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Tribute to Fred Trimmingham


Some say it is an African Proverb, others claim it came from a Native American Tribe; regardless of its origin, the phrase “It takes a whole Village to raise a child” is not only relevant, but true. I feel honoured to say that Fred and I were born in Murray’s Village in 1940 and 1941 respectively. We never left; spent all of our 75 years within this closely knitted community. As boys, we roamed the Village, picked mangoes; fish in the river, played games in the day, played games in the night, pitched marbles, spin top, fly kite, learn to swim right outside the Financial Complex.{{more}} Fred was the smallest tenor pan player in the Murray’s Village Star Stylers; he also played with the Trimmingham Bum Drum of Murray’s Village; He excelled in cricket and Football, when he gave his heart and soul both as player and Coach, I was elated and proud to be on the sidelines cheering for my Villager. He lived a productive life, eleven children with five wives I have five children with eleven wives oops! Two wives.

Fred’s sister Millicent tells me that on the 17 th February 1940, one week after Carnival, the community midwife Nurse, Magdalene Stephen, went to a little Trash House not far from her home in Murray’s Village and delivered Francis Benskins-Trimmingham last child, Fred Ezekiel Trimmingham.

Francis and her common law husband, Sammy St Cyr lived peacefully with their seven children in a traditional wattle’n’darb, “Trash House” that was situated on the river bank. The Trash House back then, was a symbol of poverty. But Francis and Sammy were proud of their well built and designed Castle, no doubt, they were mindful that “the poor man’s house is his castle, and the Trimmingham’s Castle was spacious and comfortable enough to hold nine souls.

This simple structure was inexpensive to construct, material was cheap like dirt: Dirt floor, dirt walls, grass roof, three chambers, a hall or living-room that was furnished with two sofas for sleeping space; a porch where “Papa Sammy” (St Cyr) who was a proud shoe-maker ply his trade to provide for his family. There was a Fire-side with three stones where cooking and roasting the breadfruit took place. Look how swiftly Times have changed. Today the Trash House now renamed a Thatch Hut is one of the more expensive suites in most upmarket tourist resorts.

The Trimmingham family speaks proudly of their Roots. Beginning with Francis’ grand-mother (Elizabeth Benskins-Trimmingham) she was German and British descendant; while Papa Sammy’s surname St Cyr suggests he was French. This conglomeration of Genes and blood types from Germany, Britain, France mixed with African and Garifuna no doubt explains much about our aggressive, hasty, quick tempered but a very lovable “Garrincha” our Fallen Soldier Fred Ezekiel Trimmingham.

The Sammy St Cyr and Francis Benkins-Trim­ming­ham union produced seven siblings: Richard and George deceased, Stella, Millicent, Sylvie deceased, Syble and last but not least the Water Carrier, Fred a tiny baby. In Folklore the Water Carrier is the last piglet in any litter. It is usually the smallest but quickly develops, grows faster and bigger than the rest of the litter. Fred was born small and nothing changed after; he remained small until he died, small. He always boast of Small Axe does cut down the biggest tree! And Becket lifted his Ego wid a biting Calypso: “Small pin does chuck hard!”

The Village that saw us through had three Private School more like the Kindergarten of today that gave us an opportunity to learn the Alphabet (ABC) and to count from one to ten: At age five we all moved into the Church Schools in Kingstown: Methodist, Anglican or Catholic, every man to his own order and religion. Fred went to St Mary’s. We might have been separated in different schools but everybody stuck together travelling from home to school and back. Those daily journeys helped to bond us, providing us with a sense of security and confidence, Our motto was: Touch one yuh touch all. And with street fighters like Fred and Alvin Matthias, nobody messed with the Murray Village Posse.

Fred became devastated around 1951, when Rich­mond Hill Govern­ment School, now Tommy Saun­ders Secondary opened its doors. The school was built to take care of the children living within close proximity: Sion Hill, Murray Village, Frenches. Most of us were trasnsfered to RHGS, Fred’s parents kept him at St Mary’s R.C. That did not go down well with Fred. He refused to be separated and every day he didn’t exactly Bun School; he attended Classes on Richmond Hill Pasture playing Cricket and Football all day wid kids like Cardo.

But his love for Football and Cricket forced him to re-enter St Mary’s where he became captain of the Primary School Cricket Team. He was a fast bow­ler, shying like hell, intimidating the opponents who were very much his juniors with a vicious bouncer he had at his disposal.

Fred produced 26 grand children and 4 great grand from an eleven member squad dat reads: Wayne Williams; Marcelle, Darius, Roselle, Mahlon, Cassandra and Cornelius Huggins, there is Wendy Branch; Fred France; and last but not least Fredsika and Fred-roy from Owia (Joke about Frede and the Van)

Fred was born a sports­man, both player and coach. Maybe his failing to attend school, prevented him from commanding a big job. But Fred enjoyed what he did best, and best of all he enjoyed life.

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