Too sweet to trade

Dr. taylor recalls his days at Sharon Primary

by Dr. Nigel Taylor

The month of November has always been a month of nostalgia for me. It is during this period when we listen to Bajans of the past generations speak of the things they used and of the situations they experienced that make me realise that I had a taste of most of those things that they mention.

When the Barbados TODAY started to print those pictures of yesteryear I started to day dream of all the exciting things that happened to me when I was much younger and how they impacted my life.

First off, I was a regular child born and raised in Jackson in the parish of St. Michael. I rolled tyres, pitched marbles, roasted breadfruits and flying fish, cut and sucked cane and all those things which almost every child in those days had to do. I also had to pick rabbit meat, milk goats, wash down the pig pens and bring water to fill up a barrel and a drum, all those things before going to school.

Come to think of it, I distinctly remembered there was a head teacher at Sharon Primary, who is now deceased. Her name was Mrs. Ena Stevenson. School days were some interesting ones now that I look back at them. I can now picture Mrs. Stevenson sitting behind her desk on the platform surveying the entire school. Teachers did not have individual classes and when a student misbehaved he/she was told to stand either behind the bench or on the bench and before you would realise it, you would feel two or three strokes from the strap and the admonition that you should not be rude or misbehave in class.

I remember sometimes when Mrs. Stevenson was patrolling the school and children were on the bench when they saw her, for some ingenious reason their pencil might fall to the floor and they would have to retrieve it at the most convenient time. The headteacher was passing, but she would never know that the child was to be punished.

If you arrived at school after 8:45 a.m. and morning assembly had started every student had to remain outside, because there was no way to sneak into the school to appear as though you were early. The principal had the main back door closed so she could see all those who were late. After the morning assembly all of those who were late had to do the following:-

1. State why you were late.

2. Say your prayers outside.

3. Have your hair inspected along with your person. By the way you had better have a handkerchief or you might be flogged. (We have come a long way!)

4. Have your shoes shining. On those occasions my shoes were always shining with the grease, or the coconut oil my grandmother would rub all over your body. The problem is when your “dog muzzles” got hot, dust or no dust, your feet were in trouble with the heat.

I need to get back and tell you of my primary school days. One of my favourite teachers was a grand lady by the name of Gloria Skeete. She was a gem of a lady. I remember she invited students to her home on Saturdays for lessons, but lessons were not all they got. She would have prepared appetizing snacks for everyone who was in attendance. Ms. Skeete is still alive today and many Sharon boys and girls would say a big thank you for her commitment to education.

Writing my thoughts on my memory of school in those days seems to bring those smiles which we long for at the beginning and close of a day. I remembered when it was break time how we gathered outside the “milk room” to wash our hand in a basin. Now that I am recalling, I am certain it was water mixed with some sort of bleach. After washing our hands we would form a queue and take a glass of milk and two biscuits.

This milk, having been prepared by the Class 6 and 7 girls at the time, tasted very nice, then again, everything tasted nice for us. We would place the biscuits in our khaki pockets and pound them up until they are dust and then eat them. Sometimes when the girls mixed too much milk, the teachers would allow many of us to go for seconds, thirds and any other number as long as the milk was available. Sometimes after drinking all the milk many a boy would spend the afternoon in the bathroom.

In the milk room at school, during break we lined up for 2 biscuits and a plastic cup of cold milk.

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