My mother and grandfather used to tell me tales of when my mother was a child. Of how their clothes were starched so heavily they were stiff. Of using little hand irons that had to heated by fire to iron said clothes. Of days where the children (my mother had 6 siblings) slept in two bedrooms. Of being able to leave their doors unlocked when they go to sleep and even when they weren’t home for several days. Of drinking chocolate tea (choklit tea) on Sunday mornings and bush tea (mint tea, fever grass, etc) during the week and once in a while, they would have cerasee tea in the mornings. Breakfast would be either breadfruit, boiled banana, bread or bammy with butter, fish, or ackee and saltfish. Those days are long gone for my family and even though we are poor they were good ones.

Hand iron or stove top iron
Hand iron or stove top iron

Yes, there was worry about money and making sure that the family had enough food and proper clothes. Imagine having to feed 9 mouths on a sugar factory worker’s pay check between the 1940s and 1970s. However, those were days where they didn’t have to worry about much crime or doing without food. We are a country based family who at the time planted our own food. When we didn’t have fruits and vegetables in the yard (breadfruits, bananas and mangoes were some of the ever present staples), neighbours would provide each other with what food items were needed. Children could go to neighbours yards and pick fruits without consequences as they were all community children.

Some of the staples of my parents' and grandparents' diet as children
Some of the staples of my parents’ and grandparents’ diet as children

I think back to those stories now and sometimes I wish I could use a time machine to go back in time. To play hopscotch, marbles and ring games with my mother, young aunts and uncles. To go to the river and catch fish and crayfish and learn to swim with them. To pick ackee, mango and any other fruit in season on the way back from the river and eat what we could on the way home and take the rest home to cook ourselves or give my grandparents to cook. To laugh at the pranks they played on each other and help out with the household chores. Yes, those days might have been hard on my family but they were times when the family stuck together and the children never thought as themselves as poor.

This very same river
This very same river

This mumble is starting to get long and I’ve said to myself that I would never do another long one again (thinking about Christmas Time Again), so I’ll stop this one here and pick it up another day. See you next week everyone.

Advertisements