St. Vincent Botanical Gardens

Preschool photographs of me and my brother.

When I was a boy, we lived in a home on the side of the hill in the New Montrose section of Kingstown. The home was a rental house across the street from the St. Vincent Botanical Gardens. Mom often took us to the garden to run around and play with our dog, who she thought was named Snowy. I vaguely remember running around, stopping to play with the small tropical fish that swam among the lily pads.

Mom remembers that I would have been about four years old. My younger brother Shane would have been one year old. The youngest, Bruce, would be born later in Barbados.

Mom, Shane, and Me · circa 1971

The Bank House - St. Vincent

Dad moved around a lot within the British Commonwealth Caribbean for his career. By the time I was eighteen (1984), I had lived in St. Vincent, Bequia, St. Lucia, Barbados, St. Kitts and Antigua and attended two pre-schools, two primary schools and two high schools. Whenever we lived on an island that was not his country of birth (St. Vincent, which was most of the time), Dad's employer, Barclay Bank Plc., provided a home. The higher the job the position, the bigger and more appointed the home.

Kingstown is the capital city of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. It combines colonial charm with a vibrant atmosphere. The city is characterised by its colourful, historic buildings, bustling farmers' markets, and picturesque waterfront. The heart of Kingstown is Heritage Square, a lively hub where locals and visitors gather. St. Mary's Cathedral and the Carnegie Library showcase the island's rich history. Kingstown's bustling farmers' markets offer an array of tropical fruits, spices, and crafts.

Wednesday 5 August 1998

By the time of my brother’s wedding in 1998, Dad was the branch manager in St. Vincent, and the bank had moved him into what, at the time, was called the "manager house". The house was just off London Road in the Cane Garden section of Kingstown, overlooking the Kingstown Harbour. This is where we stayed in 1998 on a short excursion to Bequia right after my brother's wedding.

Wednesday 5 August 1998

Dad set us up in the one-bedroom, one-bathroom guest house on the northern side of the house. Vincentians were into landscaping (but not grass-scraping), and the grounds were full of tropical trees, including flamboyant (Delonix regia), date palm, coconut palm, guava, and mango. Bhavna had fun cooling and relaxing at the pool, but she was very excited by the mangoes ripening on the tree.

Wednesday 5 August 1998
Wednesday 5 August 1998
Wednesday 5 August 1998
Saturday 8 August 1998

I'm sorry for the quality of these photographs. When we took this vacation, APS film was being pushed by Kodak as the future of film photography. I was ignorant and bought into the hype. I purchased an APS film camera and several rolls of APS film, the worst camera to bring on a vacation. The quality of APS film could have been better to the 35mm film format it was intended to replace. 35mm film is still made and sold, but APS (along with Kodak) was relegated to the dustbin of history.

Ready for school, 1969

I'm going through some old photos from two boxes that Mom brought with her near the end of last February.

I'm going through some old photos from two boxes that Mom brought with her near the end of last February. The plan was that Mom would visit for a few weeks before seeing her family in Bequia. Shaan and Kiran were at college, and Bhavna and I had just completed our kitchen renovation project. We had lots of space, and Mom enjoyed using the updated kitchen. Mom and I would go through these two huge boxes of negative and prints, and I would scan them in, attempt to restore any damaged images, and document the story behind each photograph.

But she had a dental emergency and wanted to visit her dentist in Charlotte. By the time she had resolved, a global pandemic had hit the east coast and shut everything down. Mom was stuck in Charlotte with my brother, Shane, and I had no way to meet with the sole remaining storyteller for these images. Dad passed in 2019, and my grandparents passed decades ago. A few months after her trip to Charlotte, she insisted she needed to be "home", so we discussed the risk and bought her a ticket. She's doing fine, enjoying time with her cousins and sisters, nieces and nephews.

I scanned some of the prints anyway. Hopefully, soon, Mom will be back stateside to tell me the what/who/when/where.

The little person in this photograph is me. I'm guessing that it was taken around 1969 when I was four years old. If I recall correctly, Mom probably dressed me for my first day of pre-school. At the time, schools required all students to wear uniforms. I think many still do today. I believe this is the house my parents were renting in the New Montrose section of Kingstown in St. Vincent. New Montrose mainly was a residential neighbourhood with tiny two-bedroom homes built on the side of a relatively steep hill. I still have these lucid dreams of being in a car being driven up and across the roads in New Montrose.

Dad's eldest sister lived a few houses away. When I was ready for school, Mom and I would walk over to my aunt's house. My older cousin Joann and I would then walk to the school together.

The entrance to the St. Vincent Botanical Gardens was across the road from the house. Mom took us to the garden often, where we were allowed to run around with our family dog, smell the fragrant flowers and watch the tadpoles swimming in the lily pond. The house is now the site of the American University Of St Vincent School of Medicine.

I shared the scan with Mom via WhatsApp, but she has no idea who took this photo and what camera or film was used. The photograph was most likely taken by mom herself. What popular cameras did consumers use in the late 1960s?