From brush to hammer

Every time, I wonder aloud about the genius of the matriarchs of the 50s, I get little support. Yes, I agree, but we can’t go back to dem old days.

“If you don’t have a horse, ride a cow,” is one of the many life principles that guided the actions of many “Gran Grans” who, raised children in far harder times, than today.

It really speaks to a mode of transportation rather than horse and cow. If the replacement principle is truly understood, anyone, who can’t use salt, could consider celery as an alternative, but that’s another matter.

Andrew Scantlebury, a graduate of the Princess Margaret School in St. Philip, wanted to be artist, but George Callender, woodwork teacher and Winifred Cumberbatch, art teacher, thought that he should teach — like them.

Scantlebury began as an artist with big dreams and hopes, but quickly switched to carpentry. His heart wanted him to be an artist, but his head and pocket questioned if he wanted to be a starving artist? Some time later the artist who chose to work with hammer, saw, and plane, and the medium of wood, rather than oil and canvass, migrated to the United States.

Last year, when we first met, he was fixing a bathroom, yet we mostly talked about paintings and a possible show at the Barbados Consulate Offices.

Our paths crossed again this past week. Andrew was on the block fixing the door of a house.

How did you get this job, I asked?

“The gentleman saw me working next door and asked me to help him,” he replied.

Not surprisingly, it was a Bajan who lived next door and who found out about Scantlebury when someone else saw his paintings, and learnt about his trade.

Scantlebury pressed the frame into position using his body and knees and reached for the nail gun which he fired with rapidity: Plax…Plax…Plax …Plax…Plax

“It is so different now. I learnt where to place the nails in Barbados, now-a-days it is all about power tools,” he said, as changed the nail size. “Sir, come and see. Go inside and look from there. See. It needs framing, but I only have one piece of 2×4,” Scantlebury said.

He then tried to recycle a piece of wood, but dismissed the idea. Instead, he when two doors down and shouted for Ms. X.

“I have a door for you. Just pay me for putting it in. Okay. Lend me that piece of 2×4 you have until I get some more.”

Tomorrow, Andrew will be back on the block. Next week he will be in another state remodelling another old house — lifting its sunken floor with the commonsense knowledge and skills he learned in Barbados, confusing architects with his evolutionary methods and staying within the 92 per cent that are employed.

Maybe next year, each piece of equipment will have a permanent home inside a recycled van or bus bearing the sign — Bajan Fix It Right Mobile Services, an upgrade of his first business card.

Eternally grateful

“My techniques is quite simple: mind my own business and be observant of your surroundings and observe how others succeed. I joined unions, looked for opportunities and saw my work as art. For that I have to thank my father, Michael Sealy, who you know is an excellent musician, for my gifts. What is it that they say about the apple not falling far from the tree?”

As I write, it is predicted that if the current lifestyle of a New York families continues, the average weight of a family of four, will be soon 1,000 pound, and will have all kinds of health implications both for the family and the state. And, Mayor Bloomberg wants to put a ban on 16ozs drinks, which has its root in another ‘ole time mantra — prevention is better than cure.

Perhaps if we combine the two concepts, the lesson that we can learn from Scantlebury is that if we can’t find the money to build a large hospital, we should cut the size to match our pockets, offer tax breaks to a new kind of medical service — Mobile Doctor and Dental Prevention Services.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *