Customers of Blacktip Island’s Last Ballyhoo and Tail Spinner bars are at odds this week after a disagreement about personal cleanliness. (photo courtesy of scottb211)
A dispute between Blacktip Island bar owners evolved into an island-wide feud this week, pitting patrons of The Last Ballyhoo and the Tail Spinner bars against each other.
“It started when Whitey Bottoms put a big bowl of popcorn on the Ballyhoo bar for everyone to snack on,” Ledford Waite said. “Folks were coming back from the restroom and grabbing handfuls of popcorn, and there were some harsh words about whether hands had been washed.
“As a joke, Ginger Bass up at the Tail Spinner made a show of handing out individual cups of popcorn to each drinker there, and Whitey took it personal,” Waite said. “He said anyone who drank at the Spinner wasn’t welcome at the Ballyhoo. Then Ginger banned Ballyhooers from the Spinner and the whole island turned on itself.”
Residents say the feud has many of them afraid to go out.
“It started with practical jokes. Dirt on car hoods, rude messages on windshields, that sort of thing,” Joey Pompano said. “This week, though, it’s really ratcheted up. Three scooters had their tires slashed in the Ballyhoo parking lot just last night.
“It’s all over nothing, but it’s dividing families. It’s dividing dive staffs,” Pompano said. “It could end today if Whitey and Ginger just made up, but everyone’s gone all tribal and no one’s listening to reason.
Bottoms refused pleas to end the strife.
“Ginger called my customers dirty and my bar dirty. Hell, she called me dirty,” he said. “If her people are so almighty sanitary, they can kiss my unwashed butt.
“A couple of them wandered down yesterday, trying to bury the hatchet,” Bottoms said. “I chucked them out the door. Literally. And it’s not my fault their tires got cut up.”
Bass has dug in her heels as well.
“It wasn’t meant as an insult, but Whitey’s got thin skin,” she said. “Now, I wouldn’t put any of his popcorn in my mouth. And I’m not serving any of his regulars, either, unless they wash their hands first. Where I can see them.
“Sure, we’re all Blacktippers, and we should all get along,” Bass said. “But I’m not caving in to that kind of bullying.”
Island authorities are taking steps to curb the violence.
“There’s only one of me, and I’ve had it with this crap,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “Dermott Bottoms and James Conlee are in the jail cell right now, and they can rot there. I was set to go on vacation, now this happens.
“And whoever’s calling in the false firearms violations is going in there with them,” Marquette said. “I broke down the Maples’ front door last night, and it was all a prank.”
Other island bars have tried to provide common ground, with varying success.
“We’ve implemented a snack-free bar and declared the resort a judgment-free zone in terms of personal hygiene,” Sandy Bottoms Beach Resort manager Kay Valve said. “So far all it’s got us is beer bottles through a couple of windows, but I think we’re moving in a positive direction.”