TagSeniors

Then & Now – Our interesting Virgin Islands

 

 

On September 21, 2012, we met Mr. Salvadore Callwood, a very dynamic and energetic elderly gentleman, at his home in Carrot Bay – this was after my visit with Mrs. Melcena Smith. And yesterday, Friday, October 5, 2012, we visited with Mrs. Jenny Wheatley (Teacher Jenny as she is called) at her home in East End. Each of these visits presented us with a glimpse into the historical past of these Virgin Islands – from childhood to adulthood and into the senior years.

Mr. Callwood recalled how his parents moved to the Virgin Islands from the Dominican Republic, his early childhood years and how he left as a teenager to live and work in the United States Virgin Islands but was pleased to return to the Virgin Islands when the, now deceased, Chief Minister of the Territory, who was his good friend,  suggested that he should return home as there was work for him to do – he did and went to work at the Long Bay Hotel and Resort- Mr. Callwood is long retired but has many fond memories of the early years of his life.

Our meeting with Teacher Jenny was two-fold – in the first part, she showed us how to make local “tart” – a pastry that can be filled with stewed coconut, pineapple, guava or whatever you want to fill it with, and is a great sweet treat any time of the year but especially at Christmas time – a must taste when visiting the islands. The second half was spent chatting with this lovely lady about her early years growing up in the Virgin Islands and reminiscing on some of the local sayings – Teacher Jenny is also retired but has remained very active within the community – in addition to the many things she does she finds the time to contribute to the “Millennium Committee” which was instituted by the past Premier, The Honourable Ralph T. O’Neal.

“‘The Millennium Committee took up the baton with an initial goal to compile a list of buildings and sites that might be in danger of being destroyed if their historical value was not properly researched and identified. Xandra Adamson, another Millennium Committee member and longtime resident of the BVI, who is originally from Trinidad, explained, “We knew our long list would not be effective unless we focused on just a few buildings to start with. We let the Chief Minister select from the list his top four buildings of importance and that is how we came up with the ones designated for historical plaques.

The J.E. William George's shopThe four buildings chosen for their historical significance are all located on Main Street, the site of many traditional West Indian homes now converted to businesses. St George’s Church Hall (owned by the Anglican church), Her Majesty’s Prison and the J.E. William George’s Compound are all on the west side of the street. The locally known “Fireproof” building owned by the J.R. O’Neal family (across from the Methodist Church) is located on the east side. Each has a unique history for the significant events or purposes that it served.

Jennie Wheatley, the third core member of the Millennium Committee, is another local historian with a wealth of knowledge. Her credits include starting the Virgin Islands Studies program at the H. Lavity Stoutt College, inspiring many of the territory’s youth to take an interest in their history and culture. She remembers the George’s Compound well. “There were other places you could pick up a few items in the early days, but this was the place to go to get it all – from birth to death. They stocked clothes, groceries, tools, even lumber to build a coffin.”‘ (www.bviwelcome.com)

Note: “Her Majesty’s Prison” to which the article refers is the old Prison on Main Street in the capital of Road Town, on the island of Tortola – the largest island in the Archipelago.

Then & Now in Virgin Gorda

 

 

In July we spent some time in Virgin Gorda interviewing a few of the people who live there about the past and present (Then and Now), it was a series of very informative interviews, however, we hope to do a few more interviews on that sister island.

Virgin Gorda is the third largest of the Virgin Islands, although Anegada the second largest contains vast salt ponds and with a much lower population than Virgin Gorda. Two of the ladies that were interviewed, Ms. Rose Gardener and Ms. Grace Waters reflected on the days of growing up in Virgin Gorda fondly – even though times were hard their sentiments were that it was rich with family values and community spirit – children had respect for their elders and everyone supported each other in every sense of the word – something that is not so prevalent now-a-days. These ladies spoke frankly about their earlier years, from parents, families, community customs, pregnancy, medical services, first jobs, feeding a family to giving girls a bath in an outdoor tub every Saturday so that she could be inspected for signs of purity. This interview can be seen on local TV Ch51 at 8PM Sunday and Wednesday evening and 8AM Saturday morning.

A BIT ABOUT THE VIRGIN ISLANDS

The Virgin Islands was a presidency of the Leeward Islands from 1872 until 1956 and the Governor resided in Antigua from where governance and education was administered until 1940. Rev. John Haddock was one of the first teachers in Virgin Gorda. A Mr.Semper from St. Kitts is credited with building the first school in the Valley, Virgin Gorda and Mr. Simon, an Antiguan was the first headmaster of that school (Anglican) – During the 1920’s and 1930’s just about all of the headmasters came from one of the Leeward Islands and not much attempt was made to train anyone local (p.13).                (150 Years of Achievement, 1834 – 1984)

Another Senior Moment

Tonight on CBN CH51 another episode of the Brewers Bay Seniors will be aired – the seniors continue their look back at life growing up in the Virgin Islands – the difficulty of childhood, in an impoverished time, but the love and family togetherness made it a very special time in their lives, perhaps rich in the things that really mattered. Please visit with us…

Then & Now – Brewers Bay Seniors

The Brewers Bay Seniors speak about their early years growing up in the Virgin Islands – how difficult it was but, nonetheless, a good life – living was simple, people worked hard and together, shared whatever they had and children helped in the home – they had to get up early morning to help with the animals, fetch fire-wood for cooking before going off to school – you could buy a “dumb bread” (a round, flat bread without yeast baked flat over the fire on an iron skillet) for one penny and that had to stretch a long way – the popular drink of the day was “sugar and water” – they would mix brown sugar with water and make a refreshing drink to go with the bread or just on its own. One person recounted how her mother gave a penny to her brother with the instructions to “split it” as it was all she had – he tried to do so by pounding it with a rock but was unable to break it only to return home without anything for him or his siblings to eat all day as the baker refused the beaten up coin! His mother had to point out that she meant to split the bread and not the coin. Life was simple and without the necessities that we now-a-days have come to expect, but it was safe and secure with a meaning of purpose and community spirit – the village actually raised the child.

Then & Now Senior Moments part 2

The seniors quiz night at the Sir Rupert Briercliffe Hall continues this week. These senior citizens show that they are still alert with functioning long term memories – it was truly a blessed occasion as we listened to memories from days past – I think it is safe to say that we drank it up and hungered for more – “Memory is a way of holding onto the thing you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose. The Wonder Years.” Jessica McMahan –  May the heavenly Father continue to bless all our seniors as they do what they can to help us understand the past and gain respect for our culture.

Then and Now Senior moments

This week features the Seniors at the Sir. Rupert Briercliffe Hall on May 16, 2012 taking part in a General Knowledge Challenge. It was an evening of fun and entertainment as we watched the senior compete for the top spot as they recall historical details about life in the Virgin Islands. Please stay tuned to CBN CH51 on Sunday and Wednesday at 8PM, and if you miss those two you can catch it again on Saturday at 8AM and Sunday at 4PM. You can also watch this on live stream at www.cbnbvi.com

Then & Now – Seniors Celebration

Sunday, May 6, 2012,  another great episode of Then & Now can be seen at 8p.m on CBN Ch 51 with repeat showings on Wednesday also at 8p.m and Saturday at 8a.m. This week you will see many of the Senior Citizens of the Virgin Islands celebrating the twenty third anniversary of the Senior Citizen’s Movement. There were lots of activities, local food, drinks, crafts and much more on display for everyone’s enjoyment at the historical 1780 Lower Estate Sugar Works Museum.

“The 1780 Lower Estate Sugar Works Museum was built by the slaves of the plantation owner, Mc.Cleverty. Molasses, sugar, ‘muscovado’ and rum were produced at the sugar works until the 1940s.” (Muscovado is a type of unrefined brown sugar with a strong molasses flavor – wiki – You may recall Mr. Hugo Vanterpool mentioning this in his interview). During the 19th Century the timber frame section of the building became, what is believed to have been, the first Virgin Islands guest house. The museum was acquired by the Government in the 1900 and was used for various purposes such as an “experimental agriculture station and installed a cotton ginnery. Lime juice was also produced. Until the 1940s, the High Court sat in the first floor, which was subsequently used as a butchery and the yard as a block factory. The building also housed the Government’s Community Development Office and the Town and Country Planning and Survey Department. The Royal Virgin Islands Police also kept stores in the buildings up until its restoration (2003-2007) – this restoration included replacing the main roof, chimney and timber frame.” (Museum Info.)

There are many historical artifacts and art work in the museum and it is worth a visit from everyone – The Manager, Mrs. Olive Vanterpool, will be pleased to see you any time Monday thru Friday, 9:00 a.m – 3:00 p.m

 

 

Then & Now upcoming event

Come and join us at the twenty third anniversary of the Senior Citizen’s Movement in the Virgin Islands. The celebration, under the Social Development Department of the Government of the Virgin Islands, commenced on May 1, 2012 under the theme “Aging: A Lifetime Opportunity.” There are various planned activities, which will enable the seniors to have an enjoyable month. One planned activity, which THEN & NOW will be a part of, is an Open House & Cultural Exhibition at the Old Sugar Works Museum on May 4, 2012 from 10:00a.m – 2:00p.m.

On display will be artifacts, pictures of seniors and centenarians, arts and crafts, local food and preserves. There will also be on site demonstrations such as straw plating and possibly fish pot and broom making. There will also be local arts & crafts, local food, drinks, preserves, pastries, pepper bottles, coconut oil and many more items on sale. Information and tasting booths will be available for visitors to enjoy with other activities for everyone.

I look forward to seeing you and perhaps chatting with you.

© 2020 Violet's Corner

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑