Guyana Then And Now

Peter Halder’s Guyana

History of Christmas In Guyana

The observation and celebration of Christmas in Guyana dates back to the 15th century. It began, circa 1627, among the Dutch immigrants who had established permanent settlements in Essequibo. The celebration later spread to Berbice in 1627 and then Demerara in 1746.
The counties of Essequibo, Demerara and Berbice, which subsequently became British as a result of European wars, were merged in 1831 and became British Guiana.
In the new British colony, the largest ethnic population were African slaves captured by British and Dutch slave ships and brought to Guyana to work on colonial sugar plantations.
Christmas was a popular season during the slavery era for most of the population except for the Amerindians who lived in scattered communities in the hinterland and observed and celebrated their own tribal festivals totally unrelated to Christianity.
It was peculiar at that time that while Christmas was about the birth of Christ, for a long while, little religious emphasis was placed on it. The few churches which were in Essequibo, Berbice and Demerara in the 17th century held no Christmas Services on December 25 or on Boxing Day, December 26.
The religious observation and celebration of Christmas may be linked to the coming of the Rev. John Wray. In 1810, the London Missionary Society, a Protestant body, sent him to Guyana. He set up a Mission for slaves at Plantation Le Ressouvenir, a large cotton estate on the East Coast of Demerara. A church building was constructed and was named Bethel Chapel. It had a congregation of some 600 people. The Rev. John Wray launched the religious observation of the Christian Festival of Christmas at his church. Church sermons featured the birth and life of Jesus Christ. An added feature was baptisms and marriages on Christmas Day or Boxing Day. The popularity of the Christmas Services and their added attractions gave the slaves forbearance to their miserable lives, remembering how Jesus Christ was beaten and crucified on the Cross. Christmas Celebrations quickly spread throughout the country and was popularly known as “the Season of Festivity.” From then to today, Guyanese extend to family, friends and anyone “Season’s Greetings” or “Happy Festive Season.”
Christmas and the Christmas Season were celebrated not only by the African slaves but by their white masters as well, each in their own way. The occasion expanded from just religious services to family parties and get-togethers on Christmas and Boxing Day. Special lunches and dinners for families and friends translated into feasting and drinking which remains the culture until this day. The whole country became a moving scene of feasting, drinking, dancing, gaiety. Cheerful groups traversed the lanes and paths in villages dressed in gaudy trappings, hair cut and fashioned in a variety of shapes, some decorated with beads, bits of ribbons and tinsel ornaments. They were accompanied by drumbeat and singing. Some wore wigs.
Christmas also became a time for gift giving. It perhaps was initiated by the white gentry who shared out clothing, food items and drinks, including alcohol, to their slaves and at the same time wishing them a Merry Christmas. The slaves accepted the gifts for what they were worth but never forgot the whip lashes they received or expected in the future from their masters. But inspired by the idea and the Christian charity of it all, slaves also began to give gifts of whatever they could afford to their immediate families. And so gift giving became consonant with the Christmas Season.

*** Acknowledgement To The Christian Property Magazine, December 2008.

Upper Demerara River Many Years Ago

by Peter Halder

Economic activities in the Upper Demerara River were mainly timber grants. The first grant, I believe, was at Kumaparo, about 60 miles south of Mallali but below Great Falls. The grant was owned and operated by Willems Timber and Trading Company. Jack Willems was the owner of the Company at that time. His Manager in Georgetown was a Mr McIntyre who flew to the site regularly on an Art Williams seaplane.

Another timber grant pioneer was Harry Lorrimer. His grant was at Kumaro about 18 miles south of Mallali. He travelled by speedboat and used tugs to transport his logs to Georgetown. He was among the first to use trucks to haul timber from the forest to the bank of the river for shipping.

Mr McDoom owned and operated a grant at Mallali Mission.

And Mr A.P. Fiedtkou also owned and operated a grant at Karakuya, above Mallali.

In those days, the main species of wood extracted from the forests were greenheart, purpleheart and kabakalli.

Some amount of alluvial gold mining was also done. Beyond Great Falls, Sigmund Croft, whose family lived at Kaka Kara Creek opposite Section C, Christianburg, did gold mining at Kanaimatu

There was no diamond mining as far as I was told.

Amerindians lived along both banks of the river, mainly as individual families in thatched troolie palm huts. They were from different tribes…Wapishiana, Macushi, Arawak and Carib.

Macushi Girls, Guyana

Macushi Girls (photo Eddiemass on Flickr)

There was a settlement above Great Falls. Great Falls is about 80 miles south of Mallali. Unlike Station, Kaikuchekabra and Anthony near Mallali, it was not flat. To go beyond it, you had to take your boat, canoe from the river and walk along a portage around the Fall, to where the river continued. The source of the Demerara River is Cannister Falls, near the Brazil border.

When the tide was at its highest during the rainy season, fishes swam from down to upriver to spawn but could not go go beyond Great Falls. The Amerindians who lived beyond the Falls harvested them, and dried or smoked them so they can be stored. Among the fishes were laulau, hymara, tiger fish, tibicuri and dara.

The Amerindian settlement was at Mabura about four miles below Great Falls. It was known as Mabura Mission. They held an annual festival which was called bimiti. It featured feasting, music and dancing. There was also another custom called mashramani in which the men would cut down trees, clear land and build huts. The women would cultivate farms and do all the cooking and house keeping. Men also did hunting and fishing.

Mabura, Guyana

Modern Day Mabura (photo chippieandroni on Flickr)

A main crop for the Amerindians was bitter cassava. It was used to make cassava bread. There were two kinds…the round flat kind that is well known and also one that was very thick called aresuca. The crop was also used for making casareep and two popular drink called pywarri and cassiri. Of course casareep was used for making pepperpot in a huge iron pot. There were two kinds of pepperpot, one made with meat…deer, labba, accouri, wild cow (tapir) or wild hog. The other was with thick cleaned and filleted fish, especially laulau and very large hymara. Hot whole peppers were also an ingredient. Other potables included warrup, made from sugar cane juice. The juice was squeezed into large earthen jars, left in the sun to ferment with the help of a little yeast, and when ready, was placed in a nearby creek to chill. The most popular potable was Sleepy Tonic made with sugar, yeast and sometimes potato and sweet potato added.
Three superior forest experts in those days, were Amerindians who lived below Great Falls. They knew the forests in the Upper Demerara River like the back of their hands, did not need any maps and were never lost. The three were Wilford Wanama, Richard Williams and Sabia Daniels. The three were very good, for example, at locating greenheart sub-forests. They were able to smell from a distance the peculiar odour of greenheart leaves or know from the soil where greenheart or other commercial trees grew.

Animals that inhabited the forests in the Upper Demerara River included, wild cow (tapir), wild hog, deer ( a small, striped variety called wibishiri and a large brown variety), labba, accouri which thrived on eating the corio palm nuts when they fell to the ground, puma, jaguar (including the black jaguar) and the ewalla tiger. Snakes included the boa constrictor or camoudi, labaria, cunacura, lanara or bushmaster, rattlesnake.

There was a Water Gauge above the Falls that was set up by the Geological Survey Department in Georgetown. It was used to measure the depth of the water in the river.


NOSTALGIA….Wismar/Christianburg/Upper Demerara River

by Peter Halder

Christianburg was my home from 1957-1960. The time I spent there is still etched in my memory. It was an unenviable and unforgettable experience of what living in a mining area was like, especially when everybody knew everybody, and the males greatly outnumbered the females.

Christianburg was part and parcel of the Wismar-Christianburg- Silvertown- Silvercity- Wismar Hill area on the left bank of the Demerara River, opposite the then booming bauxite mining town of Mackenzie, now Linden. It was the District Administration centre for the Upper Demerara River District that extended from Kamuni Creek opposite and Princess Caroline adjacent to Atkinson Field, now Cheddi Jagan International Airport, southwards to Cannister Falls and the border with Brazil. An estimated 30,000 people lived in the Mackenzie -Wismar-Christianburg-Silvertown-Silvercity-Wismar Hill area.

R.H. Carr at Wismar, Guyana

R.H. Carr at Wismar (photo Pauline))

The Upper Demerara River District was a sub-district of West Demerara Administrative District and was under the direction and control of the District Commissioner for West Demerara whose Office was located at Vreed-en-Hoop (really Pouderoyen) , West Bank Demerara, obliquely opposite the B.G. Match Factory. The District Commissioner in 1956 was Mr James Albert Sholto Douglas and he was replaced by Mr Ramsingh Rai.

Shortly after I joined the D.C.’s Office, Sproston’s Limited at Lombard and Broad Streets completed the construction of a steel motor-launch, the MV Rita C. The launch was named after the D.C.’s wife. I attended its launching. The Rita C was for use in the Upper Demerara River District.

I was elated and excited when, in 1957, District Commissioner Rai informed me that I was being transferred to the District Administration Office, Christianburg. I so wished to travel on the Rita C along the Demerara River and moreso to celebrate life and living in the lebensraum of Mackenzie of which I had heard so much when growing up. It was described as having an unfettered culture where entertainment and partying were the very essence of the local lifestyle. I had a taste of it just once. Alas, it was all too brief but it was indelible. To borrow a few words from Sparrow’s “The Congo Man”, I “wanted more.”

The taste came about in unexpected manner. I was at a sub-party in Campbellville one Saturday night and I had the pleasure of meeting the Hinds sisters, Claudette and Hyacinth, from Greenheart Street, Mackenzie. They were attending School in Georgetown and were leaving shortly for London, the eldest to get married and the younger to study nursing. The latter’s upcoming birthday was being celebrated at Mackenzie with a party and she invited me to it. I seized the opportunity with both hands. I accepted the invitation and also got permission to invite my gang from GT.

The Thursday ( Holy Thursday) before the Saturday night Birthday Party, with my suitcase containing my dark grey double-breasted grey suit,etc., in hand, I got a ride to Sproston’s Stelling, bought a return Ticket to Wismar and boarded the MV. R.H. Carr. I had never ventured on any long river trip before. I did travel on the MV Queriman daily to and from Vreed-en-Hoop. My gang proposed to travel on Saturday, arriving at about 5.30 p.m., celebrate through the night, and board the R.H. Carr next morning to return to GT.

I was fortunate. En route to Wismar, I discovered I had two friends worked on the steamer. One worked in the galley and the other was in charge of the Bar. Glory be! The Captain was called Benjie. The Purser was Mr Pires. The fare was $4.50 one way and $9.00 return.

The first stop on the nine-hour trip was Atkinson Field.
There I bought a cucumber, peeled it, threw a dash of salt on it and ate it for breakfast. I washed it down with a Banks Beer.
The next stop was Dora. Some passengers got off, while some boarded. The steamer also stopped at Clemwood, Dalgin and other settlements along the river. It remained in midstream while small boats came out to it.

I stood on the bow of the boat as we neared Wismar to get a good forward look at the scene unfolding before me. The Captain gave three short blasts on the horn of the vessel notifying all boats on the river of the arrival.

The R.H. Carr moored at Sproston’s Stelling, Wismar, at about 4.30 p.m. Hyacinth was there to meet me when I disembarked. She walked with me from the stelling to the District Administration Office where I had arranged to stay with my friend Carl Harewood who was District Administration Officer. He lived in the three-bedroom flat above the Office. After discharging my paraphanalia, I was taken by my friend to a boat landing. Many such landings dotted the river bank. Boats were used to take passengers from Wismar/Christanburg to Mackenzie and vice versa. She shouted out “Boat” and there came one powered by an outboard motor from Mackenzie to pick us up.

We walked along Powell Crescent to Greenheart Street where her family lived. I recall seeing a Singer Sewing Machine Sign on Arvida Road, a main thoroughfare.

After introductions to her parents, George and Venus Hinds, I had dinner and we talked about the Party on Saturday night. George worked at the DEMBA Machine Shop.

On Good Friday, I went over to Mackenzie for breakfast. I recall attending Christ the King Church with the family. I never found a Church pew so hard. Maybe it was because the service lasted for nearly three hours. Following Church and lunch, I met two guys, Teddy Allicock and Joe Blount who invited me to their Bachelors’ Quarters building north east of Greenheart Street and obliquely opposite the Mackenzie Sports Club. In the area at that time, you didn’t have to know anyone for some time before becoming friends. Everyone was everyone’s friend and “the more we were together is the merrier we would be.” I was invited for a drink of rum and coconut water. We had barely settled in Teddy’s room in the Quarters when he reached under his cot and pulled out a case of Russian Bear Black Label Rum. I endured the challenge. We imbibed until seven when I called a halt and advised I had an dinner appointment. By then, I was imbued with both the Holy Spirit and the Russian Bear spirit.

Seventh Day Adventist Church, Wismar, Guyana

Seventh Day Adventist Church - Wismar (photo Pauline))

On return to Christianburg, my friend was entertaining three pals, K.K. Cheong and Rennie Chase, two Forestry Officers and the Government Dispenser. They were playing cards and keeping a close watch on the clock. Unlike me, they were Catholics and did not drink alcohol until lent was over…at one minute after midnight. When they launched their jollification, I retired to bed.

I was there to meet my gang when they arrived on the R.H. Carr from Georgetown, all dressed for the Party as there was to be no sleep.

We went to Poka Restaurant along the Christianburg Road and had dinner. The cheapest, which we had, was pork slops (slices) and rice. We couldn’t wait for the food service at the Party later on. We all took our bath by swimming in the river, pressed our clothes and were ready for the Party.

The family home where the Party was held was very narrow. A narrow passageway, adjacent to the one bedroom, was the living room. A small kitchen was at the back. The lavatories were bunched together in a line at the back of the house. There was no bath in the house. Most of the guests stood on the veranda in front of the house or on the roadside. One guest I recall was a Mr Cush who had a sizeable dent in his forehead like if someone hit him with the peen of a hammer.

We all danced, drank met new friends and enjoyed ourselves until it was time to stick the Birthday Cake. I was picked to do the honours and the episode was photographed by Demba photographer Jimmy Hamilton, who I knew when he worked at the Daily Chronicle at Main and Church Streets in Georgetown. At that time, I was a journalist with Guiana Graphic at Robb and King Streets. The photo was published in the monthly company newspaper, The Mackenzie Miner.

From the birthday party, our group trekked over to Determa Road and continued our celebrations at Senior Supervisors Club.

The gang and I boarded the R.H. Carr bright and early Sunday morning and we continued celebrating all the way down to Georgetown.

But to return to my posting to the District Administration Office, Christianburg.

Prior to my taking up my duties at Christianburg, the Office was upgraded and an Assistant District Commissioner was in charge. He took the residence above the Office.

My travel to Wismar on the R.H. Carr was uneventful and on arrival I was met by the Coxswain and crew of the Rita C. The coxswain at the time was Edwin Allicock and boathands were Vivian McCalman and Lyndon Allicock.

I was conveyed on the Rita C to the Rest House at Section C, Christianburg, where I was allocated a bedroom in which I lived for my my entire tenure. I was subsequently offered a newly built townhouse on Wismar Hill but I opted to remain at the Rest House. I unpacked my suitcase which contained, among other things, three work uniforms – khaki safari jackets; khaki short pants and long khaki socks that reached to the knees.

I was greeted by the Caretaker of the Rest House, Miss Phoebe Alstrom and the Assistant Caretaker Miss Albertina Allicock. Aunt Phoebe, as she was popularly called, lived in a flat on the first floor of the huge, imposing two-storeyed building. Miss Tina lived in a small cottage in the compound. The Rest House, had six bedrooms on the top floor, a large sitting/dining room area and a huge kitchen. There was a large bath and a modern flush toilet. On the second floor was the Caretaker’s quarters and next to it, the Magistrate’s Court. There was no electricity. Gas lamps were used for lighting at nights and kerosene fuelled the stove in the kitchen.
I ate breakfast, lunch and dinner at the Rest House.
The Caretaker walked to the Wismar Market some two miles away to shop two or three times a week.

All residents of the Wismar/Christianburg area used gas lamps, kerosene lamps or lanterns unlike their counterparts in Mackenzie who enjoyed electricity. Battery radios, mainly German-made, were in use.

Wismar, Guyana

Wismar (photo Pauline))

Shortly thereafter, two teachers from the nearby Christianburg Scots School came to welcome me… a Miss Gwendoline Walton and Miss Iris Allicock. I knew Gwen’s brother. We both were journalists at the Guiana Graphic at one time. He resigned and migrated to the U.S.A. Iris lived with her Aunt Phoebe in the Caretaker’s flat. Her younger sister whom we called “Scottie” later joined the family.

The next day, which was a Sunday, I took some time to examine the compound. There was a wire fence around it. There were several coconut trees which were laden. On the south eastern side was a large, spreading jamoon tree adjacent to the Demarara River. It was a gift of nature to the cataback fish that lived in the river. They thrived on the ripe jamoons that fell into the river. The cataback was a large flat fish, similar to the sole, but bigger. Aunt Phoebe caught the fish from time to time using a line and the jamoon as bait.

There was a narrow pathway along the southern side of the Rest House that led to a gate and through the gate was a pier over the river that was about eight feet long and four feet wide. On the northern side of the pier was a stairway that led to the river’s edge. The pier accommodated large vessels like launches, while small boats and canoes used the steps.

Just inside of the gate, alongside the path, were two palm trees. There was a wide lawn on the eastern side of the Rest House.

A brick pathway led from the bottom of the front staircase of the Rest House to the entrance of the compound and the Christianburg public road.

There was only one main road at the time, running from the northern end of Christianburg. joined further down by the Wismar main road and going to Wismar Hill. And the long roadway was adjacent to the river bank.

There were no road lamps. When it grew dark, it was pitch dark along the road. There were no cars and only a few bicycles. Walking was the going thing and was healthy as well.

Across the Rest House compound was a large Pit Toilet for the use of persons who attended Court which was held once monthly from Wednesday to Friday. The Magistrate and the lawyers travelled from Georgetown. The Magistrate during my time was Mr Eddie Gunraj.

Near to the Pit Toilet or “Cess Pit” as it was called, was a huge Ubudi or Wild Cashew Tree. I loved eating the ripe yellow fruit.

The Rest House was adjacent to the river and I enjoyed watching the ebb and flow of the water, the travel of canoes, boats and launches along it, and the ripples of fish doing their thing, flotsam and jetsam, through the Rest House window, in the afternoon and at nights. Sometimes, I would take a chair and sit on the pier. Eventually, instead of using the shower, I would swim in the river in the mornings and afternoon, when the tide was in.

On the western side of the Rest House, across the road, was a wide open space followed by a forest. Birds of many plumes, colours and kinds flew there in the afternoons to spend the night in trees.

On the northern side was the remains of a huge waterwheel. It was above the narrow Catabuli Creek. It was built, so the story goes, by the original owner of the Rest House building and compound, a Mr John Paterson from Scotland who used it for sawmilling purposes. It was a pleasure to sit on a log atop of it some nights and enjoy the exquisite view of the river, across the river and the beauty of the night.

Christianburg began at the large Section C Cemetery on the northern end and joined Wismar a couple of miles south.
In the Christianburg Cemetery were three graves which stood out. They were weeded, kept clean and white-washed regularly. In them were buried British soldiers of World War II. They were called War Graves. It was a function of the District Administration Office to maintain them in proper condition in cooperation with the International War Graves Commission.

In the huge Rest House compound, there were two graves. side by side. Mr Paterson and his wife were buried there. An iron railing surrounded the graves. The graves were not upkept, were gray and black in colour from age and the weather and cracked in some places. I never took the time to approach the graves and read the names but I was told that the man’s name was John Dalgleish Paterson.

Having only spent about three years in the area, I was not familiar with all the houses and most of the people.
Coxswain Edwin Allicock and his family, I however recall, lived in a cottage not far from the Christianburg Cemetery.

The Charter family lived in a beautiful cottage, going further south. The girls Pearl, Joan and Chrissie, and only brother Ruell, and I were very good friends. Joan and Chris went to England to study nursing. Joan, who was at a hospital in Oxford, visited my friend Fanso Fiedtkou and I in Finsbury Park, North London, from time to time. Joan now lives in Canada and Chris in Australia. Fanso and Ruell were speedboat fanatics.

Further down lived the Spence family. I recall one of the boys was Sydney.

The Hetherington family also lived in Section C Christianburg. Joyce was, in the opinion of many, the cream of the crop.

Closer to the Rest House was a grocery and parlour owned and operated by Yhap. And not far from the Rest House was a smaller business owned by Beatrice Noel. I enjoyed visiting her place of business to issue her her shop Licence since when she laughed, it started from the tip of her toes and lasted for at least five minutes. I laughed at her laugh. She knew the history of the area and about ghosts and spirits that haunted it.

In an area west of the Rest House, where the Catabuli Creek was at its widest, was an Amerindian Reserve called Bucktown. It was a popular picnic spot but permission had to be obtained from the Administration Office.

Across the narrow continuation the Creek was a semi-circular road that ran past the Rest House to a kind of Government housing area. The first house, an aluminium one, was occupied by boathand Lyndon Allicock and his family. Next to it, in a similar cottage lived the other boathand, later Coxswain, Vivian Roderick McCalman and his family. Next was a wooden cottage in which lived the Schoolmaster of Christianburg School, Mr Clive Roland Bancroft and his family. Forestry Officer Kenneth K. Cheong and his family lived in the next wooden cottage. After that was the School and Church. A tiny creek separated that compound from the District Administration Office.

The District Administration Office was a two-storeyed building. Above was the home of the Assistant District Commissioner and below the District Office. The staff of the office at the time was the Assistant District Commissioner Mr William Beekie, myself, the Coxswain and two boathands, two Forestry Officers and a Secretary. Mr Beekie was later replaced by Mr Phillips, then Mr George Jackman and then Mr Paul Mittelholzer who was in situ when I was transferred to the Licence Revenue Office on Brickdam, Georgetown, in 1960.
The Forestry Officers also had a launch of their own for up and down river travels and employed a Pilot, Narine.

The Secretary when I took up my post was Miss Celina Celestina Wong. Her father lived on Powell Crescent near the Crescent Cinema. She got married to the former District Administration Officer and my friend Carl Harewood. She was replaced by a young lady from Georgetown Norma Elsa Shearer Webster. When she returned to GT, Miss Joan Charter was recruited. She was eventually replaced by Rita Olita Agnes Douglas.

In front of the office was a Flagpole on which the Union Jack flew. It was raised at six every morning and lowered at six.
Next to it was a large cannon that looked like a relic from World War l. It was kept in top condition. The Office compound was fenced and there was a gate at the front.

There was a small room at the back where our weighing and gauging instruments were located. The instruments were used to measure the accuracy of scales and weights. From time to time, We visited shops in the district which used scales and weights and checked them for accuracy. If we came across any that were not, they were adjusted by us. This, of course, did not apply to shops in Mackenzie. Near to the room was a Pit Toilet for use by members of the public.

Across the road, on the eastern side was the river. There was a bridge/pier extending about 8 feet over the river and next to it was a large boathouse in which the Rita C and an aluminium dinghy were kept. ADC Beekie built a speedboat during his leisure time and put it into official use. There was a large storeroom on land, near the bridge. In it were an Johnson 35HP outboard engine for the speedboat and outside a barrel of gasolene.

Some afternoons, I would take the dinghy and its two oars and row along the river, cross over to Kara Kara creek and row several miles down the creek and back. It was good exercise.
Kara Kara Creek was special for me. I was good friends with the Croft sisters who lived in a cottage about 10 yards from the mouth. Their father, I believe his name was Sigmund Croft, was a gold and diamond seeker.

At the bend, on the other side of the Creek lived Sam Allicock and his family. There was a large, flat area in front of his house that had a thatched roof over it. It was called Renee Park. There were frequent sub-parties there and I was a patron, along with Derek Moseley and Clarence Bourne. Clarence was engaged to Sam’s daughter Renee. There was a younger sister and two brothers. Since the Park was across the river and up the Creek, I used the aluminium dinghy to cross over and return. Parties usually lasted unti 5.00 a.m. In those days, nobody complained about the loudness of the music and how late the party went. It was difficult dancing on the earthen surface since it was bumpy.

The speedboat was used instead of the Rita C when an emergency upriver or down river occurred. Like for example, there was a time when a huge boa constrictor swallowed a wild cow (tapir) and lay across the channel through the Station Rapids at Mallali. It affected tugs transporting lumber and children paddling canoes to the Mallali School. A team was sent to Mallali using the speedboat and taking our Springfield rifle. At the locus , the huge, thick bodied, 20 ft snake was easily spotted. It was shot in the body and when it raised its head, it was shot three times in the head. The carcass was soon removed from the Channel.

The speedboat was also used once to take a group of four of us to Soesdyke. It was tied up at Manassa Landing Boat House and we took the bus to Georgetown where I had an appointment.

Fully dressed in my striped dark suit, shirt and tie, we returned to Soesdyke Sunday afternoon for the return journey. On the way, the speeboat hit a high wave in the wash of a passing passenger launch and it flipped over. Clarence Bourne and Derek Moseley swam to the western bank of the river where there was the Princess Caroline School. I plummeted downwards towards the bottom and quickly realizing what happening, I halted my descent and streamed upwards. Luckily for me, the speedboat was near to me with the bow above water. I swam to it and held on tight. With my feet, I had discarded my shoes, I paddled to where the two guys were. We spent the night at the schoolmaster’s home. The next morning, the boys cleaned and dried out the engine and we were on our way to Christianburg. Sadly, we ran out of fuel and had to paddle until we reached a timber grant. We borrowed a jerrycan of fuel, had some pepperpot labba with eddoe and cassava for lunch, and headed back to Christianburg.

The speedboat came to a sorry end. The Wismar police borrowed it to travel downriver on official business. The boat turned over during the journey and Policeman Fernandes was drowned. The boat and engine were never found.

Administrative functions included overseeing the administration of the Christianburg/Wismar Village by the Village Council and its revenue collection, including rates and taxes and market stall fees. The Village Overseer was a Bajan, Mr Allan King. I saw him every fortnight when I audited his revenue and expenditure accounts.

The office issued Shop Licences, Ball and Dance Licences required for parties held for gain and other licences. Unlike Georgetown, licences were not required for bicycles and there were no cars. Cars and bicycles at Mackenzie were not required to have Registration, Fitness, Insurance or Vehicle licences as in Georgetown. In fact, our Office had no authority over Mackenzie.

Pilots were required to have Pilot Licences for ferry boats. They were issued by the Harbour Master, then Bruce La Borde, after an oral exam on Harbour Regulations.

Our staff investigated applications for Old Age Pension and Public Assistance and I paid both monthly at the Office and along upriver and down river. We handled land matters, matters affecting Amerindians and complaints of all varieties.

Concerned over the plight of passengers travelling on the small boat ferries, especially overcrowding on them, I called a meeting and read the River Navigation Regulations. I found that many of the ferryboat owners were not in compliance . I subsequently went from landing to landing, ensuring that each driver had a Pilot’s Licence, that there was a powerful lamp on top the boat at nights and there were enough lifejackets on board for the amount of passengers the boat was allowed to carry. The Harbour Master also came up to hold talks with the owners and pilots about safety standards.

As a District Administration Officer, I was appointed and performed duties of Justice of the Peace, Commissioner of Oaths to Affidavits, Marriage Officer, Sub-Protector of Amerindian Rights and Sub-Warden for the Mining District. I required special dispensation for some since I was not yet 21.

I never had to perform a wedding although I came near to having to doing so once. On a trip upriver, at Muritaro, a young Amerindian man and an old, gray-haired woman came to see me. He wanted to get married. I asked him how old he was and he said 24. I asked him where his intended bride was. He pointed to the old woman. I asked her her age. She said 56. I spoke to him seriously and he told me that the truth was she was the only woman in the area. I eventually managed to dissuade him from marriage… nothing else.

I also prosecuted revenue and land matters at Christianburg Court on behalf of the Government.

Behind the Administration Office and the Government houses, a cricket ground was cleared and prepared and we played there from time to time on Sundays. On one weekday afternoon, we invited Magistrate Gunraj and some of the visiting lawyers to play…and they did.

The Sanitary Inspector’s house was next to our Office. It was two-storeyed building of colonial architecture with servants’ quarters below. It was obviously not built for a Sanitary Inspector but was eventually used by him. There was a large vat in the yard, the same as in our office compound. It turned out that the SI was one Telford who was a schoolmate at Enterprise High School in Georgetown.

Following the SI compound was the Christianburg Community Centre. There was an office below which housed the Village Overseer. The Chairman of the Council at that time was Mr Adams. I believe his son later opened the Adams/Crescent Hotel at Powell Crescent, Mackenzie. I attended many sub-parties at the Centre on Saturday nights. The cream of the girls from the area and from Mackenzie came to them.

On the other side of the road, opposite the Centre was the Government Dispensary and home of the Government Dispenser. The first I recall was “Doc” Maclean and he was followed by “Doc’ Deo Narine. Next to the Dispensary, at the river’s edge was a boathouse in which was the Dispenser’s launch which he used to travel upriver and downriver once a month, each way. The dates of travel were circulated and people wishing medical attention would put up a white flag. The Dispenser would stop and render medical assistance. The boat’s coxswain was Butters. I visited the Docs from time to time to chat and share a bite and a drink.

The exits from the Christianburg and Wismar main road were not called roads or streets but Alleys and Paths, for some unknown reason. They began after the Government area, going south.

The first was Stewart Path followed by Alstrom Alley and there followed, not in any consecutive order, by Maxwell Alley where there was a Pilgrim Holiness Church, Bruce Alley where there was a Seventh Day Adventist Church, D’Anjou Alley, Cholmondeley Alley, Yhap Alley, Yaws Yard, Poka Alley – named after the cookshop owner Poka who cooked the best Chinese food.

I think the Bremner family, including son Theo and daughter June, lived at the junction of Alstrom Alley and the main road.

Eytle’s Food and Beer restaurant near Silvercity was top class, She made the best cook-up rice.

Wismar took over where Christianburg ended. and there was Third Alley, Second Alley, First Alley, Gateway Alley also known as Becca Downer Alley and D’Aguiar Street. Along Christianburg/Wismar main road, I can recall a parlour/cake shop, Lieu Ken Pen Grocery, Chin Poi Kee, Harris Drug Store, Choo Kang and Sue Tang and Sue Wo, near Wismar Stelling.
The manager of Sproston’s Wismar Stelling was a Mr Hopkinson.

There was a cloth and dry goods store near First Alley, owned, I was made to believe, by a Mrs Parris who lived above it.
There was also Branford Bar and Billiards saloon on First Alley, Wismar.

And of course, I cannot forget the Diamond Orchid Beer Garden. I spent may afternoons there with friends sipping Banks Beer and shooting the breeze.

And then there was the Wismar Police Station and compound along the way. A good friend of mine Corporal Haniff was a member of the force at that time. He was a regular customer of Eytle’s restaurant. He and his family migrated to Canada and lived in Ottawa. I met him there when I was posted to the High Commission there.

The Wismar Market was the only of its kind in the area. Fruits , vegetables, meat, fish and other foodstuff, grocery and cloth were sold there daily. People from Mackenzie also patronized it. It was almost directly across the river from Choo Kang’s Ration Store at Mackenzie. Walter Choo Kang managed the Ration Store. I bought a few sports shirts there, my alcohol and my tins of Churchman’s No.l cigarettes.

Past the Sproston’s stelling were Silvercity followed by and Silvertown. The road to the right led to, the first turn on the left, Hakkim’s Hotel called “The Ship”. Continuing straight along the road led to Wismar Hill and the Government Housing Scheme. The Scheme was managed by Mr Arnold Godette of the Housing Department. He was an officer in the Volunteer Force of the area.

Along the Christianburg and Wismar foreshore, a number of boatowners plied their ferry service across the river, day and night. Some people took their bikes on the crossing. The largest were Dutchy boat service opposite First Alley and Quamina boat service.

There was also the West Indian Hall on the main road. People from the Caribbean Islands made up a significant proportion of the people at Wismar/Christianburg and the work force at Mackenzie and they were very progressive. I attended many parties at the spacious Hall.

Many residents of Wismar/Christianburg took their baths on the sandy bank of the river. Some swam while non-swimmers and children used buckets of water. Women also washed their clothes there.

The river bank along the Christianburg/Wismar foreshore was covered with wide stretches of light brown sand which matched the dark brown waters of the river.

Apart from the Christianburg Scots Church; there was a Seventh Day Adventist Church, the Pilgrim Holiness Church and the St. Aidan’s Anglican Church. And besides Christianburg Scots School, there was St Aidan’s Anglican School at Wismar. A multilateral school was later built on Wismar Hill.

Wismar Hill, with its new concrete townhouses was a hive of activity at night. One night, a friend and I visited the home of a Croft sister from Kara Kara creek. We partied until midnight, then I arranged for the purchase of a live rooster. She and my friend cooked curried chicken and rice. We left at about one in the morning to join a party in full swing at a friend’s home. I met there Avery King who was a brother of my GT friend Colin King. I finally got back to the Rest House at 6.30 a.m.

I did not spend a lot of time at Mackenzie since it was not under our administrative jurisdiction. I paid calls on the Officer-in-Charge of the Mackenzie Police on official business from time to time. He was then Dick La Borde, brother of the Harbour Master Dick La Borde.

I was also a patient at Mackenzie Hospital at one time. I took the speed boat and a Springfield rifle to do some hunting at Zion Hill, upriver. I was thirsty when I arrived so I told the Seventh Adventist Sister I would climb the coconut tree and get some coconuts. Alas, I was not in good physical shape as I thought. When I reached near the top, I couldn’t continue any more. I slid down the tree, scraping skin off both of my hands and chest. I was rushed to the Mackenzie Hospital for medical attention. One of the doctors at the Hospital at that time was Charlie Rosza. There was no Hospital at Wismar/ Christianburg.

Senior Supervisors Club on Old Year’s Night was a must. We usually closed office around one in the afternoon. I would go over to Mackenzie and get into the spirit of things, so to speak, then back to the Rest House, eat and take a rest, then don my black and white formal wear. I picked up my female companion from Spinsters Quarters on Arvida Road and by ten thirty we were in the Club. Our friends had a table ready. We left the Party at around 3 a.m. and our group would walk to the nearby Mackenzie Swimming Pool singing Auld Lang Syne and jump into the pool fully dressed. We would then go our separate ways after seeing each other home. I recall one New year’s morning, after partying and pooling, I walked to the riverside and called a boat. I told the pilot to take me to the Rest House. I dozed as the boat travelled and I heard the pilot say something like we are there. I got up and stepped off the boat into the river. The pilot saved me from drowning and took me to my room.

I visited the Crescent Cinema twice a week to check attendance for the payment of entertainment tax. I was a good friend of the Manager, Mr Gomes, who moved around in a wheelchair and he and his wife lived in a nice concrete cottage on Arvida Road.

I travelled by hire car to Ituni once a month to check tax return documents. The staff cinema was owned and operated by DEMBA. On one such trip, the car accidentally hit and killed an armadillo. Boathand Clarence Bourne who was with me at the time, picked it up, put it in the car, and took it home. The other boathand, Moseley, cooked curry armadillo that night. It tasted very strange. Lots of curry this and that in those days. Quick and easy to cook.

Once in a while, I went to dances at the Mackenzie Recreation Hall, next to the YMCA at the south western corner of Arvida Road and Powell Crescent. Next door was a good friend, the former Miss Bumbury who was a dressmaker. She had a thriving business.

Across from the Cinema was the Mackenzie Recreation Ground. Next to it on the western side and next to the river was the Mackenzie Shopping Centre/Market. There was a grocery, a butcher shop and a parlour owned by a popular personality Mr Blair who later opened Blair’s Delight.
South of the Ground was the Mackenzie Public School. It was a top school.

Across Arvida Road, from the Ground, was the Mackenzie Library. I believe the Librarian was Mrs Alvarez.

There was a Royal Bank of Canada on Arvida Road near the Ration Store. A guy named Ellis was the first black person to work in it. He was popularly called Banker Ellis. I had to go to the Bank once weekly to deposit Government revenue and once a month to cash the office’s general salary cheque and a sizeable cheque to pay Old Age Pensions and Public Assistance. An Old Age Pension was then $5.00 and Public Assistance $3.00 per person.

I never got my hair cut at the Barber Shop on Arvida Road. I used one at Wismar.

I used to go to the Mackenzie Sports Club some nights to play table tennis and to watch some top billiard players with heavy bets involved. I recall two top players at the time were Raj and Garvan Fiedtkou.

On Powell Crescent, near the Catholic Church in a well-appointed cottage, lived the Evans family. One sister, whom I met, was Nola. Another sister, Gena, who now lives in Oklahoma, is married to my friend, Piercy Fiedtkou who worked in the Company’s Lab. Next to the Evans lived the Carr family.

On Henderson Road, lived the Fortune family. I was a friend of the two sisters. The eldest sister was married to Bertie Shannon but after splitting, lived in Spinsters Quarters.

I recall the Moseleys, father Jason D being a member of the Wismar Village Council. The family, including children Derek, Keith Gem and Star, lived on Parsons Road.

Then there was Rainbow City where persons who were displaced from their land by DEMBA’s expansion built houses. My friend Evan Allicock, who sold his land at Speightland to the Company moved there. He was building a huge hotel there but it was not completed when I left. I went to many Saturday night parties there. I recall one night meeting Stanley and Jeanette Gravesande there and after the party we went to their home to continue. When Stanley brought out a bottle of White Diamond Rum, and feeling hungry, I was able to persuade him to scout around and buy some frozen chicken to cook curry and rice. We ate at five in the morning. Evan Allicock was called “the Governor of Speightland”. His brother was Teddy and his niece Rita Allicock.

I met Rita at a dance at the Christianburg Community Centre some weeks later and was invited to dinner the next Saturday night. I had the gourmet delight of curry tortoise (land) and rice. It tasted good but there were too many bones.

I also knew the Couchmans who lived at Speightland. The father Felix captained a tug, cum passenger launch. I travelled on it on one occasion from Georgetown ( La Penitence Market wharf) and he invited me to meet his family. He had two beautiful daughters, Volda and Mickey.

Along the riverside was a popular shop, C.T. Lam. I visited it several times for licensing purposes.

I was still at the DAO, when the Alumina Plant was being constructed and the new houses at Retrieve being built. The walls of the houses were made of aluminium, like at Silvercity and Silvertown. I had several friends who live there, including Dundas whom I knew from Kitty, a Miss Brewster and my friend Jimmy Hamilton.

I remember several cross streets in Mackenzie, named after woods or trees. I went to friends who lived on each for a drink, to listen to music or attend a birthday party. The roads I remember which ran North/South were Arvida, Potaro, Berbice, Whittaker, Henderson and Parsons. Some of the East/West cross streets were Crabwood Street alonside Cockatara Creek and the DEMBA Fence, Wismar Street, Pine Street, Mora Street, Greenheart Street, Bulletwood Street, Silverballi Street and Determa Road.. I think there was one named Wismar Road.

As a Government Officer, I encountered no problems visiting Watooka or being at the Watooka Club. I was a visitor some Saturday nights at a place called Montreal or Servants’ Quarters where female maids who worked at homes in Watooka lived.

I recall there were frequent discussions at an official level that the expatriate staff of DEMBA appeared to be above the law and that many of the laws of the country did not apply to Mackenzie or the people who lived there.

There were times when the company’s boats the MV Polaris and the MV Kara Kara caused problems for other users of the river. The heavy wash of the boats, when travelling fast, created difficulties for small boats and canoes on the river and for people bathing or washing on the river bank. I held discussions with Company officials. They were sympathetic and agreed to give instructions for all their motor vessels to slow down when they neared settlements along the river or when they saw small boats.

I travelled upriver to Mallali once monthly, The trip took 3 days mainly due to the work that had to be done on the way up. We always spent the first night at Muritaro and the second at Mallali. I took with me a pistol, shotgun and Springfield rifle, in case I wanted to go hunting but also to protect documents and the cash with me to pay Old Age Pensions and Public Assistance.

Leaving Christianburg, we stopped at the Ration Store where we bought items to make breakfast, lunch and dinner. Derek Moseley was the galley chief. He was very good. I particularly enjoyed for breakfast a large, round, thick bake he cooked in oil in a large covered pot. He called it tikar and we ate it with Marshall’s canned Sardines in Tomato sauce done in red margerine sauce with onions, spring onions, blackpepper and fresh thyme leaves. Curry canned corned beef with potato and cabbage was another favourite and on one occasion he cooked curry canned Clams.

The Rita C crew was then McCalman, Coxswain; Lyndon Allicock and Derek Mosely. When McCalman left on posting to Vreed-en-Hoop, he was replaced by Clarence Bourne.
In the launch, there were two bunk beds in front and two at the back, where the diesel engine was. However, it was the custom for the ADC or myself to sleep alone in the front and the two senior crew at the back. We usually spent the night where a school was so that the junior boathand could sleep there.

There was a bath place with a manual water hose on board but one had to be an acrobat to use it. The river was the biggest and best bath tub. There was also no lavatory on board. Bushes alongside the bank of the river, were always there when nature called. Newspapers had other uses than containing news reports.
A tabletop two burner kerosene stove at the back was used for cooking.

It has been over 50 years and I cannot remember all the places upriver we stopped at to conduct Government business. I do remember however, Old England, Lucky Spot, Coomacka, Three Friends and Maria Elizabeth and Akaima where there were bauxite mines and a steel bridge across the Demerara River, high above the river so as to allow boats to pass easily under it. It was variously called Three Friends, Maria Elizabeth or Akaima Bridge. I also recall Aurora, Arcadia, Wainibisi, Butuba – a Seventh Day Adventist settlement with a lovely white sand beach, Muritaro, Seba Quarry, Crapaud Creek, Zion Hill, Grassfield, Tiger Hill and Mallali.

On my first trip, I met Peter Flemming and a Rebeiro who lived at Butuba; the Browns, bajans, who operated a shop at Zion Hill on the right bank of the river and the Sister who headed a Seventh Day Adventist settlement on the other side. I recall catching a hymara fish at Zion Hill. The fish had only one bone, a backbone and was very tasty.

At Grassfield, I met an Amerindian Mr Paul who gave me a smoked labba leg. Sliced and heated, it tasted like ham. I offered him money which he rejected.”Where are you going to spend it?”, he said. I brought for him on the next trip some enamel plates, cups, plates and spoons and fork which were cheap at that time.

At Muritaro where we spent the night, I had the pleasure of meeting and talking with the schoolmaster Mr McKinnon. I knew his brother in Georgetown.
That night, I heard the sound of a cat meowing in the school. After several hours, I became concerned and it prevented me from sleeping. I asked Coxswain Edwin if someone could go and collect the cat and take it to the schoolmaster. Edwin calmly replied, “Chief, the sound you are hearing is not from a cat.” I said nothing but took some cottonwool, plugged both ears and soon fell asleep.

The evening we arrived at Mallali on my first trip, I had the pleasure of meeting the Headmistress of the Mallali School, Miss Mentore. The school was on a hill of light brown sand. There were two cannons on the Hill, a relic probably from World War l. There was a large ubudi (wild cashew) tree near the school.

That night there was a party at the school. The girls, Amerindian or mixed, were beautiful and well dressed. One I danced with Una Allicock, wore the fashion of the time “can can”. She was a very good dancer. The men were inelegantly dressed, many wearing t-shirts that were stained. I asked her how come the girls danced with them and she replied, “We have dances only once a year so you have to go all out and enjoy yourself.”

I was also introduced to a local drink called Sleepy Tonic. It was, I am told, fermented from sweet potato or English potato. It was pink in colour. By 11.00 that night, the sand area around the school was laden with men fast asleep and snoring. It also induced fights and there were two such that night. I also had, on other occasions, other local brews like warrup (made from the juice of the sugar cane) and pywarri.

Pepper pot upriver contained labba, deer, wild cow and lots of hot pepper, hence the name. It was usually eaten with cassava bread. Both were tasty.

Other meats I ate on my trips were accouri and wild hog. I once had alliagator tail soup with eddoe and plantain. The flesh was flaky and had no taste to me. There was also a white worm acquired from the palm tree . The heart was taken from the tree and left outside to acquire the worms called tucuma. The white worm was fried in hot oil and expanded when thrown frying pan. I ate the crisp delicacy with toasted cassava bread for breakfast. I also ate perai(piranha) fried dry with black pepper.

I also met A.P. Fiedtkou who had a beautiful house at Massabuna above Anthony Rapids. He was in the timber business. His sons were Garvan, Fanso and Piercy (twins) and David. Piercy worked in the Demba Lab at one time.

I did a lot of fishing with the equipment I bought from the Ration Store but was unlucky. I did better at spear fishing.
I used to enjoy spear fishing along the bank of the river. At night, when it was dark, some fishes parked in the water at the edge of the bank to sleep. I would focus the light of my flashlight on the fish which became stunned when it opened its eyes and I would spear it and pull it on land. Sometimes, when there was moonlight, myself and the boathands would jump from rock to rock in the nearby Station Rapids at Mallali to spear fish. We caught some large-sized Lukunani from time to time. The Station Rapids, were followed by the Kaikuchekabra Rapids, then Anthony Rapids and then Great Falls. Cannister Falls was near the Brazil border.

The Station Rapids, according to A.P. Fiedtkou who had heard it from his father, was so named because at some time in the past there was a Police Station and Magistrate’s Court on the right back of the river, opposite the Mallali school and in close proximity to the first set of rapids. Maybe that explains as well the presence of the two cannons near the school on the other side of the river.

The Rita C, steel-heavy and with a very low draft would have had difficulty going through the channels of the three Rapids. It could only do that once a year when the tide was at its highest. It definitely could not go beyond Great Falls. During my tenure in the Upper Demerara River District, I never went past Mallali.

There were several rocky outcrops upriver. There was one set opposite Watooka, at Butuba where it was way above the water at low tide and near the river bend at Mallali going towards the school. Expert and knowledgeable pilots were needed to guide launches and tugs along the river, especially from Wismar/Christianburg to Mallali.

I also liked to go hunting on the trip with my rifle but never shot anything.

On the eastern side of the river at Mallali was the popular Seon Shop. I remember, shotgun across my shoulder, I walked about a half-mile to it to issue the shop’s licence. It was a pleasure meeting Mr Seon and sharing a cold Trappestein Beer with him. I also had a great surprise. My friend from St. Stephen School, Geoff Sampson, came into the shop for a beer. He was with a geological survey team in the area. He eventually obtained a PhD in Geology.

As we swam in the river, we had to be careful that there were no piranha around. To avoid them, it was the practice to beat the water loudly for about five minutes before swimming. That chased them away for a time.

I usually slept with the glass window pane in my cabin down. There were two windows. I recall one night, I was aroused from my sleep and awoke with my hands through the window, almost touching the river. It looked like if something in the river was pulling me into the water.

The down river trip was much shorter. It lasted only two days and we spent the night at Santa Mission in Kamuni Creek, opposite Atkinson Field.

Again, I cannot remember all the places in ascending or descending order but I can recall some of the names of the settlements where we stopped from time to time on official business or settlements near where we stopped.
I recall Gold Hill, Dalgin where there was a huge wood grant, Dunoon, Silver Hill, Huradaia, Tenaboo, Yaroni, Vryheid, Endeavour, Clemwood which was a large settlement, Liberty Hall, Susannah’s Rust, Staina, Dora, Lowwood, Sandhills and Princess Caroline.

There were two Amerindian Missions in Kamuni Creek… Aratak Mission was the first and then Santa Mission which was quite large. Santa was about 12 miles up the Creek. The Mission was located on an expansive, white sand area on which were thatched troolie huts where the families lived. Apart from paying Old Age Pensions and Public Assistance, it was my practice to engage in discussions with the Cacique there to find out how our Office could help him and his people. The Amerindians were a protected people and I was a Sub-Protector of Amerindian Rights in the district.

There was a school at Princess Caroline and I once had the pleasure of meeting the Schoolmaster and his charming wife after our speedboat accident.

Another school was at Dora and it had a sizeable population.
Clemwood with its timber operations was a central point with shops.

I did not make a lot of trips downriver. The ADC had the lion’s share of it since, after discharging his duties, he and his family would travel to Georgetown and return the next day.

The R.H. Carr stopped at many of the settlements listed above to discharge or embark passengers, deliver and collect mail and discharge or take on cargo. Captain Benjie would blow one loud blast on the boat’s horn to alert residents that the Carr was in the neighbourhood. The boat also slowed down when nearing settlements or when boats and canoes were on the river.

Land inspections up and down river were tiring experiences. The files never stated how far from the riverbank the land was. The applicant, when he came to take me on site, would tell me “Not to worry chief, it’s just down here.” That was about two to three miles away.

I was never in fear of my life. I never came across any tigers or jaguars. But there were a lot of flies called kaboura. It stung you and the stings remained under the skin. The spot turned to a large abscess in 48 hours and was accompanied by high fever. Having been warned, as soon as I got bitten, I went to an Amerindian who went out, got some leaves, crushed them and applied the paste to the spot/s. It cured the bite/s in 24 hours.

Mosquitoes were prevalent. Mosquito coils and using green branches to burn and create thick smoke kept them in check.

A frightful creature was the vampire bat. They lived in trees near the Government Rest House. Their principal blood donors were cows, sheep and goats in the area.

Living in the Upper Demerara River District was a lasting, memorable and wonderful experience. I was not yet 21. The experience influenced my future life. In my opinion, it was the best working experience in my life. My knowledge of people, responsibility, the law, the district and the beauty of friendship was a treasure beyond compare. Georgetown was tame when I returned to it from my tenure.

E & O E




by Peter Halder

Henry Street in Werk-en-Rust is a short street. It is only one block long. It extends from Princess Street on the south to Durban Street on the north. It is sandwiched between George Street on the east and Smyth Street on the west.

A denizen of Non Pareil Street, Albouystown ( vide my Nostalgia: The Street Where I lived: Non Pareil Street, Albouystown), I became familiar with Henry Street in the late 1940s when I met and became a close and lasting friend of Carl Agard. I joined him in Scholarship Class at St. Stephen’s Church of Scotland School at the junction of St.Stephen, Princess and Adelaide Streets, Charlestown. We would go swimming often at clay, the parloff or other parts of the Punt Trench or explore the mangrove area on the bank of Demerara River at Ruimveldt, next to Art Williams Transport offices.

Carl, who often referred to himself as Carl Nigel Stanislaus Yohann Divioli Agard, lived in a large, old house in a spacious “yard” near the southern end of the eastern side Henry Street. The bottom of the house was enclosed but there was no flat/apartment. The principal occupants of the bottom house at night were crapauds of the large, black, ugly variety with lumpy backs.

Plaid Pair, Georgetown, Guyana

Plaid Pair (photo Nigel Durrant on Flickr)

There was also a small cottage at the back of the yard which was rented.

South of Carl’s habitat and towards the southern end of Henry Street was the Corinthian Lodge. The Lodge was a huge white building in the expansive grounds, both of which were always well kept. The caretaker of the Lodge lived in the cottage in Carl’s backyard. South of Corinthian Lodge and the end of street was a wide lawn which bordered the Princess Street trench. We played cricket or bat and ball on the lawn (as we called it) from time to time, using green starapples as balls and wood bats. We also played at St. Phillips playground from time to time.

In the front of the yard was a tall starapple tree. Apart from using the green fruit to play cricket, we would play Tarzan on it especially when we had seen a Tarzan movie at the Cinema.

I had never known Carl’s parents, and in keeping with my home training, never asked.

I was told by Carl that the property was owned by his Uncle, one Mr Hart who was a Chemist and Druggist at Croal’s Drug Store at Norton and John Streets. I can’t recall if he said that his uncle owned it but I know that in later years, the Drug Store was owned by Dr Joseph Prayag Lachhmansingh who also owned Drug Stores in Stabroek, Bourda and Kitty Markets and the Regent Pharmacy and Farmer’s Dairy on Regent Street. I believe that Mr R.B.O Hart, Principal of Enterprise High School, on Camp Street next to London Cinema, later Plaza, was a relative of the old Mr Hart. Enterprise later moved to Hadfield Street near Louisa Row.

Carl had one brother, the elder, John Leslie Agard, whom we all called Leslie or “Fishy”. They were taken care of by an Aunt whom we all called Auntie but I believe her name was Mrs Gilead.

Also living in the same house was Auntie’s daughter whom we called Sister. She got married to a Mr Roland Patterson who lived in a cottage further up on Henry Street. Sister was a teacher at the Trinity Methodist School at Durban and High Streets. She had one daughter whose name I believe was Ann.

In later years, the family was joined by the Small family comprising Auntie’s sister, her husband Bertie, and children Lynette, Elin and one other girl and the boys were Berkeley and Jocelyn (whom we called Governor Bassool). We called Jocelyn “Governor Bassool” because he always had an answer, whether or not it was relevant. I recall that one night, we had a discussion about sight. Leslie posited that you do not see with your eyes and it is your brain, memory section, that filters the image from the eyes and tells you what you see. Governor Bassool promptly replied: Well if you don’t see with your eyes, how come some people are cock-eyed? His response brought down the house, metaphorically. Lynette migrated to U.K. and became an SRN, SCM. Berkeley joined the Georgetown Town Council’s Buildings Division and Jocelyn later became the Head of the Records (Music) Library at Radio Demerara. Elin I was told migrated to the USA.

Carl moved from one job to another until he joined the Kitty Village Council whose offices were above the Kitty Market. He subsequently worked at the Demerara Bauxite Company. Mackenzie and them relocated to Lethem, got married and settled there.

Leslie was a senior officer in the Licence Revenue Department on Brickdam, obliquely opposite the Police Station. I joined him there after being transferred from the District Administration Office, Christianburg. We both resigned and went to England to pursue tertiary education. We stayed in close touch in London. Leslie improved the property on Henry Street on his return to Guyana.

On the northern side of Carl’s yard was a large, white house owned by a Portuguese family.

Next to that, proceeding north was a cottage and after that a two-storeyed house with a tower. It had an “unsavoury” reputation as I recall. I can’t recall what was at the north-eastern corner of Henry and Durban Streets at that time but it later became a cloth and dry goods store. South of it was a cottage which was modernized and became the popular El Globo Liquor Restaurant in later years. Carl, Leslie and I patronized the place from time to time.

On the western side of Henry Street, the first house next to Durban Street was a cottage. A former friend of mine from Christianburg, “Doc” Deo Narine , the Government Dispenser for the Upper Demerara River, upon retirement, bought the property and moved there with his family.

Next to the Narines, going south, was another well-appointed cottage which was owned by the Cunha family. The cottage was later acquired by the Walks family. Mrs Walks was the former Erma Alexander from Non Pareil and James Streets, Albouystown.

There was another cottage after that and it was where Sister’s husband Roland Patterson lived.

Next was a large tenement building in which lived many families. Earl, also called “Red Earl” because he was red-skinned, was a friend of Carl and I. He lived there with his family. We made it a habit of walking through St. Phillips Churchyard some nights to tease couples “making out” there. On one such night, we spied a couple in deep embrace against a mahogany tree. Earl shouted some advice and a female voice called out “Earl?” We ran like the wind from the locus in quo.

Further down was another large, two-storeyed building. In the top flat lived another close friend of ours Cyril Agostini. The Agostini family were from Golden Grove on the East Coast. Cyril joined our group.He pursued higher education in London and held top positions in Guyana and at the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington D.C.

In the bottom flat lived the Young family. I recall two Chinese-dougla (chigra) girls, one of whom was Mignon. She was a nurse.

At the end of the street was a cottage owned by a Chinese family.They lived a very close, private life and very little was known of them and they were rarely seen. Their yard was completely fenced and on the gate was a large sign “Beware of The Dogs.” I was told the couple owned and operated a Chinese Restaurant in downtown Georgetown.

Our group met outside Carl’s home regularly. The group included Carl, myself, Cyril, Geoff Sampson, Clairmont “Bandit” Moore, Colin King, Joe “Dubbie” Shields, Courtney Coltress, George Munroe, Mike Isaacs, Reggie Wilkinson, Ronnie “Skins” Gaskin, “Squeekie” Hinds, Neville Valz, G.C. Fraser, Clive “Rucca” Thomas, ‘Reds” Rodrigues, “Fatboy” Phillips, “Bull” Burnett (who later lived on Henry Street), Dudley Thomas and Stephen Choo Wing, among others.

I recall, immediately north of Henry Street, across Durban Street, in a small cottage, lived the outstanding Guyanese footballer, Victoria Football Club player and Guyanese centre-forward, Dillon Marks. And at the corner of Smyth and Durban Streets was a bakery and above it Haley’s Dance Hall. Opposite, on the southern side was a Cake Shop.

Henry Street to me was just like my home street. I spent many days and early evenings there. I came to know almost everyone that lived on the street. It is a pleasure to recall it.



by Peter Halder, former Guyana Ambassador, Commonwealth Expert, Consultant to Fiji Government.

I was born, grew up and lived for many years on a virtually unknown street. It’s name is Non Pareil Street and it’s in Albouystown, Georgetown, Guyana. My family consisted of my father and mother, Earshad and Mary Halder , three brothers – Bonnie, Felix and Vernon, all of whom have passed away, and two sisters – Leila and Bernice. My niece, Olivia (Livy) Kissoon later came to live with us. She now lives in Toronto, Canada. Her Mom Leila had migrated to Trinidad, then England and now lives in Cyprus. Bernice now lives in Orlando, Florida.

Donkey cart, Georgetown, Guyana

Carting Grass (photo Nigel Durrant on Flickr)

Albouystown is the long, narrow southern suburb of Georgetown, often called a “slum area” due to its “long ranges” of one room homes, some thickly populated “yards”, latrines for the use of landlord and tenants and to a minor extent, crime. It is bounded on the north by Sussex Street and the Sussex Street trench, on the east by Callendar Street, on the south by Punt Trench Dam and the Punt Trench and on the west by La Penitence Public Road and Market. It’s north to south width is only two blocks and straddling the middle from east to west is James Street. Callendar Street, proceeding west, is followed by Garnett Street, Campbell Street, Curtis Street, Non Pareil Street, Cooper Street, Victoria Street, King Edward Street, Albert Street, Bel Air Street, La Penitence Street, Barr Street, Albouys Street, Hill Street, Hogg Street and La Penitence Public Road.

During the late 1930’s and the 1940s, Albouystown was sparsely populated and Non Pareil Street, moreso. The ‘”yards” were large so there were not many between Sussex Street and Punt Trench Dam.

My father came from India but my mother was born in Essequibo. In our “yard” were four tenants living in rooms below and four tenants living in single rooms in a “long range” at the back.

One tenant Miss Audrey worked with mason George building graves in the La Repentir cemetery. On one occasion, when a concrete grave was being reused, she couldn’t get the bones out and she asked me to help her. I did.

Another tenant, Miss Olga got married to Mr Felix. The reception was kept at the RAF Hall at James and Hunter Streets. I recall there was a death in her family and a “wake” was held in our yard. I read the words out loud as many joined in singing hymns popularly known as “sankies.” During the wake, there was a big commotion. A man started talking in a strange language, then threw himself on the ground, stood on his head and danced around on his head. My mother got a bucket of water and threw it on him. He spluttered and fell on his back. He got up in a few minutes and couldn’t remember a thing. My mother said that our noise probably disturbed an evil spirit from the nearby Le Repentir cemetery which came and took possession of him and that was why she had put some white lavender in the water.

There was one latrine which served my family and all the tenants. “Poe” and “slop can” were the vessels of choice at night. The latrine was also used for baths using a bucket of water and a calabash. “Salt soap” was the going thing and a dried nenwa was the wash sponge. There was a large common sink, standpipe, in the “yard” that served landlord and tenants, as well as the neighbours next door. It was used for drawing “pipe” water, washing wares, bathing small children and washing clothes… with beater, scrubbing board, Rickett’s Crown Blue and salt soap. My mother later had a wooden wash tub upstairs. She boiled starch for use when washing shirts. We had a coal pot and three “cold” irons. When our clothes were ironed on Sunday afternoons, coal was put in the iron coal pot and lit. The irons were placed on red hot coals. The dinner table was used at the ironing board. A blanket was placed over it, covered by a cotton cloth. The red hot iron was taken from the coal pot, using a thick fold of cloth to hold the handle. A piece of beef suet (fat) was necessary to grease the iron before use. The grease was then rubbed off. The use of grease made the ironing process smooth. There was a large enamel cup of water nearby. It was used to sprinkle water with your fingers on the clothes as your ironed them. When the iron got cold, it was replaced in the coal pot and another taken out. All of us, boys and girl, were taught to and did: scrubbing the front and back steps, floor in the house and wooden tables weekly; keeping our rooms and the house neat and tidy; cleaning and varnishing the furniture at Christmas time; washing the wares; washing clothes; ironing; buying groceries and cooking. The “paling” separated a few “yards” in Non Pareil Street. Apart from the large common sink, there was no other source of piped water. There was a huge wooden vat which collected rain water and the tenants and ourselves used its water for drinking only. When the dry season was on and the vat water was low, I had to walk to Sussex and Bel Air Streets where there was a huge iron tank which stored water, fill my galvanized bucket, cover it with a flour bag sheet, have it put on my head and take it home for drinking. We had a sink upstairs but no piped water. We fetched water from the standpipe downstairs to ‘wash wares’ and cook. We used salt soap with a coconut fibre to wash wares. The soap was kept in a large, flat sardine can.

In the first yard was Mrs Branch and her family. An always laden gooseberry tree was on the boundary between our two yards. The Branches were replaced by a tinsmith, Mr Henry and his family, and then the Abduls. Brother Adbul and his family were members of the Assemblies of God Church. He worked at the CDC Sawmill at Houston on the East Bank.

In the third yard was a family from Plaisance. Their run-down cottage was later torn down and a new two-bedroom cottage replaced it. Among its first tenants was a family from Still In Hope, Pomeroon, Mrs Elizabeth Brock (nee Van Sluytman) and her children Myrtle, Barry, Ingrid, Viveca and Ian. Myrtle was the most beautiful girl on Non Pareil Street and Viveca the only blonde. Their father, Benjie Brock was a boatbuilder. Myrtle now lives in New Zealand, Barry in England, Ian in Venezuela, Ingrid in Austria and Viveca in New York. Non Pareil Street has reached out to the four corners of the world. Also living in the same cottage was a Mrs Narine with her daughter, Aurelia Manson-Hing also called MUY, and also her two sons, Eddie and John “Barrel” Narine.

In the fourth lived Prison Warder Padmore and his family. His son Bunty later became Director of Prisons. He formed a Cricket Club named Wisden. Brother Neville migrated to the United States and became a Doctor of Medicine. Cynthie migrated to Canada. There were three other sisters. The Padmores had a large backyard and the neighbourhood kids played cricket there regularly using a balata ball and a bat made of greenheart wood. On our street we called it bat and ball. In the two bottom flat rooms lived a fisherman and the Plaisance family who moved there from the demolished house. The family consisted of the mother Miss Ivy,Bobby her eldest son, Ivelaw and daughter Sukie.

The folks organised a Masquerade Band every Christmas Season. I would go most nights to hear them tune up their kettle and bass drums, watch as they finished their multi-coloured costumes and repair their stilts. I would accompany them when they went masquerading. I was so impressed with their financial rewards that I organised a youth group of my own, using old sardine cans, palm tree butter cans, bottles and iron pieces and created our own music and dancing. We easily made $1 a night, not to mention slices of cake and soft drink… American Cream Soda, Two-Glass Quencha, Portello and Vimto.

We used to call the old fisherman Mr Francis. He had a castnet which he mended from time to time. He used the net to catch fish in the Sussex Street and Burial Ground trenches. His niece Yvonne also lived there and did the home chores. She now resides in New York.

The “Kali Mai Poojah” procession was an annual feature for the area. When it was in our street, my mother would call us all into the house and lock the doors and windows. The procession was led by a young man dressed in a dhoti and turban and wielding a sharp cutlass.

At the corner of James Street, was Ragnauth Grocery and Cake Shop and over the road was ‘Braina’ Grocery and Parlour, the latter run by her daughter Lucille. At the front of the huge yard was a unit with two one- roomed apartments. Next to it, near the concrete alley lived mason George who as I said before, built concrete tombs in the cemetery. There was a “long range” at the back. I recall the Alexander family, originally from Berbice, living in that range. Sons Paul, Melvin were my good friends and we all attended St. Stephen’s and Enterprise High School. The boys also had a beautiful sister named Erma. Some nights, Lucille’s husband who was in the parlour, and who was an avid cricketer, would arrange for racing competitions around the block and the winner got a “nutcake” or a “nuttin.”

In those days, nearly all sweets were made locally, except for toffee- Batgers- which was imported from England. Local sweets included sour stick, lollipop, peppermint on a stick, sweetie balls of all colours and the long, flat, brown butterscotch made by Mr Parker in his shop on Camp Street, near D’Urban Street.

The Ragnauth family owned a huge yard which had three “long ranges.” Two ran from east to west and the third from north to south. In an end room of the north to south one lived Channa Man and his family. He was so called because he sold channa and pholouri outside Empire Cinema for all three movie shows and at the morning show on Public Holidays. He rode a bicycle to the cinema with a carrier attached to the handle. A large basket was in the carrier and it contained his food items, a large bottle of “souree”, paper and paper bags. In the other end room lived the Mohammed family. The sons Yussuf and Hassan were schoolmates of mine. Their very young brother was called “Chooks.”

Next to the Ragnauth grocery and cakeshop, run by son Jimmy, was a small cottage and its tenant owned and operated a donkey cart. He cut grass every afternoon in the Burial Ground for his donkey.

Also in the “yard”, in the southernmost range, was an Orthodox Coptic Church. Miss Richards lived in a cottage next to it. She was always well dressed and rode a Raleigh’s ladies’ bicycle. Towards the end, near the Punt Trench was a cow pen. I was sent there to buy fresh milk from the owner from time to time. I was served by young man whom we called “Pea”. In the same yard, we played bat and ball with Pea’s brother Baba.

Next to that yard lived the Nantons in a beige-coloured cottage. I was a good friend of the son, Wilfred. Many years later, Nanton and Braina’s granddaughter came to see me at the District Administration Office, Christianburg, opposite McKenzie, to discuss their marriage plans.

In a cottage at the back of the yard lived the Brooks family. My mother visited Mrs Brooks from time to time.

On the other side of the road, next to Punt Trench Dam , was a cottage in which lived the Naraine family. We called Mr Naraine, Bunai. The land in front of the house was paved with cow dung and mud which gave it a nice look. In front of the yard were a few tall bamboo poles with red triangular flags (jandhi) at the top.

Next to it was a huge yard with the usual “long range” and a house. In the house lived the Mollyneaux family.

On the western side, the first yard next to the Sussex Street trench, was another tenement compound but with a two-storeyed house in front and a cottage at the back. The Delphs lived in the back cottage for many years. Mr Alfred Delph was a policeman and his daughter, Barbara, was in the first group of Women Police recruited, PW50. Other family members were Roslyn, Camille, Paula, Sandra, John, Bernard, Raymond and Clairmont. Mr Delph’s brother, Donald, who also a policeman, lived on Sussex Street near La Penitence Market. A cousin lived on Hunter Street. The Delphs now live in the United States but Roslyn and Paula live in the United Kingdom.

In the bottom flat of the two-storeyed house lived the Persaud family. Bobby, Derek and I used to play marbles. The ‘taw’ was set on one side of the street and we played to it from the other side. We played for buttons. A “butt”, hitting the opponent’s marble, and you collected 2 buttons, ‘butt’ and span was 3 buttons and a span, 1 button. Mr Persaud sold genips at the markets. He usually paid a landlord for the entire tree and for picking the fruit from it. I would join his sons in climbing the tree and placing bunches of fruit in a bucket which was sent to the ground using a rope.

That family was replaced by one from the North West District. I recall the beautiful sisters Yvette, Claudette, Bonita and Debbie and son Terry . They later migrated to Canada. Their mother was married to a Mr Khan who worked at Rahaman Soft Drink Factory on the East Bank Road. The family eventually moved next door to the Corrica house and the Corrica family moved to Leopold Street.

In the upstairs flat lived Mr and Mrs Barry Hall. Mr Hall worked at the Transport and Harbours Department. Another Da Silva family, from the Pomeroon, lived on Non Pareil Street in later years. One of the daughters, the beautiful Helena, was very friendly and consequently, well-known along the street. She attended St. Stephen’s School. She now lives in Australia.

In western end room in the “long range” abutting the Sussex Street trench, lived Mr Bacchus and his wife. They had a “cook” (food) shop in Big (Stabroek) Market. Mr Bacchus always told us to beware of spirits from the Burial Ground. He said he saw them at night.

At the eastern end room lived a stevedore we called Mr. Jackie. When he got drunk some Sundays, he would shout “I personally am the greatest.”

In the middle room lived a Mr Persaud and his wife Dulahin. They had three children, Winston, “Boyie” and “Girlie.” Winston became a policeman and now lives in New York.

The second yard was owned by a Mr Corrica who worked at the Train Station on Lamaha Street. His children Roy, Gloria, Pinky and I were good friends. There was weightlifting in his yard every afternoon which attracted many men of all races. In his yard was a “Buxton Spice” mango tree, dunks tree, genip tree, guava tree and calabash tree. When the mangoes were near to ripen, I would climb the tree and pick as many as I could. Mr Corrica shared them with the neighbours. Roy and I played bat and ball in the front of the yard from time to time. I used to climb and perch in the calabash tree to “gaff” with Barbara Delph. The Delphs organised a picnic to the Lamaha Canal once a year.

At the end of Sussex Street was the “backdam” along which was a very narrow path which led to the Lamaha Canal, about a mile and a half away. To save the long walk, John and Raymond Delph and myself managed to get some plantain suckers, staple them firmly together using stout, narrow wooden stakes and make a raft. We poled up the Sussex Street trench to the Canal. We were able to put the heavy items, like pots, on the raft. On another occasion we used a narrow, wooden boat, which capsized after a short distance. On occasions, I used to go with the Delphs grandma Lillian Taitt, up the backdam to pick jamoon and green mangoes. She made drink and wine from the jamoon fruit and achar was made from the mango. I liked, however, mango “chow chow.” The “turning” mango flesh was cut into pieces and sprinkled with salt and pepper sauce. It was a dish fit for a King.

The third yard had three “long ranges” and a cottage. A Portuguese family Rodrigues, lived in one of the rooms in the first “range”. Mr Rodrigues was always well dressed, tie and all.

Another Portuguese family, D’Oliveira, lived in the bottom flat of the cottage. They were related to the Delphs. I recall three sisters – Waveney, Joan and Pam.

Next to them, in a small cottage lived Mr Corrica’s mother. We called her “Nursee” since she wore a nurse’s uniform to work. Africans and Indians lived in the other rooms.

The fourth yard, next to James Street had one “long range”. Miss Ismay made mokra baskets and lived in the end room. She had two sons, Neville and Buster who were good friends of mine.

Next to her lived a fair-skinned lady who had a gentleman who was a sailor. When he returned from a trip, he used to bring chocolates. I would get one now and then and I ate it with relish. Arjune, the son of the landlady, Miss Alice, lived in the last room.

The Sussex Street trench in those days was a real trench, often dredged by the British Government. I used to fish in it for kassee , cuirass, hassar and catch prawns in a rice bag seine. My mother got an iron barrel hoop, sewed it along the top of the bag, put flour and rice, mixed with molasses along the sides and bottom and put leaves in it. We put a few rocks in it to make it sink and stay under water. We let it down with a stout cord to the bottom of the trench. When we pulled it up after an hour or so, we took out a quantity of “catchman” prawns that went into it, ate the mixture and remained in it. We set it back again. Since we had no “fridge”, the prawns were “peeled”, washed and limed that same night and then slightly fried with salt to keep them from spoiling. They made a delicious curry for dinner the next day. I also swam in the trench. The bridge over it was a “big bridge”, one that permitted cars to drive across. The bridges across the trench, eastwards, were all made of two long planks with side rails, except for Calendar Street, where it was a long, round log, which required skill and agility to walk across on.

On Curtis Street, the first yard belonged to Miss Corbin. She lived alone in the huge compound with many fruit trees… plum, almond, somatoo( passion fruit), genip, guava, jamoon, coconut and locust ( “stinking toe”). Ripe fruit from the plum and locust tree often fell into the Sussex Street trench. So I got an empty Ovaltine tin, used a nail to bore holes on its bottom and put holes on each side near the top to push a long, straight and narrow rod through. I would stand on the Big Bridge and use my can and rod to collect floating fruit. My own yard had a starapple tree in front and a guava tree and coconut tree at the back. The starapple tree was the source on many bites by white and brown, sometimes green, “hairy worms”. The coconut tree provided the staple for my mother making “chip sugarcake” and “grated sugarcake”. She made jam with the guavas. My father built a fowl pen in the back yard. I had to go most mornings to the parapet along Sussex Street and cut grass with a grassknife to throw in the pen. We also planted eddoe and cassava in the backyard.

Across Sussex Street was the Le Repentir trench and Burial Ground (Cemetery). I walked through the Burial Ground every school day, to and from school.

At the corner of James and Curtis Street was “putagee” Louis parlour and grocery. I used to enjoy his “sardine (Marshall’s Tomato Sauce) and bread (penny loaf)” and washed it down with a mauby or pine drink. He also sold the best “Custard Blocks” with raisin in them. I recall his two sons Herman and Buds. Opposite was Lil Boy’s “yard” and parlour/grocery.

At the northern end of Curtis Street was a Horse Stable and a Club House. Dances were held in the Club House from time to time.

After that was another “long range”. The Indian men who lived in the range played a card game called “trup chal” almost every Sunday morning. The game is similar to “Whist” and was popular in the colony at that time.

After that “yard” was a Soap Factory. We bought unused pieces from it at a very cheap price. Across the road was a tall house and behind it a small cow pen.

The Savory family lived in the first “yard” at Campbell and Sussex Streets. I didn’t visit that Street often until the Henrys opened a Baker Shop towards the end of it, near the punt trench.

At Garnett and James Street was Beharry’s shop. The building was the only one in the area to have a tower. His son Kunj and I attended Enterprise High School together. Kunj went to school each day with only one exercise book in his back pocket but he was an expert on opera. He invited me some Sundays to listen to his LPs of Beniaminio Gilli, Enrico Caruso and Richard Tauber.

At the Sussex Street corner, we bought parcels of sheep meat, mutton, from time to time, from an Indian family who lived in a cottage Calypsoes popular at that time were Hitler Bring Back The Saltfish , The More They Try To Do Me Bad Is The Better I live In Trinidad, Christmas In England and Ah Bernice.

The popular cigarette brands were Clipper and Four Aces.

The popular bath soaps, which we called “sweet soap” were White Rose and Cucumber, light green in colour; Palmolive, leafgreen in colour and Lifebuoy, dark red. The latter was often called carbolic soap. For body powder or ” sweet powder”, we used Mim’s Talcum Powder which came in a very large red tin. My mother bought for her own use from time to time Potter and Moore Mitchum’s Lavender Powder which came in a cream-coloured tin. The perfumes of the time were Mitchum’s Lavendar; Evening-in-Paris in a tiny dark blue bottle; and Attar of Rose (Phul Nana).

For bed-bugs, Keatings Powder was the popular choice, sprinkling it on the fibre-filled mattress and in creases in the walls. Head lice was treated by putting the evil-smelling crab oil on the scalp. It’s odour was so obnoxious that lice were obliged to quit their place of abode. Sometimes, the seed of the avocado pear was grated and rubbed on the scalp. That was also successful.

The popular wines were Key and Gunboat.

For rum it was ‘Cut and Drop’ sold in a small black lemonade bottle, called a “cuttie” or “cut down”. I used to be fascinated with the manner in which the men opened it. They shook it up and then slapped the bottom of the bottle with the palm of their hand and the cork eased out.

The beer of choice was Frontenac.

On the north-eastern side of James and Cooper, was a grocery and parlour owned by Mr Persaud. My mother bought her groceries there once a week on Fridays. I accompanied her so I could take the basket of groceries home on my head. The family lived above the business. There were two “long ranges” in the large yard. Mr Persaud had two sons, Conrad and Victor and two daughters. After Mr Persaud died, the family opened a grocery and cake shop on Sussex Street, near to La Penitence Market and moved there. They later bought the property on the western side of Non Pareil and Sussex Streets and renovated it.

On the southeastern side lived the Ferguson family who owned and operated a parlour and radio repair shop. Under a tall house, near the southwest corner of James and Cooper Streets, a shoemaker plied his trade. In a cottage further down Cooper Street lived the Shuffler family who I was told was from Barbados.

A lonely woman, with a bottle lamp and a small wooden tray on a bench, sold blackpudding from a blue enamel pot on the bridge of a cottage on James Street opposite Buntan’s Church on Saturday and Sunday nights. One slice, cut in two with “souree” between and lathered with some kind of oil applied with a feather, was sold for a penny. My mother was against eating blood but I enjoyed that blackpudding.

The Singh family lived in the cottage. Jeanette Singh attended Carmel R.C. School. She later became a teacher. Her brother was Pritipal Singh. At James and Victoria lived the Meerabux family. Vincent later became a lawyer and magistrate.

In the next yard lived the Eric Small family. On the other side was a cake shop and grocery owned by a son of the Ragnauth family.

And on the south-western corner was a cottage in which lived a fair-skinned Indian man who had several birds in cages, one of them was a yellow canary.

On the south-eastern side lived the Pariag family.

In a beautiful cottage on the southern side of James Street, between Victoria and King Edward Street, lived the Persaud family. Mr Persaud worked with Bookers and was one of the very few people in Albouystown to own a private motor car at that time. There were two daughters, “Palmy” and Lucille.

At the corner of James and King Edward Streets was a cottage in which lived “Black” Marie. She sold firewood. On the eastern side of her house was a vacant lot and once a year, cumfa dancing was held there. I was always fascinated by the beat of the drums, the dancing girls and the foreign language they spoke when they fell to the ground, foaming from the mouth.

At James and Bel Air Streets was Egbert Grocery and Parlour. Egbert sold a tasty mauby but used to ” ram” the glass with ice.

Next to Egbert’s on Bel Air Street, was a Woodworking Shop under a house. It was where I had my first wooden gun made, trigger and all. I next cut rubber bands from an old bicycle tube. The bands were stretched around the front of the gun and the trigger for tension. I picked buckbeads from weeds in the cemetery to use as “ammunition” for my “gun”.

On the southern side of James and Bel Air Streets, was a grocery and parlour, owned by an Indian family.

At the corner of Albert and James Streets, opposite Dictator Rum Shop, was a grocery and above it lived Lionel Lee who operated a taxi service using Morris 8 cars.

Between Bel Air and Albert Streets was a “green” where we played cricket and football from time to time. It was also used as a site where women worked breaking large blocks of white stone (marl), imported from Barbados I was told. The broken stones were used to build up James Street and other streets in Albouystown.

At the northern end of Callendar Street was the Ball Field. It was the popular place for cricket on Saturdays and Sundays, using a steel drum cover as the wicket, coconut branch bats and tennis(winpuss), sponge or balata balls. At Easter, a fair was held there and one of the features was trying to walk across “The Greasy Pole”, the round timber log across the Sussex Street Trench, laced with grease. The first across got a spanking new green Five Dollar Bill. It was also an ideal area for flying kites.

A good friend from St.Stephen’s School, Bridgelall lived on the eastern side of Callendar Street. He became a member of the Georgetown Fire Brigade.

The late Fred Wills was a product of Albouystown .

Hammy Green’s father had a Drug Store at Barr and James Street. I used to go there to buy for my mother, Polson’s Green Cough Syrup, Robert’s Cough Syrup or Haliborange- halibut oil and orange juice. There was a man whom the people said was “mad” that drew spaceships on the concrete near the Drug Store.

Walter ‘Afoo” Chin also lived on James Street.

And then there was Frank Alexander Chandra whose father, I believe, had a Radio Shop on Punt Trench Road. Frank, I was told, got Ten Distinction Firsts in the ten subjects he took for Senior Cambridge at Enterprise High School. It was never equalled though I was told that Fred Wills got nine Distinctions.

At five, my mother took me to Mr Ross’s private school at James and King Edward Street. The school was sponsored by the Ramsaroop Poor House – Dharam Shala – at Sussex Street corner. Next to the school was a Hindu temple. The British Governor of the colony visited the Poor House establishment once a year, during the Christmas Season and a function was held in the Temple. Patriotic songs were sung. One Governor described the roti he ate as “broadened bread” and the dhal as highly seasoned split peas soup.

I didn’t like Mr Ross’ school so the next year, my mother enrolled me in Lil ABC at St. Stephen Church of Scotland School at St. Stephen, Adelaide and Princess Streets. I recall, however, in later years, I went to Mr. Ross’s home on Cooper Street, near James Street, for extra school lessons in reading, writing and arithmetic. Those were the days of slate and pencil which were bought from Ramdeholl Shop on Cooper Street near the Punt Trench or Texeira’s Hardware Store on Louisa Row near Hadfield Street. My favourite was “chalkie slate” and “chalkie pencil.” I recall a young, beautiful Miss Margaret Ramdeholl who had long black hair.

The Prescott family also lived on Cooper Street. The boys also attended St. Stephen School. Teacher Bessie used a nail and a ruler to etch lines on the slate for ease of writing. Later came exercise books, some specially double- lined to practice cursive writing, drawing books, West Indian Reader and Royal Reader.

When I first learned to write, the letters were so crooked that the boy sitting next to me in Lil ABC would say that it looked like “crabfoot” and sang “crabfoot marching in the burial ground, tek a big stick and knock um down.” Two items about Lil ABC still remain in my memory. One is the large ABC picture-filled placard, that was tacked to a wall… A for Apple, B for Bat, C for Cat,etc.,etc. My favourite letter was Z (pronounced Zed) for Zebu Bull. The other was a large placard of “Do’s and Don’ts.” We had to learn them by heart each day.

Until I was seven, I walked about barefeet. At that age, my teacher insisted I wear “yachting” shoes. The teacher of Lil ABC was Teacher Bessie, Big ABC was Miss Fletcher, I can’t recall who taught First Standard, but Second Standard was Miss Leitch, Third was Miss Fox and Mr. Durant, fourth was Mr. Conrad Luke, Fifth was Mrs. Cooke and Sixth, Mr. Cooke. The Headmaster was Charles B. Giddings. From Third Standard, I was elevated to Scholarship Class run by Mr. Giddings. I recall the class included G.A.S. Sampson, now a Geologist in Canada, Carl Agard, Clarence Wilkinson, McKenzie, Chung, Eustace Forde, Edwin Jack, Kean MacClean and Gloria Newport.

A famous scholar of St.Stephens was the late Dr Walter Rodney. We began classes at St. Stephen’s each day by saying The Lord’s Prayer and ever so often, we all attended a service in the Church adjacent to the school. Being poor was not a crime nor was walking barefeet.

I recall for lunch, I would buy a ticket from school for 10cents for five daily lunches at the Children’s Breakfast Centre at Smyth and Princess Streets, next to St. Phillip’s School. At home, we ate from enamel plates, drank from enamel cups and ate with our fingers. Sometimes we were given spoons. There was no stove. My mother mixed cow and donkey dung with mud from the Punt Trench and made a “fireside” , chula, with two holes. It used wood so most afternoons we searched the nearby Burial Ground for dry branches. A large 5lb empty tin of Palm Tree Salt Butter was converted into a pot to boil water. The only other cooking utensils were a frying pan, a large iron skillet , a carrahee, a tawa for making roti, and a large blue enamel pot for cooking pepperpot.

My mother also, from time to time, bought catfish from the market, cut, cleaned and salted them and smoked them over the chula. The smoked catfish lasted many weeks and tasted good in metagee.

We didn’t have toothbrushes and toothpaste in our early years. We used blacksage sticks. My father cut my hair once a month. He sharpened his German razor on a special stone and then on a leather belt. He put a shallow calabash around my head and cut my hair with a pair of scissors, which he sharpened on stone,around the calabash. The style was called “round-the-world.” When that was over, he used the razor to remove the very short hairs around the side, back, neck and face. There were many nicks but cottonwool with surgical spirit was always ready to be applied, sometimes iodine.

At Easter, the boys on Non Pareil Street used exercise book leaves and dried coconut leaves spines to make kites. Our parents’ sewing thread was borrowed for the loop and the line and pieces of an old dress for the tail. The popular name for the kite was “caddy old punt” or conkawa. Needless to say, my brothers and sister had our monthly dose of either castor oil or senna pods or senna leaf or epsom salts or cascara to “clean us out.” And we had daily, when our parents could afford it, Seven Seas Cod Liver Oil and sometimes Wander Brand “Malt” or Ovaltine.

As babies, we were brought up on Cow and Gate Milk Powder or Lactogen. If we fell and got our hand or feet scraped, my mother would go in the yard, collect the leaves of an ant-bush, grind it, apply it to the wound and cover it with a cloth bandage. It was healed in 48 hours. For an abscess she would get a piece of conchineal, grate it, apply it around and bandage it. It would burst within 24 hours. For swellings, she would get a duckweed (water lily) leaf from the burial ground trench, heat it and continuously apply it to the area. The swelling usually disappeared in 24 hours. Soldier pursley and sweet broom from the yard was also used to make tea.

At the end of Callendar Street, adjacent to the Punt Trench was a High Bridge, another one being at Bel Air Street, which had only one plank and no handrail and, which connected Albouystown to La Penitence. At the side of the High Bridge was a popular swimming spot known as “The Parloff”. Opposite was a parlour which sold the best Coconut Biscuit ( record) in the area. And further east, about 50 yards was the most popular swimming spot, “Clay”. A piece of flesh on my right index finger was bitten off by a pirai, “pirahna” while swimming there one afternoon.

There was another bridge at Hunter Street. Some mornings, at about four o’clock, Carl Agard, Reggie Wilkinson and I used to go swimming in the Atlantic Ocean at the seawall. We made arrangements for the two to tie a string to their big toe and throw it through the bedroom window. It must be long enough to reach near the ground. Since I was the furthest away, I would run to Reggie’s home on Hunter Street first and pull the string. He would join me in a jiffy.

Next was Carl on Henry Street. We trotted to the seawall, did our swimming and trotted back home in time for breakfast and school.

Once a year, a picnic or excursion, with music and dancing was held in two or three punts drawn along the Punt Trench by two horses.

My mother baked bread once weekly on Saturdays. I would place each tin tray of the plaited bread dough, securely covered with a flour bag sheet, on my head and take it to the Bakery at the corner of Cooper Street ( Hell’s Kitchen) and James Street for baking. Later, when the Henrys opened a Baker Shop on Campbell Street, I would walk there to buy bread or walk to Dictator’s Bakery on James Street, between Hunter and Barr Streets. Collar, salara, butterflap, pennyloaf, cottage loaf, panbread and doughboy, were in fashion at that time. For cakes, there was “white-eye”, buns, aniseed biscuit, pine tart, coconut rolls and coconut biscuit.

Dictator Bakery was owned by the Perreira family who lived above it. Their son Jack and I became good friends.

In the second house on Albert Street, near to Sussex Street, lived the Burnhams. Charwin and Igris were High School chums of mine. Their famous Steelband, the Texacans, had its origin there. It attracted a large crowd during practice sessions.

At James and Hunter Street was the RAF Dance Hall. Under it was a cake shop and on the other side of the road another cake shop, later a liquor store, Joe Louis, where you could buy items 24 hours daily. At the south western corner was another cake shop.

At Sussex and Cooper Streets, next to the trench, was a cottage in which lived a fair-skinned lady and her son who later became a Calypso King of British Guiana, Lord Coffee.

In the same yard was a two – storeyed house. The top flat had multi-coloured windows. In it lived a Frenchman who made tourist souvenirs. I used to catch and sell him butterflies for a penny each. He prepared and used the butterflies to decorate wooden trays with a glass covered bottom.

In the bottom flat lived the Gonsalves. I recall Veronica, who was a good friend of Myrtle Brock, and her sister Olympia.

In the cottage to the south lived the Ishmaels. Annie was a good friend of the Delphs.

At Sussex and Victoria Streets lived the Austin family in a small cottage. Mrs Austin was a Jehovah’s Witness and my mother visited her regularly. She always took me with her and it was a delight for the kind lady always served biscuits(crackers) with homemade guava jelly and an enamel cup of “swank.”
Next to her yard was a two-storeyed house and in the top flat lived a goldsmith, a Mr. Kissoon. He once showed me how he melted gold and built moulds for making jewellry.

Further up the street lived the Brown family. Brothers Michael and Hubert were schoolmates of mine at St. Stephen.

At Sussex and King Edward Streets was Pandit Ramsaroop’s Dharam Shala. It was a huge building. In the top flat lived the Pandit and his family and below lived beggars.

Next to it was a cottage in which lived the Youngs. The beautiful and charming Olney Young sat next to me in the Fourth Form at Enterprise High School. I recall her two brothers, Joseph and Compton.

Across the road were two more buildings with top and bottom flats each where lived more beggars. My mother used to take me with her to the “Poor House” during the Christmas Season to share pennies to as many beggars as possible. In those days, a penny could buy a glass of pine drink or mauby for one cent and a “whiteye” or bun or aniseed biscuit for a cent. She and my Dad, a Moslem, also held a lunch one a year in the yard at our home as part of their religion of feeding the beggars. My mother would also give a beggar room and bed for the night if he/she had no where to sleep. I recall one such was Buddy Willie.

Near the Punt Trench on King Edward Street lived a Shuffler family. I recall Leroy and Lennie.

In a cottage at Sussex and Albert Streets lived the Khan family. One son, Mohammed, called “mamoo” was married to my Aunt Hilda. Another brother Aziz, lived in the small “range” in the back yard. They both ran a “butcher shop” in Bourda Market. Some Saturdays, I used to go there to help my Uncle Mamoo and my aunt. I used to cut up parts of the cow to sell as dog meat and at Christmastime, cut up cowheels which I sold in parcels at a shilling each. My kind uncle would give me a shilling, a princely sum, for my morning’s labour, and a fabulous lunch.

There was a large house at Sussex and La Penitence Street. I believe that the name of the family was Vigilance. Next to it was Paul’s (Chinese) Garage. And a little further down was a yard in which “lightwood” crates were made for Peter D’Aguiar’s soft drink business.

At Sussex and Hunter Streets was also a tenement yard with several cottages. In one lived the Wilkinsons. Reggie and Clarence attended St. Stephen’s school, as did I. A popular figure on Hunter Street was Herman Gomes, well known as “German” and another Portuguese guy known as ” Mannie Born Drunk.”

At the corner of Sussex and Barr Streets, on the eastern side, lived Mr. Ho-Yow and his family. Mr. Ho-Yow owned a Drug Store opposite the Fire Station between Lombard and High Streets, obliquely opposite the Olympic Cinema. His son Vernon, in later years, and I worked at the License Revenue Office on Brickdam.

On the western side of the road lived an Indian family who made vermicelli. It was a great sight to see rows and rows of strands of the product, cream, brown, white and some red, spread out on straw mats and placed outside of the house to dry in the sun. Later on, the family business was modernised and chow mein noodles and macaroni were also produced.

There was a cinema in Albouystown. It’s name was Capital, later Rio. It was located on La Penitence Street, just next to the Punt Trench. My parents took me there every Holy Thursday night to see the movie “Passion Play”. The wooden benches in Pit and seats in House and Balcony were more populated by bugs(Guyana kind) than by patrons.

Opposite the cinema was a parlour. My favourite snack there was a fishcake and bread and a small lemonade.

Next to the cinema, on the western wide, was a “long range”, and in it lived a Mr. Martin who was in the B.G. Volunteer Force. He also worked at Fogarty’s.

The cinema was not appreciated by my mother who was a devout Jehovah’s Witness, as mentioned before. My two brothers and I used to walk all the way to Kingdom Hall on Croal Street, above the law offices of C.V. Wight et al, on Sunday nights for church service. On the way back, we would take the long route and stop by the Rum Shop opposite La Penitence Market, to listen to a Jordanite preach. Brother Paddy was always entertaining.

There was a robbery/murder at the Rum Shop one night. The owner was robbed and murdered. Three men were arrested and one who gave evidence for the Crown is reported to have said that the owner was murdered because “dead men tell no tales.”

One Christmas, while attending a Children’s Christmas Party at Ramsaroop’s Poor House, in my bag of sweets was a complimentary cinema ticket. My mother permitted me to go to the Astor Cinema on Boxing Day morning to see two Westerns featuring Roy Rogers. I was not allowed to go in Dress Circle because I was barefeet. I was only six at the time.

What I remember distinctly at that time of World War II was the national siren blowing on several occasions. It was also a time when many rumours circulated about German spies in Georgetown and in Mackenzie. I never stopped going to the cinema after that but only on Public Holidays. Pit was three cents and if you sold an empty black lemonade bottle you got a penny or a large empty rum bottle (a “biggie”) to Dictator Rum Shop on James Street, you got a ‘half-a-bit’ or six cents. Growing up, the movie rule was relaxed just a little. The problem was when a good movie was on at night at the Empire Cinema on Middle Street. It was too tiresome to go all the way around St. Stephen or Adelaide Street. The quickest way was through the burial ground. It’s three gates were however shut tight and padlocked at six p.m. by the one constable, an Indian guy, who guarded the cemetery. We knew his as Peter and I was told he lived on Hogg Street. One night, when the serial Drums of Fu Manchu was on, I walked to the Sussex Street Burial Ground gate, climbed over it, walked to the Louisa Row Gate at Princess Street and climbed over that too. Reaching the cinema after that was a cake walk. I was prepared for the midnight journey back. As I climbed over the gate, I took out fegs of garlic which I had in my pocket, threw them one by one over my head and whispered ” Pity, pity poor boy, sorry for me”. No spirits/ghosts, bothered me. I never saw a spirit but my mother believed in them, especially when the dogs, looking into the Burial Ground, howled mournfully. My mother had a Hindu Priest write words in a strange language over the doors and windows.

We were never permitted to make friends or lime in Albouystown. I joined a group that limed at the concrete rail at Camp and Princess Streets. The group included “Squeeky” Hinds, Carl Agard, Geddes Stoll, “Cobo” Van Sluytman, Derek Spooner “Featherbob” Featherstone and ‘Carrie’ Carrington.

Each street in Albouystown had drainage ‘gutters’ on both sides. They were all shallow mud trenches, reeking of vile odour and teeming with green moss, ringworms and tiny fishes we called ‘cackabelly’. It was not until the late 1940s that the British Government replaced them with concrete drains. The mud ‘gutters’ was another reason Albouystown was called ‘slum’. Garbage in those days used to be collected from “yards” by enclosed horse-drawn carts. Each yard had a large steel tar or oil drum at its bridge in which garbage was put. The carts and horses were stabled and parked in the afternoons at a large Municipal Place on Water Street, next to the Demerara River, and obliquely west of where Bettencourt Department Store was located. There was no electricity. Homes were lit by kerosene lamps. They were about 12 inches high, with a round glass base containing the kerosene oil, a copper coloured attachment to it that contained the wick, with a wheel to turn the wick up and down, a round, silver coloured metal shield at the back to keep the heat away from the wooden wall and reflect the light to the front, and of course, a glass chimney. It was not easy reading and studying under such lights but I got accustomed to it.

My father had an old Victrola gramophone. The playing arm used tiny, silver Birdseye needles which were kept in a small tin. The only “78” records we had were two of Christmas Carols and the other was an Indian one with songs sung by, if I recall, Lata Mungeshkar. You had to place a new needle in the arm, wind up the apparatus with a metal handle, push the turntable to get it going and quickly place the needle in the first groove of the record. We also had an ancient, funny-looking Philco radio that my father bought for $5 from a Portuguese radio repair person by the name of Mr Virgil. I recall that when the BBC world news was being broadcast, neighbours came into the yard and some sat on the steps to hear the news, especially about the progress of World War II. There was also a full house when the short-lived World Heavyweight Boxing match between American Joe Louis and German Max Schmelling was aired.

Our yard abounded with giant crapauds and scorpions, some black like sin, some brown and some some green. I was bitten several times by scorpions, “blown on” by crapauds and bitten by “hairy worms” and had to be rushed to the Number One Dispensary on George Street, Werk-en-Rust several times.
Biscuit (crackers) was a favourite breakfast item, eaten with New Zealand cheddar cheese or Dutchman Head cheese or reddish salt butter. My parents bought our stocks in large, square ‘drums’ from the biscuit factory on Harel Street, near High Street. A drum of broken biscuit was cheaper and contained both salt and sweet biscuits, ‘Edger Boy’ and ‘Edger Girl’. The factory was opposite “Count Orloff” Charles’ Wheelwright place. Charles built and repaired wheels for donkey and dray carts. In those days the wheels were made of wood with iron rims.

There were quite a few Drug Stores in the 1940s Albouystown. There was one on James Street next to the Dictator Rum Shop; Green’s Drug Store at James and Barr Streets; Jeeboo Drug Store at James and Hill Streets; Kailan’s Drug Store on Hogg Street; Kawall’s Drug Store on La Penitence Public Road and near to it, and Booker’s Drug Store near the Sussex Street trench. Twins Drug Store on James Street, near Hunter Street, and on La Penitence Public Road, adjacent to the Market, were set up a little later. Ragnauth also opened one next to their grocery on Upper James Street and Lil Boy sold some pharmaceutical items from his grocery on James Street near Curtis Street.

There were at that time, five religious places or churches in Albouystown. One was the Hindu Ashram on King Edward Street, Brother Buntan’s Church on James Street between Cooper and Victoria Streets, a church on Bel Air Street, near the water tank and one at Hunter Street and Punt Trench Dam. The fifth was the Coptic Church on Non Pareil Street.

There were three tailor shops, one at the south-eastern corner of James and Non Pareil Streets, another on James Street between Hunter and Barr Streets and the third on James Street near Albouys Street. A tailor who worked in the latter was my ex-brother-in-law whom we called Brother Kissoon. He was my niece Olivia’s father. His family lived next door. Three of his nieces were Patti, Finey and Bibi.

Next to Buntan’s church lived, as I vaguely recall, the Cozier family. Mr Cozier walked around Albouystown with a pushcart from which he sold ‘Shave Ice’ in the shape of a heart, diamond or a club, lathered with thick, red syrup. Sometimes he would put some Blue Cross condensed milk on top. He rang a bell constantly to let customers know he was around.

There were no Government schools. Residents of Albouystown had to send their children to schools in adjoining Werk-en-Rust and Charlestown. Such Schools included Freeburg on Norton Street; St. Stephen’s at St.Stephen’s and Princess Street; Broad Street Government; Carmel RC School at Charles and Sussex Streets and St. Philip’s on Smyth Street.

There was a YMCA , a two -storeyed building at Albouys Street and Sussex Street. It had a ping pong table and there was training in boxing. I attended Sunday School on the upper flat of the building. ‘Ice Fish’ , iced grey and red snapper, was sold from time to time at the Ice Depot at James and Hogg Street. Near to the shop was a “long range” and often, there were large fishing nets hanging out to dry in front.

On Hogg Street, next to James Street was a Rum Shop. Around the corner on James Street was a popular Barber Shop and across the road, adjacent to La Penitence Public Road and above a Chinese Grocery where I used to go to buy salted pigtail and salt beef for my Mom, was Dr J.P. Lachhmansingh’s Medical clinic.

There was a Bata Shoe Store on La Penitence Public Road. And next to it was a bicycle repair shop. At the Punt Trench Dam corner was a parlour where sweet cassava bread and cassava bread were sold. It later became a rumshop. Across the road was a Chinese Restaurant.

Behind La Penitence Market, adjacent to the Demerara River, was a large sawmill where my father bought cartloads of sawdust from time to time to cover our dirt yard. At the Market, fruits and vegetables were sold along the concrete parapet outside the iron-fenced rectangular structure. The vast array of fruits on sale included: whitey, cookerite, owara, corio, bananas (apple, fig and Cayenne), genip, jamoon, mango (buxton spice, long, foo foo, turpentine), sapodilla, gooseberry, starapple ( light green and purple), goldenapple, somatoo ( passion fruit), custard apple, sugar apple, soursop, monkeyapple, guava ( red and white lady), cherry (plump red and Suriname), grapes, psidium, mamee, cashew, avocado ( green and purple), tamarind, yellow plums, locust, pomegranite, pineapple, dunks, starfruit (five fingers), orange, tangerine, papaw, and grapefruit Inside the market were shops or stalls which sold food, grocery, hardware, cloth, meat, and many other items. At the western end was the seafood section where fishes of all kinds, including catfish, hardhead Thomas, kwakwarie, cuirass, kasee, bangamary, four-eye, queriman, gilbacker, basha, two-belly basha, butter fish, grouper, snapper, sea trout, silver fish (churi churi), sunfish, hassar, patwa, hoori, lukunani, hymara, luggalugga, dew fish, mullet, cuffum, snook, paccoo, salted morocut… and shrimps, prawns, crabs, sheriga, etc. etc. were sold.

A great day for the folks of Albouystown was once a year when ‘Banding’, whatever that was, ‘opened’. When it did, the residue of sugarcane crushing, locally called ‘lease water’ , dark in colour and smelling of molasses, flowed into the Sussex Street trench and fishes of all kind, probably drunk from the odour or the water that reached their gills, floated on the surface. We filled our colorful mokra basket bought from Miss Ismay, with fresh fish that day. The biggest fish we got on one occasion was a ‘cuffum’.

There was very little excitement on Non Pareil Street except for two incidents in the late 1940s. The tenants in the flat above Jimmy Ragnauth’s Parlour and Grocery awoke one morning to find a sharp, shiny cutlass on a table in their home and some of their property stolen. The other incident occurred early one Sunday morning with the shouts of “Ole Higue, Ole Higue”. A fair-skinned, middle-aged, Indian woman, with blood trickling from both sides of her mouth, hands tied behind her back, was being whipped now and then with a manicole broom and being led by an angry mob to the Ruimveldt Police Station.

Conclusion: A man is not always defined by where he was born or the circumstances of his birth. I became a journalist, District Administration Officer, Licence Revenue Officer, Chief Information Officer, Ambassador, Commonwealth Expert, Consultant-Government of Fiji; Consultant to Fiji’s Mission to the United Nations, received the Order of The Nile (Third Class) from Egypt, travelled to over 60 countries and lived in quite a few. My family and I now live in Springfield, Virginia, U.S.A. I am retired.

Growing up in Guyana in my young days was paradise and Non Pareil Street and Albouystown, wonderland.



by Peter Halder

I was deeply engaged in studying a file on a timber matter which I was to prosecute in court the next few days when I was interrupted by a knock on the door of my room at the District Administration Office, Christianburg, Upper Demerara River.

Looking up angrily, I saw the Forest Ranger Berthold Baird open the door and push his head in.

“Father Kilkenny is here to see you on an urgent matter,” Baird said.

“Okay, offer him a seat and tell him I will see him in a few minutes,” I replied.

I couldn’t concentrate on the file contents any longer so I closed the file and gave some thought to Fr.Kilkenny.

I recalled that the goodly Father was with a Church on Arvida Road, Mackenzie, as it was then named. He was a constant and persistent smoker of the Yellow Peril, the brand name of which was Lighthouse Cigarette. It was called Yellow Peril because the colour of the box was yellow.

The popular Father was also well-known in the district for his wanton daily consumption of rum. He invariably had a small flattie under his black priestly vest.

I was told that one Sunday morning, he walked inelegantly to the altar, bowed to the congregation and then fell flat on his face. Before he hit the floor, he shouted out, “Amen!” and made the sign of the cross.

“Poor man,” said a parishioner laughingly, “like the Devil who lost his tail, Father had to go to Sue Tang & Sue Wo at Wismar, the spirit shop where they retail spirits.”

So much for that. It was time to see Fr Kilkenny.

I walked to the door, opened it and invited the priest in.

I shook his clammy hands and offered him a seat.

“And what can I do for you this fine morning, Father?” I asked.

“Sir,” he replied with a solemn face, ” thanks for seeing me. I am here to complain about the pilots of the boats that ferry people to and fro across the river daily and one pilot in particular.” He stopped.

Ferry across the Demerara River, 2009, Linden, Guyana

Ferry across the Demerara River, Linden, 2009 (photo JimB on Flickr)

“Go ahead,” I said, “I am all ears.”

“Well, Sir, the pilots operate their boats in a manner that endangers the lives of their passengers, many of whom cannot swim. They show no care and attention even when there are women and children aboard. As the District Administration Officer, you should pull them up regularly. You are empowered under the Harbour Regulations to do so and even to charge them. What is more, you can even suspend or withdraw their boat licences,” said the Father.

“Please continue, Father. I believe you said you had a particular pilot in mind,” I replied.

“So I did my son, so I did,” he continued, “as I was on the boat travelling from Mackenzie to Wismar a short while ago, and there were two other men in the boat who can bear witness, the pilot deliberately steered his boat into the immediate wash of a passing launch. The boat hit the surging water hard and we had to grab the sides tightly to prevent us from falling into the river. We were rocked from side to side before the surge went away and the boat was stabilized. Instead of the pilot apologizing, he looked at us and laughed. I urge you to do something about it in your official capacity.”

Concern clouded my face. I slowly digested what I was told and made up my mind what to do.

“Father, he who hesitates is lost. Let us act immediately. Let us go to that same pilot right now. I will issue him a stern warning, in your presence, and advise him of consequences if he did it again,” I said.

Of course, while he was complaining he was smoking his Yellow Peril and was still smoking as we walked on Wismar Road alongside the river.

At First Alley, Wismar, we stopped and Fr Kilkenny pointed out the offending pilot whose boat had just touched the shore.

Ferry at Wizmar,  Demerara River, 2009, Linden, Guyana

Ferry at Wizmar, Demerara River, Linden, 2009 (photo keith4709 on Flickr)

Standing on the wooden bridge that led to the sandy shore, I called the pilot.

He walked to us looking rather sheepishly, with his head down.

I gave him a severe scolding and a very stern warning.

“Qamina Bangaram,” I added, since I knew his name, “if I receive another complaint that you pilot your boat without due care and concern for the safety of your passengers, I will suspend your boat licence.”

Fr Kilkenny thanked me and he and the pilot walked down to the water’s edge while I stood on the bridge looking on.

When they reached the boat, the Father told Bangaram, “Now that the District Administration Officer is here, I would like you to demonstrate your skill as a pilot. Is that okay with you?”

Bangaram nodded in the affirmative.

“Take the boat backwards,” ordered the Father.

The pilot pull-started the Archimedes outboard engine on the boat, put it reverse and took the boat backwards towards the middle of the river.

“Now drive forward,” the Father shouted.

The pilot put the engine in the forward gear and drove forward, easily and safely.

“Now take it back into the channel and let it move sideways with the tide,” ordered Father.

Bangaram reversed, waited a little until a minor wash occurred , took the boat into the wash, slowed down, and the wash took it gently sideways for about ten yards.

“Very good,” shouted Father, “you did very well. Now return to shore and take me over to Mackenzie.”:

The pilot returned to shore, stepped from the boat and confronted Father.

“Since I obeyed your every wish, Father,” he said, “would you mind a small test yourself to prove that you are a good priest.”

“Not at all, my good man,” replied Father puffing on his Yellow Peril, “not at all.”

“Very well then,” said Bangaram, “would you be so kind enough as to say the Lord’s Prayer.”

Fr Kilkenny was in his mettle. He clasped his hands and said the Prayer in a strong but solemn tone of voice.

I was about to walk away when the pilot turned to the Father and said, ” You tested me by having me drive my boat forward and backward. Now please say the Lord’s Prayer backwards?”

I was going to lambaste the pilot for being so rude to Father for I didn’t believe he could say it backwards. I suddenly stopped.

Fr Kilkenny smiled and began “Amen. Ever and forever…” and continued without a pause until he finished with “…heaven in art who Father Our.” He bowed as he accomplished what appeared to be an impossible task.

I clapped my hands with delight.

The Father said to the pilot, “I am good at what I do.”

Bangaram emitted a broad grin, looked straight at Fr Kilkenny and said, ” IF YOU ARE THAT GOOD AT WHAT YOU DO, NOW SAY THE PRAYER SIDEWAYS FATHER!”



by Peter Halder

Fr Alfred MacTaggart was the Priest -in-charge of St.Aidan’s Anglican Church at Wismar, Upper Demerara River. The Church’s congregation was made up of persons from Wismar, Christianburg, Silvertown, Silver City, Wismar Hill and Mackenzie.

Fr. MacTaggart hailed from Scotland and his Scottish brogue oft intrigued his congregation when he delivered his sermon on Sundays. His elocution, for whatever reason, was often punctuated by thin streams of spit. The Father was also well- known for his strong tenor voice. It gave vibrancy and appeal to the Hymns sung in Church on Sundays. His Diocese was not limited to Christianburg-Wismar-Mackenzie and environs. Southward it extended as far as Mallali, some 45 miles away. He visited Mallali and delivered sermons at the Mallali School building on a Sunday once every six months.

On one such visit, he was persuaded by a friend Pancho Fiedtkou to lunch. Pancho, a timber dealer, lived in his beautiful home on the right bank of the Demerara River, above Kaikuchekabra Rapids. The Mallali School was on the left bank of the river.

After a gourmet meal of tortoise soup and smoked labba, with sweet potato, eddoe, yam and plantain, Pancho and the Father struck up a conversation about the situation in the area.

Their conversation was interrupted after a long while by a sudden outburst of thunder, lightning and heavy rainfall.

The tropical storm was also accompanied by heavy winds which felled several trees. The trees blocked the path over the hill that would have taken the Father to his launch, which, due to its size, could not, in any case, navigate the narrow channel through the rapids.

There was no other way for Fr MacTaggart to return but by river, which Pancho explained. With the Fr’s concurrence, Pancho arranged for a canoe and two oarsmen to take Father by river, through the narrow channel of Kaikuchekabra Rapids to the launch.

One oarsman sat at one end and one at the other. Father sat in the middle.

All went well until they reached the Rapids.

The narrow channel was a maelstrom from the heavy rain and heavy wind. The dark brown water of the channel dashed itself against the protruding rocks on both sides, sending white sprays across and above.

Rewa River rapids, Guyana

Rewa River rapids (photo David Johnstone on Flickr)

“Dat ting luk lika hell, Father,” observed one oarsman, “but we goh get ya thru, na foh worrie.”

“Praise the Lord,” said Father MacTaggart gratefully, “praise the Lord!”

The oarsmen whispered the 23rd Psalm and made the Sign of the Cross as the canoe entered the channel.

Fr MacTaggart raised in the air the Golden Cross on the chain around his neck and joined in saying the 23rd Psalm loudly.

The canoe was tossed from side to side along the narrow channel by the savage turbulence of the water.

Father finished the Psalm and began the Lord’s Prayer when they reached the middle of the channel.

The maelstrom was worse there and the boat began to take in water as it tossed from side to side.

The oarsmen encountered grave difficulty in controlling the canoe and keeping it from being dashed against the huge rocks.

Sweat ran from their heads, through their hair and down their forehead. Their eyes were rolling in their sockets.

Fear drove them into their tradition and custom.

The two, as one, began to sing a chantey as they desperately paddled forward.

” Dem ah tell lie pon me
Dem ah tell lie pon me
Dem ah tell lie pon me
Seh me gie gal belly.”

Their faces were grim but their hands never stopped. Their bodies were soaked with perspiration but they showed courage.

Fr MacTaggart, buoyed by his Prayer, was nevertheless shaking.

But what worried him most was the bawdiness and lewdness of the chantey.

He started to sing the Hymn “Onward Christian Soldier” to the dismay and anger of the oarsmen.

The rapidly churning water was pushing the canoe towards a great big, jagged rock with sharp edges.

The men shouted to the Father to stop singing his Hymn and join them in singing their chantey.

“I can’t do that,” shouted back the Father,” only God can save us.”

“Well in dat case,” shouted back the men in unison, ” we goh down we oars. Ef yoh doan sing we song we gon stop rowing and we all gon die right hey. Up to yoh, sing or die.”

Seeing he had no choice but to do as they asked. Father told them all right, and launched into the chantey singing:

” They are telling lies on me
They are telling lies on me
They are telling lies on me
Saying I gave a young lady abdomen. ”

and he continued singing the same words.

The boat steadied. The oarsmen plied all their skill and paddled the canoe safely through the channel.


The Healer

by Peter Halder

The Seventh Day Adventist Church was located along the Christianburg Main Road in the Christianburg/Wismar/Mackenzie District,Upper Demerara River. The Main Road, adjacent to the river, began at the northern end of Christianburg and ended a little past Sproston’s Stelling at Wismar.

Seventh Day Adventist Church, Wismar, British Guiana

Seventh Day Adventist Church, Wismar (photo Pauline)

The Pastor of the Church was Rev. Mordecai Bamboolah. He was the quintessence of quaintness. His head was as bald and smooth as the outside of a calabash. In fact, the top of his head resembled heaven – there is no parting in either place. He was tall and well-built, probably as a result of the quantity of food he consumed daily. Some in his flock nick-named him Pastor More. His forehead had as many furrows as bicycle tracks on the main road after a heavy rainfall. His eyebrows were thick and bushy and when asked about their unusual growth of hair, the Pastor said that it was neither here nor there.

The Pastor’s wife was Nita ( nee Twicky) from Dunoon, a village down river. She was the exact opposite of her husband. She was short and thin, so thin in fact that in the sunlight, she had to move twice to cast a shadow.

I first met Pastor Mordecai at a wedding reception. The cook at the Government Rest House at Section C, Christianburg, where I lived, was getting married at the Seventh Day Church and she asked me to be the Master of Ceremonies. Lutwena Allicock was 48.She had been married four times before and had two children with each husband. She was, as they used to say in those days “wide and thick” and when she rode her bicycle, you couldn’t see the saddle.

Her fifth husband was going to be Quimby Penkawr, also called Brother Q.

Pastor Mordecai also referred to him as Brother Q during the wedding ceremony. He asked, ” Brother Q, do you take Lutwena to be your lawful wedded wife, to have and to hold, till death do you part?”

Brother Q replied, “Yes, I will have her often but I don’t know about holding her until death since she left me four times before.”

When the passed-over bridegroom opened his mouth to speak, the inside was like the fabled City of El Dorado. His teeth were paved with gold.

The story was that Brother Q was Tweena’s first boyfriend but she left him and married someone else. Then she was divorced and they got together again. She did this four times until she finally decided to marry him.

I recall that, during Speech Time at the Wedding Reception, after all the speakers, and there were many, had had their say, I called on Brother Q to reply to the plethora of good wishes.

Brother Q stood up quickly, turned to his bride and said, “Ah gat yoh to mesself at lass!” and abruptly sat down.

I was introduced formally to Pastor Mordecai and his wife during the Reception and invited him to join my table. As we chatted, he told me that apart from his preaching, he rendered first aid to his flock since there was no hospital or clinic at Wismar/Christianburg, not even a doctor. There was a Government Dispenser, Babbooly Rangassamy, who was invariably ‘under the weather’. The rumour was that he treated himself daily to doses of surgical spirit mixed with tamarind syrup. The people called him “Surgi” behind his back. It was his custom to examine his patients using a magnifying glass.

As a District Administration Officer, I cautioned the Pastor about his first aid services since he had no formal training but I understood his penchant for wanting to help his congregation. I asked him to invite me over whenever he had to treat someone.

The first such occasion arose the following Monday morning.

A tall, singularly looking man with a bulbous nose, small staring eyes and some teeth in his mouth, all rotten, came to see me at my office. He said, in a sing-song manner, “Meh name Jumbee Jummer an de Pasta seh foh meh ta tell yoh to cum foh he wan foh see yoh.”

I got up and followed him to the church. There I saw the Pastor in his office and a man sitting in a chair in front of him.

“Please have a seat,” he said,”I have a church member here whose name is Ramroach but everyone calls him Cockroach.”

I took a seat and paid close attention to what was about to transpire.

“Now Mr Cockroach Ramroach,” said the Pastor, “tell me what is wrong with you.”

“Pastor”, replied Ramroach, “ah does some jobs at de Wisma Stellin. One day, ah stump meh big toe on the big ion ting dem does tie de boat to. Meh toe swell up rite away. Meh caan walk praperly. Till now meh caan walk praperly. Do fuh meh, Pasta, meh beg yoh.”

The Pastor pulled up the pants leg and examined the big toe. “Get up and try to walk,” he told Ramroach. The man hobbled around.

“I know for sure what’s wrong with your big toe,” observed the Pastor, “it is clear to me that after the accident you developed ‘toelio’. Just sit and wait here a minute and I will be back.”

I sat there aghast. I was astounded over the diagnosis of the Pastor. I had never heard of a disease named “toelio” but I thought it best to be silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt. Besides, there was such a thing in the country as faith healing. I waited with bated breath, the return of the Pastor who went outside in the yard.

He returned shortly with some washed leaves in his hand and put them on his desk. He took a hammer from the drawer in his desk, as well as a plastic sheet and a bandage.

He placed the leaves on the plastic sheet and pounded them with the hammer into a kind of paste. He put the paste on the man’s big toe and tied the bandage firmly around it.

“The leaves are from Ants Bush and Soldier Pursley growing in the yard. They have indescribable medicinal values. Now,Mr Ramroach, take your time and walk gingerly home. Stay in bed for the rest of the day. By tomorrow the ‘toelio’ will be cured,” advised the Pastor.

And so said, so it happened. The very next day, Mr Ramroach was able to walk normally. The toe problem was cured.

I was so glad I remained silent.

A few months passed and then Jumbee came to see me again to tell me the Pastor had another patient.

I hurried quickly over to the church brimming with anticipation and interest.

A beautiful, thirtyish, fair-skinned dougla woman, was seated in front of the Pastor’s desk.

As I took a seat at the proceedings, the Pastor asked her, “What is your name, my good lady?”

“Meh name Ann Onymus,” she coyly replied.

“Well, Ann, what is the matter with you?”

“Nuffing is de mattah wid me Pastor. Me an meh husban bin togedda foh sum ten years an we livin gud. But sumting ah de mattah wid meh knee. A latta spats ah gadda roun it foh days now. Meh na kno why. Meh husban nah waan cum neer meh now cause ah dat. He ah beeleev meh gat coccobeah. So dat is wye meh cum to yoh. Meh waan yoh get rid ah de spats,” explained Ann.

“I got you,” replied the Pastor, ” just raise up your dress above your knee and let me have a look at it.”

Ann did as he asked but hesitatingly and cautiously.

The Pastor looked at the knee area and began to touch around it. The lady wiggled in the chair at his touch.

“Are you feeling well?” asked the Pastor.

“Yes, an soh are yu!” she replied with an alluring smile.

The Pastor rubbed his chin for a moment, thought long and hard and, with a wide smile on his face, said, “I know what the problem is. You are suffering from ‘kneesles’. Wait here a moment and I will be back to take care of it.”

He went outside and returned in about ten minutes. He had in his hand a broad waterlily leaf that grew in a trench nearby. He dried the leaf over a kerosene lamp. He then placed the warm leaf over the infected area and tied it around the knee with a bandage.

“The ‘kneesles’ will disappear in twenty-four hours,” he told Ann.

Gently overcoming my shock and amazement, I again said nothing.

Two days later, I sought out Ann at her fruit stand at Wismar Market. She gleefully told me her knee was completely cured and that she no longer had ‘kneesles’.

Several months passed before Jumbee came again. I told him I couldn’t go immediately because I was doing something urgent but that I will be at the Church in fifteen minutes.

I hurriedly finished what I was doing and walked quickly over to the church. As I neared it, I was utterly astonished to see a man clinging desperately and tightly to a lamp post at the side of the road, near the church. An awful, nauseating odour was emanating from him.

I quickly walked past him and as I did so, I looked back for a second and saw that the back of his pants was wet. I thought nothing of it at the time.

Pastor Mordecai shook my hands and offered me a seat.

“Well, Pastor,” I said, “sorry I am late but what is the problem? Where is the patient?”

“Nothing much happened,” explained the Pastor with a grin, “a man came to see me and he had s very serious cough. In fact, I saw specks of blood in the mucous he coughed up from time to time into a newspaper he held in his hand. He was wracked with coughing and he was weeping too. Coughing and weeping, weeping and coughing, what a combination. He was also bending low from, from his waist down, time to time.”

“And what did you diagnose was his ailment?” I asked.

“It was a simple and straightforward case of ‘weeping

cough'” he replied.

“And how did you treat his ‘weeping cough’?” I inquired.

“I gave him a large enamel cup filled with glauber salts and castor oil,” advised the Pastor.

“And how do you know that that mixture is a cure for what you said was ‘weeping cough’?” I asked again.

The Pastor looked at me smilingly and replied, “Did you see as you walked here, a man holding on to a lamp post for his dear life? Well that’s the man with the ‘weeping cough’. From the time the mixture entered his stomach, he stopped coughing. He stopped weeping. He stopped bending. He locked his legs together like they were welded and inched his way out of here. When he reached the lamp post, he grabbed on to it like a louse grabbing on to a hair. He don’t dare cough. If he only coughs or weeps, the walls of Jericho will come tumbling down behind him. So that’s the end of and cure for his cough and his weeping. ”

I was at a loss for words. I got up slowly, said goodbye and walked quickly out of the church.

I returned quickly to my office, not even sparing a glance at the man clinging to the lamp post.

I saw the man a week later at Lieu Ken Pen Grocery. He was looking thin but healthy. He told me his coughing and weeping was completely cured. He never coughed nor wept from the moment he drank the medicine that Pastor Mordecai gave him, he said, adding that all medicines had side effects.




by Peter Halder

Uncle Big Man worked in the Machine Shop at the Demerara Bauxite Company, Mackenzie, Upper Demerara River.

Mackenzie Machine shop

The Machine Shop from the North (photo Keith Gordon)

Everyone knew him as Uncle Big Man and very few knew that his real name was Archibald Penassolein.

He was over six feet tall, with thin arms and thin legs. His tummy was more of a protuberance that a belly. His face was long and narrow with an angled, jutting jaw. The skin on his bald head was furrowed and his eyebrows were thick. His nose was long and flat, like that of a gorilla. His lips were long and pendulous. His eyes were like tiny pieces of coal. Several lines furrowed his high forehead, His skin was the same colour as Kiwi Black Shoe Polish.

The ghastly looking man wore the same shirt and pants almost every day, washing them overnight.

His good friend, Tippytoe Malbecki, said of Uncle Big Man that he was as ugly as sin. Almost everyone who saw Uncle Big Man also felt that way. The thing about it all was that the guy loved being called “The Ugliest Man in Mackenzie”. Women avoided him like the plague. He couldn’t even get a dance with a wabine at the Friday and Saturday night dances at the Mackenzie Recreation Hall.

However, like the old song went, “For Every Man There’s A Woman” or as they used to say at the time, “even vung vung cheese gat ee own tennis roll”.

Uncle Big Man had his own luck. He was told by his friend Tippytoe that there was a most beautiful girl of amergra ethnicity (half Amerindian and half negro) who lived at Hurudaia,near Dalgin, some twelve miles down river from Mackenzie. Her name was Rita Anita Agnes Dolliveira. Tippy, who attended Public School with her, said Rita was as beautiful as Uncle Big Man was ugly, a case of the beauty and the beast.
The house at Huradaia in which Rita lived with her brother and parents, was secluded. There were no other people around for miles, so she seldom had the opportunity to be met or wooed by young men.

Uncle Big Man was impressed with the description of the fair-skinned beauty of Huradaia, especially since Tippytoe also added that Rita had a figure that made an eight look like insignificant. Tippytoe gave him the information as gaffe, not believing that anything would result from it. Imagine his surprise when Uncle Big Man swore he would visit her and woo her.

The major problem that Uncle Big Man faced with his quest was that there was no road from Mackenzie to Hurudaia and the only mode of travelling there and back was the river. The Sproston’s steamer, the R.H. Carr. did not travel every day and never at night. Keeping his job and his room at Bachelors’ Quarters was like life itself to the Uncle Big Man, so he couldn’t further his desire to meet Rita by using the steamer or a launch. The troubled man, in a short space of time, had fallen in love with Rita and dreamt of her every night. He even wore his eye glasses while he slept at night so he could see her better in his dreams. He thought and he thought and he thought about the problem and bang, he hit upon a plan. He bought a canoe and a paddle from an old Amerindian woman, Amelia Allicock,who lived at Kara Kara Creek. His plan was to paddle to Huradaia and back. He figured that, bearing in mind the tides, he could paddle to Huradaia in five hours and then five hours back. That would give him very little time, if any, to be with Rita or to sleep, since he had to be at work at 7.00 a.m. and knocked off at 4.30 p.m., Monday to Friday.

The next day, when the siren shrieked at 4.30 p.m., Uncle Big Man rode home quickly on his big-frame Raleigh bicycle. He had a quick shower and changed into his only other pants and shirt. On the way to where his canoe was parked on the sandy shore near Powell Crescent, he stopped at Blair’s Delight restaurant and bought barbecue chicken, cassava chips, two bottles of I-Cee Tonic and two aniseed biscuits. He also bought two packs of Clipper cigarettes for father and son, and four beef patties for the mother. His presents all neatly wrapped in three sheets of the Graphic newspaper, the Mackenzie Romeo walked to his boat, carefully stowed away his goods,stepped into his canoe and pushed off into the dark waters of the Demerara River.

Canoel on the Demerara River

Canoe on the Demerara River (photo CJimB on Flickr)

The tide was against him but love gave the love-sick man abundant energy to forge his way along the river, paddling with a calculated rhythm. He kept checking his Bulova night-dial watch from time to time.

After hours of strenuous paddling, Uncle Big Man breathed a sigh of relief when he saw Huradaia beckoning to him around the bend of the river. He checked his watch. It was just about ten o’clock at night.

Uncle Big Man parked his canoe on the sandy shore adjoining the house, collected his goods and walked along a narrow path to the house.

“Hallo! Hallo! Hallo!” he called out, “anybady deh home?”

Someone heard the shouting. A kerosene lamp was lit. “Ah who deh out deh?” a male voice from the house shouted back.

“Ah me Uncle Big Man from Mackenzie,” he shouted back, “ah bring sum tings for all-ya and patikula sumting foh Rita.”

The Mackenzie Romeo heard talking in the house. Then the front door opened and a man’s voice said loudly, “De dawg tie up so put yoh bodywait ah yoh foot an wahk up.”

A wide smile graced the tired face of the amorous suitor. He quickly ran forward, the invitation giving strength to his weary legs, cramped from sitting on the low, flat seat of the canoe for nearly five hours.
When he reached the opened door, he said, “Me ah Uncle Big Man. Ah cum hey foh mek frends with Rita. Ah bring she some barbecue chicken and cassava chips wid soff drink and sum addah tings foh de famly.”

The father of the home took the package of goodies. They shook hands.

Uncle Big Man peeked through the doorway and saw Rita wearing a dutty-powder cloth nightgown. His eyes lit up when he beheld the glory of her beauty. His knees wobbled. “Oh me Gawd. dah gal so nice meh feel lak me deh a haven,” he said to himself.

Nobody in the house was able to see Uncle Big Man as yet since he was on the landing, where the darkness of the night prevailed. In fact, Mr Dolliveira was very nervous since he didn’t see a face, only white teeth.

“Cum in, cum in, ” invited the Christian man, ” me ah Kennet but dem does call me Kakanet. Com in an meet meh famly.”

“Meh nah gat time Mr Kakanet,” said Uncle Big Man, “me gat foh paddle back to Mackenzie tonite rite away. It gon tek me five hours so meh nah goh get dere till three or four a’clack ah mahnin an meh gat foh go wok at seven. Meh goh see yoh all tamarraw nite.”

With that, Uncle Big Man, blew a kiss to his infatuation, Rita, and ran to his boat.
“Tank yoh,” Kakanet shouted out,” meh famly an me ah go wate foh yoh tamarraw nite.”

The return journey was long and the night was dark and dreary but not so Uncle Big Man. He was aglow and his thoughts were energetic. There was a gleam in his eyes and a new feeling in his heart, one he never felt before.

The sound of insects and bats along the river banks never bothered him a bit. He saw the red, glowing eyes of an alliagator in a swampy area near the shore. The gator took one look at the man and scrambled away in fear.

As the amorous man paddled he sang, ” Dem seh foh evry bahy and gal, dere’s juss wan luv in dis hole worl, and meh juss know me fine mine.”

Finished, he began whistling. He raised his head to the heaven above and said, “Ah tru wah dem seh. Gawd nah ware pajama.He ah tek care ah all, yung an old, nice an ugly. Praise Gawd!”

The first night launched the odyssey of Uncle Big Man. Every night after, he would buy things, take them to Huradaia but never entered the house because time was his mortal enemy. He only had time to get there and to get back. Not even a shake hand or a kiss from his dearly beloved. He thought he was doing great.

The Dolliveiras’ were non-plussed. It was strangest thing that ever happened. As strange as the extensive forest behind their property. But they thought highly of Uncle Big Man- his kindness, his generosity and his clearly proven interest and friendship.

During the first week of his visitations, Kakanet told Uncle Big Man that the family was Seventh Day Adventists and no visits were permitted on Saturdays and Sundays.

“Dah nah wan prablem,” replied the ugly duckling.

During the his daily visits to Huradaia, except for weekends, the Dolliveira family never really had a good look at the persistent paramour since he always remained in the Stygian darkness on the unlit landing and with his skin colour and that of the night, there was not much they could have seen anyhow.

After six months passed, Uncle Big Man decided that it was time he proposed to his Goddess of Beauty. First, however, he had to become engaged. At weekend, he travelled by steamer to Georgetown and at Humphrey’s on High Street, bought a three-stone diamond, gold and platinum engagement ring.

On his return to Mackenzie, he wrote a letter proposing marriage and enclosed the engagement ring as a token of his love and affection. The envelope was delivered with his bag of gifts that Monday night.

That same night, Rita put on the ring and was proud that it adorned her finger. She never had a boyfriend much less a fiance. The following night, when Uncle Big Man peeked through the doorway and saw the ring on her finger, he bounded away with delight. He laughed and laughed and laughed all the way to his canoe. Paddling along the river, he sang, “Wen a man loves ah woman.”

His nocturnal visits and brief stops on the landing continued for several more months. His happiness knew no bounds, for every night of his visit, Rita would hold up her hand to display to him his engagement ring on her finger.

And so, as the river ebbed and flowed, Uncle Big Man’s thoughts ebbed and flowed on setting a date to marry Rita. He decided he needed the advice of his friend Tippytoe since he had no clue of how to go about it.

The two hooked up at the Golden Orchid Beer Garden at Christianburg that Sunday afternoon. After both finished a round of Tennent’s Beer, the anxiety-ridden man told Tippytoe about his nocturnal visits to Rita, about their engagement and that they were going to get married.

“Wat! Wat is dat yoh seh. You and Rita ah gon get mahreed. Yoh joking rite?” said Tippytoe.
“Nah man. Meh nah joke. Meh sirius. Me and Rita ah goh get mahreed.”
“Look Uncle Big Man, ugly is ugly, but stupid ah wan adder ting. Yoh tink dat ah buutie lak ah Rita ah goh mahree ah man wid a face lak yurs! Wye is it dat yoh no gat no mirra ah wey yoh live. Cause yoh caan luk in de mirra. De ting wud crak fram agonee. An fram wat yoh seh, Rita nah see yoh face evah . Nun ah de famly evah see yoh face. Yoh always deh ah dark. Wen dem really see wat you luk like, dem ah goh drap dead an soh will yoh plan foh mahree. Me tell bout Rita as wan joke but now you ah de joke. I seh, call it aff now. That luvely gal Rita ah nevah gonna mahree you. Call it aff now and nevah goh back to dat house agin,” retorted Tippytoe in anger.

Uncle Big Man got angry. He ground his teeth. His eyes grew red. Tears flowed from them. He butted his head against the wooden table. He got up and kicked his chair and then fell on his knees weeping loudly. At last he calmed down.

“Tippy, ah tank yoh. Yoh tell meh lak it is. Lef me alone now. Me gat foh tink wah me gon do. Evry dawg gat he day but me gat de nights. Tamarra nite ah meh nite. Is den or nevah,” he told Tippy.

The next night, the wounded romantic had no parcel of gifts. He entered his canoe with a grim face and sang hymns. People along the river who heard him singing thought a relative of his had died. He neared the Dolliveira house singing the hymn, “Lead kindly light amidst the encircling gloom.”

He got out of the canoe and called out as usual.
The dog, which had had grown to know him, came to greet him. He kicked it viciously. It scampered away under the house.
He reached the landing and, without waiting for the door to be opened, kicked it in.
He stamped into the house and Rita shouted, “Who ah you? Wha happened to Uncle Big Man? Wheh he deh? Who ah you?”
“Me ah Uncle Big Man! Ah who yoh tek me fah?” said lover-boy.
“You ah Uncle Big Man! Ooh me mooma! Ooh me pappa! Ah big ugly crapow face, alligata mout, deeman devil lak ah yoh ah Uncle Big Man. Gimme ah break! Nevah de day canoe bore punt. You nah peeple. You ah wan rivah jumbee. Ooh meh mooma, ooh me pappa, me na wan foh see yoh. Get out de house. Gwan you devil,” shouted Rita.

“Me ah Uncle Big Man. Me cum foh tell yoh dat me knoh wen yoh did see meh face, yoh gon luv me so leh we bruk up the engagement and weddin rite now and goh pon the honeymoon rite away. Leh we tek mattee rite hey,” shouted Uncle Big Man.

No sooner had he said that, he took a menacing step towards Rita.
Kakanet Dolliveira pulled a shotgun from off the wall and aimed it at Uncle Big Man.
The romantic Romeo bounded from the house like Harrison ‘Bones’ Dillard and jumped from the landing to the ground, hearing the sound of the shotgun as it was fired, missing him by inches.

He reached his canoe in no time at all and paddled away like a legion of devils was after him. Behind him, he heard Kakanet Dolliveira shouting, ” Ah hope you die yoh rivah jumbee, ah hope yoh die.”

Uncle Big Man returned to Mackenzie and resigned the next day. He joined a group of porknockers and headed to the goldfields in the Mazaruni district.

Kakanet Dolliveira reported to the police that his home was invaded by a river jumbee that Monday night. He nor his family ever saw Uncle Big Man or the river devil again. Rita eventually went to live with relatives in Georgetown and migrated to Trinidad.


  1. Loved your writing style. I’m not from Guyana but of Guyanese parentage but I can ‘hear’ my parents’ patois all through your prose. Their constant reminiscing of their life in Guyana before emigrating to the UK formed an impression on my life. How could I not know about Linden Walk, bauxite, brown betty, David Rose at Government house etc. other times it would with either be about the sweetness of the fruit, the freshness of the meat to the bitterness about the class divisions or the ‘coolie’s’. Guyana was a love hate thing with my parents but I know that they constantly lived in their pasts so that they didn’t have to face the present. Life in England, for them, was cold, humiliating and painful so much so, that it was easier for me to learn about their past in Guyana as opposed to their past in England (I’m talking about the 50s). it always seemed to be a great secret as to what they went through when they came to England.
    Anyway, have you heard about the Whittaker family? They lived (or some of them still live) in Vreed en hoop and my mother’s uncle was a well known saxophone player. If you don’t know, then do you know of a local historian? I’m interested in seeing how far I can trace my roots.

    Comment by plaintain1 — September 17, 2010 @ 12:23 am | Reply

    • Hello Plaintain1, Harry Whittaker’s music can be heard at Tracks from his LP ‘A Saxfull of Harry’ are available from “Guyana Music Showcase” which I think is managed by Ray Seals, whose father owned Gems Music on Regent Street Georgetown – the studio where Harry Whittaker recorded some of his music (sample at Ray may be able to provide you with more information about Whittaker,

      Comment by Steve Harris — August 16, 2011 @ 2:04 am | Reply

      • Hi Steve

        Many thanks for this. I will try and get in touch with Ray, and will definitely download the music. Thanks again.

        Comment by plaintain1 — August 16, 2011 @ 10:27 pm

  2. Dear Plantain 1,
    Thanks very much for your comments and observations. Vreed-en-Hoop, as I recall it after some 54 years, extends from Klien Pouderoyen on the West Bank Demerara to Best Village on the West Coast Demerara. While I served some 18 months at the District Commissioner’s Office, Vreed-en-Hoop, in the mid-1950s, I lived in Albouystown and travelled across the river to and from V/Hoop daily by steamer.Since I never lived there, I knew little of the people who did. I vaguely recall that in early 1956, a Ms Whittaker owned or operated a parlour near the V/Hoop stelling. I cannot recall any other Whittaker there. I do, however, recall the Whittaker’s Orchestra, which, in the late 40s and early 50s played at the Dance Hall at Charlotte and Wellington Streets and Haley’s Dance Hall at D’Urban and Smyth Streets. At that time, the Washboards and Nello and his Luckies were also popular. Regrettably, I know no person who could help you in your family roots endeavour. The matriarch of V/Hoop, Miss Bruidhagen, a former Arts Teacher at Bishop’s High School passed away as many of the old V/Hoop folk have. My best advice is to visit Guyana, go to the Archives in GT and seek the help of the Archivist. Then take a trip across the river to V/Hoop. It is not a large village and you can seek out some of the “ancients” there to find out about your family. Also try the District Council’s Office for they may have records of your family since, if they owned property, they may have paid rates and taxes to the then V/Hoop Village Council. You may also send an enquiry to the Guyana Nostalgia Maestro Godfrey Chin who has re-migrated to Guyana and can be reached at I live in the United States and have been out of Guyana for the past 35 years. I wish you good luck in your endeavour.
    Peter Halder

    Comment by Peter Halder — September 17, 2010 @ 10:33 am | Reply

    • Dear Peter
      Thanks for taking the time to reply. I do appreciate it. I will send an email to the archivist and see if I receive any luck there. It’s interesting that you should say that the matriarch of Bishops High has passed away. Yes, who knows? Maybe my mother, in particular, might have known her, as she was a school teacher at the local village school (I don’t know though, if it was Bishops but ‘Bishops’ was a word I constantly heard in their conversation) for a period of time before leaving for England. There were people such as Jean and Winston King; Mike and Trevor Phillips who have made their name in this country and many others. My father passed away last year and my mother, strangely, has been admitted into hospital, but she is fine. Once again, thanks and I will be visiting your site.

      Comment by plaintain1 — September 27, 2010 @ 2:43 pm | Reply

    • Peter, it’s m again and I hope you are well, plus a belated Happy New Year to you. This time I want to do a small biog. on my father who was a carpenter. Apparently, before leaving for England, he worked for a British construction company called John Mowland (or Nowland) and then he worked for other construction companies in the Mackenzie area. I wondered if you know about these companies or if not, you could refer me to a blog which talks of these companies. Many thanks to you.

      Comment by plaintain1 — February 11, 2020 @ 2:27 pm | Reply

  3. Just found all your stories Peter. It’s like I never left. Really enjoyed reading them. Thanks.

    Comment by Pat Hunte-Cusack — September 18, 2010 @ 11:50 pm | Reply

  4. p.s. About the Lifebuoy soap! I can smell it to this day. One day, I was with a couple of friends on the top floor of the Watooka Guest House and it was decided that we would rub the soap on our feet and then run and slide along the shiny wood floor boards. I fell on my back, banged my head and was sure I had a concussion. Then there was the time when I was introduced to “let’s stick our tongues on the bottom of an ice-tray and see what happens”. Scary. The things we did for amusement! We survived – somehow.

    Comment by Pat Hunte-Cusack — September 18, 2010 @ 11:57 pm | Reply

  5. Hi Pat Hunte-Cusack, I enjoy reading your commentaries on the net.Its people like us who make a difference in the world as we are not afraid to speak out and up.

    Comment by Kammie — September 24, 2010 @ 11:07 am | Reply

  6. Thanks for the compliment, Kammie. All the best!

    Comment by Pat Hunte-Cusack — September 25, 2010 @ 7:37 pm | Reply

  7. I just discovered this information and I was moved to tears as I had spent many of my childhood days in my grandfather cook shop ran by Poker.. well known as Poker Cook Shop. My beloved Uncle Dappy Lee Ting lived all his life in McKenzie and worked at Demba! I remember crossing the river to go to McKenzie, taking the little boat down the dock… I vaguely remember the RH Carr,.. thank you thank you, this is such precious information

    Consider publishing in a book,

    Diane Mendonca
    Los Angeles, CA

    Comment by Diane Mendonca — October 10, 2010 @ 11:37 pm | Reply

  8. Thank you very much for the detail information,I recalled all the event of Son chapman,as I was a child visting my grand father & grand mother at WISMAR IN LEETING ALLEY,which were my grand parents Charlie & Alice Leeting.,and had the famous POKER COOK SHOP,

    Comment by Brian Campbell — October 11, 2010 @ 9:54 pm | Reply

  9. Hi Peter, thanks for taking the time to put together these stories. When I was a kid, my father William Beekie (mentioned in the story) took us a family to many of the places you mentioned in the pieces. I will share these with my children. They all live in Minnesota and have never visited Guyana. The pictures along with your writing style capture the imagination.

    Comment by Raj — November 15, 2010 @ 6:09 pm | Reply

  10. Hi Raj,
    It is a pleasure hearing from you. I not only worked with your Dad at the District Administration Office, Christianburg, but I was a good friend of your Dad and Mom. I recall, I think it was mid 1954 staying overnight at your mother’s family (Usman) place at Bara Bara, Mahaicony Creek. I travelled from GT to attend a wedding reception. It may have been an aunt or uncle of yours that got married. I met your beautiful aunt Amina. I fearfully swam in the creek and the mosquitos kept me awake all night. I attended, in Queenstown, the engagement of your Mom and Dad and subsequently their wedding. I was also a friend of your uncle, mother’s brother. I cannot recall his name off hand. We played cards games at a home on Palm Street, Werk-en-Rust, when he visited GT from time to time.

    Comment by Peter Halder — November 15, 2010 @ 7:34 pm | Reply

  11. Hi Raj,
    I recall now that that uncle’s name was Zaman.

    Comment by Peter Halder — November 15, 2010 @ 7:38 pm | Reply

  12. Hi Peter, the world becomes smaller and smaller. I would be delighted to learn more about you and your travels. Do feel free to contact me using my email address

    Comment by Raj — November 18, 2010 @ 9:05 pm | Reply

  13. Hello. My name is Anisa Morris. I am so very excited to have stumbled across your site. My Father, who is a Fanfair, Grandmothers family name is King, grow up in Good-In-Tent. I know a little about his side of the family. My mother however, Ingrid, last of seven born to Eric and Lucille Copeland, sister of Oswald Copeland, who worked at the Radio station (Today, Spotlight, documentaries) was born in Georgetown, Guyana. I am Ingrid’s last child. I was born and live in Canada. When my mother was twelve, she moved to England. She remembers very little of the details surrouding life in Guyana. Her father, Eric Copeland was a baker. He owned a bakery in Georgetown on John Street. He later operated out of the Norton Road bakery. Like my Grandfather before me, I too love to bake, and more importantly have been bitten with the entrepreneur spirit. I currently own and operate my own Wedding Invitation business. Penned Expressions. I have always been the honorary “Kin-Keeper” in my family, but for years I have been unable to find any information about my Grandfather’s business. I would so greatly appreciate any photos you might have of the bakery, or surrounding area. Or perhaps, you might be able to put me in touch with someone who does. I am hoping to make a trip to Guyana next year, to go through the City Halls archives, and maybe find where my Grandfather worked. Any help you could offer would be so good. My mother lived at QQ Bent Street. She can’t remember the name of her school, but in 1963, just before she left for England, the Head Master was Mr. Russell. Any photos or links you might have would be amazing. I believe to know where you are going, you must know where you came from. Again… so good to have found your site. Lets chat soon. Sincerely, Anisa Morris (nee Fanfair)

    Comment by Anisa Morris (Copeland) — December 16, 2010 @ 8:03 pm | Reply

    • Being from Bent Street, I’m certain your mother attended Smith’s Church Congregational on Hadfield Street. At that time, I think Mr Russell was the headmaster. He had succeded Mr Jackson. Some of the teachers at that time were Mentore, Harewood and the feared Mr. Rudder. The school was on Hadfield Street opposite the Church with the same name.

      Comment by Gus Rodney — June 22, 2016 @ 4:45 am | Reply

  14. The world is indeed a small place. I knew Oswald Copeland when he worked at a Guyana Newspaper and eventually the Radio Station. I was at the time. Chief Information Officer, Ministry of Information. He later migrated to the United States and lived in Baltimore, Maryland. I met his son, your cousin, and his wife (Hispanic), when they attended my late daughter’s wedding in Charlotte, North Carolina in 1999. Mrs Copeland was a bridesmaid. They were all very good friends. I’ll try to find out from my son-in-law if he has any contact info on them. I recall a bakery at John and Hadfield Streets but not any on Norton Street.
    Peter Halder

    Comment by Peter Halder — December 17, 2010 @ 3:46 pm | Reply

  15. Hello Peter!

    It is a small world indeed. We visited my Uncle Ossie in Baltimore one summer back in the 80’s . Linclon and Addis were a bit older than me, but they got along with my brothers. I haven’t seen my uncle for years now. I heard my cousin found his wife on e harmony. But other than that we’ve all lost touch. LOL That is so funny. I know my mother is still in contact with Uncle Ossie, however, I was hoping to be able to locate pictures of the bakery and the surrounding area from back in the day. I don’t think my Uncle has anything like that. Your pictures were so clear, and amazing, I though maybe you might have something of the street or surrounding area. Or perhaps you are aware of an online archive I could look up! I am so happy you took the time to write back so soon. I look forward to hearing from you. Thanks again,

    Anisa Morris (Copeland)

    Comment by Anisa Morris (Copeland) — December 17, 2010 @ 6:40 pm | Reply

    • Dear Anisa,
      I welcome your follow-up. I learnt from my son-in-law that your cousin Lincoln is re-married and now lives in Chicago, Illinois. You can google the Telephone Directory for Chicago and then follow up to find Lincoln’s telephone number if it is listed. No, there is no online map of GT which can help you. I recall the whole of GT, Kitty, Campbellville and Ruimveldt, and the Upper Demerara River from memory. Maybe I may have met you or your family when I was Guyana’s High Commissioner to Canada (Ottawa). I visited the Toronto area, and other parts of Canada often to meet Guyanese.I recall Good Intent, WBD. It is allied to Sister’s Village. I visited both often in the mid 1950s to pay Pay Public Assistance and Old Age Pension and for discussions with the Village Council, during my tenure at the District Commissioner’s Office, Vreed-en-Hoop. In fact, my daughter-in-law, maiden name Joseph, is from Sister’s Village.

      Comment by Peter Halder — December 18, 2010 @ 5:13 pm | Reply

  16. I wonder if you would have known my greatgrandmother, (Alexandrina) on my Father’s side Her family name was King. She was married first to Fanfair, and after he died to Warren. She lived in Good-In-Tent and died in 1977. When I was ten days old, I traveled to Guyana with my father for her funeral.

    Comment by Anisa Morris (Copeland) — December 19, 2010 @ 11:40 pm | Reply

  17. I’m sorry Anisa but I can’t recall your grandmother. I also don’t know if the bakershop I mentioned at John and Hadfield Street still exists. I left Guyana in 1975 and only returned briefly for meetings.

    Comment by Peter Halder — December 20, 2010 @ 3:06 pm | Reply

  18. No worries! Thank you so much for your help! I recently found a letter my grandfather Copeland wrote my aunt before he died, and it has given me some very good leads. I will figure it all out yet!!! Thanks again for you help. Sincerely, Anisa

    Comment by Anisa Morris (Copeland) — December 21, 2010 @ 6:02 pm | Reply

  19. Dear Anisa,
    My daughter-in-law told me that when she left Sisters Village sbout five years ago for the U.S., there was a Fanfair family living at Good Intent. I also recall an Yvonne Fanfair who attended Enterprise High School, circa 1949-1950. Living in Bent Street, your mother may have attended Freeburg Government School on Norton Street, Weer-en-Rust or the Government School on D’Urban Street, Wortmanville. Hope the additional information may be helpful to you in endeavours to research your family’s roots.

    Comment by Peter Halder — January 1, 2011 @ 10:35 pm | Reply

  20. A minor correction please. The name of the area is Werk-en-Rust and not Weer-en-Rust

    Comment by Peter Halder — January 1, 2011 @ 10:55 pm | Reply

    • Dear Mr. Halder I just read your article on Guyana Then And Now amd i saw you mention Henry Street, Werk-en- Rust, well i was born there and lived most of my life there with my family, (The Naraine’s) . My father was “Doc” the dispenser. This brought back old memories and i am so happy to remember those times..Thank you so much and i will share this article with my older brothers and sisters.

      Comment by Monica Khan — February 22, 2011 @ 6:18 pm | Reply

  21. Dear Monica,
    Thanks for writing. I know your Dad, Mom and family very well. I visited them on several occasions in that wonderful cottage at the corner of Henry and D’urban Streets. We first met when your Dad was posted as the Government Dispenser for the Upper Demerara River based at Christianburg. Your family then lived in a cottage (Government Quarters) next to the Dispensary. I worked at the District Administration Office obliquely opposite and lived at the Government Rest House, about 50 yds south. If I remember correctly, your eldest sister was Mary. It’s so nice hearing from you. Please give my regards to your family.

    Comment by Peter Halder — February 22, 2011 @ 10:28 pm | Reply

  22. I am looking for information about my norwegian uncle who died in Mackenzie in 1951 or 1952, 25-26 years old. His ship was docking in Mackenzie at the moment. He was buried there. This is all we know. Is there any graveyard where he might have been buried at that time? Is there any place to contact for this type of info?
    I would greatly appreciate any response to this.
    Lillian from Norway.

    Comment by Lillian — March 27, 2011 @ 9:15 am | Reply

  23. Dear Lillian,
    This is a sad story. Wish I could help. Only two avenues I can think of. One to contact the government on its website and hope to get a lead, or to do a trip and find out for yourself.
    The second alternative is what I would do if I were in your shoes. Depends on a lot, of course.
    Sounds like your uncle had an accident of some kind and would have been buried in Mackenzie if it occurred there. If you had the name of the ship he was on that would be a start. Could have been one that was registered in Norway.
    Good luck in your search.

    Comment by Pat Hunte-Cusack — March 31, 2011 @ 6:37 pm | Reply

  24. Dear Lillian,
    I would like to add to what Pat wrote. There are a couple of points I would like to make:
    (i) since your Uncle died in an accident, there would have been a Corner’s inquest, consequently an official record.
    (ii) if he was buried at Mackenzie, which is more than likely, then it would have been in the cemetery east of Parsons Road and the Mayor’s Office at Linden (new name for Mackenzie) would have a record since the Cemetery is under the jurisdiction of the Mayor’s Office.
    (iii) Norway and Guyana have recently signed an Agreement under which Norway will provide the Guyana Government with Funds in support of the conservation of its huge tropical forest. Norweigan Environment Minister Solheim was in Guyana two weeks ago. He is in close touch with the Guyana Government. I suggest you seek a meeting with him (Oslo)or write him to seek his assistance on your matter. He is in close touch with President Jagdeo of Guyana and can easily send him (Jagdeo) an e-mail on the matter.
    The latter is the simplest and quickest way to obtain the info you need and there should be no reason why Minister Solheim would not assist.
    Peter Halder

    Comment by Peter Halder — April 11, 2011 @ 10:03 pm | Reply

  25. Hi Lillian,
    Me again. I was speaking this morning to someone who was born and lived in Mackenzie. He said that at the time of your uncle’s death, there was no cemetery at Mackenzie. The Cemetery at Christianbug was used for folks from Mackenzie, Wismar, Christianburg, who pased away. So yoru uncle would have been buried at the Christianburg Cemetery.
    Peter Halder

    Comment by Peter Halder — April 12, 2011 @ 12:17 pm | Reply

  26. Thank you so much for your responses to this! My family was told at that time that he might have been beaten to death and found in the forrest, but we have no more information about it, so it might have been an accident as well.
    I greatly appreciate all help and information on this matter! Thank you both!


    Comment by Lillian — April 14, 2011 @ 8:23 pm | Reply

  27. You’re welcome, Lillian. If I lived there still I would be able to help you more.

    Comment by Pat Hunte-Cusack — April 15, 2011 @ 11:30 am | Reply

  28. Hi Peter,
    Thanks for posting your experiences. I was searching for information about my grandfather, Dillon Marks, and came across your blog. All I know about him is that he played football in Guyana, as well as my father, Desmond Marks. I have a couple of football team pictures for both of them. I am interested if you have any additional experiences with either of them that you can share with me.

    Thanks again,
    Chris Marks

    Comment by Chris Marks — April 27, 2011 @ 4:56 pm | Reply

  29. Dear Chris,
    You’re welcome. It was a pleasure. Here’s what I can remember about your Grandfather. I first met him, circa 1952, when I was Manager of the Kitty Market Drug Store in Kitty Market. It was owned by Dr J.P. Lachhmansingh who had similar stores in Bourda Market, Stabroek Market, Regent Street and Croal Street. Dillon Marks worked in the Accounting Office. He visited me every morning to check my Cash Register, Bill Book and Accounts Book, as he did the other stores. Some afternoons, he would take me to the Guyana Football Ground to see a football match. As soon as we entered, his admirers greeted him profusely, so popular and famous a footballer he was. It was then I found out that he was, in his days, the 1940’s, a celebrated Centre Forward for both his Club, Victoria Football Club and for the Guyana National Team. He also played for British Guiana in Inter-Colonial Matches in the West Indies. We became good friends. He was a short, very slim man and well spoken. He always wore a jacket and tie. He introduced me to his family who lived in that beautiful cottage on D’Urban Street, opposite Henry Street. I met his wife,his son Desmond, who played for Victoria F.C. as well, and his daughter. I can’t remember her name. I attended an enjoyable Party at the home one Saturday night. Dillon rode a Raleigh Gents Bicycle and he towed me on it several times. I lost touch with him and the Marks family when I left the Drug Store to join the Guiana Graphic Newspaper. Dillon was a wonderful man, a gentleman by training and nature, and most friendly. This is all I can recall.

    Comment by Peter Halder — May 7, 2011 @ 2:18 pm | Reply

  30. This was a wonderful chronicle of your life there. It made me laugh so much. Hope you have written a book. I loved it and do remember taking the “water taxi” across the river from Mackenzie to Wismar. As I am now in touch with Pat Hunte-Cusack, reliving the happy days of our past.

    Comment by Jane Macdonald — May 7, 2011 @ 7:45 pm | Reply

  31. Thanks Peter.

    Comment by Chris Marks — May 17, 2011 @ 8:19 pm | Reply

  32. Me again. How I enjoy reading all the blogs! Very happy to see more positive comments than negative ones. I hope that those who felt hard-done-by with the “gated community” (which actually wasn’t gated by today’s standards!) and being “second-class Guyanese” will now appreciate all that we had way back then. The sums of all the parts made up the whole and I hope that Guyana is now enjoying years of peace and prosperty. You are a very special place in my humble opinion.
    Take care,

    Comment by Pat Hunte-Cusack — May 18, 2011 @ 2:05 pm | Reply

  33. Dear Jane,
    Thanks for your kind comments. We have all left Mackenzie but Mackenzie has not left us. My tenure sojourn at Wismar/Christianburg/Mackenzie was, as I mentioned before, an unforgettable time. No I have not written a book but I have written a Manuscript for an Adult Fiction Supernatural novel titled “The Living and the Dead.” In it are featured 8 stories which a few tales that are set or had events in the area and upriver, including “The Dwarf of Christianburg”, “The Cat of Muritro” and ” The Massacuraman.” I am trying my best to get it published. Another Adult Fiction Supernaturural manuscript titled “The Resurrection” also featured events at Mackenzie and Zion Hill. A publiser in the UK agreed to publish it but the decline in print books sale has held it up. With best wishes.

    Comment by Peter Halder — May 19, 2011 @ 2:15 pm | Reply

  34. Dear Pat,
    Thanks for your compliments. I had no problem with the “gated community.” As District Administration Officer, Upper Demerara River, based at Christianburg, I enjoyed easy access to Watooka and had no need to use the gate. I used the river. Since I spent more time in Mackenzie than at Christianburg/Wismar and met most of the population, my perception was that the gate was not a problem to those who lived and worked at Mackenzie or at Christianburg/Wismar. No one I met ever complained to me about it. The gate and what it “suggested” became a political issue for the two major Political Parties in the country at the time. One espoused Socialism and the other Marxism Leninism with the tenet of ownership and control of the commanding heights of the economy. The nationalisation of DEMBA in 1971 ended in downturn. The thriving community at Mackenzie suffered decline and now endures many economic and social problems. A Russian Company “RUSAL” now owns and manages the bauxite company and adversarial industrial relations exist between management and workers. I resigned from the Guyana Government in 1983 following my tenure as High Commissioner to Canada and took up an assignment as a Consultant to the Government of Fiji in the South Pacific. My family and I lived there for many years. We migrated to Springfield, Virginia, in the United States in 1994 and have lived there since. I read all the daily news reports on Guyana thus keep up to date with tidings in my native land. It is always a pleasure hearing from you, reading your comments and offering my comments.

    Comment by Peter Halder — May 19, 2011 @ 3:29 pm | Reply

  35. Hello Peter – There were two draglines known as King and Lord who were named after people I guess. Apparently the Lord dragline was named after a man in Georgetown. Would you have any info on this, i.e. who he was? Does anyone else know? Steve Connolly is doing research for his book.

    Comment by Pat Hunte-Cusack — May 21, 2011 @ 1:18 pm | Reply

  36. Hi Pat,
    I don’t know of my own knowledge since I spent only three years in the area. I am told by someone who was born and lived there that he did not believe the draglines, Lord and King were named after anyone in GT or GY since in those early colonial times, names would tend to have been associated with ALCAN officials or Canada. He believed that the names were given because of their size and capability – a Lord or a King. He also said that workers called them “Walking Draglines”…they moved like they were walking, not crawling. My friend also wondered if, at one time, you were the Superintendent of the MU Stores. I will speak tomorrow with someone in Oklahoma who was slso born and grew up in Mackenzie.Fiedtkou also worked with DEMBA. I am sorry I could not be more helpful.

    Comment by Peter Halder — May 21, 2011 @ 2:09 pm | Reply

    • Hello…is this to do with the bauxite co.? My uncle used to work on the ships the had–the Sun Walt, and the Sun Dale.. that used to sail up to Mac onesie, down the Demerara river, and then to Canada…He lived in Kitty……my name is Joan

      Comment by Joan De Oliveira — February 18, 2021 @ 6:03 pm | Reply

  37. Hi Peter – thanks for this. I definitely was not supt. of MU Stores, but rather worked as a secretary in Mackenzie and Georgetown before leaving for Montreal in 1967. I spent 20 years in B.G./Guyana and the rest in Canada. My father was an accountant/management assistant in Mackenzie and Georgetown and left before nationalization. He saw the writing on the wall he said. Spent many happy years in Tobago before returning to Barbados where he was born and died in 1986. We are West Indians of European descent. My brother is the only born-in-Guyana member of our family. None of us has been back.
    I remember working with a Fiedtkou in the office, but can’t quite place her.

    Comment by Pat Hunte-Cusack — May 22, 2011 @ 12:08 pm | Reply

  38. Hi Pat,
    Thanks. I spoke with Fiedtkou in Oklahoma and Bourne in New York. Neither had a clue as to the origin of the names of the draglines. My friend in Canada, Moseley, confirmed that he worked at the MU Stores and that a Hunte, who was from Barbados, was the Superintendent of the MU Stores during his time. He also confirmed that the said Hunte, who was friendly and full of jokes, returned Barbados. I was told that there was a Una Fiedtkou who worked at DEMBA.

    Comment by Peter Halder — May 23, 2011 @ 3:23 pm | Reply

  39. Thanks for info Peter. Can confirm that the MU Stores Hunte wasn’t my father.
    Maybe he was related to the cricketer. Una was probably the girl I worked with. I’ll check the books I have about the draglines and let you know if I find anything. If Steve C. doesn’t know, then it’s a mystery.

    Comment by Pat Hunte-Cusack — May 24, 2011 @ 12:28 pm | Reply

  40. Hi Peter !
    Read your very interesting chronicle. I saw at beginning you mentioned a Mr. McIntyre that was a Manager of the Willems Timber Co. He could have been my grandfather. Can you search some more about this man. I knew that he had two children. My father, Ivan McIntyre and a girl, Katherine McIntyre, whom I understand emigrated with her two sons to Canada. My father came to Venezuela in late 1940`s.


    Comment by Melvyn McIntyre — May 28, 2011 @ 11:57 am | Reply

  41. Hi Pat,
    I spoke with my friend Moseley in Kitchener, Ontario, once more and it seemed he had a lapsus memoriae. The Supt of the MU Stores was J. Hutt and not Hunte. Moseley also found out that the a third Dragline was named Sy Yorrick after an Engineer who was the Mechanical Superintendent.

    Comment by Peter Halder — May 28, 2011 @ 11:45 pm | Reply

    • I just just stumbled onto this thread over a decade after it was posted. I was wondering if you had any photos of the Dragline. I got to see the ruins of it during a trip in 2008, but unfortunately all of my photos from the trip have since been lost.

      Comment by — April 15, 2021 @ 1:47 am | Reply

      • Yup have dragline photos, will make an attempt to digitize, and make a post.

        Comment by Bob Wong — April 15, 2021 @ 9:05 pm

  42. Hi Melvyn,
    I spoke to my friend. It tested his memory to recall that your grandfather’s name may have been William McIntyre. William was the General Manager of Willems Timber and Trading Company. He never met your grandfather but said his father, A.P. Fiedtkou and your grandfather were good friends and A.P. sold logs to the Company. A.P. had a land grant at Massabuna, at Malali. I believe Willems Timber and Trading Company was located at Water and Schumacher Street, adjacent to the Demerara River. It was near to a Bookers’ Wharf which loaded molasses on cargo boats. There were two massive molasses tanks (vats) on Lombard Street. I visited the area from time to time to chat with a friend, Benjie Brock from the Pomeroon, who was a boat builder and carried on his trade in the space between Willems and Bookers. There was also a not so well appointed cook shop near Lombard Street which was the only place that sold deep fried and stewed Red Basha with lots tomato, onion and spring onion, not to mention wiri wiri pepper. I had it with boiled turning plantain, cassava and eddoe.

    Comment by Peter Halder — May 29, 2011 @ 12:20 am | Reply

    • Hello, I lived at 24 Lombard st.from 54 to 68.I spent many hours looking out from our verandah thru ot the openning between Bookers and Wellem’s. I could see the ferry boat crossing the Demerara.When I heard a noise I would run to the verandah to see the Grummund plane take off from the river.Also, the Bauxite ships coming and going.

      Comment by Joe — January 29, 2016 @ 5:53 pm | Reply

    • Hi Peter, I found your article by chance. I was born in the UK but my mother was originally from Guyana. Her father was Charles Brock (I believe may have been either Benjie’s brother or related) – he was also a boat builder like Benjie. He married Rubena Van Sluytman and they had several children – many of whom have now sadly passed. Ian/Viveca etc who you mention in your article are my mum’s cousins and I remember her talking about Viveca when I was growing up. Having never visited Guyana since she left nor when my brother and I was born, your article is a nice glimpse into my/my mother’s history of which we don’t have much records of so thank you for putting your memories down in writing.

      Comment by Lisa Stukley — February 28, 2022 @ 2:46 pm | Reply

  43. Dear Pat,
    One more unto the breach dear friends once more (Henry V). I had a long chat this morning with Fanso Fiedtkou who now lives in Oklahoma. His twin brother Piercy also lives there. They both confirmed that when the two massive draglines Lord, a 450, and King, a 480, arrived in Guyana from Canada, they were already named. Fanso worked in the Accounts Department and said Theo Hunte was the Deputy Chief Accountant to Mack Stevens from Canada. He said he and your Dad were good friends. The Fiedtkou you worked with was Linda and not Una. I just wanted to clarify what I wrote earlier.

    Comment by Peter Halder — May 29, 2011 @ 6:09 pm | Reply

  44. Dear Peter – Very interesting! Thanks.

    Comment by Pat Hunte-Cusack — May 30, 2011 @ 12:56 pm | Reply

  45. Dear Peter

    I really enjoyed this – thank you very much. I was drawn to this link in my search for the name Ivy Allicock, who was my Grand Mother from Christianburg.
    I do not know much about her, except that she had a son, my Father Leon Duncan.
    One stunning feature about her was that she had ‘cat eye’, to use the Guyanese phrase (smile). When I last saw her on my only visit to Christianburg she lived next door to the Pharmacy with another elderly relative.
    Would your paths by any chance have crossed? (smile)

    Also, did you know the WIlliamson/Halls family from Albouystown ?

    Kind Rgds

    Comment by Brenda Duncan — September 17, 2011 @ 3:41 pm | Reply

    • Dear Brenda
      How are you? I am Dmitri Allicock of Stanley and Enez Allicock formerly of Upper Demerara.
      I saw your query and wanted to make my acquaintance and possible be of assistance. I have an extensive Allicock’s Family Tree that dates back as far as the 1700s in Upper Demerara. On the tree, I have several Ivy Allicock. Incidentally, my oldest sister is Brenda Allicock, formerly the Principal of the Linden Multilateral School.
      I am connected with the Allicock’s Reunion, Family Heritage Site, Family Tree research, and a frequent contributor on this site under Bauxite and British Guiana mainly. Please contact me at my email.
      Thank you and best regards,
      Your cousin, Dmitri

      Comment by DMITRI ALLICOCK — April 18, 2012 @ 9:46 am | Reply

  46. Attended Trinity Methodist School in High St. I knew Ms. Patterson – believed she died in childsbirth. Pretty woman who was so quiet. Also remember the Headmaster, Mr. Wallace teaching us the hymn “there is a green hill far away, etc.”

    Fond memories of the mid-50’s.

    Comment by Yvonne & Suban Abdool — September 17, 2011 @ 6:30 pm | Reply

  47. Dear Yvonne and Subhan: Yes indeed. Ms Pattterson was quiet, soft spoken, reserved and a paragon of virtue. I took my Junior Cambridge Exam at Trinity Methodist School and the Rev Port was the invigilator. I also was a member of the Methodist Youth Group which met from time to time at the School. Peter Halder

    Comment by Burnett Halder — September 18, 2011 @ 4:04 pm | Reply

  48. Dear Brenda: Thanks for your note. I should tell you that the name Allicock at MacKenzie, Wismar, Christianburg and the Upper Demarara Rivr, is as popular as the name Smith in the United States. I do remember the name Ivy Allicock but cannot recall ever meeting her. The only Pharmacy at Christianburg in my time (1957-1960) was Harris Drug Store.. As to Albouystown, there was a Barry Hall and his wife and daughter who lived opposite to my home on Non Pareil Street, He worked, as I recall, at Transport and Harbours Department. I do not recall anyone by the name of Williamson.
    Peter Halder.

    Comment by Burnett Halder — September 18, 2011 @ 5:42 pm | Reply

  49. Dear Peter,

    After so many years I was very pleased to find someone who knew one of the teachers at Trinity. Have you had contact with any more? It has been years now but I am still trying to find Ms. Dorothy Simpson (nee Paul). This wonderful woman pointed me to a wonderful career. Also I remember Ms. Wishart, Mr. Grant, Mr. Yearwood and Arthur Beck.

    My time at Trinity was from 1956-1961.

    Best regards


    Comment by Yvonne Abdool — September 19, 2011 @ 5:51 pm | Reply

    • Hi Yvonne. Would that be Arthur Herman Beck (son of Pastor Henry Beck) born 1932?

      Comment by UK — March 2, 2013 @ 11:07 am | Reply

  50. Hi Yvonne,
    Sorry but I have had no contact with anyone at that school since then. I actually attended St. Stephen’s Church of Scotland School at the junction of St, Stephen, Princess and Adelaide Streets, Charlestown.

    Comment by Burnett Halder — September 21, 2011 @ 6:54 pm | Reply

  51. Dear Mr. Halder,

    I came across this site searching initially for info on indenturers from India, and could help reading about your wonderful experiences growing up in Guyana, the way you beautifully describe what life was back in those days, and the places, my imagination has been running wild and your humor. I truly enjoyed reading it. I am a young Guyanese and very proud of my country. It is an amazing and beautiful place. Thank you for sharing your experiences.

    Comment by Natasha in Guyana — January 24, 2012 @ 7:31 pm | Reply

  52. Dear Natasha: The pleasure was all mine. My aim and objective was not to denigrate my native land but to portray what life was like for me growing up there and it was wonderful.

    Comment by Peter Halder — January 26, 2012 @ 9:46 pm | Reply

  53. Can anyone tell me if St. Andrews Anglican Church still exits in Wismar or if it was destroyed during the revolution in early 1960’s. I am attempting to obtain a baptimal certificate from that church and the baptism would have taken place around 1959.


    Comment by Bill Miller — February 2, 2012 @ 7:20 pm | Reply

  54. Hi Bill Miller,
    I believe the correct name is St Aidan’s Anglican Church and it is on Burnham Drive, Wismar, Linden. From a newspaper report dated 12 August 2010, the Church was very much in existence then since a funeral service was held there.

    Comment by Peter Halder — February 3, 2012 @ 12:09 am | Reply

    • Peter:

      Thank you very much for the quick response. You may have made that “needle in the haystack” much easier to find.


      Comment by Bill Miller — February 3, 2012 @ 3:41 am | Reply

  55. Peter, I lived in wismar from 1958 to 1964 & attended the St Andrew’s Anglican church. This church is nearing the school, nearing Wismar police station & the market place. It is obliquely opposite the dock of small ferry boats that goes across to Mackenzie on the hour. The farmer’s launch also comes there once a week with boat loads of plantains for the market. I would like to know if you have any idea if St Andrew Church existed or burnt during 1964 disaster.

    Comment by Mohini Singh — February 3, 2012 @ 4:20 pm | Reply

  56. Hi Mohini: A previously mentioned, I believe the correct name is St. Aidan’s Anglican Church and there was the St. Aidan’s Anglican School. Circa 1959, the priest at the Church may have been Fr Whitehead and the Headfmaster of the School might have ben Mr Kilkenny. St. Aidan’s Church still exists as stated above.

    Comment by Peter Halder — February 4, 2012 @ 12:48 am | Reply

  57. I grew up at Wismar, my brother and I attended St. Aidans Anglican School, and my Dad worked in the Machine Shop at the Bauxite Company I too traveled on the R.H. Carr, and was really happy to see a picture of it; My greatest memory of one of those trips, is that we had just arrived at Wismar from Georgetown, and I was waiting for my Mom to get our luggage, when the news of JFK’s assassination came over the radio, I was 11years old. I am also happy to learn that the school is still there, I will be travelling to GT next month, and I will pay a visit.
    The last name is Carew.

    Comment by Leeann — February 6, 2012 @ 9:59 pm | Reply

  58. Dear Peter:

    Warmest greetings from sunny south Florida. I literally stumbled upon your blogs…and what a nostalgic and refreshingly epochal experience has been thus far. Fortunately, I spent the day at home and took advantage of the free time to take a pilgrimage back in time as it relates to my ‘ol home town of Linden. My childhood days were in the main spent on the western back of the town…domiciled in Wismar Housing Scheme. Many of the names mentioned in the Upper Demerara portion of your narrative are familiar and most considered house-hold names indigenous only to Linden. Perhaps you may be acquainted with the Parkinson clan many of whom were in some way associated with Demba and socially known around the town. My dad Allan, worked at the company’s Lab as a chemist and my cousin Dennis who also was an employee at the company also pinch-hit on weekends as one of the vocalists with the Oracles string orchestra. Like you I have spent most of my years out of our beloved homeland and lived in several East and Southern African countries including apartheid South Africa for a number of years engaged in NGO activities doing relief work. Keep up the good work squire!

    Lester A. Parkinson

    West Palm Beach, Florida

    Comment by Lester Parkinson — February 14, 2012 @ 8:33 pm | Reply

  59. Dear Sir,
    I just came across your site, have read it with great interest, i,m looking for Michael Abercrombie who was born in Georgetown, in the 40,s, his father worked in Bookers, he left Georgetown and came to England where i met him in 1965, he then left London, i have his daughter who would like to meet her father or at least know where he is, he has 2 grandsons, i know this is asking a lot, but i hope i can help her find peace knowing if he would like to met her or not,
    Regards, Una-Faye Marie,……Nee Chapman

    Comment by Una-Faye Marie...................Nee Chapman — March 8, 2012 @ 12:38 am | Reply

  60. Dear Peter:

    I am happy to have stumbled onto your site. Your narrative paints a vivid and hilarious picture of the people and the country from times past. Perhaps, you are considering compiling your memories in book form? It would certainly be a delightful read. My father was a direct descendant of R F Allicock, one of the original Demerara settlers. I have fond childhood memories of listening to his stories about growing up in that part of the country.

    Warm regards, Candice Jaketic

    Comment by Candice Jaketic — March 30, 2012 @ 2:42 pm | Reply

  61. I am from Linden, Guyana…..I am curious to know who was the parents of Harry a Russell,, against his he had no contact with us …his grandchildren, while he lived…he died alone even though he had several children with a much younger Amerindian woman from Bartica area, where they lived He died in early 1970;s.. I will appreciate any information on this matter…

    Comment by Eileen Russell — March 31, 2012 @ 11:03 pm | Reply

  62. In above comment it should read. “””WHO WERE THE PARENTS OF Harry Lorimer and where did he grow up. he was my grand father..but never had anything to do with us because my Mom. who was. his only daughter with his 1st wife married my dad a Russell against his wishes…..I am trying to find out my Guyanese ancestry, My grandfather died alone near the Essequibo River bank….his body was picked up by the Bartica Police I know that for a fact.He never knew any of his 7 grandchildren his daughter had…….will love to get feedback…even from old Demba employees , who knew him…between 1938 and 1973 living in any part of the globe

    Comment by Eileen Russell — March 31, 2012 @ 11:24 pm | Reply

  63. Dear Eileen,
    As I mentioned previously, I only spent three years in the Upper Demerara River District stationed at Christianburg. I therefore do not know a lot about the people who lived in the area. So I contacted a friend, Allan (Fanso) Fiedtkou who now lives in Oklahoma and is most familiar with the Upper Demerara. He said he was a personal friend of your grandad Harry Lorrimer. He said Harry and his wife were originally from Bartica. Harry owned a timber grant, he believed at a place called Kumaro, near Three Friends mines, south of Mackenzie. He did not know much about Harry’s family but he said his sister-in-law, Jane Fiedtkou (nee Seon) who lives in Kissimee, Florida, would know a lot about your grandfather. He mentioned that Harry and his wife adopted Jane who grew up with his family. Fanso also remembered a few of Harry’s children – Dorothy, Allan and David. So if anyone can help you further, it would be Jane. I have asked Fanso to contact Jane to obtain her telephone number and address, since she does not have an e-mail service. If she supplies it I would gladly pass it on to you if you would let me have your personal e-mail address.

    Comment by Peter Halder — April 1, 2012 @ 4:47 pm | Reply

  64. Dear Candice,
    Thanks for your kind comments. Alas, I have never thought of more insights of my tenure as a District Administration Officer 1957-1959 in the Upper Demerara stationed at Christianburg, in book form. I have however penned a Supernatural Fiction Novel titled “The Cat of Muritaro” which contains 8 tales, 3 of which are set in the Upper Demerara River or have sections set there… The Dwarf of Christianburg, The Cat of Muritaro and The Massacuraman.. The Fiction Novel is expected to be released for sale in New York in June. Another Supernatural Fiction Novel “The Resurrection” whichy contains scenes at Mackenzie, Zion Hill and Mallali, is expected to be released at year end.

    Comment by Peter Halder — April 1, 2012 @ 4:57 pm | Reply

  65. Dear Una,
    While the name Michael Abercrombie is familiar, I can’t recall ever meeting him or knowing him. I will however try to make contact with persons who worked Bookers or may know of him. If I receive any info I shall communicate it via this website.

    Comment by Peter Halder — April 1, 2012 @ 5:07 pm | Reply

    • Dear Mr Halden,
      I have just read your reply, thank you for your interest,, Micheal Abercrombie was the son, his father worked for Bookers, i believe that his second wife fenced for Guyana in the Olympic games, year not know could be 50,s, sorry my info is limited, Regards Una-Faye.

      Comment by Una-Faye Marie...................Nee Chapman — September 30, 2012 @ 8:04 pm | Reply

  66. Hi Peter, i have been reading all your input for years before and only got the courage to write now this yr..I feel as if I know you..well thank you for getting back to me so fast…yes when I was a young child I remember the name Allan Feidtkou (Fanso), I think he had an outdoor motor boat…he knew my parents.I spoke to my eldest brother, who remembers him too.also Jane Seon, she is the daughter of my grandfathers 2nd wife…Rhoda Seon, My big question is : WHO were the parents of Harry Lorimer and where did he grow up…Presently his abandoned timber grant has become the starting point of an Indian reservation, I visited last yr to see the old places and I saw that. If Jane or Fanso has answers about my grandfather’s parents I would appreciate hearing from them by phone or complete my geneology chart so I can hand it down to my grandchildren..all I heard as a child was his (HL) dad was caucasian and his mom was negro..this was all my mom said he had told her.

    Comment by Eileen Russell — April 2, 2012 @ 2:47 pm | Reply

  67. Hi Eileen,
    Thanks. My e-mail; address is If you e-mail me your e-mail address, I will send you Jane’s telephone number and you can phone her. I was told that she remembers you. She may be able to tell you who HL’s parents were. Alternately, if you can get hold of a copy of HL’s Birth Certificate, it would state the names of his parents or you can try to obtain a copy from the Registrar of Births at the GPO Building, GT.

    Comment by Peter Halder — April 3, 2012 @ 2:31 am | Reply

  68. Indo-Guyanese are the majority, also a few percent are Christians

    Comment by Anna — June 27, 2012 @ 5:50 pm | Reply

  69. Hello Anna, I am a christian,and a widow., I was married to a Hindu who became a Christian Indo-Guyanese…I just returned from Guyana and hope you believe this..more than 20% maybe more.. of East Indians are “born again ” ,,Matter of fact today ..6/29/12, there will be / is a planned march of hundreds of persons on East Bank Demerara…proclaiming Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior..they will be equipped with blow horns,etc…of course the Pastor had to have permission from the Police Dept. It will begin in Grove EBD. I was with the pastor when he was in the planning stage.I attend services there….Eileen. of Grove EBD

    Comment by Eileen Russell — June 29, 2012 @ 4:20 pm | Reply

  70. Hello, do you know anything of the De Lima family? They had a leather business in Charlotte Street.
    If anyone knows, it would be you.
    Thank you.

    Comment by Alexander — July 17, 2012 @ 9:27 pm | Reply

    • Hi Alexander,

      I am a De Lima descendant. There were many De Lima’s associated with the leather shop. My father is Edward De Lima (b:1956/, mother is Jeannette (b:1938) but he was raised by his great Uncle Henry De Lima who ran the shop at one point.

      Comment by Nicole Morris — June 29, 2016 @ 11:27 pm | Reply

  71. I tried to recall Charlotte Street, running east to west, from High Street to New Garden Street. I remember much of it in the 1940s, 50s and 60s but can’t exactly recall the De Lima leather business, though the name is familiar. I shall make enquiries and get back to you if I find out anything.

    Comment by Peter Halder — July 19, 2012 @ 3:59 pm | Reply

  72. Hi Alexander,
    I just had a reply from someone who knew the family, but cannot recall the names, and the business on Charlotte Street. She does not know where on Charlotte Street the business was but she said the de Limas, in the late 1940s and 50s lived in Subryanville in a beautiful house. Her mother Agnes Delph, was a seamstress and made dresses for Mrs de Lima. At Christmas her family received gifts of leather slippers and handbags from Mrs de Lima. A de Lima daughter migrated to the UK and sent Delph’s daughter a beautiful beaded veil for her wedding in 1954. I was also told that a family member migrated to Trinidad and set up a famous and popular business in Port-of-Spain.

    Comment by Peter Halder — July 19, 2012 @ 4:38 pm | Reply

  73. Hi Alexander,
    I have just received two other pieces of information. One is that the leather business was indeed on Charlotte Street between Alexander and Bourda Streets. The other is that a John de Lima from Subryanville, who attended Central High School, now lives in Venezuela. His e-mail address is

    Comment by Peter Halder — July 19, 2012 @ 4:57 pm | Reply

  74. Okay Alexander, some more bits and pieces of information. The de Limas, Henry and Zilda, lived on Third Avenue, Subryanville, the biggest home in the block. Their children were Henry, Albert, Frank, Peter, Cyril. Daughters were Eileen and Patsy. One was a Captain in the Girl Guides. One got married and migrated to Mexico. The other migrated to the UK. Grandchildren included Albert who drew cartoons for a local newspaper; Sterling, John and a granddaughter Pixiana. The de Limas also owned a tannery in Bel Air..That was the info I received but can’t attest to its accuracy. I hope I have been of some help to you.

    Comment by Peter Halder — July 19, 2012 @ 5:33 pm | Reply

  75. Hi Peter,

    I had so much fun reading your stories. Activities in my household were punctuated by peals of laughter. I know of similar sleepy tonic stories. The old higue and ugly man tales were hilarious. I can associate with the names Lorrimer and Croft. My aunt Gwendoline Cyrus-Allicock-Croft was married to a Sigmund Croft, gold miner, from Demerara River. I recall that he died in the interior, in the late fifties/early sixties. He was her second husband. Her first husband, uncle Bulla,was an Allicock also from Demerara river. I went to school in Bartica with the Lorrimer’s whose father owned a timber grant. I remember Frankie, David, Allan, and Linda. There was also a bigger sister and I do believe their dad was Harry. That’s the limit of my knowledge. I left home some 35 years ago but visit regularly.

    With warm regards

    Comment by Melroy Odwin-John — October 7, 2012 @ 5:53 am | Reply

    • Hello, I am the grand daughter of Charles Lee-Ting who owned  a wealth of properties in Wismar, mostly famous spot “Poker Cook shop.  This was a landmarks spot where many, many ate the famous Poker cook up.  My grandfather  owned many parcels of Land for the foot of the hill to the to the top of the Wismar Hill, which is what many local referred to as “LeeTing alley.   My uncles, Rudolph Lee Ting known as ” Dappy”. Milton Lee Ting both  worked at the Bauxite Company.  My brother, Terence Campbell also worked at the bauxite company as a young boy. 

      I spent many happy, happy days as a child in Wismar at my grandfather’s house. I remember crossing the river and sitting on the porch at night watching the boats sail by.  These memories are so precious to me. 

      When I looked at your pictures, I was moved to tears as sadly we have no pictures of the famous landmark. My uncle Dappy lived there for many, many years.. he too has left his mark in McKenzie and Wismar.  Please let me know if you have any stories of if I can reach out to others who may have stories about Poker cook shop.

      best, Diane Mendonca (Los Angeles, CA)


      Comment by Diane Mendonca — October 7, 2012 @ 11:47 pm | Reply

  76. I would like to make a correction to item 75. One of my sisters assures me that Uncle Sigmund died around 1970 and not the the late 50s or early 60s as was stated.

    Comment by Melroy Odwin-John — October 8, 2012 @ 3:48 am | Reply

  77. Guyana was so beautiful back then. Those old memories bring tears to my eyes. I missed Guyana so much. My uncle was the Post Master at Wismar Post Office.

    Comment by Waaz — November 18, 2012 @ 6:09 pm | Reply

  78. Peter, I am enjoying reading your stories, but where can I on the internet find details of what took you to British Guiana and what you did there, how long you spent there etc etc.
    I am a 4th generation Guyanese of Portuguese/.English descent born in 1934 in Georgetown where I lived for 28 years from birth. Now live in New Zealand. Why havent you written this in book form ? Love to hear from you
    Mark S

    Comment by Mark S — December 10, 2012 @ 3:09 am | Reply

  79. I was born in British Guiana. I vistted New Zealand many times as a Member of the Fiji Government Delegation when I was a Consultant to the Fiji Government and lived in Fiji 1985-1994.

    Comment by Peter Halder — December 11, 2012 @ 1:11 pm | Reply

  80. Peter, how extraordiary similar our paths have been, because I spent 16 years working for the Fiji Government (based in New Zealand but spending much time in the Fiji Islands from 1981 to 1996 as head of the New Zealand operation of the National Tourist Office, the Fiji Visitors Bureau.) I am now 78 domiciled in Auckland, NZ, retired but freelance writing several regular columns for model yachting journals overseas.Thank you for providing the information Peter, and I wish you and yours a very happy Christmas.

    Wed 12th Dec 2012

    Comment by Mark S — December 11, 2012 @ 5:31 pm | Reply

    • My father Harnarine Singh was born in Fiji c.e. 1906 . His family moved back to India
      ;a year later, they came to British Guiana with the British.

      Comment by zarubin — March 5, 2021 @ 7:10 pm | Reply

  81. Excellent information for us the younger Guyanese generation.

    Comment by Jimmy Persaud — December 30, 2012 @ 6:56 am | Reply

  82. Peter, you mentioned that there was a settlement above Great falls, Demerara River. Can you say what period this settlement existed? The reason I previously worked with the guyana Geology and Mines Commission and through my work had to visit mining operations above Great Falls. To my surprise I saw a bath tub located on the right bank Demerara River about 35 miles above Great Falls. Can you comment on this settlement?

    Comment by Jimmy Persaud — December 30, 2012 @ 7:03 am | Reply

  83. Sorry Peter, it was the left bank, not right bank.

    Comment by Jimmy Persaud — December 30, 2012 @ 7:05 am | Reply

  84. The Mabura Mission/settlement existed in the 1940s and 50s. I never heard about the bathtub. I was reposted from the Upper Demerara River District in 1960. In those days, geological programmes were carried out by the Geological Survey Department.

    Comment by Peter Halder — January 1, 2013 @ 10:36 am | Reply

  85. Peter ,I was in Guiana in the 1965/6 and lived in Georgetown. I had just qualified (1961) in nursing and midwifery and was interested in travelling. When I arrived in Georgetown I had neither job nor accommodation. I had an interview with Dr Nicholson who gave me a job at the public hospital. Part of the job was to go down river once a month starting at 5am and returning at 5/6pm. We were suppossed to visit Ameridian settlements and supply drugs /dressings etc. as neccessary and help in any way we could. For me this was a magic experience and I am still entertained when I reflect on the experience. I worked with such sage and beautiful people and who provided a laugh a minute -that it never felt like work. I was attached to the Georgetown hospital laboratory. Later I became a midwife (of sorts) and visited settlements in the interior where i had interesting experiences. I eventually ended up sharing a house with Annalotte Moriera secretary working at the German embassy. I met loads of people there,Dr Michael Jovy ( heard he died lately) Hans Hanselman Jeddi jagan. Burnham (of course) John Crawford (vice consul Am. embassy) Etc. Kenneth Potter ( heard he has just died in Adelade -so sad). Would love to hear from anybody who would be in Guiana in the 1965/6. I love reading your journal it brings back such lovely memories -spent many happy times in MacKenzie. I also knew Charlotte St. in Port of Spain. I spent a night there in 1965 in a boarding house. Also had friends in Subrianville –Leila and Sony Jankee. Wrote to leila when she went to venezuela for a few years but lost touch. Also knew Ian Rawle Suekeran ( magistrate of the six counties – Sandie Grandie) I attended the court event when Sparrow (of the Congo Man!) was charged with violence against some youths at a concert – not sure of the details !! Would love to hear from anybody who knew any of these people. I returned to England via Central Americas and USA. I was delighted to meet Kenneth Potter ( hydrologist) back in 1968
    in london where I worked for a few years. I am currently living in England in the Midlands.

    Eileen Keating (also known as “Fleeting Keating”!!)

    Comment by eileen — January 21, 2013 @ 7:14 pm | Reply

  86. I recognise a few names here from my days in Mackenzie, anyone remembers the cartoon, Flophat, by Al De Lima? Roger DeFreitas and others from the RBC may remember him.

    Comment by Alexander Vega — January 24, 2013 @ 6:15 pm | Reply

  87. Hi Alexander, De Freitas sounds familiar but I dont remember Flophat!



    Comment by eileen — January 25, 2013 @ 4:53 pm | Reply

  88. Dear Peter, Joshua Chowritmootoo from the Burnham administration. I enjoyed your writing profusely. how remarkable that an intellectual as you are could capture the dialect so empathically and so vividly. your talent is just remarkable, not surprising for yoy have demonstrated in your careers your overt interests in things Guyanese. Love your writing. I met with Fank Campbell some time last year.

    Comment by Joshua P. Chowritmootoo — February 10, 2013 @ 4:38 pm | Reply

  89. In a separaate article you mentioned St. Andrew’s Anglican School at the corner of High St. and Brickdam in GT.. Actually , St. Andrew’s was Presbyterian, Church of Scotland. I taught there for a short while. Your stories take me back. Enjoyed reading

    Comment by marjorie adair — February 12, 2013 @ 3:16 am | Reply

  90. Hi Josh,
    Thanks for the compliments. It was a pleasure hearing from you. Your name brought back many memories, Hope all is well.

    Comment by Peter Halder — February 12, 2013 @ 5:33 pm | Reply

  91. Hi Peter

    Just came across this address/website and am intrigued with the wonderful stories and comments of British Guiana..B.G. as I knew it then….In all of your research, do you know of the major fire in GT in 1944? Water St.. I vaguely remember stories of it but never did really get the facts. This was followed by a malaria epidemic? in which many died. I was told that my mother was probably one of those casualties…I was three at the time so have no recollection. There was another fire on Water St / Bookers etc. 1961 which demolished the entire blocks of stores.. do you have any insight as to these incidents? would love to hear your take on it? Also the subsequent up rising in 1962? I had left for the US and never knew what really happened..any writings on this? Thanks

    Frank Ewing-Chow

    Comment by Frank Ewing-Chow — February 18, 2013 @ 6:14 pm | Reply

  92. Frank,
    You can read about the fires and the malaria epidemic at the website


    Comment by Peter Halder — February 19, 2013 @ 12:35 pm | Reply

  93. Peter
    Thanks for such a quick reply and the link are indeed a wealth of information and will continue to look for your posts. I am also looking for old contacts, school mates etc. Looking for anyone in Bookers Internal Audit, 1959 – 1962 or others that may know of its progress through the years ? Some of the folks I remember..JHThomas, Chief Internal Auditor, Baptiste, Kelly Saul, Yvonne Cooper, Joan Leo, Flash, Dereck , etc. would love to know if anyone still out there?

    Frank Ewing-Chow

    Comment by Frank Ewing-Chow — February 19, 2013 @ 11:12 pm | Reply

  94. I lack any knowledge of the names you cited or persons who worked in Bookers Internal Audit or the private sector in general since most of my working life in Guyana was in the Civil Service. But maybe others can help.

    Comment by Peter Halder — February 20, 2013 @ 12:33 pm | Reply

  95. I just saw the comments from Yvonne Abdool and UK? and the mention of Arthur Herman Beck teacher at Trinity?..I knew Herman briefly but am more familiar with his younger brothers Elmer and Edmund….I was very good friends with Edmund back in 1959 -62 and I left for US and lost touch since….I think Elmer and his wife (Pat)? lived in Loma Linda, California and then moved to Washington……he passed away two years ago…..


    Comment by Frank Ewing-Chow — March 6, 2013 @ 6:28 pm | Reply

  96. Hi My Haider,
    You mentioned Clemwood on the Demerara river, My grandfather Baldeo Ramgolam owned a sawmill there.
    I remember as a youngster, we used to go to Dora off the highway and take his launch from there to Clemwood.
    Archie Ramgolam.

    Comment by Maneshwar Ramgolam (Archie) — March 8, 2013 @ 2:35 am | Reply

  97. Sorry I spelled you name wrong in my previous comment,
    Also my father Lallan Ramgolam had a timber grant at Tinaboo Creek of the Demerara River.
    I still have family living in the creek.

    Comment by Maneshwar Ramgolam (Archie) — March 8, 2013 @ 2:39 am | Reply

    • As mentioned in one of my narratives, travelling on the Government’s steel launch, the Rita C, I visited down river, Christianburg to Santa Mission, Kamuni Creek opposite Atkinson Field, once monthly on district administration matters, including the payment of Old Agen Pension and Social Assistance. Clemwood was one of my stops. I recall the sawmill, though over 55 years ago and a shop (grocery). I believe the sawmill was owned by Ramgolam, your grandfather. Clemwood was a major settlement down river. The R.H. Carr also stopped there on its up river journey. Dora as also one of my stops. A teacher there at the time was a Mr Cornelius.

      Comment by Peter Halder — March 8, 2013 @ 12:30 pm | Reply

      • The grocery store was also owned by my Grandfather.
        I showed my dad this web site, took him down memory lane. He remembered travelling on the R.H CARR, He talked a lot about his days travelling up the demerara river, Floating a raft of logs with the tide heading to Georgetown. He had known a few of the workers on the RH CARR. He also recalled almost all the Launches running the Demerara river. He mentioned a Launch that was owned by a guy from Barbados.
        He even mentioned the sad incident of the SON CHAPMAN explosion.
        Keep writing. I am enjoying reading your blog.
        Thanks Archie.

        Comment by Archie Ramgolam — March 11, 2013 @ 2:08 pm

      • I spoke to my dad, He remember My Cornelius, he thinks he might still be alive. He said the launch used to stop at Kamuni and the people from Tinaboo used to come there to pick them up.
        Later, my Grandfather has a few vessels on the river. The launches names were the SUROJ R and the CHANDRA R, He also had a tug it was built from SECRETE (a form of cement)hence the name SECRETE R. He also had a speed boat, i think the name was the PEARLMON R Later in the 70’s he acquired 2 ship that were working the islands. The names were the SEA PRIMO 1 AND 2.
        As a kid i used to look forward to going to Clemwwood for Vacation. I remember going to Silver Hill and swimming on the nice sand beach and watching the Sauguney ships pass on their way to Linden.

        Comment by Archie Ramgolam — March 11, 2013 @ 2:52 pm

  98. Archie Ramgolam— my father says he knows your people also that you moved to a place in Subryanville.he did business with your family a long time ago.

    Comment by Alexander Vega — March 9, 2013 @ 11:11 pm | Reply

    • Yes, my family moved to 5th Ave, Subryanville, Lived there until we came to Canada in 1990. My Dad Lallan is still here living in Scarborough.
      What is your dad name? i am sure my dad will remember him.

      Comment by Archie Ramgolam — March 11, 2013 @ 1:57 pm | Reply

  99. Hi again its Derek (Nick) John Drakes from 111 Valley of Tears, can anyone tell me what that area is called now, when I went back to Guyana. I tried to find our home, but couldn’t find it, Its not called Valley of Tears anymore, we left in 1967. Thanks.

    Comment by Derek Drakes — June 24, 2013 @ 9:48 pm | Reply

  100. Is there any church for healing and deliverance ministry in Guyana paprika

    Comment by vincent joseph — June 27, 2013 @ 5:31 pm | Reply

  101. Your question is a conundrum. First of all, the majority of religions and churches are about healing and deliverance from sin and evil. Guyana has a plethora of religions and churches. Your mention of paprika, a Hungarian seasoning, seems incompetent, irrelevant and immaterial in relation to the question you posed.

    Comment by Peter Halder — July 1, 2013 @ 1:39 pm | Reply

    • well i am looking out for Joan Hunter ministries  or Derek Prince ministries  healing school


      Comment by Vincent Pereira — July 5, 2013 @ 2:04 pm | Reply

  102. Guyana’s most popular religion is Christianity and one of its most enduring symbols is the 1894 St. George’s Anglican Cathedral. Arguably the tallest wooden structure in the world and serves as a magnificent example of architectural heritage and one of the best preserved in Guyana

    Comment by Dmitri Allicock — July 25, 2013 @ 11:24 pm | Reply

  103. Hello there.
    Would anyone happen to know the Beck family living in Kitty in the 1940’s/50’s/60’s? The father (Henry), my grandfather, was an Adventist pastor for a number of years. His son Herman (one of many) was my father. Any information most welcome. Thanks

    Comment by UK — July 26, 2013 @ 8:41 pm | Reply

    • Hi UK
      I knew Herman Beck your father, but was more familiar with his brothers Edmund and Elmer…..this was a looong time ago. Edmund and I hung out together in Georgetown back in 1960 -1962 along with Ulric Cornelius who now resides in Florida by way of Venezuela. I left for the US in 1962 and was the last time I saw any of the Becks. Edmund passed away due to a car accident and Elmer also passed away recently having lived in Loma Linda , Calif. and Washington? Don’t know if his wife Lucy is still alive?? Knew your dad Herman when we attended the SDA church in Georgetown but am not familiar with other personal activities..would love to chat with you if you wish..? my e-mail address If I can answer any more questions? would love to if I can provide them..All the best,
      Frank Ewing-Chow

      Comment by Frank Ewing-Chow — July 27, 2013 @ 12:38 am | Reply

  104. Does anyone know why a siren is sounded every Friday at 10:00 a.m in Georgetown?

    Comment by Marlyn Randall — December 23, 2013 @ 5:32 pm | Reply

  105. Hi Peter,

    Love reading your experience in Guyana especially the Linden/Watooka area where my father was from. In post # 63 I noticed the name Allan (Fanso) Fiedtkou. Fanso a family friend or family as it may be was driving us up to our Aunt in New Amsterdam, but we never reached as the car sped off the highway and turned over down an embankment. It was in his new Opel Capitan. The next time you happen to speak with him ask him if he remembers the incident. He go a new Land Rover after the incident. Hope to hear from you soon.

    Best Regards

    John Forsythe

    Comment by John Forsythe — December 28, 2013 @ 4:38 am | Reply

  106. I know of the Opel Kapitan. It belonged to his eldest brother Garvan. Fanso now lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. His twin brother Piercy also lives there. Will mention you and the incident when next I speak to him.

    Comment by Peter Halder — December 29, 2013 @ 12:07 pm | Reply

  107. Thanks for your prompt reply. I never met Garvan but I met Piercy once in Georgetown on one of my many visits to Guyana. I used to work for LIAT in Antiuga where we lived from 1964, it allowed me to travel back home many times also to all the other Caribbean islands. I definitely took advantage of my travel privileges. I was in Guyana as late as 2008 and visited Watooka where I still have family on my father’s side. I also went up river to Malali and walked on the grants my father inherited from his father and uncle. I NOTICED THE TIMBER THERE WERE BEING REMOVED. But what can one do when you are out of Guyana so long. I also went to the Kaiteur Falls and Orindeouk Falls and also visited the small town of Letem on the Brazilian border. I visited the burnt out hydroelectric power station there took many pictures of it. It is said the night shift worker fell asleep and caused the accident. It was never repaired. While I was there the government sent as second generator due to daily back-outs there. Also went to Brazil while there it was the opening of the new bridge built by Brazil at Letem.


    Best Regards


    Comment by John Forsythe — December 29, 2013 @ 5:40 pm | Reply

  108. Hello Peter, I was trying to find Clemwood on the Demerara River, when I came across your article. The RH Carr brought back lots of memories. My dad was headmaster in Clemwood I think about 1951 . Sometimes he would take us in the canoe to Dora. If my memory serves me right, I think there was a white sand hill there. Thank you so much for bringing a part of my past to life. Desiree Irwin (nee Rambali)

    Comment by Desiree Irwin — January 2, 2014 @ 4:20 am | Reply

  109. Hi Peter – Hope all is well. Happy New Year. Piercy and Aunt Gena lived in Antigua for a short period after leaving GT they stayed with us until they got their own place. Do you know were the kids are that is Mark and Simone? I was born in Mc Doom Village but grew up in the Castello Housing Scheme. I so remember Albouystown, Rio Cinema, and the punt trench dam. Almost lost my right leg on the bank of that dam. I went to take lunch for my mom who had a dressmaker store in Albouystown and was returning home when it started to rain. All the holes quickly got filled up with muddy water. I fell knee first loosing my balance and my right knee got a cut. I continued walking home and unknown to me all the synovial fluid in my knee drained out. That night I was in so much pain you could not imagine. Needless to say my knee stayed in a locked position for months and the pain continued. All the doctors my mother took me to said the leg would have to come off at the knee. Of course she never agreed or give up. Finally she found one doctor who agreed to work with me. The leg final straightened out. It was around the time Princess Margaret visited the country. Again my father took me to a Peter D’Aguiar meeting at the Carmel RC School Auditoriumon evening when even before the speaking began a grenade was thrown under the building. It was pandemonium. I finally found my father in the school yard. My parents decided to leave our home country as things got worse. Thank God for V.C. Bird of Antigua who took us in and after several years give us residence. I still love my country no matter what. Like the Antiguans say ” A De me ban”. I now live in FL USA.

    Comment by John Forsythe — January 15, 2014 @ 2:48 am | Reply

    • Thanks for the trip down memory lane. Yes, I am aware that Piercy and Gena lived in Antigua. Mark lives with them in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I believe Simone lives in Virginia. You can contact Piercy and Gena at
      Fanso has no computer.

      Comment by Peter Halder — January 18, 2014 @ 1:18 am | Reply

  110. This is so interesting to read, I enjoyed reading all these stories which reminds me do my dad Arnold Bahadur who is from the Corentyne but had contracts with the government and was working all those places mentioned . He had his buldozer and had work grading and opening new schemes like Diamond, guymine, Bermine, wismar,and places I just can’t remember,any one knew the Gary’s in Mackenzie as they were our family friends, my dad has suffered a stroke and lost his ability to speak, so I can’t ask anything to him, we are living in Canada now …thanks Rosie

    Comment by Rosie — January 16, 2014 @ 5:41 pm | Reply

    • It was a pleasure to hear from you. Hope your Dad recovers. Perhaps you can use writing to communicate with him..

      Comment by Peter Halder — January 18, 2014 @ 1:20 am | Reply

  111. Hello Peter, what a nice article. My Grandfather was from Guyana and was born in 1902 or 1906 depending upon documentation. He was adopted by a Robert Warren and was named Robert Martin Warren. I have been having a lot of difficulty getting anyone official to respond to me about providing documentation for my family history research. Do have any good ideas or can you point me in the right direction for who to contact about birth and adoption records?
    Thank you Jean

    Comment by jean — January 17, 2014 @ 9:32 pm | Reply

    • Re Birth Records, the appropriate place is: The Registrar, Births, Deaths and Marriages, GPO Building, Robb Street, Georgetown, Guyana. However, writing is unlikely to bring any result. You would have to attend in person or if you have a friend or relative in GT, they can do it. I did know a Warren in the 1950s in GT. He was fair-skinned and was a Surveyor. I believe he migrated to Antigua.

      Comment by Peter Halder — January 18, 2014 @ 1:45 am | Reply

        Anyone can visit my blogsite at
        It contains many historical articles and stories.

        Comment by Peter Halder — January 18, 2014 @ 1:53 am

      • Thank you for the reply. I’m afraid that you are right, writing has thus far produced zero results. That’s interesting that you knew a Warren in the 50’s. My Grand father’s story is a bit complex so I don’t know if that could be him.
        He was born in Guyana and adopted by a Brit, Robert Warren and his french wife. I believe he was never told and was indeed light enough to “pass” as white – ish. After doing DNA testing on myself I figured out that he is of Indian descent, likely near Bangladesh. He joined WWII late, at the age of 42 (Leaving my Grandmother and my young Father) and spoke several languages including French, Arabic, Portuguese, Spanish and worked as a civil engineer in North Africa during the war. The photo I have of him there looks dark and native. Childhood photos of my Father look like a light skinned Indian even though he’s 50/50.
        He was obviously chosen for his language skills and his ability to blend with the North Africans. I also have a photo of him at the Taj Mahal. After he did his military time he worked in Venezuela for the Oliver Ironworks US Steel. He wanted a job with the UN but they said he wasn’t a US citizen. This is how he found out about the adoption. (I suspect he may have figured it out by then) There were no adoption records until they mysteriously appeared in the late 1930’s. I suppose it’s possible that he was in Guyana in the 50’s since he was in Venezuela during that time. He got a British citizenship and moved to Belgium with his French wife (they married in Morocco and honeymooned in the Sahara desert)
        I have been unable to find any information about his adopted parents. I’ve been working through This surprised me since I thought the Brits there would be fairly well documented but we are talking about records from the turn of the century so…….. I was hoping I could write to someone to get birth and adoption records and maybe figure out who his adopted parents were.

        Comment by jean — January 19, 2014 @ 10:40 pm

      • PS my Grandfather was born in Lacytown. his adopted father was Richard Warren and mom was Marie Legendre

        Comment by jean — January 19, 2014 @ 11:09 pm

      • “I did know a Warren in the 1950s in GT. He was fair-skinned and was a Surveyor. I believe he migrated to Antigua. ”

        Hi Peter,

        Could you tell me any more about the surveyor you knew? My Grandfather was listed as a Civil Engineer but he could have been most anything. A woman contacted me through and said she thinks that my Grandfather Robert Martin Warren might be the Uncle of her Stepfather Robert Martin Dos Santos. Do you know the Dos Santos family?

        Thank you so much for writing about this history.


        Comment by jean — May 13, 2014 @ 8:39 pm

  112. Hi Peter – Thanks a million for the info. I will certainly contact Piercy and Gena. I will purchase your book too. I certainly add you to the list of Guyanese great authors to name a few, Cyril Dabydeen, Martin Carter, Wilson Harris, Brenda D. Harris, Janet Naidu and Edger Mittleholzer. Your recall of all the fruits in Guyana amazed me. It brought back memories of the back dam adventures I had as a child and managed to stay alive I might add.

    Comment by John Forsythe — January 19, 2014 @ 6:29 am | Reply

    • John,
      Are you related to the Forsythes who lived in Charlotte Street, Lacytown? There is a Valda Forsythe who is a Nurse with Inova in Virginia? Her sister is a Doctor in Trinidad and she has brothers in Barbados and Suriname.

      Comment by Peter Halder — January 22, 2014 @ 1:22 am | Reply

  113. Hi Peter,

    Anything is possible, but never heard of this family. I would love to know more of their origin. I met a Forsythe from Jamaica at the dentist office by share accident here in Florida. I was never able to talk to her to compare heritage. When the doctor said Forsythe we both got up, LOL. Are you in touch with anyone of them? This really peaks my curiosity.

    Comment by John Forsythe — January 22, 2014 @ 1:54 am | Reply

  114. Hi Peter – Thanks again. I’ll let you know what we discover. – John

    Comment by John Forsythe — January 24, 2014 @ 2:21 am | Reply

  115. Hi Peter – Glad to report I did speak with Gena, Piercy and Mark last Sunday. Glad to be back in touch with family again. Thanks to you. Gena reminded me that my grandmother on my father’s side was a Fiedtkou. This of course I know. Her name was Engerita. Her parents were William Fiedtkou married to Catherine Spencer one of 5 children of Mary and James Spencer of Yahooka, Demarara River. The other children were Mary, Jane, Joseph and Norman. Mary also married a Fiedtkou, Jane to a Klautky, Joseph to a Knoops, and Norman to a Pauli. Catherine had 13 children. I only know the names of 8 including my grandmother. My mother side of the family came from Jane who had two children Jack and Meta. My mom Valeska better known as Madge is from Meta who married to a Sonny Willems (first marriage). Her brother was Eddy (Ewald) Willems. The family today are all over the world you wouldn’t believe it.

    I also spoke with Valda Forsythe and we are in the process of investigating family ties.

    God Bless


    Comment by John Forsythe — February 2, 2014 @ 3:10 am | Reply

    • I’m so glad.

      Comment by Peter Halder — February 6, 2014 @ 5:42 pm | Reply

    • Hi John: Are you Johnny married to Merle with two kids, and brother to Michael, Donna and TC Forsythe? I am always on all sites trying to get in depth info on my side of the Fiedtkou family, which is from my dad Piercy, and granddad A.P. Fiedtkou. Most of my generation’s side of the family not really so interested. But maybe my love of History always leads me to seek out if anyone can fill me in on earlier generations of Fiedtkous in the Demerara, and especially some clue that leads me to which country the first Fiedtkou emigrated from to arrive in then British Guiana. I came across Mr Halders blog and saw your inquiry about me and my brother Mark. I would love to get back in touch with you and rest of family. Simone Fiedtkou-Leonard.

      Comment by Simone Fiedtkou-Leonard — August 29, 2015 @ 10:47 pm | Reply

  116. Hi,My name is Johnnie Paul Ramos. I was bourn in 1964 in Wismar,Dandrew Alley. Not sure if I have the correct spelling. Can u please give me the correct spelling for Dandrew Alley. Thanking u in advance.

    Comment by Johnnie Paul Ramos. — February 12, 2014 @ 6:19 pm | Reply

  117. peter, can you provide information on the owners through the years of the Londonburgh and Trent House Hotels in Georgetown? What was the clientele and what type of hotels were they?

    Comment by Roger Kenyon — March 3, 2014 @ 7:00 pm | Reply

    • So sorry but I cannot recall the owners now. It was so long ago. Londonburgh was a classy hotel on Main Street, opposite the Park Hotel. It later became the Cambridge Hotel of ill repute. Trent House was also on Main Street, next to Tower Hotel. I never visited it but I recall it had a good reputation.

      Comment by Peter Halder — March 17, 2014 @ 2:41 am | Reply

      • II refreshed my memory of the Londonburgh Hotel, way back to 1950. It really was a B class hotel that catered maily to sailors from foreign ships that docked in Port Georgetown. and as I said above, later became the Cambridge of ill-repute.

        Comment by Peter Halder — March 17, 2014 @ 3:07 am

  118. Interesting blog. A friend of mine, Alex, told me that you helped him with information about a family he lost track of. I hope the same goes for me. Maybe someone will know Marcelle and Monica De Castro, they left then British Guiana for where I am not sure. I would really love to be in touch with them again. Thanks for allowing me to use your forum as I am not sure how else to try.

    Comment by Natalie Richler — May 13, 2014 @ 1:58 pm | Reply

  119. Hello Peter, I believe I met you in 1958/9 when I stayed at the Christianburg Rest House as District Engineer, Georgetown and looked after by Miss Phoebe. We were building a Post Office in Wismar amongst other things. What a great shame the house burnt down.
    Do you happen to know anything about the Letter T estate? I believe there was a manager there by the name of Jim Wallace, we shared a cabin when I went out to BG. What happened to Maurice and Daphne Barlow. We used to visit them when we were up that way. We are interested in the early history of the estate. Can you help please?

    Comment by Michael Bennett — December 9, 2014 @ 7:37 pm | Reply

    • Hi I am just reading the comments on this site and came across your message. I am related to Maurice and Daphne Barlow. Remember Letter Tee very well. Daphne and Maurice had three boys. maurice went his own way (he was my mother’s brother). They got divorced and he remarried and lived in New Zealand. He died a few years back but not sure exactly when. Daphne lives in New Zealand. We went to visit them a few years back. Of the three boys – Michael has his own business and is a millionaire. He is married but can’t remember how many children they have. Andrew married and has two children. He is now divorced. Christopher also has his own business and is married with two children. They all live fairly close together.

      Comment by Pat Morgan — March 10, 2021 @ 1:00 pm | Reply

  120. Peter,
    I enjoyed reading your article, it brought back too many memories and sadness of the things we left behind. My name is Richard Mendonca and we left BG when I was 12 years old; I remember going to work with my dad (Michael) at Brown Betty in the day helping fill the bicycles with popsicles, fudgesicles and creamsicles, opening the ice cream machine, putting the sticks in the molds and walking across the alley to get popcorn in the restaurant. I remember Mr. Harding who was the Engineer etc. I remember window shopping (Bookers and Fogaties) during Christmas and then coming for an ice cream at Brown Betty, going to the sea wall, Easter Monday when we would go to devee beach and fly kites. Roti, black pudding, the music the special language. I remember my school Fountain AME and my first love Pat Gaskin (of course she did not know) and my friends Calvin Hamilton (sago pops) and Little man, Joe Jagan, etc. playing cricket at the DCC, going to the matches and sitting in the stands hearing the sounds of the cleats as the players walk. We lived 101 Laluni Street across the street from Lance Gibbs (saga boy) mother and Dr. Cheddi Jagan house before he became Prime Minister. I even went to play with Joey at the PM house. I cried when I left Georgetown to go to Canada. I was terribly sad for many months and have never and will never forget my Guyana.
    Since then I have worked and lived in Algeria, Houston, Venezuela, Iraq, Kuwait, Jordan, UAE, Japan, China and always though of going back at least for a visit to see Georgetown, my father once told me it is better to keep the romantic memories that be struck by the reality and disappointment of what you will find and see??????

    Comment by Richard Mendonca — April 14, 2015 @ 12:57 pm | Reply

  121. Hello Peter, I was so overjoyed to stumble upon this, and read with anticipation of seeing my grandfather, dad or uncles named mentioned. My grandfather was the employment officer at the bauxite company in Mackenzie, and my dad went to Demba trade school, the years I’m not sure of. But, I
    Enjoyed growing up in Mackenzie. Thank you.

    Comment by diandra512 — April 21, 2015 @ 2:43 am | Reply

  122. Hello Peter, I have read your piece “On the street where I live” and quite enjoyed every fine detail you have put in it. Congrats on your fantastic masterpiece.
    I would like you to know that I grew up in Charlestown which is next door to Albouystown. During your time in Albouystown did you know Hardat David Singh (deceased), brother of Jeanette Singh. You mentioned her in your piece as ” attended Carmel R C and subsequently teacher of that school. Hardat was friends of the Meerbux family.
    Hardat also practiced law in Guyana, and returned to live in the UK.
    On my search for my mother’s father, Gregori or Gregory D’andrade – would have known a D’andrade family in Albouystown – the head of the family was Clement D’dandrade and Claire and ‘Ricy’ were two of the children of the D’adrade family.
    Also on the La Penitence public there was a ‘cake’ shop run by Mr Foo, his wife was also a D’andrade and were related to Clement D’andrade. One of their sons was Neville Foo and I worked with him at Drainage and Irrigation department, Kingston, Georgetown – in 1962.
    Thanks for your help in my endeavour to trace my roots.

    Albert Gonputh

    Comment by Albert Gonputh — September 24, 2015 @ 8:10 pm | Reply

  123. My wife is trying to find her family in British Guiana.
    Her grandfather was John Samuel Irwin, born 1876 as far as we know. Father was John Samuel Irwin (Senior), Mother was a Stephens. John Samuel Irwin Sr. was at one time proprietor of Scott & Co. Water Street.
    John Samuel Irwin Jr. worked at Bookers until he emigrated to Canada in 1904. Any information would be greatly appreciated.

    Comment by Jerry Krepakevich — October 12, 2015 @ 4:38 pm | Reply

  124. Hello everyone, Peter
    While looking for details of the school I studied at, Trinity Methodist in Georgetown, I found this website. I just noticed that Mr Peter Halder has not responded to comments since March 2014 to present (November 2015). Can someone say if they have heard from him? Would be so sad if he should no longer be with us. I would love to ask his advice too. Sandra

    Comment by Sandra Lucas (nee Sadloo) — November 9, 2015 @ 7:19 pm | Reply

  125. Hello Mr. Halder. How I dearly wished I would have come across your blog many years ago. I’m thoroughly enjoying every word, especially the entry ‘On The Street Where I Lived’. In this piece you mention the Rodrigues family (“A Portuguese family Rodrigues, lived in one of the rooms in the first “range”. Mr Rodrigues was always well dressed, tie and all.) Do you happen to recall the man’s first name or any of the family member’s names. My father is William Rodrigues (father was Theodore (died when my father was around 8 years old) and mother was Helen). He had, I believe, two brothers and two sisters. One of his brothers, Compton, was still living in Guyana up until around 2008 or 2009 when he passed. I was just curious and if perhaps you had any other information of the Rodrigues that might be of interest. I appreciate you taking the time to write these words. Many of the people mentioned were names I heard growing up as a child as my parents recalled their days in Georgetown.

    Comment by Natasha Rodrigues Wells — January 7, 2016 @ 1:13 am | Reply

  126. The best stories for all ages. Guyanese well schooled.

    Comment by Mignon James — January 17, 2016 @ 2:20 am | Reply

  127. Hello Mr. Halder, I was born -1948- at Sussex St. 2nd house from hill st.opposite from Carmel R.C .The Wong Yu’s lived on the corner Ithink it was a reddish house.My parents had a little store next to Dak Bang shop across the road-Saffon st.- was Bacchus’ drug store. There was a little cake shop next door. Latter approx.1954 we moved to Lombard st. where I lived til 1968, I left for a holiday in Toronto and never returned.You have a good memory of growing up.I think the fellow you were talking about,is Mr. Mallette,he had a son named Obrey. He was a friend of my dad.We have pictures made by him in the 50’s of natives fishing with bows and arrows,decorated with butterfly wings.all under glass.Oh. I finished primary at Broad st gov’t school.Joseph Singh

    Comment by Joe — January 28, 2016 @ 3:53 pm | Reply

    • Was Sussex street in Kitty?

      Comment by Desiree Irwin — January 28, 2016 @ 10:17 pm | Reply

      • Hello Desiree, Sussex st.,is near LaPenitence market. It crosses over Saffon st.,and Lombard st and ends at the Demerara river.You can google map Guyana to get a better picture.

        Comment by Joe — January 29, 2016 @ 5:57 pm

  128. Thankyou, Thankyou, Thankyou!
    Can I buy this in book form?

    Comment by Donna — November 18, 2017 @ 10:56 am | Reply

  129. Good Evening.

    I am writing to you from New Orleans, Louisiana.
    I have met a Gentle Lady, Mrs. Audrey Chase, from Georgetown, Guyana, back in early 1970’s, while I was living in Haiti, and she was visiting for medical reason.
    She should by now in her late 70’s or early 80’s, her husband was either a banker or a politician back then.
    Any chance anyone would know her? I know it’s a big challenge.
    Like I said she was a Gentle Lady, and would love so much to contact her. AND visit Guyana if that were to happen

    Thank you for whatever you can do to help.

    Charles René, MD

    Comment by Charles Rene — January 8, 2020 @ 11:30 pm | Reply

  130. Hello, my great great great grandfather John Henry Fasy was emigrated from Demerara to Philadelphia around 1807. It is quite a challenge to find information about this area and I was wondering if you could point me to some resources where I could trace my family tree back. In checking one website that lists some of the settlers, I noticed a Henrik Fasy, à Demerara ferryman who could be his father. Two distant cousins both were told that the father was a pirate who put him and his brother in a boat and sent them to America. I have never been able to find another Fasy of his generation in Philadelphia, and it appears everyone in the area has descended from John Henry, who was first a carpenter and then a shoemaker in the US. Any help is appreciated.
    Joanne D

    Comment by joandrum — March 30, 2020 @ 6:17 am | Reply

  131. Hi Peter, Mr. Hopkinson that you speak about is Richard Hopkinson, my grand father, yes he was the Manager of sprostons in those days until the disturbances. then he went back to GT with his family. His son did however returned, hence I was born right here in Linden and still live inLinden, along with his son who is now 79 years.
    Lovely storey.

    Comment by Desiree Hopkinson. — January 21, 2021 @ 2:35 am | Reply

    • Went to school with the Hopkinson’s, St not thought of those days

      Comment by clifford nehaul — March 29, 2022 @ 3:54 pm | Reply

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