Jumbie Soursop, Ten Pound Yellow Plantain and more

Dear Editor,

Since I was a youth I was always fond of music, which included my fascination with calypso and the Caribbean rhythm of Dave Martins and The Tradewinds. I was especially honoured to have finally met the man in person on Wednesday 30th April, at the Umana Yana.

I have also read with interest, his many articles in the SN. His piece on Nicknames in Sunday Stabroek 2014-05-04 was very funny. In his piece it was insinuated that Nicknames were generally accepted. My experience teaches me otherwise.

My childhood was spent in four areas of Guyana: Albouystown (Kailan Yard) Punt Trench Dam now Independence Boulevard, Best Village, Goed Fortuin, Vryheid’s Lust/Plaisance. In Albouystown we were controlled by a lady by the name of Jean Walls. She was like the village mother and a lot of the neighbourhood children would crowd around her wherever she went. This was no different when she was at her home. There is where we were exposed to ‘troubling’ people. A man would pass and Jean would say “shout for Ten Pound Yellow Plantain.” All the children in unison, would obey her command. If ignored, we would pour out on the road, following our target until we got the desired reaction -a good chase down. That meant you had to know to run. Some of us would get caught which sometimes resulted in a hiding from our target. This never stopped us though.

In Albouystown we had Ten Pound Yellow Plantain, Puss In Boots, Mother Rat, Jagan Wash Pat (pot), and Goady Charlie.

In Goed Fortuin we had Jumbie Soursop, Guana Pencil, Meeh (the sound of a sheep). This man was reportedly a sheep thief. All we had to do was make the sheep sound and you had to run like nobody’s business.

One day we saw an old man and somebody in the gathering of children shouted “look a ol higue, anybody gat chalk?” To this day I don’t know where the chalk came from, but a long white line was drawn across the road. The old man turned back. He was our new target. Expectantly, the man never crossed the chalk mark.

Then there was Kobis Mr. K. His legs were deformed and formed the letter K. He would hobble behind us but never catch any body.

In Plaisance we had Mad Doc who was a violent customer. We could not afford for him to catch us.

Those were the days of the 60’s and 70’s. Those names were not liked by our ‘targets.’ They however, provided an avenue of fun for the neighbourhood children, an activity that has surely died, even in the rural areas.

 Yours faithfully,

Carl Parker Sr.

Regional Councillor

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