May 30, 2008
Eardlie Allen passes

by Oscar ALLEN


Eardlie Allen born in 1921, in Colonarie, emigrated to Curacao in 1942, the year that I was born, and he died there in May this year, aged 86 years. Although I visited him in Curacao only twice, in 1973 and in February this year, Eardlie was very present and very dear to me and to the rest of our family. In Curacao, my brother worked with the Shell oil company until 1977 when he retired in a middle management position. He and his wife Henrica Briickmann Allen have had three sons, Michael, Karl and Erno, and four lovely grandchildren.{{more}}

During much of his 66 years in Curacao, Eardlie Allen became the unofficial and outspoken ambassador of the West Indian community. At the Shell refinery, he was the elected and militant representative of the workers. He also led the cricket team in local and overseas games, and had a stint as a radio DJ. According to his son Erno, he was ill only once during his life. Three years ago, he ran and completed a 10k race in the over 80 years class!

His retirement was an active retirement. He opened a shop in the garden of his Julianadorp home and with help from his sons sold soft drinks and beer by the case, as well as bags of ice. Later he operated a downtown hardware store. The children in the neighbourhood all called him ‘Pappy’. He was an avid reader, and his wide travels took him to the West African ‘castles’ where captive Africans were held for export to the Americas. He also visited revolutionary Cuba.

But, naturally, SVG was Eardlie Allen’s great love. He also felt hurt by our slow and late development, and more so by the crime of British colonial neglect. He rejected British colonial citizenship. Yet, it seems to me that Eardlie visited SVG almost every year. His wife and children too have ‘adopted’ SVG and we were always blessed by his coming. A sharp and controversial conversationalist, he had lively verbal tussles with his elder sisters, Pauline and Ercelle. But he was profoundly caring, generous and fun loving and almost equally critical. We have all profited from his kindness and his probity, and we took time to visit him during his illness this year. His was a rich and long life. Not many of the persons who shared his childhood and youth are alive, but he would speak fondly of companions like Jules Cox, Gordon & Son, Allen Frank & Henry Williams, Eileen Williams and the Cummings brothers, Theresa Francis, Weston Brown, Fred Philips, Xavier DeFreitas and others. With his passing, a chapter is closing on the Vincentian diaspora which emigrated and remained in the Netherland Antilles. Remembering Eardlie reminds us of them, too. I thank God for you my brother and for you my sister. Peace be yours and your legacy, potent. In the land of memories and faith, you join our ancestors who went before.