We are at the bottom half of Murray’s Village where Edwin and about 50 of us spent our early childhood. At the lower end was nurse and mid-wife Maggie Stephens who delivered us all; then there was St Agathe and the Mc leans; next was Henry Smith family, and Sonny Joyette’s shop which sold snow-cone and potato pudding, Miss Dorcas and her gang in a small room adjacent to Mr Lee’s Private School; Sheller or ‘Boy foh Ms. Baby’ was on the right (present site of Dennis Joyette Auto Body Shop); opposite Dennis was Percy (Ole Mercury) Bonadie and his family; and above was Ms. Clarke (Anchor Chain) Private School. Later the home of Richards brothers’ Combo; then Ms. Inez and ‘Will’ who got drunk once a year on his birthday, Dec 1 shouting “Christmas!” Pappy Joyette built our cribs, houses and coffins; his son Leo, David’s dad was the village tailor; then “Boots-no-foot” school. Next, Ralph Clarke, (Edwin’s partner in crime) and finally Claude and Louisa Edwards’ full house of Agatha, Edwin, Clayton, Ronald, Cornice, Ursie, Reuben and Bullet, sorry Aarnott. That’s only half the village.
Everybody attended private school, then transferred to the big schools, Catholic, Methodist or Anglican in Kingstown. That was when Edwin declared war on school. He spent his class-time with the “bad boys” on the seafront, according to him “hiding from Pappy under fishing boat.”
Nicknames was plentiful and Edwin had ah hot one, “be-shingy-butter cup” aka bishop! his “ bad boys” renamed him “Shark Head!” Nobody dare call him by that name, not even in Brooklyn, where he let loose a few choice words on someone from home, who dared to call him “Shark head” in public.
In his early teens, Mamma, the disciplinarian figured that a change of environment was necessary to keep Edwin on the straight and narrow path; so he was sent to Troumaca/Coull’s Hill to live with her relatives. Edwin sadly and painfully reminisced on the days when he had to travel on foot with a (30 lbs) basket of fresh fish on his head, from Chateaubelair, up the Soufriere mountain, over to Georgetown, and return the same day.
One day, he exploded, dumped the basket of fish in the bush and headed back to meet his buddies in town. He found work as a Stevedore, hard work, loading and unloading ships, making good money, and attracting good looking girls too. When he met his dear wife Carmen, he already had at least three lovely daughters. But it was not until Edwin moved back to Murray’s village with his wife and children that we experienced the gentle loving side of him.
His big break in life came through, when he was selected for the Farm Workers program in the US. On his second trip he did not return home, but remained in the US to fulfill his dream of providing the very best opportunities for his family, who absolutely loved and adored him. His children all joined him and did him proud academically in various fields like Cyber Security Management, Accountancy, Nursing, Environmental Services Management, Executive Revenue Cycle Management and so on.
With everyone taken care of, Edwin secretly went back to night classes and reunited with his old frenemy, “Miss Education.” Trouble started; for the first time in his life, Edwin was able to read his bank statements and write letters.
When he turned three score and ten years, he told me he went and paid for a burial spot at Cypress Hill Cemetery in the US and also paid for his casket and suit. But God added another 19 years bonus after that burial investment. The comforting news is that before he died, Edwin had confessed his sins and all was well with his soul. His favourite response in an argument was: “Are you nuts?”, At Heaven’s Gate St Peter will welcome him and invite him to “attend Sabbath School that reopens on October fourth.” From the time Edwin hear the words “Attend School,” for certain he is going to ask: “What school, are you nuts? ” Rest peacefully Edwin.
And wid dat is gone ah gone again.
One Love Bassy
Bassy Alexander is a land surveyor, folklorist and social commentator.