The Crocheting Lady
I was born in Jamaica, Clarendon, in the place called James Hill. I was at primary school, we go to school until, I think it was 14 then. I went to school with Edith, she was in an upper class. We don't catch a bus, we had to walk for about a mile. Sometimes we had school dinner and sometime we had to walk back home and when we go shopping it's about half a mile to the shop. It was enjoyable, really enjoyable, some of the time. We never enjoyed water like here. We had to go to the spring for water for drinking water and everything. We go to river for washing clothes. My dad did have a lot of pleasure in his work going to the boiling house for the sugar cane. My dad owned it and he used the mill that ground the cane. It goes round and makes the liquor and then they boil it and then, you get sugar from it. You can drink the liquor, it was sweet. People around, they use the boiling house as well, they pay to use it. Then we go to the market and sell it. It was brown sugar. The shape of the thing, the sugar head, was like when you freeze ice cream. The sugar boiled out and ready was put in a thing called a Jappi, when it cooled you knock it out - three of four dozen at a time. Then they sell it in the market, carried on a donkey with two hampers. They pack them in the dry cane leaves and pack so that they don't rub together. I went to market with dad or mum or alone when old enough. Also we raise cows and goat and chicken and pigs. When they have their litter we sell them and live off that.
There was no assistance like here, we had to fend for ourselves. My mum and brother worked in the fields, they grew the sugar cane, yam, banana, chocolate, sweet potato, ginger and when that was reaped they sell and live off what we get for it. My mumwas a dressmaker as well, so she bought cloth for clothes. You have to produce if you want to live. We ate the animals as well sometimes pig, rabbit, we kept these ourselves, chicken, and so we have them for food.
There were thirteen of us. I was the fifth one. They were happy times, climb the tree, pick the fruit and eat. We had plenty of land. Jackfruit, a big fruit, sweet, you chop and eat. Rose apple, sour sop, star apples, oranges, grapefruit, coffee and stangereen (satsuma). We picked when ripe and sold them. Coffee beans, we used to "parch" it and beat into a powder with a big pestle and mortar, a mortar stick. It had a fresh, nice smell, you parch it on fire till crisp and put a mug and pour boiling water on it. Only the pure coffee, we prepared it every morning for our mum and dad specially. And then, we have mangoes and breadfruit. If you go where they sell yam in the market they have it there now. You peel and cook it, roast it, it has to be cooked. It's nice with Ackee, cured cod fish which came from England and Canada and America. It's nice Ackee and the roast breadfruit.
In the home we have wooden floor and we dyed it and then shined it. That was the girl's job and our job again is to take care of the little ones when our parents weren't there. Sometimes my mum went to the fields to plant peas and corn so we would baby-sit till she came home.
I lived there for until I left home when I was 18. I didn't work when I lived there I helped at home. When we grew up we went to Church with our auntie or bigger cousin, never on our own, always accompanied by bigger people.
I got married at 18 while still in Jamaica and started family of my own then. I had one daughter in Jamaica and two since I came here. I came here because my husband was here. First it was British West Indies, that's in England and Jamaica but since independence its only West Indies now. At the time the Queen required the people from our country to come and do, so, I followed him. I've never regretted coming here. Sometimes I miss Jamaica but don't regret it. I've lived here thirty-three years. I've worked all along since I came here. I'm a widow since I came here. Nearly eighteen years now. Now, I've got my family around me. Two daughters, one son, eleven grandchildren and three great grandchildren live nearby and they visit me all the time.