I Don’t Think So, Dr. Mills

Lee Ingham

In his TCI Sun January 23, 2021 article, “Fritz Ludington – the Visionary,” Dr. Carlton Mills has provided us with an account of the crucial role of Fritz Ludington in the phenomenal growth and development of Providenciales.

This account by Dr. Mills portrays Mr. Ludington as having put Provo on a foundation so solid that Provo is now not only one of the world’s leading destinations for tourists, but it has also become the engine which drives the economic life of the Turks and Caicos Islands.

But, according to Dr. Mills, this contribution of Mr. Ludington has not been sufficiently recognized.

Thus, Dr. Mills concludes his article with the following: “It is sad and unfortunate that he {Mr. Ludington} has not been given the respect, or the acknowledgement for his tireless efforts. Since the Providenciales International Airport is the tourism gateway to the TCI, it would be, in my opinion, most fitting to name the airport in his honor.”

It is clear that Dr. Mills is not only enamored with Mr. Ludington and his contribution to the progress of Provo and the TCI, but the effusive praise heaped on the head of Mr. Ludington in this article screams out for a more critical analysis and some semblance of objectivity.

Let me say, however, that I know little to nothing of the events of which Dr. Mills speaks.

And given the pinnacle on which I place the intellectual and academic reputation of Dr. Mills, it gives me no pleasure whatsoever to call into question some of what is offered here as an accurate historical account.

In the first instance, I am skeptical of the small number (less than 100) of persons who are claimed to have lived in the three “settlements” of Five Cays, the Bight and Blue Hills at that time.

While this may have been the case, in my mind, I doubt its credibility. Then, despite the “deal” which netted Mr. Ludington 4, 000 acres of prime real estate of the people of the TCI in exchange for a few infrastructural projects, Dr. Mills seems to be portraying Mr. Ludington as being completely altruistic in regard to the various projects.

Clearly, it is not the case that these were acts of altruism. Afterall, Mr. Ludington ended up being the owner, in perpetuity, of 4, 000 acres of Provo’s prime real estate from which he and his associates are still reaping million of dollars while the people of the island are relegated to “bidding” for a piece of land and intermittently engaged in skirmishes just to get access to what are supposed to be the public beaches.

Based on what Dr. Mills says here, Mr. Ludington saw an opportunity, and due to the poor economic condition of the TCI, he ran with it and significantly enriched himself and his associates.

Throughout this entire history, even though Dr. Mills mentions two important local men, Honorable Gustavus Lightbourne and Mr. Charlie Rigby, who actually helped the process along, it is rather revealing that there is nothing said of any of them having the opportunity to become a partner in the venture nor is anything said of Mr. Ludington’s interaction with the local people of the island.

Getting an “eyeball” on the Agreement between the Government of the TCI and Mr. Ludington might be very helpful in getting a better understanding of this deal; but it is not a difficult leap to come to the logical conclusion that the people of Provo and the TCI are getting the “short end” of this “stick.”

It would also be helpful if there were some accounts from local persons relative to their relationships with Mr. Ludington and from Government officials as well.

There is clearly much history here that is unknown to most of us TCIers, but when Dr. Mills moves away from telling the story of the growth and development of Provo – especially without any extant references – it seems that he is relying, for the most part, on sources who are somehow related in some way or another with Mr. Ludington.

And as the author of this essay, I expected Dr. Mills, an educator by training, to bring a more critical analysis to his telling of this history.

But Dr. Mills jumps to the conclusion that as a way of showing “respect,” “appreciation” and admiration for Mr. Ludington’s contributions, the Providenciales International Airport should be named in Mr. Ludington’s honor.

I take it that this is a serious recommendation by Dr. Mills, a well-respected “son of the soil.”

However, when I think of the many local persons in our history who have selflessly “toiled since time begun,” – Charles Misick, Hubert James, Sr., Livingston Swann, Felix Morley, Fuller Walkin, Lou Mills, Lloyd Stubbs, Fuller Clark, Paul Higgs, James Morgan, “Shorty” Smith, Bert Basden, Arthur Tatem, Clifford Jones, Leon Godet, Louis Francis, Donald Astwood, Sr., May Wood, Cloudie Lightbourne, Hilly Ewing, Norman Saunders (these are just a few of many names) – I am left wondering why we would want to honor “strangers” and speculators rather than our own people.

Thus, it is my considered view, and with due respect to the recommendation of Dr. Mills, that if the Providenciales International Airport is to be renamed, it should be to honor a local, respected TCIer!!

A luta continua!!

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