Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 17th 2014 Contents He was known in Arima as The
Free Doctor, because Dr Eugene
Laurent never turned away a sick
person. You could have nothing
but holes in your pocket, he
would attend to your cough, pso-
riasis, diabetes, palpitations or
He wasn t checking bank
accounts; he preferred heartbeats
and chest sounds.
Once, a patient whom he had
treated free of charge returned to
him after some months, looking
like he was ready for Lapeyrouse.
Shocked at the man s condition,
Dr Laurent chided the relatives.
Didn t they give him the medicine,
didn t they ensure he followed the
diet he had prescribed?
This is the answer he got: "Well,
to tell you de trute, Doc, after we
left here, we went by de payin
doctor for the better medicine.
Buh like it ent work, so we say
bess we come back by you.
Dr Laurent had a whole bag of
stories like that.
"I will miss that clown, his sis-
ter Valerie said, still in disbelief
that such a light had gone out.
Dr Eugene Cipriani Laurent, 79,
died on March 6.
Among the last sentences he
was able to utter was, "But Val,
the nurse not even smiling. He
was a riot, right to the end.
This man was real gens d Arime.
Which means he grew up by the
Dial, on King Street, and his father
was the real thing too. Eugene Lau-
rent was headmaster at Arima
Boys School for decades. Mr Lau-
rent loved books and music; in
fact, he met his wife, the lovely
Andrea Marin, when her father
hired him to give her piano lessons.
She retired as preparatory mistress
at Pamphylian High School in 1934
to marry Mr Laurent and start life
under her own vine and fig tree,
as they used to say.
The indomitable Senator Louise
Horne was one of Mr Laurent s
pupils, a fact she noted with pride
in the first pages of her book The
Evolution of Modern T&T. Valerie,
my longtime friend, was celebrated
in this column last year when she
and her St Joseph s Convent class-
mates observed their coming of
age---they turned 75.
Eugene, Valerie and their parents
called themselves the Awesome
Foursome. And they were. Three
are gone now. And so Val, the fam-
ily historian, the Keeper of Mem-
ories, comforts herself and the rest
of us with her rollicking anecdotes
of life with Eugene.
Like a proper brother, his pri-
mary role was to torment Val, call-
ing her "chupidee and "country
bookie, and warning her not to
embarrass the entire country with
her dotishness. People who did
not understand their special bond
would be appalled at the back-
and-forth taunting, not realising
it was pure love.
When Eugene performed the
role of father-giver at Val s wed-
ding, he leaned in and whispered
something to the groom (a nice,
quiet doctor) who guffawed like a
madman. The guests were
bemused. This is what he had said,
"Here she is. Boy, I sorry fuh yuh.
Dr Laurent, who studied at the
University of Manitoba as well as
UWI, had served as District Med-
ical Officer in Arima, Principal
Medical Officer in the Ministry of
Health, and as a member of the
Environmental Commission. He
delivered 7,000 babies in the Arima
But perhaps the last major role
he was called upon to play was
that of a doctor confronted with
his own diagnosis. He knew his
health was failing. But he was a
master at delivering and taking
When his oncologist offered
some options that might possibly
relieve his distress, he listened
patiently and then retorted, "You
don t think a casket would be
A few years earlier, when a rel-
ative came to visit him, at his home
in Leotaud Lands, with the news
that she had colon cancer, he
peered at the medical report as if
inspecting a very important gro-
Then he looked her square in
the eye and said, "Well, girl, some-
thing have to kill you. And then
they both laughed and laughed.
Monday, March 17, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
The pioneers of hip-hop are
hoping to create a museum in
New York City dedicated to the
Organisers say the museum in
the Bronx would be called the Uni-
versal Hip Hop Museum.
Afrika Bambaataa says the
museum would look at the histor-
ical and cultural roots of hip-hop
and the contributions made by
break dancers and disc jockeys.
Bambaataa, known for the clas-
sic Planet Rock, is frequently called
the father of hip-hop. He would
serve as the museum s chairman.
The museum hopes to open in
2017 inside the Kingsbridge
Armory, which is being redevel-
oped into a national ice sports cen-
ter. The plan was announced at a
news conference on Wednesday.
Bambaataa says many people
think of rappers when they hear
the word hip-hop. But he says
there s a whole culture and move-
ment behind it. (AP)
the Free Doctor
The Free Doctor, Dr Eugene Laurent, who recently passed away with his
beloved sister Valerie Laurent-Thomas.
Hip-hop pioneers hoping
to create NYC museum
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