50 years ago: Portrait of the Quiet Man

In the Feb. 1, 1967 edition of the Caymanian Weekly, a precursor of the Cayman Compass, contributor Birney Jarvis offered up the following profile of one of Cayman’s popular seasonal entertainers:

“The goateed man sat on a high stool in a corner of the Beach Club Colony last Sunday, strummed his mellow guitar and sang a tune for the people gathered about him.

“It was an old tune, but one which always brings back pleasant memories, and the guitar player sang it in a quiet way on a quiet evening during the cocktail hour.

“Silhouetted by the lights against a white screen background, the ‘Quiet Man’ – some know him as Ronnie Hollyman – strummed through his repertoire of some 200 favourites.

“‘It’s only a shanty in old shanty town … ’ and onto another favourite, ‘If you were the only girl in the world and I were the only boy … ’

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“Can you play anything Spanish?” someone asked and the Quiet Man changed his tempo to work in a flamenco number that couldn’t have sounded more authentic if played in a Spanish cantina.

“Few watched the man himself for the play of his silhouette against the backdrop was fascinating. His fingers, in stark relief, flew up and down the neck of the guitar in complicated chord changes and, seemingly, mesmerized those watching the shadow-play of an accomplished professional.

“The Quiet Man is, indeed, a professional entertainer, and began his musical career 31 years ago last November. At 43 he owns his own nightclub in Lexington, Kentucky – he calls it ‘Someplace Else’ – and apart from the two months he reserves for a working holiday in Grand Cayman and another month on Nantucket Island, he operates the club and entertains there year-round.

“At an early age – twelve – the Quiet Man made his debut at London’s Trocadero and since then he has entertained troops overseas, served a two-year stint in the British 8th Army and eventually played with several jazz groups in England.

“‘In 1950,’ the Quiet Man said, ‘I came to Canada and went from there to the Caribbean and thence to Grand Cayman. To do a single vocal act was my ultimate goal.’

“Mr. Ronnie Hollyman became the Quiet Man in Florida in 1956 and that’s the name you’ll hear when he plays at the Beach Club during cocktail hour on Sundays, at the Caribbean Club on Monday nights and at his home base, Pedro’s Castle, where he plays nightly from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. – except Mondays of course.”

In the same issue, other George Town news included:

“Mr. Tom Laister, Director of British Information Services in Kingston was in the island for a few days during the past week. This was Mr. Laister’s first visit and was thus in the nature of a familiarisation tour.

“In addition to the dissemination of information on behalf of the British High Commissioner in Kingston, Mr. Laister has certain other interests on behalf of London in one or two other areas in the Caribbean, e.g. Haiti, Belize and the Cayman Islands. He hopes that it may be possible to visit these territories once or twice per year.

“In the form of daily press releases, the British Information Service circulates information as to what is going on in Britain with regard to Government policy, the latest scientific improvements and inventions, progress in industry and commerce etc.

“Mr. Laister much enjoyed his tour of the island with his Honour the Administrator on the 25th and we were pleased to welcome him to our office and explain our processes to him on Thursday. We hope that as a result of our meeting we shall be supplied with interesting information about Great Britain which we can pass on to our readers from time to time.”

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