Saint Kitts History 1

The subject is a 40-year-old Afro-Caribbean man from Saint Kitts. He is the same subject as Saint Kitts and Nevis 1, so for more information on this subject, please refer to that page. Recorded and transcribed by Tshari King. (00:16:59)


Well, me growing up in Sandy Point, when I was a youth: Well, it was a nice area. The ghetto peoples: them as me friends, them around. We used to always go to school at first; when we come from school, I had my little homework to do like sweep up the yard, or wash dishes, which in me and my sister really had like a exchange; this week, is mines to wash the dishes, and next week is her time. And this week, the other week will be, like sweep the yard and, you know? Different things.

So what I used to do is, when I finish school, I come home, do what I have to do, and then I gone running up and down with my friends. Sometime when you see, sugar, uh, crop on, we used to go, and get one another and just go together and just go look cane, peel cane, if mango in we go look mango, any food that ripe, we always go and we go and look for them. Come back, even to sell mangos. That’s what we used to do just to make a little dollar. Selling mangos, you know. Manciport — we go look manciport, grapefruit; sometime we go dig yam, and we have time now, when the sugar crop, now, they will take out now, a two field in we area, in Sandy Point and the elder people them will have like a two rows of peas, so we used to like, go with grandparent, help them weed up, help them mole up, and when time come to reap and so, we just go and reap for them, but we used to do we little thing, like, you know, go behind the back and pull a little one, two peanuts, and eat; you know how monkey does, you know, those kinda thing we used to do, which in now is something wrong, but in them times we like too young, was like, we didn’t looking at it as something wrong. But we just do it as a fun. But as we grow up, we find we self doing something wrong like thieving; we call it thieving in them times now. When we grow up and we see what we used to do towards the elder people them, planting their peanuts, and we go behind the back and go reap, you know, and we have a next thing we used to do like you know like the pigeon peas them, we used to go and you go feel them pick, pick a lot and go eat off the people them peas, you know. So when time for them to reap, they got less to reap, you know. Yes, so it’s a whole heap of things we used to do. When engine a run, we go and hop engine, which, you know, was dangerous. You know, sometimes some of we fall off the engine; you have one or two person that lose their life, lose a leg, you know, because they fall off the engine and the engine just crush them. You know. Those are things we used to do. Go in the sea water, go down the bay, you know, go down the bay like a weekend time we go down there we go fishing, roast breadfruit; we roast the breadfruit and we get the breadfruit; we lift it up in the hand and throw it up in the air, throw it up in the air, throw it up in the air, until reach in the sea water and we throw it in the sea water and we just, ah, we just, throw it in the sea water and we lift it up. It just like is a salting, we just seasoning it. You know, we seasoning it when it drop in the water, because we have it slice up, eh? So we he just burn now, we throw it in the air, we bring it back out now and we just bust it in, in pieces, and we all just eat, have a nice time. Yea, time that we just get some fowl foot, we get some fowl foot and we go down the way and we cook it up with rice and we eat it, but all now I ain’t doing that; I don’t want those kind of things no more, you know, so all about young days, you know…

Since I was 6- 15, 16. About 15 years, I was, I stopped eat those kinda things, up till now, I ain’t eat those things — well, well, I wouldn’t call fish “meat”, but some people say is that, but I let go meat — I let go fish for seven years and I go back to fish ‘cause different proteins; same way still all we look into it now about life is a natural thing, still, but they say fish still have in blood, but the blood in the fish is in the center of it — is not through the flesh like how it will be in the chicken or the meat, so I see it as a blessed food because we still we use salt and the seawater is salt and in order for you to get blessing, is the same saltwater, the seawater, so the earth is the lord and the fullness there of, so I still can’t put the sea water behind, certain food in the seawater I wouldn’t eat, you know, certain fishes in there I wouldn’t eat you know because of how they live, in there, just like things on earth is what on the land and the sea what on the land and the sea, in the sea, so certain food I don’t eat, you know.

[Interviewer: So, you were saying about engine, you mean the train engine?]

Yes, engine, yes.

[Interviewer: the sugar train?]

Yes, that’s what happen now; we used to have tractors too. The tractors take the cane out of the field, where the iron man go load it up, and then the tractor going to carry it by the crane, the crane going lift it up with a chain because they does put a chain underneath and then the cane go on it, and then they grab it up, brap! Put it in the engine, ro-, the engine cart and then pull back out the, the chain, go back in the tractor, and then now when the chain, the engine now, leave from there now with the cane, it go straight to the fa-factory and there is where they, they, they, they dismantle it, take it out, remove the trash, mash it up, you know, grind it, and different things come out of the cane. You got [unclear], you got the sugar, you got molasses, you got all kind of different things you have come out of the same cane.

Yes, the engine is like, used to be a transportation for us, like we leaving from Sandy Point and we want to go, um, Old Road, Vultures, Half Way Tree, we catch one and we go and when we reach to where we reach now we just jump off.

[Interviewer: You catch on the, on the train?]

On the, on the cart, of the engine, because the engine pull the carts he have sometime the carts have on a lo-30 a carts of cane so we wait until it pass and we run behind and we catch it, jump on, on it until we reach where we going and we jump off when it come back again we have to come back down, ‘cause if you come back down, when it come back west he going come back empty; and when he going east, he come full, which in him carrying up the load of the cane so all that we used to do. … Age? Well, that was like um, around, maybe I was like, 7, 6, 7. I was young boy, disgusting! I was a disgusting boy; that’s a make I man how I be now because I knows a lot more, you know, yea. Used to just hop the engine and engine never used to run left me, that’s why I come a [donkey?]. I used to run, run long race, you know. I’m a long-distance runner; all of them ting they’re just training, training, training, you know. … That what real used to happen now was like a cart surrounded with some railing come up, you know, so the cane dem can’t drop out until it end up had to put a little sifter wire like, you know, the bigger wir — the sifter wire like, so when the harvester dem cut it now they can’t slide through ‘cause they used to end up do that because people use to cut the canes dem and they narrow and them could a hold in, but then they end up now [unclear] with a kinda sifter-in vibe, you know, ins- the box wires were little bigger than the sifter wire, so it hinder it from dropping out and there were going, you know; some would still used to drop out because when the pile up too high because they didn’t had the, the wire go straight up, so when they full it up too high over it, they would drop off, yea, used to be fun man, no lie, I miss it. Those times, those days used to be fun days. I t was still dangerous. I was one of the one used to skip behind the cart, go between the cart, and run between and go so, crab like, gu, gu, gu, gu you know, hold on, we’s a man — so much a we going a catch the engine so what I used to do it, the technique I used to pon dem, step to the side and just jump on, on the chain, yea; I used to do that, yea, I used to good at that, you see now, what happen now, when I jump, I got to make sure I grab. If me no grab, I in problems. But I used to grab good all time, all time I used to have a good grab; if not, I just grab on and let it pull me; when it pull me, I just lift up my foot off of the ground and I gone. That used to be a good move too; you just when it come just [subject slides one palm across the other] and from a ground, grab, grab done there me foot going come off of the ground, and I just, pop, drop on and me gone. …

And, yea, all like climbing jelly tree. I climb one today in my shoes; yea, me’s a able just climb up like a monkey, how mean! I could climb them! Gu, gu, gu, gu, gu, gu. Yea, we call them jelly tree; we don’t call them coconut tree; we call them jelly tree. We used to call them jelly tree. Me still would call them coconut tree, but true we going there go look jelly, jelly come before coconut, jelly come before coconut; the jelly is the younger state of a coconut, but we go up in it to get the young ones, full ones, you know, because they have to get old to be coconut, but the correct name how they got it in the system is coconut tree. You see, but we call it jelly, but coconut, same thing it just that, how is it that something that young will call it coconut but the older one you still call it coconut, so we shorten form is jelly, and that how me get me first bike. My father didn’t want to buy me no bike every time he a say he ‘un buy me a bike for me birthday, for Christmas — I never get a bike from him. You had the garbage jeep come in Sandy Point. Me go up there hunt down the garbage jeep, look a see what good because the rich people them garbage is the poor people them treasure. So we go and me see what we could see and sort it out, you know; so we used to go up there, and me find a bike there, but the bike what I find was stolen bike; somebody steal it, take off what they take off and throw away the frame, so the frame reach up in the garbage jeep now so me find the frame now, which in it done mark by a man done mark it, so when I bring it down now, scrape it, spray it, go look jelly, buy wheel, buy this, buy that, buy the parts them to put it on and I’m riding the bike now a man a stop me a come and talk ‘bout he come investigate the bike because the bike is he one. But he could show me a mark. He tell me the mark, and he show me the mark, which in I told him what part I find it and he bring a little kinda problem but he just hav — he left me with it because he understand I find, I find it, you know, which he a you tell them boy, the man, the bike could be your one — ain’t me steal the bike. I find the bike such a, such a place and this is all about it. And he understand it, so he just leave me with it because he no have no time with no bike these, at them time neither, you know, so I get my first bike by go in the mountain, looking jelly, every time I make a money, I buy a part — this weekend I get a go again, I buy a next part, ‘cause I could a fix bike; I still could a fix bike and me is a man, afternoon time when school over, true we like to show weself, with the school children them passing; me just go ‘pon me bike, and me up in the air, wheely-ing, one wheel up in the air peddling, rrmm, coaxing [makes noises], yea, that used to be fun, them boy can’t play with me when me jump up on a pedal bike you know; yea, but, I just, ain’t got no time for that now, you know. I want to feel like is that there like hurting me hand too, the one hand thing, cause this hand I used to use I just jump on a bike and grab in the center and grab to the end and just throw it up and I gone. When I hold up on the end, I use my brakes; if me ain’t hold it so now I going be using me, me balance, you know? That’s what I do, yea, active youth me real.

Yea, so you go, active youth man, yea, engine boy, engine used to be fun, yea, it was dangerous, no lie. I could tell you it was a dangerous thing. I done see couple fellas under the tr- underneath, chop down. And it lucky thing the last post wha I ain’t see the time. It was two carts to the back when he drop to the side because this is the engine cart here, th-th-th-the railing, where the, where the wheel [swats at a mosquito] upon and after here he have a little hang over, you see, so the youth man drop there between here so he no reach under there; he stay out there anyhow he a reach under there will a cut him, yea man, and it fright me in that same time, boy, with that in mind no go back ‘pon engine you know, with that there youth man no go back ‘pon engine. Yea, used to be dangerous boy, but me? Boy all like engine now, we home, me home in the yard doing me work and the boys them done saying where they going, yo. Engine done blow coming up. I used to live close to it path at home in [Old Bay?], but cane does spoil up, so engine must come [unclear] cane. So you had this time and me in the yard and ting, which me done move a zinc, you know, a galvanized you know because me live right by the line. I done move a galvanize right behind me, me-me we kitchen, so me mother dem no know which part — where me be, so when, when them done down tell me [makes a call noise]; that’s how they used to call we out, you know. Let them know we going [makes noise again], you know, so that’s the sound we used to say so it like when me hear “ooh” me done know that I had a mission. So what do know me now to try go around the house like I going in front of the house, I would come back round the house, run behind the th-th-the kitchen, sneek out through the zinc and gone! Me had [unclear] the engine don’t gone left me you know, but me have to reach ‘pon the road boy I run, I run, I run, I run, I run go from here to probably up near by Chris, from home here you know to about up by Chris, just to catch that engine, you know, because when he reach them spot there now is up hill so train going up the hill now, when he left from his spot he doing a hill so he going down faster, so but when he reach a slope now, a got, it got long slope now to go up to reach the Brimstone Hill, they call [Clem Hill?], Brimstone Hill going. Boy, I run, I run, I run, I run still catch that, boy, yes, well all round there me could catch the engine me used to end up a catch the engine because he done dash done there but me a decide me ain’t going to stop run you know I holding a pace a run a go, and he no go left me me hold a pace and go, so when he reach in the little ditch there now, ‘cause he gotta go down fast to go — start to come up the hill, so when he going down now and he go down me a still a run, so when I reach now, close to it now that’s like on [Clem Hill?] going to Brimstone Hill; I gotta catch it by that time because anyhow we reach ‘pon the flat there he gone again, but I used to run hard man. Used to run hard, no lie. Them times used to be times, boy, them times nah come back you know, ‘cause they done with the sugar cane, they done with certain line, you know so those day nah come back like that, you know.

Yea, man, had nuff fun days man. Yea, you got time me come in Anguilla, me boys dem gone go do all kinda bad things, me name a call. It — thank God I was out here; if I didn’t out here, I woulda get lock up too. Me — one my partner die too. He come, he come look for me a there [unclear] I didn’t tell him I going come Anguilla; he come look for me to go Newton Ground with him; he had a wheel and is like, when he come, come calling me mother tell him me no there so he went, he went he want to go Newton Ground, so when he go now, a car lick him down, so me mother had to call me and tell me about it. But when the car lick him down now, I was out here, so if I wasn’t out here now I will a end up with him, who knows, he might not dead, who knows, me might a dead too.

Yea, so, anythi- everything happen for reasons. When you tell me youth, you are in trouble, trouble home, me name a call, me name used to easy call because me one like one of the leaders innit, you know any time we gone go do something we all want a leader innit, sometime when it a certain badness, me just tell them, boy, no we no have go pon it, you know, but even tho me said- me nah- we nah go pon it me name still a call. Yea, they gone you know, but me name still a call. Mhmm. Nuff fruit trees around the place and man no touch it, yea, in them times, boy we used to disgusting badman, which in now, you know — you call it in the time now, you call it now thief, but them time we didn’t used to call it thief, you used to call it “take up.” You know, take up, but the understanding now, tree grow and get the understanding you supposed to ask and it shall be given, you know, but that’s part of life. So, a some of th…

[Interviewer: Children have to learn these things.]

Yea, they no know a certain thing, but I tell them certain things of what me go through, you know, show them what I go through in life still, so, in case of anything they will now have a better choice; if anybody try to lead them there, they will done know, Daddy went through this, you know, me a nah want go through this you know, you see it, all them things. Yea, that’d be it, mhmm.