Be prepared Nicky scouting around
Dey’s ah Rum Shop story dat after Papa Jim had ah belly-full ah roast breadfruit wid roast corn(ed) pork foh supper; he washed it down wid ah cup of Chark-lit Tea made white wid nuff fresh cow’s milk. He lived alone in his lickle wattle and darb (thatch) hut. He stretched on de Sofa and belch, even de dogs outside heard him and started to bark.
“Tonight me belly so full, if death come anytime now, ah ready foh him” he said. Same time drunken Nickey was passing thru de yard, heard him, decided to play games wid him. Nickey knocked on Papa Jim’s door. “Ah who dat? What yu want?” asked Papa Jim. “Ah me,” said Nickey. “Me who” asked Papa Jim. Since Jim did not recognize his voice, Nickey decided to stretch de joke ah bit: “Ah me, Death! ah hear yu say yuh ready so ah could come.”
Uncle Jim stumped fo words, he replied : “Is joke ah joking Mr Death, do yuh eat pork and breadfruit, Mr Death?” Nickey sensed fear in Jim’s voice and said: “Yes, do yuh have any leftovers, ready to eat?” Papa Jim knew when death hit de house he could be bribed, except Jim had no more of his sumptuous dinner left. So he said to Nickey:: “ Ah doh have any dat ah cooked remaining, but ah have ah lickle barrow pig in de pen and ah sack ah full breadfruit in de yard, ah wonder if yuh will settle foh dat,” said Papa Jim. Next morning Papa Jim pig and bag of breadfruit gone! And de wire bend and de ‘tory end!
Ah doh know what ah might ah said in me sleep, but on April 8, Nickey seems stuck pon dis breadfruit and roast pork diet pass thru de USA, looking foh pig and breadfruit but found none. De next morning ah got de sad news dat me cousin, Walter Cummings (87 years) was gone!, Earlier dis month, Nickey passed thru de states again, no luck, ah got ah breadfruit tree but ah doh keep pigs, next morning ah got another message, dat me last uncle on me father side, Henry Bramwell Alexander (94 years) gone too.
The passing of Walter Cummings is close to home. His mom was Alexander, dear to my grandparents. Granny was bringing me up too soft, ah real spoil-brat; so my mother insisted ah joined de Met-dis Boys Scout and get tuff. “Yuh need to go wid Walter, go hiking in de hills and camping and get ah life,” she said. Ah was 10 years ole and in two years time ah was Patrol Leader, getting tuff. Scouting was my greatest experience growing up as ah youth. Walter Cummings was the Scout Master junior to Hubert Brown. Dey were role models. We learned and earned ah lot ah efficiency Badges “Lighting wood fire on which to cook; We did just about everything wid ah rope Tying knots, Whipping and Lashing” rope, nothing to do wid flogging.”Swimming and Boat-rowing;” We went to de Hospital foh training foh our “First Aid/ Ambulance Badges!”
Dey was great rivalry among Scout Troups: Grammar School, Roman Cat-lick, Anglican, Charlie Small ran ah Sea Scout Troup dat out-dressed us all wid de real military sailors outfit.. . But no leader was better dan our two young Scouters, Cummings and Browne. Dem men uses to abandon dey young families on weekends; specifically to take us camping under tent, at de Ole King George VI Playing Field, now de decommissioned E.T. Joshua Airport. We camped in Bequia foh two weeks. De training and experience of living under ah tent should be ah “must do” foh our youngsters (male or female) today. Dat might help dem one way or de other, to mek up dey minds about going in de hills to go live wid Miss Marie Warner on her plant-hear-shun..
My Granny did not want me to go camping in Bequia, she gave an honest excuse, dat at de time she could not afford de EC$3.00 dat covered passage and food foh two weeks. So ah cried all weekend until Sunday midday, Cummings came to our home and told her dat he would take care of my Camp fee EC$3.00.
Walter later migrated to de USA in de early 1960’s, followed by wife Massoleen Da Silva, children Liz and Ann, Dudley and Russell. His children always described him as ah special Dad. He was home 25 years ago and we spent ah lot ah quality time together, cooking Boy Scout style. He was ah great friend and family. If ah had to name someone who would have helped to mould and guide me during my early or fragile childhood, ah would thankfully say “My Scout Master, Walter Cummings. Dat was before dat wicked fellar, Nickey went looking to him foh Breadfruit and pig. And wid dat is gone ah gone again.
One Love Bassy.
Bassy Alexander is a land surveyor, folklorist and social commentator.