Community Greens

People of all colors discussing evergreen ideas.

Growing up in Trinidad and Tobago


I grew up in Trinidad and Tobago during a time when everyone treated each other like Family. When you always had to speak properly when you were with your parents or adults but could “leh go” with your friends. If someone got you angry, you would tell them “how yuh mudda make yuh” with a variety of cuss words. If your mom found out, she made you wash your mouth with soap. Blue soap, sunlight or carbolic. If you can’t take “fatigue”, don’t start. Everyone had a nickname. The Chinese boy was “chin”; the African boy was “blacks”; the Indian boy was “lal”, the fat kid was “fat boy”, the skinny boy was “bones”. We went outside to play; we got dirty. We used to bathe in the rain, sometimes by the standpipe. I am yet to find anything as satisfying as a cup of creole chocolate or hot porridge on a rainy day. We went to the river or springs on a hot day. Our fast food was corned beef and rice; sometimes, even hot rice and butter. We ate breadfruit, dasheen, yam, eddoes, cassava, boil corn, roast corn. From the bakery we ate belly full, currants roll, coconut drops, milk cake, pan bread, bun, butter bread and hops bread. We loved bread and condensed milk or hot bread and butter; sometimes red butter. We sucked paradise plum, brittle, kazer ball, dinner mint. We ate bene balls, tollum, chataigne, sugar cake, tamarind ball, tamarind stew, red mango, mango chow, plum chow. We got dirty and we didn’t eat fast food….we ate cooked food. We got ice cream from the ice cream man or if mum was in a good mood and had the money, we had homemade ice cream on Sunday. The best was when barberdeen was in season. When mum made cake, we licked the bowl clean. Cassava pone or bread pudding was a treat. Redifusion had two channels. To this day I remember “Portia faces life.” We listened to auntie Kay on a Sunday. In later years, if you had a tv, you saw auntie Hazel on twelve and under, you watched Mastana Bahar and an Indian movie on a Sunday afternoon and watched Scouting for Talent on Tuesdays. Panorama was time to be quiet. We loved snow cone on a hot day, preferably with guava syrup and condensed milk. We climbed trees, picked mangoes, Chennette, pommerac, plum, pommecythere; whatever was in season. We suck and ate cane with our bare teeth. We played Simon Says, Red Rover, Mother May I, 1,2,3 Red Light, Hide & Seek, Jacks, Marbles, Tag, Hopscotch, Cars, Checkers, cricket, moral, rounders, pan cup, football; we raced against each other in the street and even played jockey in the canal with a piece of stick. A tennis ball and a good piece of wood was enough to start a cricket game, and if somebody window break, game done. The only time we stayed indoors was when we were sick or as a punishment. If you were sick, it was not uncommon to get a “bush bath” with some “buccano leaf” and whatever bush mum thought would make you better. Castor oil or sena pods during vacation was the worse. The boys flew kites that we had made ourselves; sometimes we made a mad bull and hope it wasn’t so big that it took you flying. We made zwill with flour and grounded glass; put razor blades in your kite tail and when you battle, who lost, saw their kites “hi-yo”. The first one to reach the kite is the new owner. We drove carts we had made from wood with old bearings for wheels. An old bike wheel with the spokes removed was a toy. Who never tried to get “laglee” from the breadfruit tree to try to catch a semp? There was no bottled water, we drank from the pipe. We walked to the corner store and rode our bikes (if we had one) for hours without a cellphone. We weren’t AFRAID OF ANYTHING. If someone had a fight, that’s what it was…a fist fight. Kids didn’t have guns when I grew up. The street lights were your curfew. School was mandatory. Police used to take you to your school when they find you on the road during school hours. We watched our mouths around our elders because we knew if you DISRESPECTED any grown up you were gonna get it with whatever was close and get a second one when your parents found out…!!!
Re-post if you’re proud that you came from a close knit community and will never forget where you came from! Life in TnT as I knew it,

Heather Browne shared this with us on Facebook. It transports me to my childhood. I was a Black kid in the Bronx but the experiences are so universal anyone can appreciate them. If you got this far, I am sure you enjoyed the read. Please like this so I get a sense of how many people enjoyed it. Thanks. Chuck


Filed under: Community Green,

One Response

  1. Davis DuBois says:

    Brought back a world of memories. Tankabean, grugrybef, fat finger… Wow. I loved the story.


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