November 24, 2020

Just about memories and me: Part 3

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Roddy welcoming Commissioner Ivor Smith

On a Saturday morning and  holidays we  were  all out on the road, ready for a game  of marbles, hopscotch, Andy over,  goole,  sheep sheep, come home, and that’s just to mention a few of the games. Of course, we swam  in the mornings and evenings as well.

It was in the bays of George Town where we all learnt to swim and we took turns to visit them all. You might say, that we had a bay for each day of the week  with  some  left over.  We swam in Whitehall Bay, Grandpa’s Bay,  Aunt  Netties’ Bay,  Uncle Stead’s Bay,  Uncle Knowle’s Bay,  Old House Bay, Red Spot Bay, Eddy Parson’s Bay, Hog Sty Bay and  Paige’s Bay.  All these  bays  were  within swimming distance of each  other and about  one mile in total length. I personally swam a mile at least  once a week  and  for most  of the time Sarah  was  with  me. Like I said,  we were  inseparable and  always looking for a challenge.

After swimming in the evenings we’d all go for walks  until  just before dark, and  then  we’d all go home  for supper. Supper! Ours  nearly  always consisted of bread  and  butter (or margarine), pear, and banana and  sometimes cheese,  with  a cup  of cocoa  to  drink. We only  needed that  as  we  had already had  a very  good  lunch although we  called  it dinner back  then. Dinners consisted of beans, stewed fish, corn beef, salt beef, turtle,  chicken with rice,  breadfruit, yam,   cassava, sweet potato, and   plantain.  Our dinners were very tasty, I can tell you.

At this point  in my life my elder  sisters, except  Helen,  were  all grownup  and  going  out  to social  functions like dances in the Town  Hall , which were  by invitation only. My sisters would get dressed up for these  dances and  I envied them,  yearning for  the  day  when I’d  be old  enough to go with  them.  I would lean on the dresser as they  put  their  lipstick,  powder and  rouge  on their face taking  lessons  and  I made  sure I never  missed  one. Sometimes my mother and father  would allow  Helen  and  me to go to the Town  Hall to watch  for a little while.  But at 10pm father  would appear at the door,  give us a shout and  it was  time  to go home!  Well, we certainly wouldn’t disobey the Chief Inspector of the Cayman Islands Police Force. He  was  dressed in his  uniform, carried a cane  and  we  knew  what  that could  do! He was 6ft. 6in. tall and  had  a voice like thunder, and everyone respected him.

At these dances I observed everyone dancing the  beautiful waltzes, quicksteps, foxtrots, and  then  later  the  mamba’s and  calypsos. They  also performed the Grand  March  and  this involved all the dancers. Everything I needed to learn  about dancing was  right  there  in  the  Town  hall.  My sisters  could all dance  well and used  to win any contests  that were held.

My brother Steve

You’re  probably wondering where all my brothers were  all this  time? Well, Joe had  left the island  and  gone  to Panama, C.A. to work.  My other brother Steve  shipped out  to sea  with  National Bulk  Carriers where he was  away  for two  years.  He never  danced, only  watched. However, Joe certainly  could.  Upon  returning from Panama he showed us how to dance the South American way that  I loved  and  soon  was dancing it myself.  I loved  dancing and everyone told me I had a good sense of rhythm.

Sundays, the  day  of rest,  really  were  that  in  those  days.  We  would always be in church  for two services with  our  parents. We were  members of the Presbyterian Church and  sang  on the choir. Elder sister,  Eulene  was on the senior choir  whilst I sang  with  the  junior  one.  In the  church each family  had  their own  pew that was filled with  the members of that family. On  Friday  nights we attended Christian Endeavour joining  other  young people  in our  community.

Our  minister’s name  was  Rev. George  Hicks,  a very  powerful speaker and  preacher. He  was  very  well  educated and  came  from  Scotland. We were all Scottish Presbyterians in those  days.  Mr. Hicks,  as we all called him,   used  to  visit   all  the  families during  the  week   and   he  walked everywhere, dressed in his  black  robe  and  white collar.  I never did see him sweat  either.

As well as dances and  church we would have  picnics on the beach. And did we ever have good  food  at  these  picnics. Corn beef,  potato salad, macaroni, stew  and  baked  beans  to mention a few. We nearly  always had cakes – heavy and  light  ones.  I mean,  they  were  good!  Have  you  heard how well Caymanians can cook?  It’s  true.  We are  the  best  cooks  in  the world!

In those  days  at  the  beach  picnics, it  was  a glorious sight  to see  the green turtles come  right  up  on the beach  to lay their  eggs. If you  were  a good  swimmer, like me, you  could  catch  them  and  ride  them,  too. After we’d eaten we  would sit  around, sing  and  play  games. Games such  as “London Bridge is Falling Down,” “Spin the  Bottle,” “Go Spread Your Carpet on the Sea,” “Spin  the Bottle,” and  “Skipping With Bay Vine.” My goodness, we had  us a lovely time.

Once  the  picnic  was  over  we’d all get  into  Pa’s  truck  and  his  driver,

Theodore Menzies, would drive us  to West  Bay whilst we  sang  all  the way. The roads,  then, were so narrow that the truck  would slip off into the swamp many a  time.   I  had   the  wind knocked out  of  me  when that happened.

…To be continued…

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Comments

  1. Nettiemay Hyde Wickstrom says

    Wow!
    Exactly right!
    My grandparents were from Grand Cayman Islands and our homes in the Bay Islands of Honduras were run exactly the same!
    Same menu. Same order, Breakfast, dinner and supper. Dinner at 12 noon was a BIG MEAL. Supper was light. We ought to go back to that. Eating a huge meal at night is PROBABLY some of the reason for obesity being so prevalent in our society here is the USA!
    Go spread your carpet on the sea ayo, ayo, ayo brings me back to my early years of singing and walking on those beautiful beaches!

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