Barbara O'Connell (Lawrence)
After graduation I entered Hofstra College (later University) , majored in history with a minor in secondary education and prepared myself, as well as one can, for the experience of teaching high school students. I began teaching at Mac Arthur High School in Levittown in 1966. In 1968 I married my college sweetheart, Trent Lawrence, and when he returned from Vietnam in 1969 we lived in Point Lookout. Until 1971 my husband spoke about how much he had loved living in the Virgin Islands which he had done for a few months after his college graduation. With some reluctance I agreed to take a leave of absence from Mac Arthur and give St. Thomas a try. We both loved St. Thomas and are still here thirty five years later.
I was able to get a teaching job at a local public High school and kids being kids enjoyed that job. I did have to go back to school to learn Virgin Islands and Caribbean History but fortunately we have a good college (now university) here.
We had a 26 wooden sailboat that we used on weekends to get away and took more extended trips on Xanadu when I was off from school for holidays. Because my husband owned a bar and had a partner we were able to get away often. Sadly the lease ran out, the bar closed and we had to go back to weekend sailing. To make life more interesting we bought and moved onto a houseboat in 1977. We eventually moved it to a small island at the mouth of St. Thomas harbor and enjoyed life on Hassel Island , population approximately 40 people. At that time I was commuting to school in a 12" dinghy which was fun unless it rained. From 1978-1982 I took a break from teaching and with a partner opened a screen printing business which never made much money. Since I was not quite ready to go back to teaching I became a marine radio operator for a year. In 1989 hurricane Hugo blew the houseboat apart but did not do much damage to the apartment we had evacuated to in the nick of time. This time we stayed on land. We built the house we live in today in 1991 and have become land lubbers.
I retired from Charlotte Amalie High School in 2004 and found myself well suited for the life of a retiree. I fill my days with reading, tennis and six months ago got an opportunity to exercise a retired race horse. So I am back to my first love, horses. My husband is going to work for a few more years so travel will have to wait. I do fly to Florida frequently to visit with my 90 year old mother.
Taken outside our house
This is Galahad, the retired race horse that I exercise.
The view from our deck. Our dog's name is Sugarfoot