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Fwd: FW: Noatalgia 372 - The Fabulous Fifties in Guyana

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  • Audrey Whyte
    This is the history that is not in the history books. ... Date: Tue, 22 Apr 2008 22:17:05 -0700 From: denobregas@shaw.ca Subject: Fw: Noatalgia 372 - The
    Message 1 of 1 , May 1, 2008
      This is the history that is not in the history books.

      Date: Tue, 22 Apr 2008 22:17:05 -0700
      From: denobregas@...
      Subject: Fw: Noatalgia 372 - The Fabulous Fifties in Guyana
      To: ;


      With Guyana celebrating it's 42nd Anniversary of Independence, May 26 ..I share this Nostalgia as a 'stimulant' to these 'topsy-turvy times'. Lets meet at LasLapLime, Toronto , Canada where my Pictorial Exhibition - of 1001 Guyana Delights - will be featured. Please introduce yourself. Ya think it easy!.........GODc.

      Nostalgia 372 – The Fabulous Fifties in Guyana …Godchin1@...
      “It was the Best of Times”. My great Grandfather boasted this at the commencement of the last century, when for $1.50 he bought his family house rations for a week. Now at the dawn of this new Millennium, my three sons with their streaming high tech ‘Blueberry,’ relish their times as ‘the best.’
      On the contrary – every generation looks upon their times ‘and wonder what the ‘world is coming to’. Yet every generation survives – for the next - to wring their hands in turn – a few decades later.  Mankind’s ingenuity always overcome…
      For me a Nostalgia Buff, I choose the Fabulous Fifties as the best of times in Guyana – these last hundred years. Isn’t it quite a coincidence that ‘this was the Centerfold Decade’ – a period when most of the Guyanese foremost Icons and Professionals today, were just completing their Public/Secondary education – and  everlasting footprints were already being ‘carved’.
      British Guiana, five years after the end of WWII was on the upbeat upswing, as the world recovered from the devastation of the global conflagration.  At home our Water Street Shopping  Center devastated by the 1945 Bookers Fire, was rebuilt as the best laid out shopping center in the Caribbean, with the magnificent edifices of Bookers Universal / Fogarty’s / RACS & Museum / General Post Office and Sanbach Parker.
      Booker's Fire, Feb 23rd, 1945 - resulting in the next decade of the best commercial Downtown Shopping Center, in the Caribbean

      The citizens welcomed the decade ‘household proud’ when Pipe Water was introduced 1950 and stave Vats, plus the large public galvanized vats at St George’s roundabout, and Bel Air St, Albouystown were eliminated.
      The T & HD Railway Terminal, north Water St was a hive of rail shipping and trans-shipping activities, emanating from the wharves and stellings behind the Municipal Abbatoir – a variety of essentials consigned to the entire coastline, and riverain areas.  
      From this juncture to the Stabroek Market southward – each lot - both sides of Water street was a thriving Business that reflected entreprenurial growth.
      Apart  from the major businesses Bookers – Sanbach – Fogarty’s – Bettencourt – Weiting & Richter - there were several thriving family enterprises including D. M. Fernandes, John Fernandes Shipping – Kirpalani’s – Acme – Majeed – Kawall – Saraka – Searchlight – Singer -  J P Santos – Psaila  – A H & L Kissoon – Beharry’s – Bata – C. A. Phillips and  Gajraj – Thani’s and Khouri’s. Sproston’s expanded their dry docking / shipping service to include Tractor & Motor Retailing, on Lombard St.
      Must not forget Davson’s, Wereford’s, Seabra, Daljeet, Sue Yong – Chu’s and Seabra’s in New Amsterdam. As top calypsonian, John ‘Slingshot’ Drepaul always complain ‘Guyana is not Georgetown alone’. Ya think it easy
      Toolsie Persaud – Mazaharally – Nagasar Sawh – Willems Timber – expanded their logging forestry operations, with Kayman Sankar and De Roop Maraj excelling in rice production on the Essequibo Coast.
      Smaller enterprises incl Semco – Rodrigues Ltd – Affonso’s – Hack’s – Pradasco – Lee’s – Sookhoo – Yong Hing – Kon Sue – Kwang Hing – Mekdeci’s, Foreman’s, Royal Woodworking, Sue-A-Quan, Bernard’s, Pestano, Sardinha,  and Oscar Green.
      Popular bakeries included Tang’s – Harlequin – Mansell – Dictator and Graham. Drug Stores included Bookers – Tang’s – Bostwick – Cendrecourt – Carfitt’s -  Ramcharran’s – Green’s – Lachmansingh’s – Twin’s – Lachmansingh’s – Rayman’s – Piggott’s – Burrowes and Jaikarran’s. In Berbice there was Ganpatsingh’s in New Amsterdam, and Swambers at Rosehall.
      Sheila’s on America St was then the ‘National’ for delicious Chinese Cuisine – while Brown Betty was the local Mel’s Diner! Alya remember National on Robb St in the Sixties opposite Dr Alli Shaw’s Farm Fresh. Hell when a flourishing Chinese Restaurant migrates – things really brown, and ‘autumn leaves falling’. Find them in Toronto today!
      Incidentally Dr Alli Shaw built the first private Hospital at Brumell Place, and Croal St.  Prasad’s, William’s  and Woodland’s came later.
      St Roses' High School on Church St 2008 - still going strong as ever.

      The Fifties was however not all ‘hairy dhorey’. Major Political Crises included the Suspension of the Constitution 1953, and the ‘calamatious Peas Party Split 1955 that started ‘the Guyana Debacle’ - a regrettable chasm which divides the Nation even today. Adult Suffrage was introduced for the ‘53 elections.  In 1950 the People’s Progressive Party – the first mass based political organization  was formed. At the end of the Decade 1960 – a third Political Party – the United Force was founded.
      When there was a ‘bombing’ in Port-of-Spain, T’dad around 1957 – I felt extremely safe that such an incident could never happen in my homeland. We slept with our doors open – and major crimes were ‘fowl thief’ and ‘raiding neighbour’s fruit trees’. Buxton was famous for their mangoes and big ‘bubby / backside binnies. Less than fives years later – All Hell broke loose. There were more bombs in the mudland than on the French Coast at Normandy – D Day 6th June 1944. Ya think it easy!
      The tenure of four Governors – Sir Charles Woolley – Sir Alfred Savage – Sir Patrick Renison, and Sir Francis Grey covered this decade.
      Major Disaster of the Fifties was the Resaul Maraj Fire, Dec 1951. In May  1959, Atkinson Airport was destroyed  by fire.
      The small man during this decade could truly be a ‘big man or woman’.  Odo’s vision after Independence was ‘politically well intentioned’. But  a resulting  example would be today’s ‘every man for himself’ mini-bus morass of chaos and confusion…one of today’s several afflictions that needs to be excised.
      Betty with her black pudding – Mrs Daniel’s Nook with patties and pastry – Ferraz with his peanut punch  - Singh with his ‘channa & nuts – Ashton the crab back king - Ransom’s parlour – DeCastro’s opposite and Shanta’s – all became  ‘household popular’.
       Atkinson Field built by the the ‘Yankees’ ‘42/43 were relinquished by the Fifties to permit commercial overseas flights landing there, and Panam’s amphibious landings at the Demerara River Mouth off the Rowing Club were eliminated. In 1955 the BG Airways bought out Art Williams facilitating hinterland air transportation to expand with airstrips in Lethem & Annai. Beef Livestock was henceforth flown into the coastline, and arduous cattle drives eliminated.
      In the field of learning, Queen’s College moved 1951 from Brickdam to a spanking new premises at Thomas Lands. Woolford Ave became a ‘corridor of Learning Institutions.’ Tech Institute was established.  Central High / Indian education Trust / Gandhi Youth – The Trade Union Council and Georgetown Dramatic opened pavilions on this strip.
      Carnegie Home School of Economics came on stream, and a new premises for the Blind to learn craftwork was built at St Phillips.

      A Sacred Heart School Report - 3rd Standard 1951  - Do you still have yours? We have ours, as proof to the 'siblings 'that we were bright sparks..Ya think it easy!

      The nation’s literacy peaked with 3 dailies – Chronicle, Argosy, and Graphic plus a plethora of other publications incl The Chronicle Christmas Annual with literary and photographic competitions. The public Free Library opened Branches in New Amsterdam 1953 and in McKenzie 1955. Bookstores included Argosy – Midget – SPCK - Fogarty’s – Bookers - Chasberth and Central High.
      Believe it or not. March 2008, there is only one recognized Bookshop – Austin’s on Church St in Georgetown. And we wonder ‘why things gone down hill, down deh - today!
      The new Carib Hotel a stone’s throw outside Georgetown became the mecca for our Social dancing while the Bel Air hotel – Mariner’s Club  - Bookers Staff Sports Club  - Legionnaires also became favorite spots. The Sports Clubs – Chinese – Portuguese – East Indians – GFC & GCC had annual seasonal and ethnic socials.
      Must mention Frolic Hall – Rest Hall – Haley’s – Garland – Prospect Hall E. B. – Tipperary Hall – Profitt’s Place, Town Hall NA. Dance, the Community Center and ‘abandoned Basra’ at Bartica. Party and Fete was a social plus – a must - and  our sporting pastime.
      Bookers Universal Christmas Staff Party.....Note the gears.....Recognise Edmay -Prince - Clive L.

      In the field of Sports – a drive along Thomas Road witnessed keen sport activities daily at well maintained manicured grounds including Eve Leary, YMCA - QC – BGCC – Chinese – Malteenoes – Transport – Post Office. Off the parallel Kelly Dam there was East Indians – CYO – Teachers – Scouts – St Stanislaus – Rifle Ranges and Northern Rangers.
      Most of these grounds are now unkempt cow pasture with the national sport today ‘ a Sunday Night Lime on the Sea Wall’. Things so bad today ‘that a ‘moonlight Sea Wall public bedroom tryst – is ‘chapta’ Ya think it easy!
      Public Police Band Concerts were a weekly feature in these times. The City’s Botanic and Promenade Gardens were floral havens – quiet spots to study and read – and commune with nature -
      In the Fifties, Sunday was the last weekend opportunity to catch up on the prolific movie fare at the Cinemas, with the new Plaza 1951 – Globe 1953 – Strand Deluxe 1956.  While there was no threat from Television locally for the entertainment market – we relished the epic wide screen productions of DeMille’s Ten Commandments – Wyler’s Ben Hur and  Todd’s Around the World in Eighty Days.
      Strand Deluxe which opened 1956?.
      Alan Ladd - SHANE - the best Western of the Fifties which opened 1952 at the Astor Cinema

      Today the pirate DVD stores that closed the cinemas na open on Sundays. In the Fifties, groceries/ shops closed at 4pm – Wed half-day – and without ‘time change’ we had nuff time to ‘ court – play  - booze…then excuses for ‘toopsy fathers – wrong & strong - to abuse.
      In Cricket – Bookers coaching program spearheaded by Clyde Walcott and Robert Christiani on the Sugar Estates brought the talent of Rohan – Basil – and Joe to the forefront – with Clive – Lance – Roy to follow. In 1956 BG won the first Quadrangular Carib Cricket Tournament at Bourda with Lance Gibbs and Ivan Madray unplayable, while Rohan – Solomon  - Butcher and Pairadeau notched up centuries.
      Thereon, Guyana became a leader in West Indian Cricket with Chanders and Sarwan leading the field today. Bourda had it’s first ‘bottle and stone riot 1953’ when Umpire Badge Menzies adjudged  Clifford McWatt run out. I was sitting in the North stand – and the first bootle came from a padna of mine. Can’t mention name.
      1959 BG  won the  Third  West Indian Athletic Championship at GCC,  Bourda. Annual Olympiads at Bourda and BGCC featured Jack Hied – Ted Smith – Mal Whitfield – Harrison Dilliard – Andy Stanfield (USA)– Hector Alvaro & Rodriguez (Venezuela) challenging local cycling stars Laddie Lewis, Tarrant Glasgow and Lindsay Gordon. Rocky McPherson and Claudette Masdammer were our athletic Champs
      Errol Ten-Pow, motorbike racing legend was on the grid for the first BGMRC meeting at the South Dakota Circuit, Aug 1956. Martin Dias,  Our Mighty Midget, started his illustrious career that later earned 3 golds – 2 silver and a Bronze at Central American / Empire and Panam Games.
      In Football the National Team matched invasions from Trinidad and Surinam and locally the McDonald – Peppiette and Russell Cup were ding dong tussles. Clubs included Victoria – St Barnabas – GFC – Charlton – CYO – Artillery - Infantry – YMCA. Sports in every discipline flourished – even Goat Racing and circle Rounders. Basketball was introduced 1954 from the Taitt’s Yard Murray St – and Joey Kauffman’s group tried ‘Baseball at King’s Ground.
      Culturally the steelbands Quo Vadis – Marabuntas – Invaders with the Santapee Masquerade Bands made Christmas memorable with their Christmas costumed Tramps. Pan in Schools was introduced around 1958 and the Annual Music Festival introduced earlier … embraced and encouraged local musicianship to ‘classical heights. Texacans Steelband and Ramblers String Orchestra were the top favorites – along with Tom Charles Syncopators, Al Seales’ Washboard and Nello’s New Luckies.

      Ramblers String Orchestra - Our First String Band in the Fifties - still going strong today in Toronto - 53 years later. The 3 Three Serrao Brothers - Bing / Bernard / Maurice - in front - a shining example of Togetherness. -

      Ivy Campbell’s Dance School encouraged the young ones on stage in Ballet, while the grown-ups could learn ballroom and country dancing from Mrs Isabella Kranenburg at YWCA Brickdam.

      Godfrey's Greek Section hustling up Lamaha St to join the Band 'Helen of Troy' for judging at Eve Leary.
      Note the copper hand-beaten copper craft armour by section leader Prince Veerasammy...extreme right.

      The celebrations of Queens Elizabeth’s Coronation June 1953 was a glorious panoply of patriotic Union Jack colours and pennants, with the city transformed into a ‘fairy land of illuminated architectural gems. Main and High St dazzled. Princess Margaret visited 1958 to view the ‘best Agricultural & Livestock Show at Mon Repos.


      Town Hall illuminated for Coronation 1953. Always felt that our Architecture lends itself to an annual
      Fairyland Display - for tourists - but hell ....Light Bill!

      The League of Colored People Fair held annually in the Promenade Gardens, encouraged cottage industries. The Guyana Festival which started 1960 was the forerunner to today’s Mash Celebrations.
       Vivian Lee’s Ace Advertising – Al Seales’ Gems and Cyril Shaw Promotions encouraged local talent on ‘stage and on records’. Visiting Artistes included Johnny Matthis – Louis Armstrong – Byron Lee – Sam Cooke
      The popular ‘We are the Ovaltineys’ and the Gong Show brought many future local musical talent into the limelight.  Can you imagine, Lord Canary and King Fighter being ‘gonged off’ in their debut years.
      Radio Demerara opened 1950 on High St, and by 1958 a second channel GBS was justified. Olga Lopes Seales moved from Berbice to Georgetown to become ‘our Broadcast Queen’ and Aunty Olga to thousands of underprivileged children.
      Banks DIH opened 1955 with Public Shares and their local brewed beer – BANKS, Thanks, swamped the Market. Popular pop drinks incl Pepsi – Coke – Red Spot  Vimto, Portello and Juicee. Mauby – Ginger Beer, Sorrel – Fly, and Sleepy Tonic the home brew. Pac Pac – cut and load bush rum, was the speakeasy brew.
      Sacred Heart Cathedral Christmas Mass in the Fifties. The church and school was destroyed by Fire - Christmas Day, 9:00am 2004.

      The Zoo opened in 1952 and by the end of the decade – funds were raised by that former energetic Mayor, to build the Luckhoo Pool.
      By 1957 Telecommunications were expanded at the new Telecoms Building on Brickdam – while Postal and Transportatation Services were expanded to fulfil the growing needs of developing rural areas
      Administration of Government Areas was by District Commissioners, while ‘Self Help Programs’ allowed Districts to complete projects to help their Communities. Government provided materials - Districts supplied Labour. Govt Administration expanded with the New Ministerial Quarters built on High St opposite the Public Buildings.
      The first Housing Scheme in Ruimveldt was started with the Laing Ave Block completed.
      In style and fashion – Sudeena Garbadeen and polyester replaced the ‘serge suit’ with nylon and sheer sucker popular for the men. For the ladies
      the sack – shift – tent and slacks were popular, and thank heavens the ‘stone crusher’ was replaced by kickers, heels and high risers. Ya ever try dancing the ‘Mash Potato or King Sailor’ with a ‘craft’ who had 2 left feet – size Shaq  O’Neal’.
      Hula Hoop came in 1957 to the delight of the entire family. Popular dance crazes included Mambo, Cha Cha and Rock & Roll. The Platters, Elvis Presley & Perry Como were the Radio Stars.
      These were the Days, my friend.  – Truly the Best of Times Two shilling  black pudding was enough for the family. A freck of  two bits was a matinee bill with refreshments. A dollar bought nuff Crab – a whole snapper or enough meat for the family ‘entre’. There was no mini-buses – Travel around the City was by two feet –two wheels or Motor Transport buses for six cents. For Funerals – dates to impress, you hired taxis for $1.20 from Bookers – Tower – Loy’s – Cyril’s – Persaud’s (Kitty) or Norman’s.
      The sexes respected each other – handkerchiefs and neckties, were a ‘lavish gift – we were one people one nation.
      Our destiny was mutilated during the next decade and continues to this day. The Migration of our Nation’s best Talent commenced. El Dorado must be restored.
      Those were the Days my Friend.  The Fifties were Days of Glory. Alas Today it’s Days of Gory’……….Ya think it easy!
        For more nostalgias check out ……godfreychin.com and also
      NOSTALGIAS de book – Golden Memories of Guyans 1940 to 1980.

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