April 12, 2008

Jamaican Memory Joggers

Jamaican Flag Now that I've turned fifty, I think I can indulge myself in this e-mail that my brother, Burt, sent me, which has been compiled via e-mail chain.

I've decided to publish it because I've written about so many of these people, places, and events in my poetry collections, Exodus and Other Poems, Florida Bound, hurricane center, xango music; my novel, Benjamin, my Son, and short stories, Uncle Obadiah and the Alien.

Interestingly, these topics (many of which I've had to add to my dictionary in Microsoft Word) have also been the subject of a few posts (see below) that I've written about on this blog. And while some are specific to Jamaica, they are also transglobal, generational memories that bloggers such as Rethabile and Stephen Bess share.

Yet, even as I write this, I realize that this is not merely nostalgia. These memories shaped what I have called the Reggae/Rastafari Generation (Benjamin) or the Jamaican Baby Boomers, many of whom are now part of the Jamaican Diaspora.

One of a writer's duties (see how non-American I am) is to memorialize and analyze--name--the people, places, events, lives, and light (genius) of his/her people. The bad, the good, and the ugly. To put into words what others have seen, heard, tasted, smelled, and felt in a way that only s/he can.

And even though these memories are selective, they tell us about who we are/were (class divisions and aspirations) and about our expectations of what a "good life" should be.


Miss Lou

Sister Maureen Clare at Immaculate (I Can't Have Sex) with her ruler and flashlight for separation at the fetes

Radcliffe Butler on RJR with 'The Butler Did It', 'Midnight Mood'.

Dorothy La Croix (Dottie Dean).

Mr. Mac gas station at the bottom of Old Hope Road with the foul mout parrot.

On Radio, Charlie Babcock, CB, the cool fool, the man about town.

Mista Chin, who told Charlie Babcock, "Yu nuh cool fool, yu damn fool, call man at 5 o'clock in the mawning"

Lannaman's Lollipop Land for Children with Dorothy Hosang.

Half Pint, Pint Bottle - pronounced (Hep pint, pint bakkle) by the man on his donkey cart.

The Rasta man selling 'cobweb' brooms on Sundays with his "Brooman" shout.

Shrimpy man on his big head Honda 50 .... selling more than just shrimp!

Runna ... he used to run naked up Wellington Drive towards Mona Dam.

Wayne Chin - "Win Chin say man who ride and dilly dally, end up on hospital trolly". "Win Chin say, man who go to bed with stiff problem, wake up with sticky solution".

InCrowd (Peter Phillips) - never did understand why they played "Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep"!!

The "walker" on Hope Road with the bruk foot and stick

Fudgie – fudge man

Gleeeeeeeeeeeeeeaner! – Gleaner man!

Starrie – Star man

Spoogie – DJ

Barry G – DJ

Francois – DJ

Maas Ran

Reverend V. B.

Boops: "See im deh… im still de bout"


Three Piece Suit an Ting


If the rocks at Mona Central Park could talk!

Port Royal tower by the police station.

Cable Hut beach

Riding a Honda to Cable Hut to hear Mystic Revelation of Rastafari

Roy Reid - 'Reid at Random'.

Monty's Drive-In after Harbour View movies.

Bath Botanical Gardens in St. Thomas.


Gino's Fast (Fart) Food.





Epiphany, when it was run by Evon Williams.

Tuck Shops!

Turn Table Time' with E.T.

Bob singing at Dizzy's

Getting lost in the Maze at Hope Gardens

Empty lots in Harbour View

Four lines of bumper to bumper into Harbour View Drive In

Thursday Nights drag racing in front of Epiphany (when Barry Lee was the Manager)

When you were leaving on a flight from Palisadoes to go to Miami for one week and the whole family would turn out to wave from the Waving Gallery?

Lime night at Mona Church youth group

Turn Table Club – Merritones


When Mother's was one of only 5 fish & festival stalls at Hellshire

Sports Clubs – the hang out in our young professional adulthood – every company worth its salt had one for during the week after work limes domino etc NCB Sports Club,

Myers Fletcher, JPS, Citizens Bank

Suzette – Bus to greater Portmore

Milkshake at Dairy Farmers

Banana Split at Oxford Pharmacy

Monty's Drive Inn

Kelly's soft drinks

Shakey’s Pizza


JC boys descending on St. Andrew High school "events," and Ms. Reader going berserk!

Day Fete – party we can go to in the day since we were not allowed out to late night party

Ring Ding

Jonkanoos who actually came to your house at Independence.

Chukka Mo ... ice cream bar

Drag racing in New Kingston & Red Hills gully

When your phone had a party line

5 digit phone numbers

Long walks home with friends after crashing a party in Hope Pastures, Barbican, and Graham Heights.

Jamaica Omnibus Service.--Jolly Joseph and Patty Pan bus

Palisadoes airport.

When you could actually swim at Gunboat Beach.

When Havendale was the place to live.

When JBC Radio 2 played commercial free music.

When you could walk yards out into the crystal clear waters at Hellshire.

Boulevard Drive Inn (now JPS).

Burgerman on Trafalgar Road (I believe it is now called Veranda).

Brooks Shoppers Fair on Washington Boulevard.

Ford Anglia motorcars.

Morris Minors with the indicators that flipped out.

Times Stores.

Standing on your roof and listening for the direction the music was coming from to crash the party.

Where It's At (Not)

Matilda's Corner barber (where the Texaco gas station is now)

The milkman and the bread man delivering in the cart then van

When 22 and 67 were the new bus routes

Teenage hikes to New Castle and Hardware Gap

Taking the train to MoBay

When you got to a party, not knowing how you were getting home at 3 or 4 in the morning.

Going home from the party with 10-12 people in the same car OR walking home.

Idle-nights (Thursday nights).

Not knowing what a gun-shot sounded like (not even knowing they existed?).


TV just coming in -- black & white of course!

Bike-back (don't forget the lean).

The huge black telephones with round dials that moved as you dialed the number.

Watching Bonanza and the Cartwrights on Friday nights

Silver Slipper Shopping Center

Carib, Regal and Premier Cinemas

"Bumming" a ride

When people used to dress up in their Sunday best to go a farin.

Portable record players - 45s and LPs

Swimming at Cable Hut beach then going to Cane River to wash off.

Swimming at the far beach pass Hellshire and the twin caves above Hellshire.

Hanging out at Doctor's Cave beach in the summer.

Hanging out at Silver Slipper Plaza after school.

Saturday afternoon movies at the movie theatre on Constant Spring Road, a muss!!

San Diego shopping bus parked on Constant Spring Road with de black 'merican guy, listening to Santana and burning incense...

Hiding people in the back seat of the car to get in cheaper at the Harbour View Drive-In

Going to Harbour View drive in just for the food and the 'lime'

Girls champs and Boys Champs (they were separate then) - nuff cheering in Grandstand

The long circuitous route home after Mona Youth Club (Friday nights)

York Pharmacy/Oxford pharmacy for ice cream sodas and hot dogs

Manor Park pharmacy with the soda fountain (like in Happy Days).

Romper Room on JBC.

Festival floats and going to Stadium to watch them during Independence.

Thruppence, sixpence and shilling.


"Crepe sole boot" or "boogas" now called "sneakers"

The perfectly shaped Afro

Hot pants and platform shoes

Finishing the dress just 15 minutes before being picked up to go to the party ("spot")

Tony C – hairstyle

Napoleon – hairstyle

The chukkie (speng length, drewters etc) vs. soul boy (bellbottoms, platforms etc) identity/fashion clash

"Stepping" and doing the Hustle at parties and night clubs to show off.

"Blues" Dance at University Union and Stand Pipe when every one was defending Rasta and dressing with Dreads, "Speng" pants, tam and a rag

Music & Dance

Turn Table when they "fly" the gate at 2pm. and you get in and step to Nina Simone's "My Baby Don't Care.

Getting the latest 45 or LP from Derrick Harriot's or Record Plaza

The Jackson 5 were HOT!

Billy Dee Williams in Lady Sings the Blues...or anything, for that matter......sorry...Denzel has now taken over!

Everything MOTOWN......Diana, Supremes, Smokey, Four Tops, Temptations, Stevie Wonder, Marvin etc....it doesn't get any better!!

Knowing the words to all the Delfonics hits

Being stuck for 13 minutes and 42 seconds with the wrong guy when the put on Isaac Hayes' "I Stand Accused"

The Emotions

Listening to the latest 45 or 33 in a sound booth at the record shop.

Crystal Blue Persuasion


Red Red Wine.

"Late night at the Party" anthems: "Oh Carolina," "Satta," "Reasons," and others?

If you can think about any other, please add them to the Comments...

Related Posts:

Mona Heights, Stand Pipe, August Town








Jamaica College (JC)











FSJL said...

'Runna' was the man they called 'Road Runna' who was shot dead by a policeman who claimed that he pulled a knife on him.

Your set of Jamaican memories is, by the bye, a set of Kingston memories. It was with reason that one of the most powerful of Mikey Smith's line's in 'Mi cyaan bilieve it' was 'tek a trip fram Kingston to Jamaica'.

Geoffrey Philp said...

True words, Fragano.

Anonymous said...

You asked for it:

Trafalgar Square (where NCB Atrium is) and Cottage
Guy Morris Shell Station
Tony Verity on RJR
Marie Garth
Barry Davis (what was the name of his show, again? Children's Hour?)
Pantomime with Mass Ran and Miss Lou
fish and bammy at Port Royal
going to Lime Key in a fisherman's canoe
Morris Cargill a.k.a. Thomas Wright
Ken Maxwell a.k.a. Professor Prorata Powell
Leonie Forbes
Going to Hope Gardens to study
Phase II at Cortleigh Manor
Thursday nights at Epiphany
disco - Bee Gees, Abba etc.
Drag racing on Knutsford Boulevard
Nutty Buddy
patty and juice for lunch
Bustamante Backbone
Mello Gold orange juice
when pharmacies served food
the Ford Capri
Stylistics, Chilites
when you had to go to Trinidad for Carnival (Jamaica didn't have it)
matinees at Premier on Saturday, hanging around after, then going to Record Plaza to listen to albums (remember them?) in the booths
the poor usher at Premier with his flashlight, trying to get people to stop putting their feet up on the seat in front of them
The Chinese Benevolent Society's float/dragon in every parade
Sow Bow (spelling?) at Hong Kong deli in Little Premier Plaza
'45s and LPs
huge speaker boxes
getting a ride home with the disco way past your curfew
VCRs and renting movies
you had to take film to be developed
Reader's Bookshop at Liguanea and Manor Park
the big tree at Liguanea that they cut down to make the bus bay
school barbecues
Immaculate fetes
Sangster's Bookstores - when there were big ones downtown and Hope Road, the Mall and you could get anything there

I know I'll think of more.

Anonymous said...

when Third World played at high school fetes

Geoffrey Philp said...


I'd forgotten about this:
"matinees at Premier on Saturday, hanging around after, then going to Record Plaza to listen to albums (remember them?) in the booths"

Give thanks!

Geoffrey Philp said...

I went to one of the first with Prilly on lead vocals, and now that I think about it..Xplanitations