Welcome to part three in the Origins series. If you haven’t done so already, it’s best to get caught up on Origins: Early Life and Origins: PeeWee before you get started because the story is best devoured in chronological order. Now onto the entertainment!
Alenore Gardens Phase II – Phase I was for affluent people who needed a view of the central plains – is a somnolent wee hamlet in one of the notches of Calvary Hill located at the foothills of Arima at the end of De Gannes Street. Evidently according to Google Maps Alenore Gardens is part of Tunapuna Piarco Regional Corporation instead of the Arima Borough Corporation.
The Gardens as we called it was a jarring sustained unpaved road with extraordinarily steep hills with backwoods all throughout. After leaving 6 Victory Street and moving to 67 Alenore Gardens, the abundance of bush and more bush took a bit of time to get accustomed too. When folks asked where we lived and I told them their first answer was: “whey papa you livin’ in de bush!?”
When we moved to The Gardens, it was a new community with most of the homes still under construction and several families with youngsters our age.
The first house on the right when you came down the initial hill was Mr and Mrs Jones. Their son Matthew who was my brother’s age; we called Jonesy. Jonesy was a real ladies man and full of comical relief.
Up the second hill and around the corner from Jonesy was Mr and Mrs Kendal. They had three children, two of which were boys: Nigel and Curtis. We just called Nigel by his last name: Kendal. Kendal was the wood gun cognisor of the crowd and was the resident Rambo. More on that later.
Down the second hill towards the end of the street were the Ali’s, with three kids as well. Khalil and Levi were my brother’s age. We called Khalil – Bucket! I have no idea why to this day.
This band of mavericks decided we needed a name. Something substantial, a single way to identify ourselves, a name that will live on in prosperity; so we came up with the Garden Boyzs. In hindsight what an unusual and imaginative bunch we were.
During the dry season, the hills around the homes in the Gardens where typically burning. After the fires were extinguished the Boyzs would use this time to play a game of “gun shooting”. Think laser tag but with guns carved out of wood made by Kendal aka Rambo. We typically played on teams for hours, roaming around in the woods and the hills in true para-military style, stopping only momentarily when our parents called out for lunch or dinner. We used the black soot from the brush fires as camouflage to conceal our hiding places amongst the trees and the bamboo patches. If we weren’t in the bushes playing gun shooting we were by the “river” trying to build a dam so we could swim during the rainy season.
Living on a dead end street had its perks, but these perks cease to exists when it was time to walk to school in the evening and in the morning when the sun was hot, or rain was falling. It was not comfortable walking the approximately 2.5 kilometres (1.5 miles) from The Gardens to high school at the Arima Government Secondary School (AGSS) which I attended after Arima Boys R.C. School.
AGSS was affectionately associated with just one word Central. Central was neither a cardinal direction or the centre of Arima, but it was the place where friendships were made, shit talk originated, and fun was had at the expense of learning at times.
They say too much of one thing is not suitable for you and Central was too much of a good thing. Coming from an all-boys Catholic school to a government-run co-ed school was overwhelming. Girls in skirts everywhere; this proved to be my downfall in Form One, with a swift suspension for “making out” with my “girlfriend” at the time Charmaine George at the Royal Castle in Arima. After the suspension episode; “party-done” and it was time to focus on the school work. Well sort of.
The teaching crew at Central was a mixed bag of consummate professionals and complete douche bags in my opinion. We had teachers that were caring, considerate and creative such as Mr Slyvester, Ms Devonish, Ms Ince, Mr Amon Rah and Ms Baccus. Then you had kaka clowns such as Mr Armstrong, Mr John and chemistry teacher Mr Ramsubeek aka “Yuh go lan up in jail”.
The lioness that ruled Central with an iron fist was non-other than Ms Jean Warner aka big nose Jean! Back in the day, she was always well dressed, and the grey hair was just a single streak down the middle. Unfortunately for me, Ms Warner had also taught my aunt’s who also attended Central, so I was a marked man from the jump. She used to tell me, why can’t you behave like your aunts.
Ms Warner was the backbone of Central, and she kept every man jack in check, including teachers! I was too immature to realise it then, but her fire and brimstone attitude I appreciate today. As for her nickname, it’s a direct representation of our ignorance and childishness at the time. Sometimes one doesn’t realise the good in people until it’s too late. Ms Warner was great!
My other favourite teachers are
- Mr Askia Amon Rah – Yes it’s a mouthful to say. Slim, well framed dark skinned brother in 1970’s African dashiki with a woolly beard and a booming voice. Mr Amon Rah taught Caribbean History with an Afro-centric view and a focus on the Afro-Caribbean diaspora. He was the first man to inform me that Christopher Columbus didn’t discover the Americas and the Caribbean, but was a fool that was lost. His most memorable line to me was “Mr Morris UP on your chair, UP on your chair! Silly boy!”
- Ms Ince was a quite unassuming instructor with a silent will that would make you do the right thing with just a simple look. Ms Ince thought English Literature, and it was my first introduction to Shakespeare’s plays Othello and a Mid Summer’s Night Dream.
- I loved math in Central, and some folks called me the “maths man”. I was fortunate enough to have an outstanding Advanced Math -Ad Math- teacher Mr Sylvester who was a calm man but remarkably competent in algebra and calculus. I owe my penchant for math and science to his stewardship in this field.
My academic tenure at Central improved with time, and so did the connections made with my classmates. My best friendships to this day originated in Central and specifically my association with The Wynns. No one can recall how we got the name The Wynns, but the group consisted of
- Me, Ad-Wynn because at the time I was the only one in Mr Slyvester’s Ad Math class.
- Dion C., Head-Wynn aka Cock Head. No explanation needed. Chief jokes master. (Far Left)
- Anthony V., Red-Wynn because all light skin people in Trini are “Red”. (2nd from Right)
- Sherwin B. luckily for Sher-Wyn[n] he kept his legal name. (4th from left)
- Garth S. Fat-Wynn because at the time we thought he was fat. (3rd from Left)
- Curlan D. Bald Wynn because of his low haircuts and pointy head. We still call him “Pointy” to this day. (Far Right)
The six-man crew above was inseparable during high school, and the friendships formed amongst the graduating class of 1990 was intimate until after commencement.
After graduation, we all went our separate ways. Some to Canada, others to the USA.
I would have to repeat English and couldn’t get into a six-year school so off I went to Daniel’s Education Community (DEC) to repeat English, take more advanced math classes and introduction theory to computer science.
Dedicated to the Central Class of 1990
Check back for Origins part four: Cuttas.