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Louis George Ollivierre passed away on October 8, 1988, in his hometown of LaPompe on the island of Bequia, at the age of 73. My maternal grandfather, my “Papa”, passed away while I was attending University in New Jersey. I was in the middle of mid-exams at the term, and I remember regretting that I would not be able to attend his funder. Today would have been his 102nd birthday. To pay tribute to my grandfather and her father, my mother and I collaborated on the following article.

My maternal grandfather Louis George Ollivierre was born in November of 1914, in the Charlotte section of the island of Bequia in the Grenadines. When my grandfather was born, his father, Harold, was 33 and his mother, Heley, was 35. I guess he got a late state with family just like I did. He had one son and four daughters with my grandmother, Mary Celina Victoria McClaren.

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My maternal grandparents, Louis Ollivierre and Celena Victoria McClaren-Ollivierre
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My maternal grandparents with their daughters (back row) and some of their grandchildren (including me).

My mother’s younger sister, and my daughter and I share a common birth month with my Papa1. My grandfather’s first name is also one of my middle names. I guess my mother loved her dad.

My great-grandfather, Harold Ollivierre, owned sheep farms on upper Monkey Hill. As a help to the family, my grandfather learned to be an accurate gun range shooter to scare off the roaming dogs when they went after the sheep.

When a whale was caught and butchered on Petit Nevis, my grandfather was in charge of distributing the share of the kill. But he was not too keen on whaling.

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My maternal grandfather, Louis George Ollivierre (let) sitting with his brother and whaling legend, Athneal Ollivierre on the whaling quay at Petit Nevis.[/caption]_Papa_ was a respected and shrewd entrepreneur who owned rental properties on mainland St. Vincent. From what my mother tells me, up until the time of his passing ran a turtle shell trading business with Japan. Papa owned several boats, including Prodigal, which he built to import items to Bequia for sale and Sea Queen which he used for trading lobster and conch.

While his grandkids called him Papa affectionately, the villagers called him Uncle Louis. According to my mum, Papa sold Sea Queen and settled down from sailing the open sea and set up one of the few local watering holes in La Pompe, a wooden blue rum shop2, which he only called Uncle Louis’ Rum Shop. He built the store near the main road along the lower coast of the island.

My grandfather was also a Justice of the Peace, the only one in the area, and chairman of the local Bequia tourist board. Although he was a quiet, humble man, my grandfather was known to British royalty and local politicians.

Papa was proud to say he attended the Perry School in the Port Elizabeth Church. Circa 1910, Old Mr Perry conducted a Primary School in half of the downstairs during the week, and on Sabbaths, the Seventh-day Adventists held their Sabbath School and church services there.

My grandfather’s seafaring took him and his brother Barton, who owned fishing seines3, to Carriacou and Petit Martinique where at times he always tried to help people in community work whenever asked. Papa was a money lender on the island, but he always sought to give back to the community. In the sixties, he offered his carpentry skills free of charge to help build houses.

His favourite spot was on the porch where he could see the ocean and chat with passersby.

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1. For some reason, I grew up calling my grandparent “Papa” and “Mama”. Apparently, my older cousin, Cashena, started it all. [?](#fnref-21720-1)
2. A _rum shop_ is the typical West Indies word for a sports bar. Typically, men, not women, go to the bar after work and have a shot (or two or three) of 100 proof white rum chased with a shot of water. Rum shops often serve bar food and other liquors. For some reason when I searched Wikipedia for the phrase **rum shop**, one of the results was a link to [Carriacou](http://www.wikiwand.com/en/Carriacou) [?](#fnref-21720-2)
3. A seine is a fishing net that hangs vertically in the water with its bottom edge held down by weights and its top edge buoyed by floats. [?](#fnref-21720-3)

Monkey Hill, house, sky, steps

My mother took this photo during one of her recent trips to the LaPompe section of the island of Bequia where her parents lived and where I spent the first two years of my life; before there were siblings; I had my grandparents attention all to myself. The house is located at the top middle level of one of the highest hills on the island. The locals have nicknamed the area Monkey Hill. There are no monkeys on the island. I am uncertain as to the origin of the name.

The house has no sewage, no running water, and no electricity. But it has lots of memories. Memories of a carefree childhood spent under the doting and watchful eye of my grandparents, Louis and Celina Ollivierre. Some of the memories are not pleasant to Americans used to municipal running water etc, but the experience is no more rustic or strange than living in the bayou of Louisianna.

I remember needing to complete a bowel movement while sitting in an outhouse in the high heat of summer. Ugh! Stinky. However, I enjoyed taking outdoor showers after helping my grandfather fill the tank atop the outdoor shower. Outhouse or not, I love my grandparents, and I would not have traded my early childhood with them for anything in the world.

My grandparents kept a few chickens, goats and sheep on the property behind the house. I often helped my grandmother move the sheep and goats, which were staked to a feeding spot with a long rope and a metal spike. Sometimes I would help her milk a goat or sheep. Have you ever drank fresh goat milk straight from the animal? It’s so rich and creamy.

View from atop Monkey Hill, Bequia.  I scanned this from an old damaged print my mom gave me.
View from atop Monkey Hill, Bequia. I scanned this from an old damaged print my mom gave me.

The house looks a bit worse for wear in this photo. The wood has probably rotted, and critters have most likely taken up residence. The upstairs area has three bedrooms and a living room. I remember lazy evenings with my grandfather sitting on the steps looking out and over at the Caribbean Sea. The bottom of the house is where my grandparents kept their ground provisions and other foodstuff including cured whale meat, fish, farine etc.

I spent a lot of time with my grandparents during the summer days of my youth. My father once held a position as branch manager at Barclays Bank in the Port Elizabeth area on Bequia. We lived on the top floor of the building for a few years when I was about five years old. Every weekend was an opportunity to hang out with my grandparents.

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Another, but much older, image of the house, scanned from a print.

The house looks a lot smaller than I remember, but it has three bedrooms and a living room. The home is cooled by the constant but gentle Windward Caribbean breezes that blow salty sweet air over the hills.

The building to the left in the photo is the original kitchen. It had no gas and no electricity. It had a coal-fired stove and oven. Yes, coal-fired. My grandmother cooked fish and fungi for breakfast and sometimes “bakes”. Sometimes she would bake bread. This was my treat. Freshly baked bread with generous amounts of salted butter. And to wash it all down, a large white enamel mug filled with coffee and mostly milk or maybe a mug of bush tea. I guess my grandmother impressed me early in childhood with the delicious flavours of a homemade cafe-au-lait.

My grandparent passed away decades ago. I miss them.

Image from Kevin Downes on Facebook.

IMG_2957.JPGI have such fond memories of being with my grandparents, Louis & Celina Ollivierre, on Petit Nevis, while the whale was being butchered. There was much commotion as people piled homemade charcoal and gathered sticks to stoke the fire pits for cooking the whale meat. The men would butcher and the women would cook. I would hang around the fire near grandmother — I called her Mama — and when I was hungry she would hand me a calabash bowl with a bit of corned whale meat; maybe some cassava farina — farine in the Bequia creole — and corn cou-cou. The meat was cooked in large cast iron pots and my grandmother would spend the day storing the pot. Always stirring.

Watching this 60-minute documentary, which includes a clip with my Great Uncle Athneal, I could feel and smell the salty breeze that constantly filled the air on Bequia. Life was simple but it was paradise. I miss it.

The documentary has been been released on DVD and I bought a copy. I am so excited to share some of my family’s legacy with my kids.

The Wind That Blows – documentary trailer from Tom Weston DP on Vimeo.

Spanning an entire generation and told from the perspective of a proud people infinitely more connected to nature than any Prius driver, this film challenges conventional thought about the impact of global conservation and modernization.

You can also rent or download a high definition digital version of the 60 minutes film from Vimeo.