Trini Memories: Remember When?
By Keith Smith
April 12, 2001
I HAVE been asked to share this with readers of this column by an
anonymous correspondent who admits to not being the original
author of what I find to be a rather fetching bit of nostalgia. I
find, too, that I am being urged by a fair number of my readers
to publish more of this kind of thing. I suppose that there will
always be people who hanker for the past even though that past is
being seen via a backward glance through a receding and
increasingly rose-tinted telescope. I wonder, though, given the
better times in which we indutiably live (I mean, how many
people, these days, have to grow up on "bush
tea"? ) what is it about the now that makes people
long for the then. Perhaps you have an idea that you are willing
to share (email@example.com). However, before putting
pen to paper or finger to keys:
Close your eyes, and go back . . .
Before the Internet or the Mac,
Before Uzis and crack.
Before Nike and Reebok, before the NBA.
Before Sega or Super Nintendo.
Before burglar proofing and KFC.
Before soca, dub and chutney
Before children's rights and women's lib.
I'm talking about hide and seek at dusk.
Looking through the window, sitting in the gallery,
Licking your lips over hops and condensed milk.
Going to Saturday afternoon confession.
Drinking chocolate tea and cocoa tea and green tea and shining
Carrying sandwiches in a brown paper bag to school.
Eating chilibibi and press with green and red syrup, with or
Bathing in cold water from a barrel with a calabash.
Hopscotch, butterscotch, hoop, Jacks,
Police and Thief, Rounders !
Pass-out cricket in the road with a lime
Lying on the floor reading Mandrake and Katzenjammer Kids and
Mutt and Jeff.
Borrowing books from the library.
Hula Hoops and jawbreakers and kaiser balls.
Bathing in the rain under the guttering.
Going for walks on Sunday afternoon.
Band Concerts. Window shopping.
Wearing old pants to the beach and collecting sea shells and
Wait. . .
The excitement of catching candle flies in a jar and
Putting the ti-marie to sleep.
Killing birds with sling shot, cooking and eating them.
Pitching marbles, running jockey in the canal.
When a calypso on the radio in Lent would have caused a scandal.
When going to town was a major outing requiring serious
Spending holidays by your grandmother and aunts.
Castor oil and senna pods at the end of August to clean you out!
Eating caimite and mammy seepote and downs and sapodilla and
sugar apple and tying up your mouth with lalay.
Climbing trees,and skipping rope and eating a bucket of long
Making a Christmas tree from a guava branch with cotton for snow.
You thought apples and grapes only grew at Christmas time.
Cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians, keeping an eye out for
soucouyant and la diablesse.
Sliding down the bannister, jumping on the bed.
Having a pet chicken, duck, rabbit or goat and crying when it
became a meal.
Being tickled to death.
Running till you were out of breath.
Laughing so hard that your stomach hurt!
Being tired from playing....remember that?
Going to the Chinee shop for Trebor and a penny sweet biscuit.
There's more . . .
Scratching your mother's head.
Fighting for the bowl when your mother made a cake.
Churning coconut or custard ice cream on Sunday and licking the
Peeling cane with your teeth.
Remember when . . .
When there were no sneakers, only watchekongs and you washed
them every Saturday and whitened them.
When you knew nothing of Rottweilers or pit bulls, only pot
When a penny was a decent allowance, and another penny a huge
When you'd reach into a muddy gutter for a penny.
When fashionable young ladies wore crinoline and boleros.
When your mother wore stockings that came in two pieces and had
When all of your male teachers wore ties and female teachers had
When you had to be rich to have a car or a radio.
When there was no TV and you went to sleep at seven o'clock.
When there was no designer water.
When laundry detergent had free glasses, dishes or towels hidden
inside the box.
When any parent could discipline any kid, or feed him or use him
to carry groceries, and nobody, not even the kid, thought a thing
When it was considered a great privilege to be taken out to
dinner at a real restaurant with your parents.
When every kitchen had a safe with wire mesh.
Milk came in rum bottles and had to be boiled and the cream was a
When they threatened to keep kids "down" if they
failed...and they did!
When your mother used to say that your licks hurt her more than
it hurt you.
When adults spoke in code so "little ears"
Basically, we were in fear for our lives but it wasn't
because of drive-by shootings, drugs, or gangs.
Disapproval of parents and grandparents, godparents,tanties...
was a much bigger threat!
If you can remember any of these things, Well, sir/madame, I
swear you must be my age!!!!!!
Historical Archive / Trinicenter / Newspapers / Homepage