Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 23rd 2015 Contents B1
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Few minds were as playful and as
serious as EL Doctorow's.
Conjurer of old-time gangsters and
ragtime stars. Commentator on wars
and presidents and the laws of the
land. Student of political and literary
history and how they tell us who we
Doctorow, who died Tuesday at age
84, was the rare American writer to
move gracefully between lives as
engaged citizen and solitary inventor.
evocative flashes, the dogged working
of language---is the writer's belief in
the story as a system of knowledge,"
he wrote in the introduction to his
essay collection Creationists,
published in 2006. "This belief is akin
to the scientist's faith in the scientific
method as a way to truth."
Doctorow was among the most
honoured authors of the past 40
Ragtime author EL Doctorow dies in New York at 84
The scent of fresh herbs, garlic and pimento pep-
per seasoning filled the night air last Friday as
women busily marinated meats in big pans at the
Moriah Community Centre. A grey-haired woman
efficiently chopped mounds of dasheen bush, as
villagers bustled about, making final preparations
for the big event the next day, the Moriah Ole Time
"The women prepare and chop the food; the men
do all the cooking early in the morning," advised the
Everyone in Moriah looks forward to the wedding,
an event based on a revival of Tobago folk customs
which is a highlight of the Tobago Heritage Festival
now running until August 1. The Tobago Wedding
blends European, African and home-grown Tobago
traditions in a cheerful expression of community
and family togetherness which delights visitors and
The event recreates Tobago village wedding customs
from the 19th century. There is a solemn church
ceremony held at the Moriah Moravian Church, por-
trayed by village actors who prepare a script each
year. And easily one of the highlights of the affair
is the playful, gently exuberant street procession,
where the entire wedding party, all decked out in
finery, dances its way to the cake-and-wine gathering
at the Moriah Community Centre. After some spirited
dances there, the entire party moves on to the recep-
tion, dancing the brush-back and other old time
dances along the narrow, winding Moriah streets
surrounded by lush green hills.
The street procession was lively and happy last
Saturday, moving to
"whoomping" tambrin goatskin drums and the occa-
sional horn, helped by some recorded acoustic folk
songs on two music trucks that never overwhelmed
participants with discordant or too-loud music. From
children to grandparents, people joined the procession,
In the midst of it all, the character of the Village
Maco was in fine form this year, making all manner
of mildly scandalous comments about the wedding
guests when they were still in the sweltering heat
inside the small church. "How come you wrap up
pickney like banana leaf!" she exclaimed, interrupting
the preacher; and later, "Look at that woman---is
walk and limp---I wonder whose shoes she borrow?"
And later still, she quipped: "How come the cokey-
eye chile by the side resemble the father-giver?"
Even the groom was not spared her tongue: as soon
as the vows were over, she remarked sorrowfully:
"Ah, boy, well you now sign you death warrant!"---
to everyone s amused chuckles.
Many hands, one production
Village elder Winfield Carrington, chairman of the
Moriah Heritage Committee and a member of the
Moriah Village Council, explained that many people
proudly take part in the production---whether in cos-
tume design, food, music, performance or grounds
preparation---in what is truly a community effort.
This year, there were many children and young people
taking part, bringing enthusiasm and energy to the
learning of the old-time dances, which they learned
over several weeks at afternoon classes taught by
Richard Reid and Jillian Franklyn.
"Every year we choose a different young bride and
groom," explained Carrington. "This year we have
well over 50 couples as guests. And we make new
clothes every year. After the wedding, the guests go
in a procession to the community centre for cake
and wine, an old-time thing where you would go to
your godfather or relatives and take refreshments,
before heading off again to the reception. There, you
have dance performances, food and music at the
Moriah Recreation Grounds."
Costume design is an undeniable part of the spec-
tacle as well as an unsung example of the hard work
that goes on behind the scenes. This year, for instance,
the women wore a range of full-skirted gowns, in
colours from stately blues to bright banana yellows,
lime greens and pinks, complete with frothy lace
trim, flowered hats, lace gloves and bouquets of cro-
tons or flowers. The men made style in their signature
stovepipe top-hats, immaculate white shirts, bow
ties and black jackets with flapping coat-tails---plus,
of course, long black umbrellas to complete the
Ingrid John Jack, secretary of the Moriah Heritage
Committee, made all the top hats herself, while Kris-
tian Solomon and Lexy John made the female hats.
Said John Jack: "I make the hats from stiff Stag
Blank, which I shape and cover in black satin. Then
I machine-stitch them. I have to measure everybody s
heads first. It s 15 years now I m making the hats.
I just love this festival. Every time it comes around,
I get so excited."
Krystal Solomon, member of the dress committee
and a script writer for the production, was surrounded
by a whirlwind of bright satin and flowered costumes
the night before the wedding. She said: "We
researched the costume designs from 17th, 18th and
19th century dresses, mainly British and some French.
Then we sourced people to construct the dresses
Continued on Page B2
Behind the scenes
at the Ole Time
Two women dance up a storm last Saturday at the
Ole Time Tobago Wedding in Moriah, Tobago.
Richard Reid from Pembroke taught dancing for
the Tobago Wedding this year, and has done so for
the past six years. He says: "For Moriah we do
mostly line dances. And you must have a jig and a
reel at a wedding. The jig is the one where you
plait your foot; the reel is more flared, more open.
We practised three times a week at the
Community Centre, to live music with tambrin."
PHOTO: EDISON BOODOOSINGH
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