Bahamas Tales- The Clinic

After my mother took her midwifery course in Nassau, we returned to Cat Island and lived in the clinic in Old Bight. It was the most modern house in the settlement.

It was made of concrete wall (painted pink) with louvered windows and a flush toilet. The water had to be hand-pumped up into a tank each day, but we had running water in the kitchen and bathroom. We had even had a kerosene refrigerator.

There was a low concrete wall that ran along the road, but it didn't do much good about keeping animals out of our yard. It was common to have the neighbors' goats or chickens or even pigs wander through.

Once a sow and her piglets came to the back of the house. We talked our mother into bringing a baby into the house so we could see it better. That sow chased her all the way around the house in her flip-flops, losing a toenail in the process. We learned a lesson in leaving baby animals alone.

The clinic was attached to the house, but had its own entrance. I can remember some of the gruesome sites that came to our door. Once a woman came that had been cut by a machete. My mother was up the road at Uncle Roy's house, and I had to ride my bike there to get help. (no phones, of course)

She often went out to deliver babies. I went with her once. The people were steeped in superstition and voodoo. They would tie a black strip of cloth around the newborns wrist even before the cord was cut, to ward off evil spirits. The skin a negro baby is so dark and smooth and beautiful.

There was a lime tree in our yard. It was my job to gather about twenty limes each day to make limeade. It was also at the clinic that I learned to cook oatmeal and biscuits.

It's hard to remember seasons in the Bahamas, but I do remember Christmas at the clinic. My mother ordered a ham. When it came on the mailboat, the outside had spots of green mold. Not wanting to waste it, my mother cut off the edges and baked it for a long time. My cousin Susan and I got matching umbrellas that year. We walked around with them in the scorching sun, using them like parasols. The Bahamian people laughed at us strutting around with umbrellas when it wasn't raining.

I also got my first bike while living there. It had a banana seat and high handlebars. I loved it. I rode it up and down the road in front of our house every day past the mangrove swamp to the beach. I loved to be sent on errands to Uncle Roy's house or the corner store.

Once a group of boys surround me and held tight to the handles of my bike. I was afraid, but I also knew that they feared harming me. I hollered and a woman in a nearby house scolded them and shooed them away. She made me promise to tell her if they bothered me again.

We only lived in the clinic one year, but I have dozens of memories associated with it. I'll have to continue this next week.


Anonymous said...

Loe hearing about these memories! Thanks for
sharing. Sorry, but the sow chasing your mother
makes me giggle.

Jenilee said...

how special! I loved reading about your memories. :)


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