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Thread: Passing of one of the SBH "Greatest Generation"

  1. #1
    cec1 is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Jul 2008 Posts: 7,030

    Passing of one of the SBH "Greatest Generation"

    I understand that Jean Magras died last week . . . among many other notable homages that could be described, Jean was the Proprietor of Le Pigeonnier in Colombier.

    Jean was a very sweet, gentle, and fine person. A long time & close friend of Marius, Jean also garnered many accolades . . . though largely was "off the radar screen" of notoriety. Nonetheless, I note his passing because it marks the passage of another season of St. Barths vintage history.

    There are up-&-coming legends . . . some known to us. The loss of another in the class of the "Greatest Generation," however, diminishes our awareness and full appreciation of a time that most of us never knew. Jean was important in creating it.

  2. #2
    JEK is offline
    Senior Insider Joined: Jan 2004 In the ether . . . Posts: 55,332
    May he rest in peace. Tim and I had the pleasure of meeting him in his rarely-opened shop a few years ago.

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    The Marius 100th Birthday Party Memorial -- June 5, 2023

  3. #3
    didier is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Oct 2005 flamands Posts: 6,281
    yes, very sad, I had stopped at this little bar many times, he always welcomed everyone. My friends from tennessee said it was like stepping back in time.

    He had a great life, as you can see by his content smile in the photo.

  4. #4
    GramChop is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Jul 2007 Austin, Texas Posts: 17,833
    RIP, Monsieur.
    The waves of the sea bring me back to me.

  5. #5
    LMAC is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Feb 2003 Northern Virginia Posts: 1,570
    Thank you Dennis for taking us to meet him. It was such an honor - he was a delightful man and we will remember that visit fondly.

  6. #6
    KevinS is offline
    Senior Insider Joined: Jul 2003 Posts: 21,602
    Jean Magras in 2007, the last time that I spoke with him:

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  7. #7
    cec1 is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Jul 2008 Posts: 7,030
    Great photos of Jean . . . and I like Diana's comment that the contented smile says so much!

    Among my stories of Jean was an occasion when we were having Ti Punch one evening. "The boys," as the local laborers who came every night for "smokes" and beer were known, had been banished to a table outside of the "boutique," as his store was classified, because of the new French law that prohibited smoking indoors in certain facilities. I had noticed over many years that the closing time was irregular, so I asked when he closed. The classic response: "When the boys have had enough!" (Said with a knowing smile.)

    Jean was a caring surrogate "parent" to the regulars at Le Pigeonnier. He cut off the beer when they "had enough" . . . he made loans of money when they were in need . . . he extended credit . . . he was repaid (!) . . . he listened attentively to their stories (successes & woes) . . . and when asked, he dispensed advice, which they followed.

    If you have a chance to read his essay at the beginning of "Case et Cuisine" (its other two great recollections of early SBH lore being by Brook Lacour and Peter O'Keefe), you'll find an incredibly poignant and honest account of early life on St. Barths. At 13, for example, when Jean completed available schooling on the island, his parents gave him a gift of a donkey . . . which opened to him a world that went beyond the roads he walked to school between Colombier and Gustavia. In subsequent years, economic hardship on the island was such that he wrote of "depending for a time on the kindness of others" to get by. Then, the world changed for him when his buddy, Marius, got the first scooter on the island. Nicknamed "Sputnik," because it "took them around the world," these two young men had times that left lasting impressions to this day.

  8. #8
    JEK is offline
    Senior Insider Joined: Jan 2004 In the ether . . . Posts: 55,332
    Kevin, Tim asked me when our photos were taken and I checked that is was June of 2008. I had heard of some falling out between these two lions of the greatest generation and then I heard of a reconciliation. Maybe they talked of Sputnik.
    Last edited by JEK; 01-06-2015 at 09:13 PM. Reason: 2008
    The Marius 100th Birthday Party Memorial -- June 5, 2023

  9. #9
    KevinS is offline
    Senior Insider Joined: Jul 2003 Posts: 21,602
    JEK, mine is from November of 2007.

  10. #10
    Bart -my real name- is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Nov 2009 Alexandria, VA Posts: 5,427
    Same shirt in both pics and very similar to the photo of him hanging on the wall in the first photo.

  11. #11
    JEK is offline
    Senior Insider Joined: Jan 2004 In the ether . . . Posts: 55,332
    The Marius 100th Birthday Party Memorial -- June 5, 2023

  12. #12
    DaveM is offline
    SBH Member Joined: Jul 2007 Posts: 234
    Monsieur Magras, and his Pigeonniere, and also his beautiful pastoral lands and goats under the trees, have, for me, always been such an enchanting part of the charm of the Colombier area. It truly is beautiful. In addition, at an early visit, this local place was a compelling reflection of the island which not so many visitors see, yet contributes so evocatively to the uniqueness of st barths.

    About ten years ago my wife, Vicki, and I were exploring and came upon Corossol. In one of the simple shops we found Case et Cuisine, and immediately read it over rosé on the new-to-us local beach. I realized from the picture that this little place was right nearby. I dropped Vic back at our contrastingly deluxe hotel and went to Pigeonniere, excitedly. My French at the time was well intended, but not much more; and i was dressed in a bathing suit and fru fru poolside shirt. Now, at the time M. Magras's English was non existent, and my business did not seem crucial to him. Nor was I well versed in the ti punch culture. Still, he was gentle and patient as I tried to make the most of my exploration. A few locals seemed to notice that I was not a local. Even so, all were very courteous. Now, on my way inside I had noticed a beat up suzuki Samaria, with a Philadelphia eagles sticker (a fellow fan?) Like me, this seemed out of place. So after struggling to learn my way around this cool little spot, a man with a hat, and notably better english, offered some company and assistance, by explaining that what I needed was to say "ti punch, s'il vous plait"

    This really helped.

    After that all I had to do was relax and take in the unique time I had sought. M. Magras then, and in subsequent visits always struck me as kind, gentle and patient. And I also remain grateful for his stewardship of such a beautiful property for visitors driving by in Colombier. May he rest in peace.

  13. #13
    Bart -my real name- is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Nov 2009 Alexandria, VA Posts: 5,427
    Quote Originally Posted by JEK View Post

  14. #14
    george is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Sep 2011 Posts: 526
    Mr. Jean Magras in this video, starting at 1:50

  15. #15
    JEK is offline
    Senior Insider Joined: Jan 2004 In the ether . . . Posts: 55,332
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    What follows is a bad translation by Google, but worth attempting to read.

    The festivities of the new Lan still echoing, the port had not des- full of yachts. And in the tumult, a soul of St. Barth is gone. Jean Magras, who died Friday, January 2. After a religious ceremony at the Catholic Church of Gustavia, he was buried in cemetery at Public, Tuesday, 6 January. Jean Magras was born 14 November 1930. Parents farmers, Colombier.

    On the same island, why so much so that different. Inlas- worker sand, Jean Magras greatly helped transform St. Bartholomew. It is at a turning point, which saw take place on the island the first major changes. Earthmoving roads for many more cars. Construction of the first self-service in Gustavia. In a first central electric in Public. Jean Magras will all these sites almost. It will lead to many of them. Réunis- health team consists of one or another, climbing on the back of his truck, which descended from Colombier by Public by Corrosol. Working man's arms, even to break the rock. Jean Magras was the last generations of St. Barths forged if dura tion. At 14, he had already left school with the certifi- cate of study. To get to work immediately. Trades, he will do all kinds. Exercising too fisheries and maritime transport. Petty trading.
    In the first grocery store run by her mother, in Colombier, soon dubbed a bar: the Pigeonnière. And construction, yet. It also will build some of the first island structures dedicated to tourism. The Village Saint-Jean, among others. For St. Barts has already begun to receive its first visitors on holiday. A certain David Rockefeller, for example. Or Olle Nyman. A Swede, came to visit the ancient possession of the crown.

    A Christmas Eve day, Olle Nyman parks his Mini Moke near the Pigeonnière, which escapes from the music. Jean Magras is behind the counter. Swedish baron slides his head in the dark and after a few minutes (and a ti-punch) sealed a lasting friendship. It will last until the disappearance of Olle Nyman in 2006. This friendship, as was discussed with the lawyer and historian Per Tingbrand, demonstrates the links between St. Barth and Sweden, John Magras help restore . He and others: Charles Magras, Marius Stakelborough, Daniel Blanchard ... With the latter two, Jean Magras will be the first trip to Sweden in 1979. Pushing up the far north and the town of Piteå, with which our island is now twinned. On their return, organized the first Piteå Day on the Beach Public. Will follow in 1984 the creation of the Saint-Barth Association of Friends of Sweden (ASBAS) John Magras chair from 1990 to 1996. And he will pre-
    Presidents of honor. Consecration of this commitment in favor of Sweden, in 2002, Jean Magras will be elevated to the rank of Knight of the Royal Order of the Polar Star. By His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf. The decoration will be given to him on 13 May 2003, during the stopover on our island of the Swedish navy ship HMS Karlskrona. By the Ambassador Frank Belfrage, came specially. Inexhaustible on his memories, Jean Magras he had published a few years ago a little book History of a life to tell. Just as he indulged gladly take visitors past charges or make a run at the Pigeonnière, in Colombier.
    The Marius 100th Birthday Party Memorial -- June 5, 2023

  16. #16
    cec1 is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Jul 2008 Posts: 7,030
    Very nice. Regrettably, the "little book" referenced has not been translated into English.

  17. #17
    elgreaux is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: May 2003 Saint Barth Posts: 11,423
    Quote Originally Posted by cec1 View Post
    Very nice. Regrettably, the "little book" referenced has not been translated into English.
    I offered once but Jean did not seem interested for some reason... could be done at some point I suppose....

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