Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 17th 2014 Contents BOBIE-LEE DIXON
I am Ernest Ferreira. I am 79, the father
of three boys and two grandchildren and I
have been in the business of shipping and
marketing most of my adult life. I now live
in Maraval but I was born and raised in the
city of Port-of-Spain. The house I lived in
is still there and has now been converted
into my office.
My father and mother, both descendants
of Portuguese immigrants, purchased a house
from store owner Charles Kirpalani, at number
three Scott-Bushe Street in the late 1930s.
My grandfather was the owner of SSN Pereria
Confectionery at 69 Prince Street in Port-
of-Spain. The confectionery was sold and is
now known as KC Candy.
Growing up in Port-of-Spain for me were
the wonder years. I can remember always
enjoying waking up to the sounds of the tram
cars at 5 am. Those tram cars would come
from St Ann s, go through Belmont and into
Port-of-Spain. I can also remember the trolly
buses. We used to call them the silent mur-
derers in those days because you could never
hear them coming.
Scott-Bushe Street was always very quiet.
Mostly middle-class families lived there and
if you wanted some action you had to go into
the heart of the city like Charlotte Street and
Marine Square, now Independence Square.
I can recall as a young boy going to the
neighbour s house to listen to my favourite
shows on Rediffusion, a business which dis-
tributed radio and TV signals through wired
relay networks. In those days not many people
had television and my father could not afford
one. So my siblings and I would go to the
neighbour s house to listen to popular shows
like Second Spring, Journey into Space and
my personal favourite, Mandrake the Magi-
cian. I have a vivid recollection of 1930s and
40s the pan revolution era, which I had found
was so interesting. I attended St Mary s Col-
lege but was expelled in form three for my
involvement in pan. In those days to be
involved in pan you were seen as a roughneck
and thug and it was unheard of to see a so-
called "white boy" beating pan or even show-
ing an interest in it. Eventually I founded the
Dixieland Steel Orchestra. But the story of
my involvement in pan is a whole other story
in itself. So I will leave that for another time.
But I would say going to Port-of-Spain
was always exciting. People would leave their
homes just to go window shopping on Fred-
erick Street. I don t suppose they still do that.
I remember after school, some of us would
go downtown where the aloo pie, press (sno
cone) and coconut vendors were, to buy espe-
cially press for a penny. And we used to pay
four cents for a coconut water. Aloo pie was
also a penny. Those were the days.
Port-of-Spain was always a very lively
place, but it was also always safe. The most
bacchanal it ever had in those times were the
steelband clashes. Other than that it was a
safe place to go. I grew up there and I cannot
even recall a single time my father or any
neighbour had to call the police for anything.
The young people in those days were very
focused and respectable. It always had the
one or two mischievous ones, but what they
did was nothing much to fuss about.
A typical teenager s lime was going to the
Queen s Park Savannah after school to hang
out. Those of us who lived in town would go
home, take a bath and head up to the Savan-
nah. Most times we would give the girls fatigue
when they passed, but nothing rude or dis-
respectful. In those days you could not do
that because if your parents found out, you
would get an unimaginable cut tail.
I remember Christmas time in the city was
a joy. Everybody shopping, boys and girls on
roller skates. The stores adorned with Christ-
mas decorations and carols playing. Charlotte
Street was the liming spot for the holidays.
It was where you got your fill of the funny
characters who would be telling jokes or stories
on the street.
The city has changed quite a lot. Our chil-
dren today don t know of Donkey City. That
was where cart and donkey owners would
assemble to provide transportation for com-
muters. It was located at London Street on
Wrightson Road where the Radisson Hotel is
now. Then there was the Goat s Manna in
the spot where the Central Bank is. And the
Caricom Jetty is where live cattle from
Venezuela were brought in and transported
to the Port-of-Spain abattoir to be slaugh-
Victoria Square was a hub for young people
to meet and socialise. Now that square and
all the other squares have been left for ruin.
You would think they were not historic land-
marks. What was once a beautiful Port-of-
Spain is now the place many flee from and
avoid for fear of gang wars and other criminal
I certainly wish I could see a revival of
Port-of-Spain, starting with all the squares;
Lord Harris, Victoria and Woodford Square.
These squares have so much history attached
to them. It would be nice if our young people
and tourists could go into these squares and
see stories of this land being told through
murals or even theatrical plays. We can tell
stories of our politicians, sportsmen and
women, academic enthusiasts, and other great
people of our nation who have contributed
to the development of T&T.
I have always thought Victoria Square
should be the place where we showcase this
country s indigenous flowers and plants.
Maybe it can be renamed Hibiscus Park. From
the lighthouse to the Breakfast Shed, the wall
of that entire stretch should be filled with
Port-of-Spain is indeed in need of a vast
facelift. When we got our independence in
1962, things should have got better, but we
are not seeing that today. Something is
absolutely wrong when a nation allows its
history to die and that is what has been hap-
pening to Port-of-Spain. It is fast becoming
a dying city.
Thursday, July 17, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Expelled panman's happy days in town
Panman Ernest Ferreira remembers the happy and lively Port-of-Spain of his childhood.
PHOTO: ABRAHAM DIAZ
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