Bahama Tales

I've lived in many places, but my memories really began when I was four years old - when we moved to the Bahamas. There so many of them- it's hard to know where to begin. I wish I could post some of my parents' pictures, but most are on slides and not on my computer. (maybe I can borrow a few from someone who has been there recently)

My father took us to Cat Island, to help his brother Roy in the settlement of Old Bight. Grandaddy and Grammy Beverly were there, too. Grandaddy helped design the chapel. One of my very first memories is of my mother cutting some pink fabric. Grandaddy said she was making a dress for him. I suspected it was for my birthday, so I didn't know how to react to his teasing.

There was no elecricity. We used kerosene lamps for lights and a generator occasionally. Once a lamp got knocked over in the room where my brother and I slept. Phillip alerted my mother with his screaming. God really protected us that night.

You couldn't really say the islands of the Bahamas are tropical. Yes, the beaches are beautiful with white sand and blue water, with palm trees blowing in the breeze. But, most of the land is white rocky coral, with scrubby bushes and thorns. It was hot and buggy and dirty. As a child, I accepted my new surroundings as a new "normal."

We usually went swimming every afternoon. I remember walking or riding my bike past the mangroves. (Unless you've smelled a mangrove swamp, I can't describe the sour, salty, rotting odor...yet, I kind of liked it and now I miss it.) The white beaches curved along the aqua water. An adult would check for sharks or stingrays near the dock, but they were rare. (Once we saw an octopus.) My brother, Phillip, was natural swimmer and could dive by age five. I was more timid and preferred staying close to the shore. Sometimes we had picnics on the beach and used sea grape leaves as "paper" plates.

The other side (the North side) of the island was more like our Maine coast, with lots of rocks and crashing waves. It was a great place to scavange for drift wood. My father built most of our furniture from lumber tossed on the shore.

We (our two families) were basically the only white people on our end of the island. Occasionally, visitors might come or we may travel to the other end of the island where it was more built up. The Bahamians have black skin. I remember noticing that dirt appeared white against it, whereas dirt was brown or black on my skin.

They spoke English, but so quickly that it all seemed to be squished together. Plus, they arranged their sentences differently or used their own idioms. It seems as though they are speaking a foreign language. I loved hearing them sing. It's hard to explain. It has a nasal, lonesome tone to it. I especially loved to hear their a-capella harmony. I can still hear them...

"Are you weary? Are you heavy laden?
Tell it to Jesus. Tell it to Jesus..."

Look for more Bahamas tales in coming weeks.
(I realize this is a jumble of thoughts. I may organize them better as I develop this.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Looking forward to hearing more! There's
probably a way to transfer slides into a
more modern media.


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