Rhys Llewellyn is a man of his word.
Case-in-point: When Ed Hanley, the former proprietor of longtime island institution Neptune's Treasures and a good friend, asked Llewellyn for his assistance when going through the process of closing the business, he said that he would.
"Ed asked my wife and I to help him close the shop," recalled Llewellyn. "We did that over 11 months, since there was so much to go through."
Formerly located in the Tree Tops Center, Neptune's Treasures was often referred to as Sanibel's "other museum," where Hanley displayed and sold a wide variety of collectibles and goods, including sea shells, corals, fossils, Indian, Civil War and WWII artifacts, shark's teeth, antique coins and other treasures.
Hanley acquired many of the items sold at his shop himself, going on fishing and diving expeditions and traveling around the globe, returning home with various treasures — along with the exciting (and sometimes harrowing) tales about his underwater adventures.
According to Llewellyn, after Ed's wife, Jackie, passed away in late 2009, Hanley — still on the mend from a stroke years earlier — became depressed.
"He told me that he wished he had taken the time to write down some of his adventures," said Llewellyn. "I was trying to cheer him up, so I told him that I'd do it for him."
A man of his word, Llewellyn began visiting Hanley at the Fort Myers assisted living facility regularly, brining with him a tape recorder used to capture the stories that made the former Sanibel businessman and raconteur one of the island's most popular and beloved characters.
"I'd bring the tapes back and write the stories down on my computer," said Llewellyn, who by this time had put working on his own book — a humorous fiction novel — on the back burner. "But then, my computer crashed."
Last summer, it took 10 weeks to recover the files that Hanley and Llewellyn had been working on together. But last week, the year and a half long "labor of love," as Llewellyn calls it, was finally gathered in an inch-thick collection, the first proof draft of a book entitled "Tales of Neptune's Treasures — Sanibel's 'Other' Museum."
"It's finally come to fruition!" said Llewelly, smiling as he held the initial volume, which is not only filled with some of Hanley's favorite stories, but also includes information about his upbringing along with his personal encounters with sharks, tornados and a moving train.
Currently being printed in Naples, the book also includes Hanley's advice, information pertaining to shells found in the waters of Southwest Florida, a collection of stories originally published in the Sanibel-Captiva Shopper's Guide about Neptune's Treasures as well as approximately 80 photographs and illustrations.
"Ed was a pretty industrious fellow who led a remarkable life," Llewellyn explained. "Even reading it again, it's hard for me to realize what incredible adventures he went on."
Although a deal to distribute the book on the islands hasn't been finalized, readers who wish to purchase a copy of "Tales of Neptune's Treasures — Sanibel's 'Other' Museum" may send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Snowbird Press, 27876 Cragmont Drive, Evergreen, CO 80439 to express their interest.
Rhys Llewellyn holds a draft copy of the book 'Tales of Neptune's Treasures — Sanibel's 'Other' Museum,' Ed Hanley's long-awaited autobiography.