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Does anybody remember yuh?

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Good Engineers are few and far to find, and dis country has lost ah wuk-horse wid de passing of Jeffery Cato. Maybe ah could recap ah bit and recognize some ah de great Engineers who gave yeoman service as public servants in dis country.{{more}}

Dey was Alec Grant an Engineer who was Superintendant of Public Works in de 1940s/1950s, dah was before my time. Ah heard he was dread, ah no non-cents man. He was part ah de Colonialist legacy way Accountability was de order ah de day. Dishonest Public Servants went to jail foh stealing Government money back in dem times. Ah was at PWD Stores and Transport Division in 1961when Grant came out ah retirement, just to hold de Fort until dey had found ah replacement foh de den PWD Superintendant, Ronnie Smith who had returned to his homeland, Grenada.

Eventually, one Arthur Dalrymple, ah Dominican wid ah young family turned up. Dalrymple was like ah father figure and Mentor, he encouraged me to do Land Surveying. He was ah hard worker, maybe too soft to deal wid dem unscrupulous politicians who were insistent in controlling things, same thing happening today. Dey pressured dat gentleman till he literally died on de job. Nobody, except of course his family remembers Dalrymple today.

Another noble Vincentian who served his country wid dignity was Ruddy Matthews, ah young Engineer who headed de Ministry of Works, he was Mitchell’s right hand man. Like de wuk-horse, Boxer in Animal Farm, Rudy wuk himself to death. He too died on de Job! Ah bet nobody, except his family remembers Ruddy.

Ah think Rueben Bailey is next on my list, another Vincentian and Chief Engineer at de Ministry of Works. He served well wid both Cato and Mitchell’s Administration, today we only remember de name Bailey because his son, Brent has followed in his ‘father’s footsteps’, and is presently de Engineer at MCW.

Bradley Francis served but early o-clock, he read between de lines and didn’t wait, he launched out into private practice. But Jeffrey was de faithful and obedient servant, de latest lamb to de slaughter. Too decent, too soft. Took ah lot ah innocent blame foh de mistakes and incompetence of his juniors. He would ah wuk wid more dan one administration and he got dey pull-it-tek-all medication. No better de beef……

Ley me divert from Jeffrey, before ah forget Maurice Slater, an Engineer/Architect who came home full ah N-ah-G, ready to serve dis country in any capacity, he thought of Politics, to replace his cousin Dug-he in South Leeward, but he ended up at Housing and Land Corporation. Maurice was ah man wid Ability, Honesty and Conscience, ah rare combination in these times and place. He was just beginning to clean up de bad pull-it-tek-all image at Housing, when St Peter sent for him ah year ago. Ah ask de question, does anybody, except Maurice’s family remember him?

Ley me close Jeffrey’s chapter. Ah think we gave de Tie-one-knees too much ratings foh building de Rabacca Bridge over de river dat some felt was impassable. And very lickle was said about Jeffrey who produced de designs and convinced Ralph dat Rabbacca was no River Qwai, it could be bridged.

Ah recall sitting on ah Church Committee dat was about to build ah children’s home. We found ah donor who wanted to see facts and figures, drawings and estimates. We had no money to pay foh dis kind ah service. So we asked Jeffrey to come on board and helped. Argyle had just started and he was under heavy pressure, yet he found de time to deliver all dat de donor had requested. Not ah cent he charged.

Widout ah doubt Jeff’s greatest pride and joy would ah bin to witness de first plane land and take off at Argyle Airport, for it was at Argyle way he spent de last four years, wuking on ah project way dey was never ah dull moment. Ah week didn’t pass an Argyle Airport was not headline news, be it Radio, TV, Talk Show, de Newspapers and all over de die-us-poorer. De polly-trickans played ah lot ah football games wid dat Airport. De Awe-position trying to convince de nation dat was no way de cash-strapped Guv-ah-mint could finish de Airport, and de Guv-ah-mint, widout knowing way de money coming from, kept on lie-ing about willing collision and deadline, shifting de completion date like ah goal post, dey still lie-ing.

No doubt all dis pull-it-tek-all game playing, brought nothing but unnecessary pressure on de man assigned to deliver de goods, Jeffrey, de scape-goat who day and night, gave his heart and soul. His body finally gave out, his lungs literally mal-functioned, too much pull-it-tel-all garbage and dust. Mountains moved destroying Bread baskets, Homes and Church demolished, Graves, ancient and modern were dug up, dead bodies exhumed and transferred. Ah lot, maybe too much and only God knows how, where and when de last step in Jeffrey’s journey began. Yet another fallen soldier who served SVG faithfully and well. And I ask de rhetorical question:” Will anybody, except Jeffrey’s family, remember him?” May his soul find de Peace dat only Christ giveth! And wid dat is gone ah gone again.

One Love Bassy

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

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