as a result, it was like a regular “safari.” Upon arrival at the beach, we five collectors spread out. I was at the waters’ edge of the Atlantic side, when all of a sudden “Junkie” called: “Gertrude come here a minute.”  As I approached him near the sand dune in the shade, I presumed he had found something “very special.” In his palm he held a beautiful, tiny, bright, yellow half pecten. He said, and I’ll never forget this: “Gertrude, have ever seen anything so beautiful in your life?” This from a man who could have bought an entire island. I was very touched by his “human-ness.” On the way back to the dock where the beautiful ship “Camargo” was berthed, we had to go over a hill on the road, and our Ford couldn’t make it.  To my embarrassment, the two men jumped out of the old car and began pushing us up the hill.

    It was wonderful having been invited for cocktails and dinner on their beautiful ship.  My husband was especially pleased, as their captain was from Denmark, as was he.  The foursome stayed another day for shelling and, upon leaving on day three, promised they’d come back again.

Donette Fleischmann

   One lovely day in February 1957, our family was having lunch when all of a sudden we heard a car approach. We thought it one of the natives who worked for my husband calling him about a problem at the powerhouse or dock or whatever. As I opened the front door, this man (Junkie) had already hurriedly jumped out of the taxi, and, with his arms wide open, yelled “Gertrude.” Another memorable moment and giving me another pleasant memory to cherish.

    The next morning, after another enjoyable shelling trip the preceding afternoon, I wanted to give them something to remember me by. I went to a nearby salt pond and found a live adult sea horse, as I recalled seeing one of those large, rounded, old-fashioned fish aquaria aboard the Camargo.

    After dinner that evening, De Witt Haynes had gone back to the huge “living room” exclaiming, “here comes another one.” I wondered whom she was talking to, and, lo and behold, the baby sea horses were floating all over the tank. I’m sure she never forgot that sight.

    As they were leaving the next morning, I asked De Witt why Mr. Fleischmann asked me to call him “Junkie.” Her answer was, because he finds “junk” on all his world travels, for his “museum.”  She also told me about “Caribbean Gardens” in Naples, Florida, which he founded and where he has a special all-glass “cathedral” for his orchids from all around the world.

  This was truly a man whose warmth and interest in the world around him provided cherished legacies for many, many people.