'Dem days did nice'

70-y-o St Mary woman shares pre-Independence memories

Monday, August 07, 2017

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SEVENTY-YEAR-OLD Matilda Williams laughed uncontrollably as she reflected on her pre-Independence years growing up in Baileys Vale, St Mary.

“Dem deh time deh it was pound days. When you had a 10 shilling, you could buy everything. Things did nice dem deh time deh. We was pickney, but we enjoyed it. We go school barefoot and yuh nuh put on boot till inspector a come school. Yuh head did affi plat up to and neat. It was nice. We used to buy we penny bulla — one big round bulla — and we cut it in two and share it. School days was nice,” Williams shared with the Jamaica Observer North & East during a visit to the community last week.

The chores at home back then, she said, were three times the amount children have to do now, and were done before school and not on the weekend, as is customary today.

“When we younger we had to go for water far, far, far — and we affi carry it and full up one drum fi di morning. Before we go school we affi do everything. You affi wash plate, clean house, sweep up yard, and do everything. It was we duty. We affi do it, we couldn't resist from doing it. A whole heap of hard work pickney did affi do inna my days,” she said with a broad grin.

Disciplining a child was the community's responsibility, she recalled, as no bad deed would go unpunished.

“First thing when we a grow, like how you would talk to a child now and him leave and gone somebody yard and nuh come back? Yuh see if that somebody see evening a come and you nuh go home to your mother, them a whole you and carry you home cause them know something wrong. And when yuh reach yuh know seh is a final beating that you getting. Dem ya pickney ya can go weh now and go people yard and stay all three days and naah come home; we couldn't do it,” the woman said, adding “those were the days we grow up in”.

She continued: “We sleep pon floor. Yuh know one bag weh dem call blue seam bag? A in deh we sleep because a one likkle room with we parents. Very seldom people did have two and three rooms; dem deh pon di likkle bed and you deh pon the floor. But we did enjoy it, we never frowns.”

And as a lover of food, Williams mentioned the “good old country fowl”, her grandmother would purge with vinegar before killing for Sunday meals.

“Yuh know common fowl? Dem deh fowl deh dem used to cook, and yuh affi eat it. Now dat mi big mi nuh eat dem. But when I was a child and mi granny catch it and put it inna di coop fi di week, and gi him vinegar fi drench him out — and yuh know seh Sunday a your dinner dat. Yuh couldn't bite di bone, but it was nice.

“Dem days did very nice,” she said.




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