When does your DNA gets coded with the marker of a specific piece of geography that you proudly identify as being part of you; this is regardless of how long you are away from it. Both my dad and mom moved to St Kitts as teenagers from Anguilla and Nevis and I don’t recall them ever making the trip home to their native land, yet they were always proud Anguillan and Nevisian, not Kittitian. Me I was born in ST Kitts, I spent 19 years there and 40 in Canada, yet when asked, I am instinctively Kittitian, down to my accent.
It has to be natures’ way of making us feel that we belong somewhere. But what is the cut-off age?
I have nieces and nephews that left St Kitts at a young age; to them St Kitts is a point of interest, where their parents are from. They probably can’t remember enough of ST Kitts to be able to indentify with it.
I think if I had moved away from St Kitts right after my 13th birthday, I would still be instinctively Kittitian, because I have such fond memories of being there at that age.
This week I was going to graduate from the Village School by the pasture and move on to the Grammar School but then I would be missing some of my best memories. If you are confused, you have to go back and read one of my previous jousting to understand.
I look at Keeth’s drive about pictures and I remember how families looked out for each other. I said to Vernon Manners that I liked St Kitts the way it was, what I liked was the freedom and security we felt in our villages. Where I grew up, lower Cardin Avenue, on the east side and a St Kitts block away was the most affluent neighbourhood (Fort lands) on the Island. On the west side there was Trafalgar where for most kids shoes were a privilege. Although I sometimes ventured off on the east side I mostly stayed on the west side.
Most of my friends were from Trafalgar. I recall that when I left home in the morning to go to school I would leave through the shop where my dad could see me off(I had to look a certain way) then double back, take off my shoes in the garage where my dad could not see me and slip off to school, to fit in. Well one day, I was playing on The Pasture, if you remember at the south end there was a bit of an incline and some bushes; the ball we were playing with ended up in the bushes and I took off to retrieve it. When I got there I accidentally stepped on a broken COKE bottle that pretty much cut my foot off. To this day I am not sure who it was, but a good neighbour saw what happened rushed in lifted me (while holding my bleeding hanging foot in place) and took me to my mom who happened to me at the Millionaire Street shop, then with her in tow, rushed me to the OLD hospital where I received 24 stitches. So must for ambulances. To this day I still have the huge scar on my foot and occasionally have some reminder pain.
Not too long after that, my Brother Robert and I were running behind a pickup truck, joy riding on St Johnston Ave and pissing the driver off. When we got home a few minutes later, my dad was waiting for us. Some big mouth neighbour saw us and reported us. We were punished. Haha, I won’t tell you what we did to retaliate. When you see Robert, ask him. We were good village boys.
I could not leave without a little banter about Limekilm (Is it 2 words?) Bay. By 13 I could no longer swim naked, did until 10 maybe, even the girls. haha. Getting to the Bay was quite often a challenge. The ground was not solid because of the many hurricanes that destroyed the pathways, so we would have to navigate our way down to the shore. Leaving was a completely different matter.
I was quite a good swimmer at 13, after many years of practicing in the shallow end, my older brother thought it was in my best interest to cut me loose from a tractor tire tube several meters from the shore line. I swam back to the shore, which was quite an achievement, like the right of passage. From that day, I lost all my fears for the water. I would swim out in the Bay with my friends, like Larry Byron who could swim like a fish, until I could see the houses over the trees. If was years after when I saw a National Geographic film that shows all the animals that live in the ocean that I realize how dangerous it was doing the things I did. Hahaha, ignorance is bliss. During the summer, sometimes I would go to the Bay in the morning, go home for lunch then back to the Bay until the sun was about to disappear. Quite a day
On the south side of the Bay on the hill overlooking the bay, sea grapes grew, we would pick those in the summer. Sometimes for adventure we would walk along the road by the old Fort Thomas hotel on the way to where the Fisherman’s Warf restaurant is located. We often stopped an admired the women playing tennis at the tennis club. OK lets forget that I said that. As we continued, there was an almond tree overhanging this high fence. I think the tree belong to the folks that built the hotel. We would throw rocks and the almonds would fall to the ground. If you like almond nuts, that’s not the best part of the fruit (?), it’s the juicy outside, yummy. We were like bees going from tree to another in the afternoon sun.
After a while we would continue along the road to an open area where the Fisherman’s Warf Restaurant now sits. At some point it was a garden, there was a fence and a gate along the road also a bench to sit and look at the water. At the bottom of the grassy area of the park there where rocks where we would sit and often fished for eel. I am not sure if I ever caught any but it was the experience. It was a great spot overlooking the harbour. On Sundays after Sunday school, we would go to that area and hang out.
Also between my house and The Pasture there were 5 mango trees that I was intimately familiar with. You know that people with mango trees do not like to share. Still got my fair share though, given the chance I may have been a great baseball pitcher; I was very accurate at hitting the ripe mangoes with rocks.
One of my chores was to work in the shop; most of the people in the village at some point came to the shop. I got to know them personally, I could go anywhere in the village and be safe, everyone looked out for each other. We are part of the Village Family. My life was content. I was free to go about my life without a care in the world. Compare that to my kid’s life in Toronto, it was the Garden of Eden. I think that is what made me a Kittitian.
Ok, time to move on, I can do this for days, no telling where it would end. There are so many stories, maybe one day ill write a book.
the only Kittitians couch potato in Calgary.