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My Scoutmaster one ah my heroes

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Ah pride me-self as being one ah dem youngsters who had ah good childhood. In my day, Villagers took an interest in de children in de village, dey overs what was meant when yuh say “it will tek ah whole village to raise ah child”! Ah recall ah Scout-master named Hubert Browne, as one ah de people who frequented my village, dey was also some Met-dis missionaries, Saints who before dey left foh Heaven, kept Sunday school in my village too: Lily Wilson, Mother Emily Innis, Mrs Winsborough and Lady John, wife of Sir Rupert.{{more}} But Hubert Browne became ah visiting near-bah when his fiancée, Jane who later became is wife, lived across from my home. He showed up almost every evening, ah man in love! I noticed dat once ah week he dressed like ah policeman, not quite, his uniform nevertheless caught me big time. It was Jane who explained dat he was ah Scout Master and she hooked me up, my only task was to find de courage to tell him ah wanted to join Scouts. So around 1953 ah became ah Met-dis Scout under de guidance of Hubert Browne and his Assistant Walter Cummings.

Dey was great competitiveness among de various Scout Troops in dem days, wid some dedicated and devoted Scout-masters, most ah dem gone to de great beyond: Dey was one “O.B” Browne who ran ah good Anglican Troop, “OB” was ah fun guy to camp wid. Clifton Edwards kept R.C. Troop busy wid boys like Henry Gaynes and Rick Mc Donald. There was ah Sea Scout Troop led by Charlie Small, dey wore black pants, white shirts, sailor caps, dey looked like sailors and were de most colourful and admired on parades. Lawyer Alban Radix had one ah de larger contingent from Calliaqua as well. Den dey was Grammar School, somehow it always seemed like dey got de better attention from de Commissioner, Vin Sprott. Dey had tents to go on camp, which dey never shared; on parades dey shoulders strung off wid proficiency badges, yet when we passed our proficiency tests in Cooking, Swimming, First Aid and so on, dey could never find badges to give us.

Happily foh Scouting however, ah retired Naval Officer named Capt Markham decided to retire in SVG. He was Roman Cat-lick and he lived at de Charles Verbeke Centre, which is now de Kindergarten wing of St Mary’s R.C. Primary School. Capt Markham was rich, he and ah Mad-is-straight, Dudley Johnson adopted de R.C. Scouts and equipped dem wid full Camping Outfit: Tents, cots, blankets, etc and proficiency badges foh all ah we. Unlike Grammar School, de R.C Scouts were allowed to share de use of de Camp equipment with other Troops, thereby making Scouting lots more fun foh us.

One ah my fondest memories as ah Scout was sleeping under ah tent, wrapped in ah blanket on de hard ground. Dat was de dream of every Scout in our Troop, de camp rules: lights-out at nine, no talking after nine fifteen, yet we whispered all night, never slept. We had to be up foh parade at sunrise, to raise de Union Jack and again at sunset when de flag was lowered; we learned good ole colonial discipline early o-clock. Ordinarily we met every Tuesday afternoon way we learned to tie knots, splice and join ropes, make bridges widout nails, using only timber planks and rope. We went thru de Scout Laws, Motto, Pledges and even today ah try to live de words of ah lickle Rhyme we uses to say: “Trusty, Loyal, Helpful; Brotherly, Courteous, Kind; Obedient, Smiling,Thrifty; Pure in body and Mind”! Ah was taught to ” Be Prepared” and “once ah scout, always ah scout”!

But Camp Life was great, de big challenge was learning to cook. As Scouts we were taught to rough-it and survive on de basics: cook on wood fire, using de scout staff to mek ah tripod over de flame to hang de pot, light ah wood fire wid one grain ah matches; kneed flour and mek bakes wid only flour, salt and water; fry bakes widout oil; stew meat widout spices, widout colouring and everything had to be tasty and wid colour, yuh did dat properly, if you wanted to wear ah badge foh Cooking.

Ah wuk me way up, became ah Patrol Leader and wore two white stripes on my shirt pocket wid distinction. Ah learned Semaphore which is communicating wid de use of flags in de day and Morse Code wid ah flashlight by night. Ah still remember de Morse Code call-up sign “VE” di di di dah, dit. My first ride on ah vessel was going to Bequia foh Scout camp, ah vomit from point to point. But when we reached port and ah sailor threw me de rope to tie up de boat, he made an alarm when he noticed how easily and quickly ah tied ah “bowling knot” used only by seamen. Thanks to Scout-master Browne.

Ah was happy to see Mr. Browne de last time he visited; he requested mutton, said he came home to drink plenty goat water and eat mutton. We reminisced on those happy Scouting days, and de great contribution he made to my life as ah child; after all it was strictly voluntary wuk, he uses to take vacation, desert his family to tek us on camps and other Scouting business, many times using his money to mek it all possible. As though something told me dat if ah didn’t thank him foh all he did foh us and foh being my Hero, ah will never get another chance. Lickle did I know dat our last meeting was going to be our last meeting, ah was driven to instant sadness last week when ah read way “Hubert Browne” passed away in de USA. Long live Scouting and long live Hubert in Paradise!

And wid dat, ah gone again.

One Love Bassy

Bassy Alexander is a land surveyor, folklorist and social commentator.

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