To this day, I’ll never understand why Tom sent for me. The wedding was planned to the tiniest detail long before I ever arrived in England. The fares had already been paid months in advance for me to travel by Royal Mail Lines, but since I had no wish to leave from Jamaica to England by sea, I paid the difference myself and flew with British West Indian Airways (BWIA). If I had boarded that ship, I might have had more time to reconsider my choices in life.
Tag: Tom (Page 1 of 2)
On first December 1934, Keliah Hall-Williamson had her last child. The day was a Saturday and “Kizzie” was a widow. Her husband having died three years before, Kizzie was then a single mother with five hungry mouths to feed. Life had suddenly become dramatically more difficult for Mrs Williamson. She was only thirty-six and had been thirty-two when her young husband died, leaving her with a large house in the parish of Saint Mary and East Indian servants she could no longer afford.
He never said it was love. It may have been the name Veronica Pettigrew—a Catholic—that clinched it. Most Jamaican Pettigrews are Roman Catholics, and my husband’s sister Veronica Pettigrew-East (mother of Ermin Goode, Teresa East-Headley and Howard East) died in the Kendal Train Crash on September 1st, 1957, together with her husband, two brothers-in-law, and the beautiful daughter of Mrs Clark. Only the presence of the good Lord saved Mrs Clark’s only son, Earl, who had bawled so hard and refused to board the train that they eventually left him indoors.
Well-to-do Jamaicans of the 1950s did not think England was an advanced enough country for them to settle in. Unlike other West Indian islanders, only poor or relatively poor Jamaicans who none-the-less could afford the fares, left for the United Kingdom. Educated Jamaicans did not consider England an option at all. Many of our young men had travelled there during the war, and they did not like what they had seen. The educated ones among us rather opted for the United States of America, or Canada, wherever possible.
One person can make a difference, Mama said. That’s what my stepmother Anne-Amanda Bennett did every day of her life. She died alone in an Almshouse because I was too poor to find the cash for my kids, a home, and her out there in Jamaica. I cry whenever I think of her, but she left me such a legacy that I will end this chapter of my life with the best and most enduring memory I have of her.