It was still raining on Monday after a long weekend spell of hard showers when the World Beyond Georgetown visited South Amelia’s Ward in Linden. There were sounds of hammering; some persons were still preparing for Christmas, but a good number of houses were already glittering with decorations. In some far off place, Christmas music cheered the dampened atmosphere.
The first resident we approached, Paul (only name given) thought it would be better if the older residents were the one to be interviewed, but he took on the job of being escort, navigating the many water-filled pot holes and complaining about them as we went. He also spoke about the playfield, which was soggy from the rain, but is usually occupied every afternoon with youngsters playing football. The field, he said, needs to be upgraded and a pavilion added.
Magsel Adams who was born on the other side of Linden in Wismar, moved to South Amelia’s Ward over 20 years ago. “This place was sheer bush,” she said. “It had about four or five other families when I came here to live. They were: the Gambles, Eswicks, Moores, Bucheons and Mr Joe.”
She also recalled herself being not much older than ten and having to walk half an hour to the creek situated downhill for water. “We used to go down to the creek and wash and spread the clothes out to dry. When it dry a little bit and we know we can manage to fetch it back uphill we fetching it back up,” she said.
At this, Paul said he too recalled having to walk the distance to and from the creek fetching his pail of water and emptying it in the drum which he said he and brothers had to fill up before his mother arrived home from work. One trip to and from the creek took an hour or more and of course one trip didn’t full the drum. “Don’t full it by time she get home nah!” he said.
Adams said those were the days of the coal pot that many dishes were prepared on. “It was a fun experience,” she said, “but you had to finish before dark because the place had a lot of snakes.”
Groceries and vegetables required getting to the market in Central Mackenzie, a rarity today with the many mobile shops traversing the area almost every day. However, Adams said that because of the state of the street she lives in drivers refuse to enter. She therefore has to keep a lookout for the mobile vendors and walk out from her street to purchase groceries. She indicated that there are a few other cross streets that are pitched so the drivers has no problem using them.
Apart from the few disadvantages she enjoys living there, because according to her, she lives among peaceful and friendly people. “Another good thing is the place is sandy so no mud to deal with and we get plenty breeze; the only thing you got to do when the breeze start blowing the sand in is sweep steady,” she noted.
Adams is a security guard at Amelia’s Ward Nursery and she had been rostered to work on Christmas Day, but said she planned on cooking something nice.
Vonda Blackman who lives in the same street was busy shouting instructions to her children.
She is a security guard at the Linden Foundation Secondary School and said she was born in South Amelia’s Ward. She remembered the road first being a track through the bushes before they cleared the bushes. It has been so ever since she said. She’s upset with the condition of the road hopes something can be done soon.
Living further in she doesn’t see when the grocery truck is coming but has to listen out and hurry out before it passes.
Christmas growing up, she said, meant, cakes, fairy lights and balloons. She had planned to prepare “a mean pork pepperpot,” which her five children look forward to.
Paul then stopped at a house nicely decorated for the holidays; a line of toys hung in the veranda. Valerie Archer lives there. Behind her house the hill drops steeply into the bushes and according to Paul it leads to the creek. Archer emerged on crutches; she was still recuperating from a motorcycle accident sometime doing the Easter holidays.
Adams moved to South Amelia’s Ward while still a kindergartener, with her extended family and family as she’s known it has always been a part of her life. According her, almost her entire street is family.
“In our family life was real exciting. When we going to the creek or the standpipe that was situated out in front, it was plenty of us; so we playing going downhill or coming uphill. While waiting in line at the pipe we playing and sometimes we picking sand cherries and eating till it reach we turn. We used to catch fish in the creek and meet up with a lot of snakes through the track,” she said adding that she was never bitten.
“Christmas back then was exciting! We used flambeaux, but some people who had generators used to put up fairy lights and it used to look foreign.
“Our days growing up as children were very, very exciting. We used to play sal-out, hop-scotch, war-break and sling from doku trees like Tarzan. It was more family oriented and children back then were more imaginative and creative. We used to take match box and make cars, tins and make rollers…”
“And wood and make guns,” Paul chipped in.
“Now the internet come in and mess up everything. Them days can’t come back,” she lamented, repeating what Paul said.
She, too, complained about her street. In addition she said not every house has potable water lines running to their house and wishes that officials at the Guyana Water Inc would deal with this issue.
Christmas brought a blessing for Adams. The incident had left her with a few broken bones. The doctors, she said, had not expected her to walk again but she has been walking just fine with her crutches and even manages slow steps on her own. So giving up, she said, was not an option.
The toys hung in the verandah she said was not an annual thing, it was the first time she did it and she announced her plan to “bless,” as she put it, a few children for the Christmas.
Leaving South Amelia’s Ward for Central Amelia’s Ward, we found Loraine Worthen sitting in the security guard hut at the Linden Foundation Secondary School. She also resides in the southern part of Amelia’s Ward.
When this reporter approached, she called out with a smile beaming from her face, “There’s no lessons today,” assuming the reporter was a student.
After introductions, my reason for visiting was clarified.
According to Worthen she hailed from Georgetown, but moved to Linden some 40 years ago.
Living in South Amelia’s Ward was difficult at first, since she was accustomed to electricity and potable water but met neither when she arrived.
“It was difficult to adapt quickly but overtime we groove in. We see persons walking with their buckets on their head and soon we too had our buckets on our heads,” she enthused.
“Cinema was the thing then and we used to go. Sometimes we went to Crescent Cinema in Mackenzie and sometimes we went over the river at Palm Tree Cinema [in Wismar]. The bus used to drop we at the only path into the village and we had to walk a good way before we reach home. We never used to frighten then but now times different; you got to be careful not to be out late. The people of Amelia’s Ward good though,” she said.
Worthen wishes for proper roads and thinks a market in the area would be a good idea with Amelia’s Ward being really big.
Her plans for the holidays were, “… Enjoying Christmas to the fullest with my husband, daughter, son-in-law and my grandson. I’m making fruit and sponge cakes, bake chicken and garden rice.”