The Good Ole Days?

Submitted by Colonel Buggy

Old_Barbados_17The recent re-introduction of the modified stand pipe and the issuing of buckets by the Barbados Water Authority, have given our Super Highway and Fast Food- reared generation, […]
a small glimpse of what life was like for their grandparents.

Following is an excerpt from a draft of a book that I am yet to get published, or given a title. Some provision titles that I’ve been playing around with are :- A bitter taste of Sugar, Did Mr really Harding burn?, Lord of the great house and Down by the nigger yard.

Chapter 2 The Plantation Great House.

Today more black Barbadians have visited Government House in the 49 years since independence ,that in all of the 350 years prior to that,that we are so happy to brag about and celebrate.

The great house stood aloft, like an English castle, in the midst of the green sugar cane fields, uninviting and foreboding. The message loud and clear and still is in many circumstances. “ DANGER KEEP CLEAR” And to enforce that ‘no -go’ policy was an army of fierce “big breed’ dogs, Alsatians, English bull dogs, the lot. But with all of these pedigreed, expensive and pampered dogs, the plantation owner always kept a couple of common breed dogs. I recall an instance as a boy, coming up in St Joseph, at a time when most, if not all, of the parochial administrations were conducted around the village of Horse Hill. The Post office, the Dispensary, the Almshouse , the Parochial Medical Officer ,or Doctor, the Parochial Treasurer, the Mortuary and the Parish Church.

The road to Horse Hill for many of us was long and winding, through Castle Grant, Branch Bury, Coffee Gully, Blackmans and Tamarind Hall. However this distance could have been reduced by less than a half, by accessing Horse Hill via Castle Grant Gully, near the village of Little Island and emerging on Surinam Road. A few more yards could be further cut, by going directly through Castle Grant Plantation Yard, passing just yards to the front of the great house itself. This is where the fun started. You kept an eye out for the two massive English Bulldogs, and sure enough they would be lying down in the great house veranda, with eyes half closed watching your every movement, and with no intention of disturbing their mid-day post lunch rest. But as you attempted to gingerly tip toe past them, the silence of the day was broken, by the loud and constant yapping of the common breed mongrel, who by this time is making a beeline towards you, with teeth snarling.

The two English bull dogs, seeing this commotion taking place, would very reluctantly get up, to let the master see that they were earning their keep, and proceeded to join in the chase at a slow speed, stopping, and giving up at the end of the yard gap where it joined the public road. Not so with the mongrel. He would not be satisfied until he had chased you down the Braggs Road or the Chimborazzo Road, intent in sinking his teeth in your backside.

The plantation dogs appeared to be almost human in their behaviour, or to put it another way, some of the plantation people behaved just like those dogs. For instance the plantation owner, or manager, would pass someone grazing a sheep or cow on the plantation’s grass which make up the hedge along the side of the road, and would usually pass without saying a word, but along came the plantation watchman, with his trademark size 12 guava stick, and like the mongrel, wanted blood, seizing the animal from the owner and carrying it in “the yard”, where the owner was forced to pay a small fee to recover it.

For some reason, as if I did not know, it was always easier, or preferable, for brown-skinned women to obtain employment in the great house as maids and servants. These women worked literally from sunup until sundown. They got in early to prepare the plantation family’s breakfast, and stayed on late preparing the evening meal,and washing and cleaning up afterwards.

When a great house worker got home, all tired and worn out, she had very little time for her own family. In some cases great house work was a seven day job. The great house family, seemingly, could not care less, as long as their needs were met.

Many a man used to complain that in the course of their jobs, these women prepared some of the finest dishes for the plantocracy, but when they got home, late of course, they would hastily slap something together, and summoned them with a “ Ya food here!”

But still, you had to have some sympathy for these poor women. Some were lucky to have a home and a family to go home to, as a good few of these women were employed as live -in servants. For the live-in servant, it was a liv-ing Hell. Live-in , they called it, but the poor servant was accommodated in a little hut, not much bigger than the average out -house of that day. It was located far from the great house, on the edge of the great house grounds, abutting the nearby cane field. There were no toilet facilities, no electricity, no running water, and was mostly a one door/window combination affair. Conditions were far better for the plantation dogs and other animals. And because they lived in, work started earlier and ended much later, and especially if the plantation family was hosting a function.

Many of these live-in maids were treated with the least respect by the mistress of the great house and her children. The master had his own ideas, and would give these poor women extra duties looking after his personal affairs., especially during those hours when the mistress of the house was comfortable tucked away in her bed. Many a boy friend visiting one of these maid’s quarters after hours , had to jump through the back window, if there was one, or hide under the bed when the master came to collect his night cap.

To many young women, maid work was a way of life,and in those days when jobs for women were so scarce and limited, they had to take anything that came along, the master included.

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101 Comments on “The Good Ole Days?”

  1. Colonel Buggy November 6, 2015 at 3:35 PM #

    lawson November 6, 2015 at 12:23 AM #

    Col I laugh only because you think this downward spiral is my fault or I revel in it you honestly think that is what someone who has benefited from the

    Sir, none of my submissions have singled you out as being responsible for what you call this downward spiral. I have no idea who are what you are. If you are on a guilt trip, sir, only one of your fingers is pointing at me!


  2. Gabriel November 6, 2015 at 3:55 PM #

    You mentioned a visiting white pastor named Nicholls of the St Elizabeth gospel hall.Recently there was mention of the Holder community centre at Tamarind Hall which was a plantation owned by a family named Nicholls(or was it Niccolls).Was there a connection?


  3. Georgie Porgie November 6, 2015 at 4:15 PM #

    There is a book called 100 years of the Brethren In Barbados which describe the origin of the Brethren church in St Elizabeth’s village as due to the personal work of women who were the wives of Brethren missionaries from Guyana who had come to live in the Bathsheba area as convalescent therapy for illnesses contracted in BG

    It seems that the visiting white pastor named Nicholls of the St Elizabeth gospel hall might have been one of the Brethren missionaries from Guyana


  4. Colonel Buggy November 6, 2015 at 4:50 PM #

    Bathsheba was used as a resort for many who were suffering mainly from Tuberculosis .
    There is a Niccolls listed in the old plantation registry, who owned Horse Hill and Overton. I understand that Overton was near Surinam and Mellows,and at one time was owned by the Mayers clan, who owned Tamarind Hall, Easy Hall, Buckden and the Union,near Sugar Hill.


  5. Exclaimer November 6, 2015 at 5:30 PM #

    @Donna November 6, 2015 at 12:05 AM,

    Many years ago on BU I made a proposal that Barbados should ban the use of the personal motor car. I argued that an island the size of Barbados has no use for this form of transport and that it was a drain on our economy and detrimental to our environment.

    I made the case that we should invest in creating a transport infrastructure similar to the Docklands Light Railway in London or more recently the completed light railway in Ethiopia!

    Colonel Buggy would confirm to you that Barbados had a functioning rail service which was to be later abandoned. Could you or any of the other savants tell me why we lack the ambition to build an inexpensive rail infrastructure which would benefit the whole of Barbados?

    If this infrastructure was in place 100 years ago pray tell me why do we lack the ambition to reinstate it?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Dompey November 6, 2015 at 5:31 PM #


    Lawson, is inquiring as to why some blacks and whites have the same names”

    So I shall speak for the Fenty family because I was given a little insight on our ancestry by a young man who took the time and effort to researched our family historicity in Barbados, by going back to England to ascertain all of the information.

    And he told me that the family was started in Barbados by two Irish brothers who migrated from England to Barbados in, of which one subsequently left Barbados permanently and the other stayed.

    He when on and stated that there were three groups of Fenty: 1) the white Fenty of the property class;
    2) the Fenty of the Mulatto class;
    3) and the enslaved Fenty who were given they names by the master.


  7. Exclaimer November 6, 2015 at 5:37 PM #

    @ GP,
    You seem to have found a home that you are happy with. I have enjoyed your contribution – to date! However, I understand the night is still young! Let’s hope that Dompey, your nemesis, does not engage you!


  8. Dompey November 6, 2015 at 6:01 PM #


    No need to engage Georgie Porgie because he is apparently, following his doctor’s strict regiment of the lithium.

    Exclaimer, I would bet you anything that the doctor up GP lithium dosage from 10mg BID PO for 90 days, to 20mg TID PO for 90 day, and that is why you’re witnessing this improvement in his behaviour.


  9. Colonel Buggy November 6, 2015 at 6:02 PM #

    Exclaimer November 6, 2015 at 5:30 PM #
    The answer is simple. Build a multimillon dollar railway ,and in three years time , the rolling stock and the rails would be heading for the knackers yard. We sir, have a very very bad record and a gigantic problem in the maintenance of anything. Be it a building,a road, a truck ,a bus ,an ambulance, a Harrisons cave’s car, law and order ,QEH, Heritage sites. Get the picture?


  10. Colonel Buggy November 6, 2015 at 6:17 PM #

    Typical of our transport system


  11. Vincent Haynes November 6, 2015 at 6:32 PM #

    @Colonel Buggy

    Do you remember the obeah shop at the bottom of Cane Garden called “Struggle buggy” cannot remember the name of the chap that ran it?


  12. Georgie Porgie November 6, 2015 at 6:50 PM #

    Colonel Buggy November 6, 2015 at 3:30 PM #

    During the early 1960’s The Transport Board had a 15 minute service ,on time,every time to Grazettes, Deacons Road , Silver Sands and Bush Hall, among others. Much of the other services were either Hourly or Half-hourly.

    I can concur with respect to the efficiency of The Transport Board prior to January 1 1969 when the GOB TOOK OVER MANY OF THE PRIVATE BUS COMPANIES

    One recalls M 365 and M 4012 which plied the 16 Gall Hill route

    With respect to the private concessionaires , one recalls with great fondness the route 15 bus to Gospel Hall and Golf Club Rd , run by a Mr Birch. His Progressive bus company was stationed at the top of Culloden Road. He referred to his buses as his birds, and did a brisk busyness on race days, when the Gospel Hall bus would often turn around at the Garrison instead of next to Dayrells Rd Gospel Hall

    The quarterly Golf Club buses initially turned around in what is now called Rendezvous Gardens, the hourly and half hourly buses went down and turned close to th jubnction of Highway 7 and Rendezvous Rd

    On race day, Birch was often heard to say to his conductors GIVE ME THE UPS AND YOU KEEP THE DOWNS (to town)

    Prior to January 1 1969, the drivers and conductors did their best to keep the buses going. After the GOB TOOK OVER MANY OF THE PRIVATE BUS COMPANIES
    these same bus workers would say “CALL THE YARD”


  13. millertheanunnaki November 6, 2015 at 6:59 PM #

    @ Dompey November 6, 2015 at 5:31 PM
    “He when on and stated that there were three groups of Fenty:
    1) the white Fenty of the property class;
    2) the Fenty of the Mulatto class;
    3) and the enslaved Fenty who were given they names by the master.”

    That categorization can apply to nearly all ‘traditional’ Surnames/Family names in Barbados.
    But you are omitting one sub-category. The Bakra or back-row johnnies aka poor whites.
    Most likely there was no “white Fenty of the property class” but a few poor white ‘Fentys’ as hired-hands to the white merchant class.

    So which class do you descend from, Dompey Fenty? The hybrid class since you said you have mongoloid in your blood and an ‘epicanthic fold’ in your brain?


  14. millertheanunnaki November 6, 2015 at 7:14 PM #

    @ Colonel Buggy November 6, 2015 at 6:02 PM
    “We sir, have a very very bad record and a gigantic problem in the maintenance of anything. Be it a building,a road, a truck ,a bus ,an ambulance, a Harrisons cave’s car, law and order ,QEH, Heritage sites..”

    Colonel, that was NOT always the case.
    The shit that is happening at the Transport Board would never have taken place under Cpt. Hill or at the QEH under Mr. Williams. People with only a 7th Standard education but with loads of commonsense and enterprise made a difference. Not today where all these university graduates in high places aren’t worth jack shit as far as effective management is concerned.


  15. Colonel Buggy November 6, 2015 at 8:25 PM #

    Georgie Porgie November 6, 2015 at 6:50 PM #
    Actually, Birch’s Progressive birds were taken over by the government,in the early stages, as they were red, like the General and the Leeward, requiring paint job before putting them into service. Birch paid the Transport Board Depot a visit shortly after the take over and was horrified to see, his birds sleeping in the open air. He called for and got them back.Eventually they were taking back over again in the mid 1960’s.


  16. Colonel Buggy November 6, 2015 at 8:41 PM #

    millertheanunnaki November 6, 2015 at 7:14 PM #

    Colonel, that was NOT always the case.
    The shit that is happening at the Transport Board would never have taken place under Cpt. Hill or at the QEH under Mr. Williams. People with only a 7th Standard education but with loads of commonsense and enterprise made a difference. Not today where all these university graduates in high places aren’t worth jack shit as far as effective management is’
    My sincerest apologies to myself and all of those men at the Transport Board.and elsewhere , and the young turks of the Barbados Technical Institute who kept this country going. Now Jones is asking where are the men , because they do not possess a piece of paper from UWI or BIMAP.
    As far as I know, the dismantling of Andrews Sugar Factory, to make way for the Super Estwick Factory is on hold, as the engineers contracted to dismantle the old factory machinery , are unable to proceed, as they do not know how it was put together in the first place. And to think that it was put together supervised by a 7th standard boy, Gordon Haynes, who easily worked out how it was supposed to be be rebuilt , back in 1956, while it was still lying all over the ground in Andrews factory yard, in thousands of pieces , caked in mud,after being shipped in from British Guiana.


  17. bajans November 6, 2015 at 9:51 PM #

    @ colonel Buggy

    Yes, I think Nicholls owned the big house and land next to the cemetery. He apparently gave that land for the cemetery to be built and it is now named after him. Then the property was bought by a Mr. Jones who rarely lived there and was rented occasionally. Now it is owned by some mean spirited Guyanese doctor, who threatens to sue the locals if they pick up a coconut that falls in the road. Incidentally, he has the whole property fenced. I picked up one this year and was warned by a gentleman passing by. I did not need it, we have plenty on the land, so I gave it to the lady Marge that lives across from said cemetery.


  18. Colonel Buggy November 6, 2015 at 10:22 PM #

    @ bajans
    Not all Brethren are buried in that cemetery. Was you grandmother a Brethren? I know Milicent Trotman was an Adventist and she was buried there.


  19. Colonel Buggy November 6, 2015 at 10:25 PM #

    @ Vincent I had a relative who used to run a shop in Cane Garden, R.A. Lee.


  20. lawson November 7, 2015 at 8:22 AM #

    return to the good old days (good for Lawson and moneybrain) looks pretty clear what you meant.Col I have no guilt when it comes to Barbados woes In fact I take pride in telling one of your brethren who had had a tailor shop in town for large people, this is not the place for you ,bajans are thin and small people you should come to Canada where people are much larger , so he immigrated here and is making big strides.


  21. Vincent Haynes November 7, 2015 at 8:29 AM #

    @Colonel Buggy November 6, 2015 at 10:25 PM #

    Strugle Buggy was on the other side of the road to the church that is next to the Lee’s,I think he was a Greenidge…..this was in the early 60’s possibly after you had left.

    I still see Robert from time to time,we all grew up together in that neck of the woods in early 60’s….Brathwaites,Jones,Brewster,Forde,White are some of my contemporaries of similar age.

    Nick had/has some land in that area not sure as yet if it included the Spa Pltn.


  22. Bush Tea November 7, 2015 at 8:38 AM #

    @ Lawson
    return to the good old days (good for Lawson and moneybrain)
    That was Bushie not the Colonel… 🙂
    What?! …are you saying that those were not ‘good old day’ fuh wunna?

    Shiite man!!
    wunna fellas were ‘licking cork’…


  23. lawson November 7, 2015 at 8:52 AM #

    I am sorry I missed your post and only saw it when the col used it. You must forgive me when everything seems to be on this blog …BU…..BUshy….BUggy……..COW……lady cow……COWan…. some BUllshit some makes sense an old guy can get confused. Yeah back then champagne flowed freely for a while, still for some. But who needs bubbly and money when you can get 4 beers for ten bucks at dover


  24. Colonel Buggy November 7, 2015 at 8:18 PM #

    Some 1952 Copies of the Barbados Advocate available on this website


  25. Colonel Buggy November 7, 2015 at 11:58 PM #

    ” Boys especially who did not excel academically ,and who had no love or inclinations for the cane fields, were sent to learn a trade ,and in most cases , the parents , generally the mother,paid the Master Tradesman a regular fee to pass on his knowledge to the son. Even today, it is the common belief that if one is a tradesman, ie carpenter, mason, auto -mechanic, then he must be a semi-illiterate,a half twit. This prejudiced belief is certainly quite far from the truth,as the education system in those days did not cater for anyone who was technically or artistically inclined. It was only in the late 1950’s, when the now defunct and forgotten Barbados Technical Institute at Richmond Gap was established, that many educators realized that it took a bit more intelligence than what they had previously credited many a boy with, to pass the world respected and recognised City and Guilds of London Certificate in the various disciplines, as was demonstrated by the British Army when it came to Barbados in the early 1960’s ,on a recruitment drive,and snapped up the many young men with the coveted C&G qualification.
    Today the Ministry of Transport and Works ,road work teams are seen as next to useless and a burden on the taxpayer. Back then there were no Raysides, C.OWilliams et al. The Highways and Transport Department (H&T) was the sole entity in Barbados responsible for the design ,construction,and maintenance of roads and bridges. One of its sections, the Public Works Department (PWD) looked after the timely maintenance of all government buildings.
    Most of this civil engineering work was carried out on a parochial basis, with the Church Wardens and Vestry system looking after the management of the parish. The politicians from the central government,at least the ones we had, had not yet learn how to use such items as road repairs, street lighting,and government jobs as bargaining chips to extract votes from the people in their constituency. “


  26. Bill hern October 22, 2016 at 4:33 PM #

    Do you know anything about the Ivy Alms House in Bridgetown please? A lady I am researching was born there in 1928 but I can’t find anything about the Alms House or it’s location. Many thanks.


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