Thirty-two years after he left, Daniel Doucet, son of the failed Interbank owner Jean Doucet, finally returned to the Cayman Islands for a one-week visit.
The 49-year-old Doucet moved here from Canada with his father when he was 13. Although he had two younger brothers at the time, only Daniel moved here with Jean on a full-time basis.
He said he always wanted to come back, but the costs of raising a family interfered. He was also unsure if he’d be welcome here after what had happened with his father.
‘I didn’t know how people would react,’ he said in a thick French-Canadian accent ‘but it’s really been in my head for about a year now to come here again.’
Doucet is visiting with his wife Catherine, who he has been with for 27 years. The couple live in Montreal and have two grown sons, Phillip, 25 and Kevin, 18.
‘I’ve been hearing about this place for 27 years,’ said Catherine, adding that she loves what she found here.
When he first arrived here in 1968, Doucet said he didn’t speak a word of English.
‘I think only my father and I spoke French on the island then, and I hardly ever saw him because he was a workaholic and worked seven days a week. I had to learn English very quickly.’
He attended Triple C School, and graduated high school from there in 1973. He then went to Miami to attend Biscayne College, and had been there about a year and a half when Interbank went under, forcing him to drop out.
Doucet said his father is still alive, and just recently retired from the furniture business. He splits his time between Ottawa, Toronto and Florida.
The 75-year-old Jean, who spent a short time in jail here because of the Interbank collapse, does not like talking about his Cayman days, Daniel said, adding that he is the first member of his family to return to Cayman
‘None of my family even knows I’m here,’ he said, ‘but I’m going to send them all postcards from Hell. I’m sure they’ll all be surprised.’
Living to the beat
When he lived here, Daniel was known for his drum playing.
‘I was a drummer when I arrived, and I started playing in bands here from when I was 14. I even got a special work permit so I could play at that age,’ he said.
Doucet said he remembers performing with a lot of local musicians back then like Barefoot Man George Nowak, Daryl Dacres, Claude Myles and others. An old and crinkled photograph taken during a performance of his group ‘The Termites’ at Club Inferno, which his father used to own, shows Doucet playing with Dacres and Myles.
‘It’s one of my only souvenirs from those days,’ he said.
Another item that he still owns from his time in Cayman is a 1968 Fender Jaguar guitar that his father bought him. ‘It’s a collector’s item now,’ he said, ‘but I still use it nearly on a daily basis.’
Doucet said he has earned a living driving his own taxi for the past 23 years, but that he has played music continually since he left. He is a member of a roots reggae band known as Gentle Virus in Montreal.
‘Everybody up there just calls him ‘Reggaeman’,’ said Catherine. ‘They don’t call him by his real name.’
Despite what happened with Interbank, Doucet says he has nothing but fond memories of his teenage years in Cayman. ‘I’m so happy to be here again. It’s incredible,’ he said.
Doucet has noticed the many changes that have taken place in Cayman.
‘I remember running across West Bay Road from my father’s office (where Buckingham Square is now) to Beach Club and having to cover my mouth with a handkerchief because of all the mosquitoes,’ he said. ‘Now I still have to run across West Bay Road, but it’s so I don’t get run over from all the traffic.’
One of Doucet’s less-than-fond memories is when he was arrested after being stopped for riding a bicycle the wrong way on a one-way street when he was 15.
‘I was being stubborn and refused to tell them my name when they asked,’ he said. ‘Of course they knew who I was, but they still put me in jail for a little while until my father paid the fine.’
Doucet has thought nostalgically about Cayman is the years since he left, and even wrote a song about the place he spent his high school years. The song contains lines like ‘I remember George Town with a single cruise ship in port.’ Indeed, Doucet said he remembers everything about those days.
One of the things he regrets is never being able to say goodbye to all of his friends properly because he was away in college when Interbank failed.
Since he has been back for his visit, Doucet said many people have recognized him and that he has been welcomed warmly by old friends, classmates and people who remember his father.
He said he hopes Cayman continues to recover from the effects of Hurricane Ivan.
‘I wish everyone the best in going through all of the repairs, but the Cayman Islands are still the most beautiful place in the world,’ he said. ‘It took me a long time to come back. I don’t know if I will come back again, but I hope I will.’