St James the nicest parish
by Marlon Madden
There’s a certain proudness in Brenda Hinds’ voice when she talks about Barbados. It rises to the brink of royalty when she talks about her country’s independence and its successes since the lowering of the Union Jack and the rising of the Broken Trident. Hinds has permanent residence status in the United States, but home is where the heart is and her heart and body and soul are in Barbados.
“I born in Barbados and I love Barbados. I have a [US] Green Card but I don’t want to live in America. Barbados is my home. I wouldn’t give up Barbados for anywhere else . . . I am a proud Bajan,” she told Barbados TODAY. These sentiments are repeated over and over in the parish of St James where the former cook resides. She has lived here for decades, settling at this Upper Carlton address in 1978 after living in St Lucy and Weston, St James. And, as far as she is concerned, she has made one of the nicest parishes in Barbados her home.
“I love it! I would live anywhere close by the coast. It is nice. St James is a nice parish,” she declared. Sitting in her doorway, Hinds reflected on Barbados’ independence. She was around 49 years ago when the country attained political independence from Britain on November 30, 1966, so she is in a good position to talk about how things have changed. Very much the party lover, she observed that over the years the number of such events has been falling. But her biggest concern as the island nears 50 is that prices seem to be rising.
“I would like to see Barbados get a little cheaper – the land, the food, everything. It is killing the poor and the old people who are getting the pension,” she said. A mother of one daughter, grandmother of three and great grandmother of three more, Hinds wants an independent Barbados to cater for the youth so they too can be independent. And one way to stop them getting into “so much mischief” is to provide jobs, she said. “So I would like to see things get better . . . Even if they have a conviction still give them a job and try them.
There is nobody here perfect,” said Hinds. Over at Ridge Way, Reeves Hill you’ll meet Gerald Holder. At 86, he no longer has the pride of youth but his younger days were all about pride and industry. Holder was cleaning his home when Barbados TODAY paid him a visit but he did not hesitate to take a break in order to paint a clear picture of his memorable past. He was an engineer but “there wasn’t any money”, so he gave it up and tried something completely different.
“I learned painting.” And the joys of successes past came gushing back in waves of pleasant memories. “I was one of the best painters in the island. I can afford to tell you that because of the jobs I have done when other men eased away from them and couldn’t get them done,” said Holder. And the list of places where he left his mark is as impressive as it is satisfying. There was the first Barbados Hilton; and Sandy Lane Hotel, Cave Shepherd, Sam Lord’s Castle and Cobbler’s Cove in St James.
“I did a lot of hotels. I was a part of the advancement in the hotel industry. I am proud of the jobs I have done.” Holder left Barbados in 1981 for the United States, where he also did painting. He returned to the island about 13 years ago, to the very community in which he grew up. It was in the parish of St Thomas then changes to the constituency boundaries landed it in St James, he said, pointing towards some houses closer to the St Thomas Parish church, where he said the boundary once was.
“I born in this district,” he declared. In 49 years of independence Holder has seen a lot of changes to the community. He has seen improvements in water and electricity supplies. But he was also witnessed a decline in the level of fun like he had as a youngster.
“We were more into sports such as cricket and football in the district. But nowadays the fellows find something different to do. There are no sporting activities like before and you getting a lot of crime and rudeness among the youth and middle aged people. In my time you never have that,” he said. Looking towards the Portvale sugar factory across the nearby fields, Holder recalled its operations over the years, noting the shift in land use from sugar production to real estate.
“The structure is different. A lot of people have nice homes. One time you would find just gable houses [without certain amenities]. But now you find every house have in electricity, water, gas and telephone. But in my time coming up only one or two people were able to put in telephone and water,” he recalled. Holder will not waver in the feeling of deep pleasure and satisfaction he finds in his country. No place is better, no country comes close.
“Barbados to me is unique among the several islands I have visited . . . And I found that Barbados is far better financially, in education and planning. The Government plans better than the rest of the countries that I have seen,” he said. Like his country, his parish is also regarding very highly and stands out. He called it a “Christian district”, even claiming the neighbouring St Thomas Parish Church.
“It is a Christian district. We have two churches in this small district even though a lot of people do not go to church they acknowledge that to go to church is good because it helps to build a rounded [individual],” he said. Occasionally peering out at the passing traffic, Holder said his wish for the island was that people would have “more love for one another, education to know right from wrong and we need to think about people like we think about ourselves. “We should not be selfish and we should share what we have with those that don’t have,” he said.
Over in Harewood Road, Mount Standfast, Laura Greaves, 66, peered from her gallery. Greaves was born in Trinidad and Tobago but moved here at a very early age. She believes that the country has come a long way since 1966 but said some of the changes were not necessarily for the better. Stressing that parents and grandparents worked hard in order to improve conditions for the generations that followed, Greaves called on young people to work hard themselves, and to pay attention to the advice offered to them by the country’s elders. “We would learn from them and they will learn from [us],” said the mother of four. “Barbados is good.
I came here as a child with my mother from Trinidad . . . some of the things changing. I would like them to change to be good instead of bad,” she told Barbados TODAY. Adrian Haynes, 49, was born in the same year that the island gained independence. He told Barbados TODAY he was pleased with the progress made since, adding that “people are doing well for themselves”.
“Barbados has come a long way. Right now people in Barbados have relatively good standard of living. As far as elections and social things, you don’t really have a lot of disturbances. So I think Barbados is a relatively peaceful place. We have a little crime but it is nothing compared to other places,” Haynes said between spoonfuls of cereal as he stood in the yard of his Trents Tenantry residence. His wish for the country as it matures is for all Barbadians to respect each other regardless of the shade of their complexion. “Otherwise the country is a good one to live in because you have everything in Barbados.
There is a lot of development that took place since independence. A lot of people went away and when they came back they don’t even recognize the neighbourhood. “I would describe Bajan people as hard working and honest and friendly. That is one of the things why a lot of the visitors keep coming back to the island,” said the storeowner. And like many others who call St James home, Haynes believes it is one of the nicest parishes on the island because of its contrasts, development and the people who live here.
“It is good and it is bad because normally when you could just walk and go straight on the beach you have to pick the areas that you can access the beach because most of the west coast now shut off from the average person. But still these are the people bringing in foreign exchange so we still have to be able to work with them,” explained Haynes. email@example.com.