Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 1st 2015 Contents it had been named. Hundreds of graduates
all over the world in technical and allied
fields credit their success to the training
which they received at the John S Donaldson
And then came another Donaldson. John
Stanley. Still a student at the time of his
father s death, the younger Donaldson
returned home after graduating to take up
the mantle and fill the void created in the
Donaldson household. And again, Dr
Williams drew on the Donaldson talent,
first appointing the younger Donaldson as
ambassador abroad, and then to several
Thursday, October 1, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
• SAILOR DANCE book review from Page B3 Hundreds of graduates all over the world in technical and allied
fields credit their success to the training which they received at the
John S Donaldson Technical Institute.
ministerial positions in the cabinet at home. Donaldson
was to serve in both Williams and Chambers cab-
inets, and eventually in the Manning government.
He passed away in 2013 after a battle with cancer.
That, however, was not the end of the Donaldson
name. It would show up again in a petite, gracious,
quietly dignified young woman, Joye Donaldson-
Honeywell. Joye has written this book, Sailor Dance:
The Story---a tribute to her father, John Stanley Don-
aldson. But she very rightly begins at the beginning
with the family patriarch, her great grandfather, James
Stanley Donaldson; a striking, no-nonsense gentleman
employed by the Trinidad Railway who lived at first
in Port-of-Spain and then in Tabaquite with roots
She then moves on to John Shelford, her grand-
father, the father of John Stanley; and finally to John
Stanley himself. These are not disparate narratives.
They are, for the most part, understandably inter-
woven and overlapping legacies.
This small volume does more than memorialise
the Donaldson family. It also shows the values and
sterling qualities which this young woman possesses.
Joye, a High Court Judge, calls her book Sailor Dance---
a seemingly unlikely title for a book chronicling the
life of the late ambassador, diplomat, public servant,
teacher, and latterly citrus farmer.
Sailor Dance: The Story documents, rather
poignantly, the history of this Donaldson family. A
family which came from behind the bridge, but which
could not be kept behind the bridge. And if John
Stanley found a niche among the sailor dancers it
was because he sought in all his interactions and
dispensations to meet and handle their needs and
to allay any fear or hesitation that they might have
had in calling on and relating to him. Furthermore,
although he had walked and talked with the noble,
he had never lost the common touch.
Joye wanted to honour her father and other fore-
bears and she has succeeded. In this book, one comes
face to face with a family whose courage and self-
lessness are nothing short of spectacular. Every
account is movingly presented; there can be no doubt
of filial loyalty.
The elder Donaldson immortalised himself in Boca
Chimes, one of our most-loved patriotic songs. His
country honoured him by naming one of its educa-
tional institutions after him.
Under extreme pressure and provocation he turned
to the creation of beautiful music. He might have
become an embittered man, but he didn t. John Stan-
ley, Joye s Dad, might also have turned sour in the
face of Trinidad mauvais langue, the worst, set aside
for those intrepid souls who venture into political
life. He didn t. He served his country faithfully and
when it was over, he didn t go to Tobago to plant
peas, although he might have, given that he was born
He went instead to Tabaquite where he planted
citrus. Joye too had to make a choice. She went to
her desk and she wrote. She wrote steadily; and when
she wasn t writing, she volunteered her services with
a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to the teaching
of learning and literacy.
"Sailor Dance," says Joye s mother Madge Don-
aldson, "is really for the family." She is wrong, this
story has to be told to the wider society. It is a story
of courage, of resilience, of public service, of ded-
ication, of honour, of inspiration.
"It is a story which should be told not simply
because it is a daughter s tribute to her father, but
it could provide a template for a people still struggling
like Sysiphus under its burden of identity.
"This is a small book; it is a competently-written
book, it is a sincere book, it is a worthwhile book,
an engaging book, a tribute to a family which despite
its relatively humble beginnings will remain forever
etched in the annals of this twin-island republic of
• Laurel B Ince is a freelance editor and former
lecturer of Literary Studies, Valsayn Teachers' Col-
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