By Anthony F. Aveni (comp.)
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Thom as, as a N aval and Coaling Station (St. — Editor] 24 / A H istoricalM em oir though sparsely decorated,w ere keptim m aculately clean inside and out. N o litter law existed,for inner pride prevented even the hum blestpersons from discarding refuse aboutthe streetor in theiryards. The D anes frow ned on loafers and beggars and enacted strictvagrancy law s to dealw ith them . Itsm ere threatw assufficientdeterrentto com pelrespectfuland orderly behavior. A thorough and effective apprenticeship system helped instilldiscipline.
Itw as during thisperiod ofprosperity that the craftsm en established them selves as the exem plars and leaders of the nativecom m unity,com m anding respectand adm iration from allw alksoflife. Encouraged and rew arded by liberalD anish policy and an econom icsituation thatm ade itpossibleforam an ofskill,intelligence,and industry to elevatehim self,the craftsm en setthe tone ofthe native com m unity’sattitude tow ard w ork. H e w ould lay outhisw ork w ith care and precision and then step back w ith satisfaction,know ing thatthe finished product represented tangible evidence of his ow n w orth and creativity.
In 1917 A m erica inherited this tradition of racial dem ocracy on the islands,recognized itsvalue,and took stepsto furtherits developm ent. Ihope to redress the currentim balance tow ard m aterialism by rem inding m y people ofthe intrinsicw orth ofoldervaluesand custom s,by pointing outtheirrelevance for present concerns,and by stressing the urgent need for their future preservation. Suffice itto say,how ever,thatthose w ho condem n the D anes outofhand show apoor appreciation oftheirpositive contributions to the unique culturalheritage and value system ofVirgin Islanders.