In the late-1600s, a Dutch man named Claudius van Beverhoudt arrived on the Danish-controlled island of St. Thomas. He settled there and later married a woman named Elizabeth deWindt, who was born on St. Thomas. Arnold is an 8th generation descendant of Claudius and Elizabeth. His paternal grandparents, Ernest and Elisa van Beverhoudt were living on St. Thomas when the Danish West Indies were transferred to the United States on March 31, 1917 and became the U.S. Virgin Islands. Although they had a dry goods store on St. Thomas, Ernest and Elisa frequently traveled between St. Thomas and Venezuela (where Elisa was born). During the 1930s, they sold their store and moved permanently to Venezuela, where many of their descendants still live. However, Arnold’s father (Arnold Sr.) remained on St. Thomas, becoming a highly-regarded auto repairman and raising his family there.
In this first of a trilogy of My Life in Pictures photobooks, Arnold shifts gears from scenic photographs to an emphasis on old family photos that chronicle both his family history and that of his wife, Helena Perkins, during the 70-year period of 1910 to 1979. In Chapter 1, the story begins with simple family tree charts and photos of some of Arnold’s and Helena’s ancestors. Chapter 2 takes the story forward to the 1930s and 1940s, during which Arnold’s father was married to Olga Creque, a member of a prominent island family, and they had three daughters. Olga died in 1942 and, several years later, Arnold’s father met and married Herminia Benvenuti, who was born in Puerto Rico. Chapters 3 and 4 highlight photos from the 1950s and 1960s, highlighting Arnold’s life at home with his parents, sisters, and younger brother. Those chapters also chronicle Arnold’s school days at Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic School. Chapter 5 brings the story forward to the 1970s, with Arnold graduating from the College of the Virgin Islands, beginning his career as an auditor, meeting and marrying his wife Helena, and welcoming their daughter Selene.
The decades of the 1950s through 1970s were a period of growth and development in the U.S. Virgin Islands. However, those years also saw several community tragedies, including hurricanes, two fatal jet airliner crashes, and a massive (but thankfully non-fatal) fire aboard a visiting cruise ship. This photobook includes images of those island events and many scenic views, along with the more intimate family photos.