92-year-old former estate worker says life ‘been good’
Front Page
March 7, 2023

92-year-old former estate worker says life ‘been good’

There are those who view work in agricultural lands as too difficult.

But Magdeline Gould said she found more relief while working in fields on an estate than what obtains in the current social lifestyle.

The 92-year-old told SEARCHLIGHT that life working in the fields was a good experience, and she is experiencing more hardships in her present life that when she was younger and able to work on the estate.

Gould began agricultural work from the age of 15 years; she had to leave school in order to earn money to survive, but she enjoyed the labour.

“It been good, I never had no hard time. I do all kind of work, I grew banana … all kind of work- pick cotton.”

Gould, who worked for $10 a day said she suffered less as an agricultural estate worker than at present, because at 93, age is mitigating against her being able to financially provide for herself.

“I loved there, I used to work there and get my own money,” she said of her work on the estate.

Gould said she worked for Eileen and Christopher Punnett, a Caucasian couple who were estate owners. She described them as “nice people” who treated their workers well.

“I didn’t meet no bad time, you go to work, you have to work…”, Gould said, and even though the tasks were challenging, workers did not complain.

“Everybody on the estate, we go work and then we done, we go to breakfast, and then in the evening time we come in.”

While Gould still has sharp and pleasant recollections of plantation work this was not the case for 69-year-old Clifford Edwards who said it was not always so for workers in his time.
Edwards explained that by the time he was born, fewer people were working on estates and, as he grew up “A different kind of living coming up like planting…cane..”.

He added that life was still not as easy for his parents and relatives who tilled the lands around Barrouallie.

“They had no other choice really, some of them would quarrel and say that is hard work and so on … but they had to abide with it because there [was] no other means of getting paid … to mind their children, their grandchildren and so on…”.

Edwards told SEARCHLIGHT that children nowadays would not truly know the hardships experienced by their parents, grandparents and great grand parents whose labour helped them to now experience a different quality of life.

“Them come, and they didn’t meet some of these people who used to do that. Most of them come and meet a different kind of living. Most of them young people come when them people done gone out, it’s only people my age and people a little bit…[younger] will know about these things,” Edwards noted.

“They want a living so they have to work, it’s kind of hard … they would fuss and this and that but they had to do it … because they had to mind the children and them, and to get them to school, and so they had to do it…”.

Edwards said he grew up watching the adults hoeing the lands and weeding out the crops.

“We watch them working hard really, and it’s something where you can say ‘well, I wish I don’t have to come and do them thing there but still’…”.

He is certain that today’s children would not do the work their fore-parents had to undertake.

“…now you’re growing up children in a different world…when I say different world … when parents say something, they act [up], then they would tell them, you don’t how hard I used to work for you…”.

Edwards added, “I would even say that before I come, maybe my mother’s mother used to teach my mother them kind of thing … and then when my mother come now…[she] will tell me come, come go run mountain, run go mountain, tie that goat … or run go mountain [to] pick something … pick two breadfruit…”

“…that age when I was growing up, most of the time I meet a pinch of that because I used to do all them things … in the mountain early in the morning- tie out two goat … and come back home and get ready to go to school…”.

Despite their social mobility, Edwards feels that children should be aware of the struggles their forebears had to endure.