Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 23rd 2017 Contents A22 people
guardian.co.tt Sunday, July 23, 2017
‘The old days
CHARLES KONG SOO
Ivy Phillip celebrated her 94th
birthday on Wednesday with her
children Daphne, Elvira, Learie,
Hugh, Barry and grandchildren in-
cluding Dexter Parsons also known
in the calypso world as “Stinger”
at her North Eastern Settlement,
Sangre Grande, home with non-al-
coholic drinks, cake and coun-
try-style fish and provisions.
Her progeny includes eight children,
41 grandchildren, 59 great-grandchil-
dren and 25 great-great grandchildren.
Phillip, who supported her children
and built her house with the money she
made from being a seamstress, can still
thread a needle in brilliant sunshine
without her reading glasses.
She said she stopped sewing three
years ago because her children want-
ed her to “take it easy” and also af-
ter a recent fall in which she injured
some ligaments in her hand, but the
spry nonagenarian finds it difficult to
Aside from some pain in her knees,
Phillip is healthy and free from chronic
diseases and conditions such as heart
disease, hypertension, diabetes and
Phillip likes coffee, biscuit and
cheese, fish, provision and rice, she
has reduced eating chicken or meat two
years ago claiming the chicken nowa-
days was different to when her mother
used to mind “common fowl” or “yard
chicken” nesting in calabash trees and
roaming freely, and which her father
used to clean, boil and cook.
She was born in Valencia on July 19,
1923, the second of eight children—four
boys and four girls—to Virginia and
Venezuelan-born Cipriani Garcia. The
family moved to Sangre Grande when
she was three to Foster Road and later
to Ramoutar Village, Rousseau Street.
She attended Guaico Canadian Mis-
sion School and worked at Tang Yuk’s
store sewing bonnets and children’s
When Phillip was 19 years old she
married Edmund Vincent Phillip on
August 19, 1942.
With her eyes aglow, Phillip said
“They say better days are coming but
they can’t compare to what we passed
“I learned ‘fancy work’ or embroidery
doing pillowcases, table cloths and bed
sheets from a Chinese woman, Ahing
from Manzanilla and she put me on
to Ms Nora Yard where I apprenticed
learning how to make bridal dresses
“Sometimes four or five boys used to
run by me in the morning with a parcel
of cloth they buy and say they want a
shirt jac make in time for the 4 o’ clock
matinee that day or ladies want a dress
made for the same night.
“When I walked down the street in a
dress I make, women used to admire the
dress and want me to make the exact
red and beige dress for them.”
She said she charged $1.50 a dress,
man’s top according to the material.
Phillip said her daughters Daphne
and Elvira sat by her side and learned
to sew by letting them hem and make
buttonholes while the boys were out-
side pitching marbles.
Reminiscing about the old days
She reminisced about the three-
wheel bicycles, trains and tramcars in
Port-of-Spain where her mother and
father carried them on rides around
the Savannah and through Belmont
in the 1930.
Phillip said Port-of-Spain, Sangre
Grande and Arima had a fragrant smell
emanating from the cocoa and tonka
bean merchants’ shops.
She laughed when asked how she first
met her future husband, Edmund, who
was seven years older than her.
Phillip said she was 17, he was a fore-
man at the forerunner to WASA on a
work crew repairing a leak at a stand-
pipe on Foster Road, where she had to
tote water to her father’s house.
She said Edmund told his crew to
repair the leak for the lady so that she
can take her water because she looked
On hearing that, Phillip said, she
became more serious and told him she
would fill her buckets for herself and
did not return to the pipe.
When her father asked her if she
was bringing more water, Phillip told
him that people were repairing the
standpipe and she will fill the barrel
As she went about preparing to cook
later, rain began to fall and Edmund
bypassed several nearby houses and
stopped at her home. He was pretend-
ing to shelter from the rain in a bid to
Phillip said Edmund even went to
church to be near her and he was bold
enough to tell her father, who was very
strict, that he “really needed to get mar-
ried to her”.
They began the formal courtship af-
ter Edmund sent letters to her father
seeking his permission.
Phillip and Edmund lived together for
many years. He died on July 16, 2000,
three days short of her birthday.
Phillip, who has been blessed with
beautiful children and family, said she
lived a long and fulfilling life and has
no regrets. Her secret to long life, she
said, is “Don’t stress...leave it in God’s
Ivy Phillip. PHOTO: SHIRLEY BAHADUR
Ivy Phillip turns 94...
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