Monday, December 13, 2010

The Elusive Junonia and the Stinky Fish

 In his book Rare Shells (1969), S. Peter Dance, wrote about what were considered at the time to be 50 of the world's rarest seashells— complete with pictures. Included in this collection is the still elusive Junonia.

Every sheller who is worth his or her weight in golden sand, has dreamt about finding this particular shell. Most of us are still dreaming and/or have added it to their collection via a seashell shop. This is true in my case, but I do hope to actually find a Junonia and replace the one in my seashell cabinet.

Note: If you're interested to see what other shells were included in this book, you can see the entire 
collection of Harry G. Lee, who spent 23 years collecting one of each specimen.

In an article on Conchologists of America a few years back, S. Peter Dance, wrote, "But owning a Junonia was not the same as finding one." So in 1971, he set out for Florida. He writes, "Most of all I wanted to find one at Sanibel Island. This was my first visit to that island where the streets are named after shells, where conchology is a religion, where no one walking on a beach looks anywhere but down, where everyone wants to find a Junonia. I was confident that enthusiasm combined with optimism and a little luck would be enough for me to find one."

The article goes on to describe his efforts, but in the end all he ended up with was a specimen that had seen better days. "…a large part of the body whorl was missing and the lip was badly chipped…These imperfections mattered not. I had found my Junonia!"

I know exactly how Mr. Dance felt, I would be thrilled to find even a small piece of a Junonia. On our recent trip to Sanibel Island, my friend Karen of The Essential Beachcomber and I were in a hot competition to be the first to claim this prize. Just days before our departure, Karen left this warning sweet poem on her blog for me:

Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow. 

Don't walk behind me, I may not lead. 

Just walk beside me and be my friend forever. 

(added by Karen) Don't pick that Junonia up or I will smack you with my shell shovel.


Oh yeah, game on!

Well, needless to say, three days of intense shelling yielded no Junonia. Oh, the horror!

Now I've told you all this as a lead-in to today's post. Yes, today is the day I reveal who is receiving the very first Stinky Fish Award from Shellbelle's Tiki Hut! I do believe when you hear the reasons why, you'll understand why this Sanibel shop well deserves this distinction.

On the day before we left, Karen and I took a break from the beach and visited a few shops on the island. Unfortunately, we made one mistake and that was in darkening the doorway of Showcase Shells located at 1614 Periwinkle Way on Sanibel Island.

Now I know you're all surprised to hear that it was a shell shop that ended up being the one place that disappointed these two beachy gals. You know from reading my blog, that I LOVE shells and I know from reading your comments here, that you also appreciate their beauty. Granted, Showcase Shells, has a collection of gorgeous specimens, so that wasn't the problem. The problem started soon after we entered the store. Within a few minutes, I spotted a basket of Junonias and picked one up to examine it's intricacies. I turned to Karen and said something like, "I found a Junonia!"

Well, Karen laughed and said, "Here, let me take your picture."

B-I-G  M-I-S-T-A-K-E-!

Within a split second, a man, I don't know if he was one of the owners or an employee, was at our side. He was middle-aged and very tall with a football player's type physique — very intimidating. The look on his face let us know right away that he was not happy that we had taken a photo inside his store. Now folks, this was not a store full of artwork, this was a store full of shells.

I kind of explained what we were doing and that we were both bloggers. I ask if they had a website, thinking I could share it with all of you. 

His answer came with an Arctic chill, "No."

Okay, I thought to myself and quietly moved on. We stayed for a few minutes, each of us headed in a different direction. I found a particular shell I was looking for, one that is not native to the Gulf Coast, but one I wanted to include in a small collection for a very special blogger friend of mine. The same man rang up my meager purchase, without cracking a smile and without a thank you. What?

After we returned to the safety of our vehicle, Karen told me that the man had followed her around the store, keeping an eye on every move she made. Now, I'm assuming this was because she was the one wielding camera. What was this guy so afraid of that we were going to do? Reveal to Blogland how beautiful the store's shells are? Oh no, not that! Please don't tell people to come here!

Anyway, it was creepy and it was downright rude! In all my life I have never met another sheller who did not love to share this passion with others. I do it on my blog all the time. So, my estimation of this guy is that to him, shells are strictly a business. If he had an ounce of shell passion in his soul, he would have completely understood why we were taking a photo of me holding a Junonia. This was Sanibel after all, the destination of shellers from around the world, in search of the elusive Junonia. How dare I tell them where they might find one, should their beachcombing prove futile. 

Like I said, I don't know if this guy was one of the owners, but I tend to think he was. He gave off that air of snootiness as only a proprietor of a store called Showcase Shells would.

For behaving in a derogatory fashion, for acting in an offensive manner towards one of my best friends and for not showing an ounce of good customer service skills, I hereby and forever more, award Showcase Shells, the very first…

Stinky Fish Award

Next time I visit, I'll hit one of the other shell shops that are on Sanibel Island or in the surrounding area. One that has caught my attention is…

Not only do they feature a Junonia on their store signs, from what I've read, the owners are true shellers!

Speaking of Junonias, I wanted to tell you that the article written by S. Peter Dance on his hunt for this elusive shell ended thusly, "At the day's end I strolled into a shell shop where I had already struck up an acquaintance with the proprietor and reverently placed my shell on the counter. "There you are," I said. 'I've done it! I've got one.' The proprietor, who was dealing with a grey-haired little lady, looked at me and smiled. Then, saying nothing, she opened a small cupboard behind her and extracted three magnificent examples of the Junonia. Her customer surveyed the three beauties, then looked at my poor, broken shell. Her eyes twinkled brightly as she turned and touched me on the shoulder. In a quiet voice suggesting New York or Chicago, she said, 'I think I know what you mean. Congratulations.' I walked out of the shell shop, the happiest pilgrim on Sanibel Island."

Want to know who was also a happy pilgrim almost forty years after that day Mr. Dance found his Junonia? Karen! Yes, in a post last week on The Essential Beachcomber, my friend Karen, wrote, "I went to Sanibel on Monday. I had just worked 7 days straight. I got home at 10pm Sunday night and set my alarm for 3:30 am. I drove 2 hours south in the 41 degree freezing cold to Blind Pass on Captiva to the shell pile. I hit the beach before sunrise with a flashlight to see what I could find. Now,  to all the shell rookies of the world — this is how it's done. I found a junonia…piece."

She then finished by saying,

"Some of us get them all at once. Others of us get ours one piece at a time."

Congratulations Karen, you so shell!

14 Thoughtful Comments:

Arabella said...

Oh Rhonda, first of all please forgive my absence from your wonderful blog - I've been so bad at keeping up with all my beachy friends blogs lately.

Secondly, this is a wonderful post - I can't believe how rude that guy was...certainly deserving of the Stinky Fish award!!

Hope you are having Happy Holidays! :O)

Drawn to The Sea said...

Stinky Fish, hee hee. Remind me not to make you mad ;-)

I've always loved & collected shells, but only knew the names of a select few until I began following some of my favorite bloggers. You ladies have really added a new level of enjoyment to my beachcombing.

You'll find that junonia someday :-)

Kaybe said...

That poor guy - somebody defineately pee'd in his cheerio's that day. If he didn't want pics taken he needed to post a sign on the door. I found 3 more pieces of Junonia yesterday. I am considering glueing my pieces together :)

Love ya

Simple Daisy said...

Geesh...what a meanie!!
some people........

I wish I were near the sea collecting beautiful shells!!!!! Nope....instead we're stuck in a blizzard here! YUCK:)

The Decorative Dreamer said...

That was quite a funny ending. I am sorry you all did not find the coveted treasure, but one day right? As for the stinky fish award...too funny! Didn't I just tell ya attitude is everything. Sounds like the poor fella was too busy being self absorbed to realize what an opportunity he had standing in front of him with the camera. What a shame! It sounds like you and your friend really did have a great time though, and now I know a tad bit more about the best shells to look for. :))

Magdalena said...

Oh Shellbelle,
What a cranky fellow!! I can't believe he was so uptight and didn't want pictures taken of shells especially that would bring positive light and business to his store...if he was the owner. So strange? Oh well!! Such is life and he sure does deserve the award!
Looking forward to meeting up in a couple weeks, I will email you when we get to Disney!! Can't wait!

rjerdee said...

Love the Stinky Fish Award...I'd like to award one of those to The Tabletop on Venice Avenue...I photographed a row of colored drinking glasses and he came over to scold me...I walked right out of the store. OK, I get it now...always ask a store owner if you can use your camera whether they're selling you crap or not.


Ms. Bake-it said...

You are such a hoot Rhonda! I love it - Stinky Fish Award! Loved Karen's editorial to the poem!

~ Tracy

rjerdee said...

I sent you an email reply to your comment on beachsnaps about my xmas tree...hope it went through. If not, let me know.
My email address is:

BeachGypsy said...

I think he just lost ALOT OF POTENTIAL CUSTOMERS!!! with his rude behaviour. Surprised he didnt try to snatch her camera right away from her!!

Kat said...

Scenario 1: The guy is really a retired mobster in the witness protection program and didn't want his picture taken by accident.
Scenario 2: The guy is really a mad scientist and those shells are not real, but fakes that he concocted in his lab.

Probably not, but I'd rather believe that than that a business owner is that rude (not to mention short sighted - free publicity? What's not to love??!!) Anyway, it sounds like this place is very deserving of your Stinky Fish Award! And I hope you get back and find your "holy grail" soon! Kat

RottenMom said...

Most definitely deserved the "Stinky Fish" award! We went into Showcase quite a few years ago and a woman followed us around like we were planning to steal something. I won't be going back in there again.

This was not the store I thought you were going to give the award to!

I know there is a Junonia in your near future! I found mine in 2008 on Captiva!

Unknown said...

I found my first Genovia snorkeling in about 10 feet of water off of the coast of Sanibel. To this day it sits on my shelf I founded in 2012! Have never found another one, but will keep looking

Unknown said...

Junoni 😂

I love the beach and everything that goes with it! I love the waves lapping at my feet. I love the feel of the sand between my toes. I love the roar of the Pacific and the gentle waves of the Gulf of Mexico in Florida. Let's talk about beaches around the world, bonfires, building sandcastles, swaying palm trees, flamingos, clambakes, sunrises and sunsets. If it's tropical, it fits this blog!


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