A moment of daily life

I cherish my childhood memories in Bequia during the 1970s.

Bequia and Antigua & Barbuda have the best memories of all the places I've lived. I don’t remember the dates1, but we lived in Bequia in the 1970s. My memories are that I was about five when I attended the Bequia Seventh Day Adventist Primary School. I remember walking to school and taking a shortcut through a cemetery to get to the school. I remember my Uncle Errol, mom’s baby brother, lived near the school.

We lived in a two-bedroom flat on the top floor of the Barclays Bank office in Port Elizabeth, just a few doors down from the Frangipani Beach Hotel. The flat had a view of Port Elizabeth Beach, just a short stroll from the front of the building.

This is another scan from Mom’s photo albums. Living in Bequia meant that I got to hang out with my maternal cousins and my grandparents. In the photograph, right to left, are my Wallace cousins, Cashena (Susie), Jacinta and Bronte and me. We are standing outside the Barclays Bank branch office in Port Elisabeth. This is either before school or after school.

In the rustic background, you can see lush trees and a wooden structure, possibly a residence or an outbuilding, which contrasts with the formal construction of the bank. The ground is unpaved, conveying the rural feel of Port Elizabeth at the time.

  1. I need to keep jogging Mom’s memory. 

Not Mama’s Breakfast

Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day, perhaps because it is associated with fond memories of my maternal grandmother. All the grandkids called her Mama. I’m not sure how that came about, but it’s what we called her. Anyway, I'm feeling nostalgia and decided to write a short post.

Mama made the most delicious breakfast that, to this date, has never been surpassed. It was a simple breakfast of fresh-baked bread, sliced thick and slathered with salted yellow butter, fried jackfish, fried ham, which is almost like a form of Canadian bacon. The smell of the ham cooking was sort of a hint that breakfast was almost ready. Fresh eggs from the chicken coop and sometimes, if I was lucky, Mama fried up thick slices of cou-cou or bakes.

I would devour my breakfast as fast as I could. Every bite was like a warm all-engulfing hug from Mama. She would always ask, “You want bush tea or cocoa tea”. Either one was heaven in a mug.

An old photo of my grandmother, Mary Marguerite Ollivierre.

The breakfast I eat now is far removed from the love that Mama cooked up in her charcoal-fired stove and oven in her outdoor kitchen. Turkey bacon and English muffins and grits are a poor substitute. It was while making this morning's breakfast that memories of my grandmother came flooding in. I miss her.

Eggs and bacon | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 32.1 mm | f/4.0 | ISO 10000


The Tuesday Photo Challenge is a weekly theme-based challenge for photographers of all kinds to share both new and old photography. #fpj-photo-challenge

This week's challenge was challenging for me. I was looking up the definition of nostalgia.

a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.

I was born and raised in the former British West Indies. The culture, food, buildings and beaches are not duplicated in anything that can be found in New Jersey. Or anywhere else on the East Coast. Or the United States. I spent my youth living in St. Vincent, Bequia, St. Lucia, Barbados, and Antigua.

The family home and the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea are thousands of miles away. I spent my early years living upstairs in the old Barclays Bank in Princeton Margaret beach in Bequia. The entrance to the building was about 200 meters from the beach. This is where I spent a lot of time with my brothers and friends. We played beach cricket with tennis balls and bats improvised from the dead branches of coconut trees. Sometimes we played intense games of marbles "for keeps". I don't remember the rules of marble games, but I know the games were hotly contested. Sometimes we just ran up and down the beach as fast as possible. I was always the fastest.


Sometimes my Mom would take us to visit our grandparents at their home on Monkey Hill. I loved helping my grandmother gather eggs from the chickens. Less enjoyable was moving the goats from one pasture to another. Goats can be difficult. If I was lucky, Mama1 would take me with her to pick sapodilla and sugar apples and we would climb all the way to the very top of Monkey Hill. There was always a good breeze, and I could see everything down to the coast below.

Grandmother, Me, Mom | Thursday 6 August 1998

Those were good times.

I have no access to any of that, and in the thirty-two years I have lived in the United States, I can’t think of anything I have experienced in the USA that evokes those memories. The Jersey Shore beach water is brown. The ocean air does not smell the same. The food is American. It doesn’t feel the same.

I don't have old photos to share. My parents either didn't own a camera at that time, or my mom has them in some precious album of her own. My mom lives in Florida, but right now is on holiday in St. Vincent.

I drove over to a shop in Hopewell, Twine, looking for inspiration. Twine sells various items; wooden boxes, old painted stools, flashcards, pencils, scrabble tiles, labels, books, etc. My daughter came with me. The only thing that seemed nostalgically familiar was the stack of marbles. I bought a handful.

Next door was an antique store, Tomato Factory. I saw a few things — vintage oil lanterns — that reminded me of my early life in the British West Indies, but ultimately there was nothing that I could take home. Photography in the store was not allowed.

This marbles photo does not include boys in khaki pants, beach sand or sunsets.

I was saddened while I was writing this. All this thinking about my past had made me acutely nostalgic. I realise how much I have lost.

The Tuesday Photo Challenge is a weekly theme-based challenge for photographers to share both new and old photography. This week's theme is nostalgia.

  1. All the grandchildren called her “mama”. ?