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A Family Holiday

Life Story Club Contributor

Nov 22, 2019

I don’t really have a story, but I love listening here. Now, way back on the island, we don’t have a Thanksgiving Day.

But then like Christmas Eve, Christmas bank holiday, is the day we transferred it to. But I was there on the computer just now, and I was working on.. macaroni and cheese? We do not do it that way. We make macaroni pie. Yeah, and I was up there looking at it for some unknown reason. You get a side of macaroni, cheese. Side of macaroni, cheese. Well, you got blue, and then four courses of cheese. Yeah, so you fill them out, you get a whitish one, you get a light one, and then you get it plain.

And when I looked a it, it made me feel so…hungry. Because the way I do it, you have a layer there, then you have cheese. Then you have another layer, you have cheese. Then you have another layer, you have cheese. Some of us sometimes put bacon, or anything out there, but that was for, for cultured cheese, that was the thinnest I’d ate. We had it Invariably for Christmas. We don’t really celebrate Thanksgiving Day. But all the energy goes towards the day after Christmas, what you call Christmas bank holiday.

Oh look, Christmas is the day I used to make all the cake. The black cake. I used to specialize in doing that. And when I first came over here, on my vacation, “George, are you coming back to make it?” Black cake, I used to make it, it had a lot of rum in it, it has a lot of White Collar in it, and it makes you drunk. It makes you get a feeling. Yeah, I used to specialize in making it, because all of my family are bakers.

Yeah they bake and do different types. My brother, he just died, hardly anybody could make a cake better than he could do. Right? If you request that, if you request it for a birthday, or whatever you request, he would have gone there for it.

But, I love this, because I don’t know where I’m going next Thursday. Because of course they’re going to be other places that open, and in invariably, I do a thing for the church, locally, and I don’t know exactly where they’re going from, but we circle it and make sure that not only me, or anybody here, is happy. We make sure everybody is happy, the homeless people…We give them tours, we give them a lot of them good things. But I don’t know exactly how it shows…

So you volunteer?

Yeah! But that’s what it’s all about. You’re going to 125th street? Every lane in there, The Apollo, everybody from down the Morningside right up to the top! Or, they’ll say none, but it’s something to eat here. If you get in those streets… you carry your bag, and don’t come back home with it empty.

Big Risk

Life Story Club Contributor

Nov 15, 2019

There was a time I was out and we were playing a game called cricket. I was the, what we call here in baseball, the catcher and I was behind the stump. And this guy bowled the ball so fast. I jumped up in the air to take, and it hit me right here. It knocked me out cold.

I was laying there, the medics came around. Within seconds, I was back around and I was doing as if it never ever happened. That’s recovery! I dreamt that I went to heaven in those little seconds, and they closed the golden gates on me. And when they slam the gates, I was awake. And it’s a risk I never knew and it’s something that, sometimes, it travels with you again and you keep thinking… Sometimes you’re laying in bed and you keep running your whole life. And when it happened, I said, I don’t know…

The first time I ever know that they shut me out, I went into the pearly gates and when I go to the gates, they slammed the door in my face. It didn’t shut, slammed the door in my face, and I was up in seconds. And that’s one of those things that happens to you. Well, it hit me right there and knocked me right out.

For how long were you out? Do you know?

One of my friends, he ran off to the medics to come back, and by the time he get back, I was ready to play.

I made it to the pearly gates and they slammed me out. They never kept me in. Nobody spoke or anything. Slammed the door and that’s why God is keeping me alive. And out of all my kids and family, I am the only one from my mother that is still alive. So, they weren’t ready for me.

Do you have a scar from that or anything?

This is something about 68 years ago. I actually don’t remember. No, look… The whole happening is not me. It’s the event. When it happened, I got hit. They slammed the door in my face. They didn’t even answer a message, they didn’t say why are you here? That’s the pearly gates.

Did you win the game? Maybe you don’t remember.

Oh, we won the game afterwards. It was less than seven seconds. He ran towards the pavilion, bring the thing out. And when he come out, I said, “are you ready?” He asked to see if I was okay, to bring me some water… hit on the right part, rather than hit directly there, it just hit there. He gave me that amount of time to rehearse.

It woke me up. Yeah. Yeah, I couldn’t get through that pearly gate. They slammed the door.

Joyful Day

Life Story Club Contributor

Nov 15, 2019

Okay. In 1967, I was working in the post office, so I had some time off because the wife was pregnant. And she and I, we had a big house, upstairs, downstairs. I was sleeping next to her, just in case anything. We didn’t have a midwife with us. And suddenly she moved from this room over to the other room. Next thing when I wake, she was in there giving the baby, making the baby. I done everything, except cut the navel. I was a doctor then, I don’t know how I manage. I done everything! The only thing I never done was to cut the navel.

I got the bag, I cleaned up everything, and then I didn’t have a phone in my house, so then I had to run down the phone and call the midwife, so she comes. “Why did you-?” I say, “I had a choice. Call you or leave her.” So she said, “Well you were right.”

Yeah so I delivered her.

So one day I was calling and talking to her recently, about four years ago. I said, “You know, Christie, I’m the first person to ever seen your face.” “Oh, that’s why you treat me so good!”

She was elated about getting the message, but I was not only elated, I was in a position where I thought it was a dream. Things like that, my God tell me, he say, “Look go, go next door, and do whatever you have to do.” Everything. And even now I feel every time I talk about it, I feel she was there before me.

And then she called me on my birthday, she called me from England because she could convert from Barbados to England. Because she was living in England and some people came over to Barbados in her business, and they commute as much as they can.

I was the father of 11 children.

How many wives?

One wife. I would never, I know there was only one. I went to England, I was knocking everything that’s in sight. And then I met this girl, this lady, and she was only 18 and I was only 25. And I said to myself, I don’t want to get married until I’m 35. But I saw these dimples on this lady. I said, no, no, no, George you can’t run away and leave this.

Let me give you another joke. I go into Bryant Park every day. Even now when I leave here, I go into Bryant Park and I play petanque and different things. And a guy keep coming to me, talking to me and he said, “Granddad” I don’t know how he find me, but I don’t even know his mom.

And every day, next week I have photos I’ll show you. We went out to eat on my birthday and we ate at the barbecue place there. And he tells my son, “I’m your dad’s grandson.” I don’t know nothing. Well, he must have find me somehow, he must have had his computer out.

He really is?

I said, I don’t even his mom. I don’t know. It just happened. I meet him almost every day. We go to the barbecue for lunch, dinner, one day. He had a marvelous time. And I keep thinking… And then my son and him are in consultations, to find out who’s who, because my son is far more intelligent than I am. So they had. I don’t know. I can’t say what your mom looked like. I know what I’m saying, I just know…

It was a very nice surprise. And he keeps saying dad, granddad, he never calls me by my name. He means me or we happen to be in the park, we happen to be anywhere. Granddad. So him now and my son get together and they’re making some noise. I don’t know what kind of noise. Let me hear you.

But he calls me with love, he don’t talk to me like you’re a passerby. And that’s that. He calls to me like my son or my daughter or everyone.

And my third daughter, she’s like me. I’m a very shy person. You wouldn’t believe it. I’m a very shy person, but I like a bottle of wine. It’s corked down and then the cork flies everywhere and that’s me. All right. Then I can give you a question and then we can talk again. It’s kind of like that, you know? I know I always relish that as one of the hardest parts of my life.

My daughter, she always knows she is the best thing in the world. She just got her PhD. That same one. And so they’re quite happy back in Barbados. I took them from England and took them back to Barbados. Their education has highlighted because I put them in a Catholic church school. When you’re in the Catholic school, you follow directions. If you are caught at anytime with your uniform on, I’ll get a letter. You have to follow the rules and regulations.

Love Changes

Life Story Club Contributor

Nov 8, 2019

Mine is a continuation of what I said earlier, you know. But after we got married, she was working in the university. I was working in the post office, and, you know, every thing was working out well and truly for us. And she said to me, as I can see you, you stop this running around. Let’s get together and buy a house. I was only twenty-eight. I was twenty-eight years old, all right?

And she said to me, so when we have the house then, we can have some kids and work on having… I went straight out, walked the street, looking at some estate agencies and every kind of thing like that. And I saw… I went to this guy, agent for some place in Barbados. So I said to him, I want to go back to Barbados, how can I go?

He said, look, I have a house down there. If you see it, you’re going to want it. He sent me toward this house, and I go, and I look in this house, and I said – I went back to her while she’s coming from the university – I say look, come let me show you this house. Well, the people were so nice, because I was only living in a room, and when I talked to her, she she says, come let’s go, and let’s make it right.

So when we got things together, and we got the deposit, and got everything together, It changed me. Me from being who I was into who I am now in a kind of way. You know, because you find people even though they are not too close to you as you would say, they have some influence on you. And their influence really pulled me out and changed me.

And then we started looking for children. I was unfortunate. I was offered a job in a game back in England, and I couldn’t do it, because I was in the house in 1966. And they offered me a job in May.

Well that was a heavy, that heart. Having children. My son… I have two daughters. And my two daughters were born within eleven months of each other. I wasn’t getting on… so I worked, I’d do my inside work.

So your wife is English?

No, she’s in Barbados. The kids are in Barbados. And they love Barbados. It’s a… Barbados has a very high educational system.

And, you know, and the kids go in there, one just got her PhD, the other one’s going law.

And they call me… my birthday was the fourth of this month. Yeah. Monday.

Oh, happy birthday.

And they call me up from England. They call me from Barbados, you know. And I was having such a wonderful time.

So that’s a full change… not full. It’s a lot more. That’s me changing from being a wild, do-anything person, into…And you know, but she insisted, you stop this. So let’s go get a house and then start getting kids.

Well my wife is from Guyana. I am from Barbados. But we got married in England. I was working in the post office one night And she was working at the university. So I said to them, let’s go to the coast. The people in Guyana have a few dollars. I had a few dollars, but my kids never liked it. I take them to Barbados, they love Barbados. In Barbados it’s nice, and sunny, and you know. And that’s the thing, you know. We went home, and my mum was very ill. And she was bedridden, right? …you know bedridden when you could hardly come out. And when we got there, she said, I never saw your kids. I saw all the other children’s kids. And when she saw my kids…

We went… They went to Guyana to bury one of her family. In ten days they come back to Barbados and find my mum was not bedridden. You understand? She would come out and sit on the table and talk to us and things… but you know.

So you see one thing converts into another. It’s definitely a beautiful circle, never ends. And always and always we always find a place. And she lives in Barbados, the kids live in Barbados. I have a son that lives here. He lives in New Jersey, but you know, that’s the life. And mine is so long and so ugly and has some good things and has some bad things…

You said your wife lives in Barbados?

Yeah. When she goes to Barbados on vacation… We went all over Europe. We went to Paris, we went to Brussels, we went to… nearly every place we’d go. She loves traveling.

Right. So why are you here in New York and not in Barbados?

No, I came here to look after my son. And while we were here… he was living in New Jersey… my wife and I couldn’t make it because she had a daughter from another marriage. And she used to give me a lot of trouble. And she was nine years old and she had more roar… she was more rude than her mum or anybody I know. You know what I had to do? Get out.

Oh yes. Now you’re a ten year old. You never know what they tell their mum. And then you’re mum, you believe everything they say. You have troubles. That’s why I come down… and I only came on a vacation. But now I have prostate cancer. I have diabetes. I have… a lot of things have fun down there. But I…

But I persist against it. I have a power to strength that my mum put in me, because my father died when I was only four and a half years old. And she brought us up like a person that think…well, she was like a brick on one side, and a diamond on the other side. You know, you behave well, you get everything nice. And you step out of line, and you get the wonk.

You know, it’s the kind of feeling that… because of that you move around and you move around and you get to the place where you want to get to. And I wanted my kids to go back to Barbados, because they would get a very good educational system. Right? Because I put them in the Catholic Church. Because in the normal church at school, they had a lot of disobedience and everything… You go to the Catholic, it’s direct. You can never be caught outside without uniform. You go home. And if you want to come out, you come out without uniform. But my kids, once they’re in the house, they know the house and what has been mandated. They’ve got the work to do, and all of that. So, you know, that was a rhythm that I could always be remembered by.

First Date

Life Story Club Contributor

Nov 8, 2019

I was a bit of a run-around. I was young and I was a run-around guy. But then one day when I went to England I saw this fair…She was so pretty. She had dimples on both sides. My God. And I talked to her, but she was in the army, and she was in a place named Gloucestershire, 70 miles away from London. Oh, I said, “My friend, God, my God, I would like to meet that girl again.” And didn’t you know, when she… She had family in Ipswich, where I was living. And when she came…Now… and she called me from over the other side. And she never knew I was after her. And if I had met her, I would be on my knees.

But anyhow, we got… We lived together. We got married, had 21 years…after that, four children. And you know, we had a beautiful marriage. But, you know, I was still a bit of a run-around… I had a few little things on me that rode with me.

She never refused me, you know. She used to come down almost every month, when she’d get her vacation, on… or when she’d have a weekend off she would come down. She would stay with me at my house and then she would go by her family. But she’d definitely come to stay a weekend with me.

So we got it all together and we got married, and had four… five beautiful children. She has a daughter just like her…

Extraordinary Day

Life Story Club Contributor

Nov 1, 2019

So many…

I’m going to give you one. I’ll give you the quickly. When I was working back on the island, I was only 17, 18 years old. I was working for a company, and I was on the outside. So a guy comes down and says to me, “Could you change five dollars? I mean twenty dollars for me?”

I said, “I don’t have twenty. I’ve got a fifty dollar note.” I gave him a fifty dollar note, and the man disappeared. Because I was young. I was young and not too intelligent about the game. I was just picking something, and I don’t know how the fifty dollars get out of my hand. But he took my fifty dollar and he just…ran away with my fifty dollars.

I had to pay it all back because when we do all the check up, I was fifty dollars short. And make-

What was your job?

Oh that was working in a company that used to just… It was one of the mobile companies that used to sell all kind of things. You go into a job there. So they give you a thing to start on, and while you’re working on that, people do take advantage of you.

It hurt me. It still now.

Talents

Life Story Club Contributor

Nov 1, 2019

I am a very good player of dominoes, very good, very good player and I had some tournaments going on back here. We traveled, when I was away…. We traveled lots and lots of places, but I didn’t know I was so good because I was that height when I started learning dominoes and I became a very good player and I get a lot of people back in the park or everybody and they call me, Mr. George. Mr. George.

But anyhow, that was one of my games I was very, very good at. But then over the years I became a very good player of the game, you probably may be aware, or not, cricket. I was a very good cricketer. I played in Barbados, I played in England and I almost lived there for…the guy called me, I’d just bought my new house. I was living in England then. My wife was working in the university, I was working in the… over there. Anyhow, I want to get back to it. I was working, we both was working but there weren’t no lot of money in it. She couldn’t give her job up. I had to look after the kids, so therefore we had children combined between us. She done the days and I done the nights it was a timing thing. I would come in, “bye bye,” “bye bye.”

Only on the weekend we get a chance to really sit down and you know, talk and get open and get… Oh the house was pretty open cause I mean I had three children from my wife and it means that during that time we were able to establish that kind of thing between us and maybe one or two neighbors we had that would assist here during that time. But those are two of the games, two things I do. I’m pretty athletic.

I am an umpire. A year ago I resigned from it because I got a little bit of back trouble and running up and down there wasn’t really good enough for me.

Do you have a team name? Was there a team name? For your cricket team?

Cricket team? Just, when I played it was in the Bronx, Soundview and I umpired for about 10 years, you know, not only with them. I was part of the umpire system. They would send you here and send you there, send you each and everywhere, you know? So you fulfill all of those little things while you’re around, but you know, it get me accustomed to people, you know, I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. I’ve never done drugs. So when the games finish they drinking and they enjoying themselves, and I’m drinking some water or eating a lot of food.

My neighborhood

Life Story Club Contributor

Oct 18, 2019

I was born in Barbados. A little island of what, 21 miles long, 40 miles wide, 166 square miles and 270,000 people. And it’s very, very much overloading. But, the point is my father died when I was only four and a half years old. I had one of the strictest mothers that God made. The don’t make them now, the don’t make them, there’s no way down there to bring up the people of those days. My mother raised 11 children. Before died away and left us. 11, 10 boys and one girl. Now you know the youngest got to respect, because if you don’t show by example, we will show you. So you’re in the middle you had to bear all the burdens, all the problems all the time. 

We were all churchgoing people. My Grandmother lived 107 years old. My Uncle he died 63 years short of a hundred years. My Mom died when she was 72 years. I, in my own imagination and my own feeling is that, she had all these children, everyone of my family, boys and girls died. I’m the only one alive. And God is keeping me so for a special reason. I go to church you know, we go to church and then I kind of back slide and then after I came here, I only want to came here on a vacation. But after I came here I was put to the church and I go in there, I become a member, become an elder or preach sometimes. I do a little thing sometimes, whatever they need me to do because when you become an elder you are not forced. It’s in your curricula way that you know, if they call on you to do anything you will do it. 

My Mother she used to suffer from hysterics. When she goes off, all of us in here cannot hold her. And she just goes off. I was the only one that wherever I go, they got to find me. So I will come and she will lie down there on her back on this very ground here and we get ready to jump on her. Well then she sees my face, she just calm down. Then when she calm down then we start singing one of the hymns, or one of the glorious hymns, sound or anything that she read. We will sit and I sing her ears.

I remember a time when we playing cricket, we going all the way to about two miles away.

And she’s kicking. And everybody looking around, “Where is Cheer?” That was my nickname, really George. And there, a guy come down with his bicycle, why I had no car and things like that to carry her up and down the road, you know? They put me on the bicycle bar, that guy who ride me up a hill. I don’t know how we get back to the hill, I don’t know.

I go in there and Mom was there and I sang with her, we talked and we sing and we down very, very, very low so she wasn’t really kicking out at anybody. When I said, “I think she okay now”. I went back to the cricket match and two seconds later they come back to get me again. Because I didn’t see her through the whole vision of it. You know because I just want to get back to cricket match I was the captain, I just want to get back her to represent.

You know, my story can go a long way. I might like to hear when, I think I heard it. You might have heard it? When we go to church my Mom, my Granny, my Auntie she help Mom. She used to write some nice poems, write odes and everything and used to recite them all over the place at all the churches. Nine years old I used to be out there singing and if anybody come down to the harvest, when they come to the harvest, they have to come to the old church and sing. They’ll come to church and recite. So I used to do that.

But I would like to relinquish this one one more time. Because it’s one that I love so much. My dear wrote, and she wrote many, many ones for me. And this is the one that stayed with me for a long time. Like 70…74 years old it was. Anyhow – it was a Christian thing. Most of these people might have heard it. Let me see, 

“We are a Christian organization. Say it from condemnation. Through old-fashioned salvation, we have made our consecration. And having the blessings of sanctification, we sing with inspiration without hesitation during the congregation. And having the blessing of realization, we with joy and acclimation, will join in the coronation of Christ our King. From Genesis to Revelations throughout eternity and his hand bless your ration.”

So, you know, that’s from my Auntie. She never ever stopped. She wrote me lots and lots of things and I was always involved because when I’m coming from school she would say, “Audrey, I got a new point.” We’d go in a little secret place and recite it.

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