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Jean and her Taree sugar cake


Ole people say ‘so ah man live, so he die.’Last Thursday when ah looked around in Met-dis Church, down-stairs packed,de stairs to de upstairs as well as de two upper wings were lined wid people. Was ah massive crowd dat turned out to pay our last respects to Jean. Right dey ah asked me-self ‘what do I have to do, to full up de Church like dat when ah die’. Was no Pyar-Pyar crowd eh: Former Speaker of de House Monty Maule was at his very best on de pulpit; he did it foh Jean, his former co-worker; dey was Deputy Prime Minister Sir Louis on one side, Awe-position representative foh West Kingstown Major Leacock on de other and some-way in de middle to say “de I’s have it!” was Speaker of de House, Jomo Thomas.

De staff of Income Tax Department led by Comptroller Pomper was in full force in numbers but, not in volume when dey paid Tribute wid a lovely rendition in song. Actually, Jean’s last job before retiring was wid de Tax Depatment way she spent 35 years. Ah would venture to say dat is only in Go-venom-mint ah wuker will start at de very bottom ah de ladder, spend 35 years on de same job, wuk faithfully and end up de very same place at de bottom. Jean was ah Messenger, later upgraded in name to Office Attendant, same duties, same uniform, same pay.

It is now obvious dat when Jean was born, de two daughters of George VI and Elizabeth, King and Queen of England, were lickle princesses, and so wid great expectations foh Jean, her parents, or whosoever name her, decided to add royalty to Jean and named her Margaret, Elizabeth. Trust me, Jean was not only ah Princess and ah Queen, she lived ah very humble and respectable life.

Ms Lovey would ah bin too poor to send her daughter Jean to High School, and back in dem days yuh had to attend Grammar School or High School, to be qualified as having Book Cents. Wid no disrespect, Jean didn’t have any ah dat, but she would have heard ah lot ah sayings ole people had to say bout Eddy-care-shun, in particular de saying “Common Cents beat Book Cents”, and dat may have resonated well wid Jean. Armed wid her limited Culinary Skills, she went straight looking foh de Dollars’n’Cents: Ground-nut and Coconut Sugar Cake, Tullum, Tarree Sugar Cake, Ginger Stick, home-made Bread and Black Cake. Marketing her products was never ah problem. Somebody said dat Jean is de only person dat commanded two jobs at de same wuk-place, wuking de same hours. When she went to deliver letters to Tax Offenders, she sweetened dem up wid ah sale of her Sugar Cakes etc. Ah remember telling her dat ah not buying her sugar cakes anymore, how de doctor say ah must stop using sugar. “Sugar?” she scoffed, “but I don’t use Sugar in my Sugar Cakes, is Molasses I does use!” No wonder her Tarrie Sugar Cake was so delicious.

De lickle business had grown so big dat delivering had become ah problem. Common Cents told her to ‘throw false pride out de door’, and she got herself ah trolley.

Dey was balance and normalcy in her life. She gave birth to two sons, Bert and Brandon, whom she ensured got de best Book Cents available. She met me one day and said she had ah lickle secret to share, how she trying ah lickle thing. De lickle thing was dat she had bought a parcel of land in Beachmont, ah middle income community. “Ah might as well mek ah start and build de lickle coop one time,” she said. She built ah beautiful two storey building. Dat day when ah looked at my Humble Near-bar and Faithful friend, ah message came home as clear as crystal: “Hard Work wid Common Cents and Dollar’n’Cents would beat Book Cents every day, and pushing ah Trolley to deliver Sugar Cake, and dat sugar-less Tarree Sugar Cake could Pay.

When ah get to Heaven, Jean will be at de Gate to serving her Tarree Sugar Cake made from Honey not Molasses, and Milk. And wid dat is gone ah gone again.

One Love Bassy.

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