Victor King, Glendon Morris, John Sealey & Lawrence Garcia
Paying Respect to Lewicito 'Cito' Velasquez
Tributes at Wake
April 11, 2006
I started working with Cito in 1958, from the inception of 'Fruits and Flowers". Mr. James did a section for the band and we played with his section. After that first year, I started to work in the yard here with Cito Velasquez. Back then it was a dirt floor and we used to lie down on the ground and sleep in a cardboard box. We had a nice side with Keston Hinds, Franklyn Hunte, Uldric Campbell, Lennox Samuel, Zambo, Alexis and others. As the years passed more men came in.
Everybody knew Cito for "Fruits and Flowers". The best band he ever brought out was "Splendor of the East." We had other Mas like "African Arts and Culture", "Dogs in Their Splendor" and so on. Things had reached a stage where people started saying they didn't want to hear steelband anymore because they wanted a music band. I took the initiative to organize to get a music band and I got Peter Daniel. Cito's family was very instrumental in everything. He was always jovial and making a lot of jokes. Many nights when we were making Mas it didn't have money. It was a real hard time. We used to go out the road and credit things to eat or thief a duck or a fowl to cook. There was a woman living on Sixth Street and when she missed her fowl she used to call out and say, "Cito, meh fowl cook by you?"
I used to come here almost every day. I traveled to New York with Cito, Stephen Lee Heung, Edmond Hart and George Bailey. When I came back Cito brought out about two bands again and so on. As time passed, things changed. His health deteriorated as age started to creep in. I really knew Cito. He was also a ladies man. The ladies used to run behind him because he was famous.
Cito's brother Hue passed on about six months ago and we attended the funeral. When we buried Hue, Cito said to me, "Victor, you eh see Hue stupid. Why he wants to die?" I will miss Cito. I learned a lot from him. He carried me to work with him in the past at Stephens and Todd to do interior decorations. I am a decorator in Mas. I was instrumental in everything.
Cito was a very personal friend of my father, Ken Morris. As a little boy living in Barataria, I remember coming in this same house with my father. My father was associated with Cito doing the Mas and so on. While growing up in my teenage years, I would hear about Cito Velasquez. The Mas Fraternity still believe he was one of the best Masmen we have had in this era. He is now a household name and that tells us we need to train young people. It's a legacy, although they are still wire-benders. With his kind of caliber, it's something we believe that we would have lost. We would never be able to get somebody like that in Carnival again.
At this point in time we are actually trying to form a school, so when people like that die, they wouldn't carry the legacy with them. Cito was fantastic. I remember all the costumes. When I was a little boy, my mother used to carry me to see Mas. I felt proud to see Cito with the different costumes. "Flowers and Fruits" was one of his greatest presentations. I still remember sitting with my mother in the bleachers and watching all the fruits coming down. All the fruits looked so real, you felt you could have eaten a piece of it. Cito was what Mas was really made of. His passing is a tremendous loss to the Mas Fraternity. I just hope we could at least salvage some of the artwork from men who worked with him so we could carry on the legacy. That is my greatest hope. We have lost some of it, but we haven't lost all of it.
John 'Big John' Sealey
Cito was more than a friend to me. He was older than me and he was my information bureau. When I left Trinidad, he was keeping me informed about all what was going on. Many of the boys who died I knew through Cito. We started out this venture when I was about twenty-four years old. The first headpiece he ever made in this yard was an Indian Headpiece. Then we started playing with Fascinators. We were taking about three quarters of Fasciantors band so we decided to bring out our own band. The first Mas was "Fruits and Flowers" and I decided we should go ahead with it. We had everything and we talked about what we were going to do. However, I had to leave because I got a job on a ship. I told Cito he should go ahead and bring out the band. From there, in my opinion Cito became number one. Many of the boys who bent wire in the yard, did it through Cito. They didn't know anything about bending wire. The first time the great Geraldo Vieira played Mas was with us. I will miss Cito.
I am from Maracas, St. Joseph and I am a relative of Cito. Most of Cito's family is from up there. My father was one of his uncles. His family visited him regularly right here in Barataria. We had nice 'oil down' cook up and so on in the past here. I used to regularly visit him right here in Barataria. I never played Mas with Cito, I played with Trinidad All Stars. I used to come around to see the costumes and also visit his brother downstairs. Cito's family used to make all the different saints downstairs. Most of the statues in the churches were made by his family. The whole family is gifted. They started making the saints in this building here and then it became a Mas Camp.
Cito was a nice fella. He always teased me about my belly. He used to come up Maracas, St. Joseph every Christmas to visit his family and friends and anywhere he passed, people would fix up a bag with Pastelles and Fruit Cake for him.
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