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Back in the day we were all family
The T&T Guardian concludes its occasional series featuring people who have been lifelong Port-of-Spain residents, as part of the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the incorporation of the city of Port-of-Spain.
Today we hear from Everard Gordon, one of the T&T Guardian’s longest-serving employees and a former sportsman. Gordon spent the early part of his youth in Duke Street before moving to Belmont as a teenager.
My name is Everard Gordon. I am 81 years old and I am a former amateur boxer who boxed at national level in the 1950s.
I was also the St Mary’s College and the Trinidad welterweight amateur boxing champion. In the 1940s I spent most of my childhood living in the city of Port-of-Spain with my ten siblings, before my parents, Leo and Emelda Pickford-Gordon, decided on moving the family to Norfolk Street in Belmont, where we found a bigger and better home.
I can recall there were a lot of happy times spent in the house we lived in at 81 Duke Street, Port-of-Spain. People living in that community were like one big family. Everybody looked out for each other.
I particularly remember a place we called “concrete yard.” It was just between Henry and Charlotte streets. There were a lot of apartments in that yard. You had to be a good fighter when you went into that yard, because once the boys met up there, there would be fights. Not malicious or vicious fights, just good old boy days.
At the entrance of concrete yard, there were also two vendors who sold chataigne, plums and other preservatives. Six cents would give you plenty and still leave you with change.
I also remember our neighbours, the Christians. We would often take food over to each other’s homes by passing through a big hole in the wall that separated us.
My father was also very much of a culture man; in fact he ran a record shop called Ritz at the corner of Dock Road and Sackville Street in Port-of-Spain. Unlike other folks who would keep their children away from anything concerning pan because of the negative stigma associated with it in those days, my father would allow us to go up to the All Stars panyard just east of Charlotte Street. Boy, we used to have a real good time there.
What I loved about living in Port-of Spain the most was its convenient location. It was so close to everything, especially the Queen’s Park Savannah and we loved going there. After school, a group of us would head up to the Savannah to play football and cricket. On weekends, my brothers and I would go there to fly kites with friends.
I also remember the big stores on Frederick Street like the Salvatori store, Millers and JT Johnson Ltd.
When you wanted something special, Frederick Street was the place to go. On Charlotte Street, people would mostly go there to buy foodstuff as many groceries were there. And if you wanted produce you would take a walk on George Street.
Window shopping was also a big thing for our family. My dad used to take us to see the things he intended to buy the week or month after. He would get the price and save up the money and then go back to buy it.
Cinema in those days was also a big deal. When you hear anybody say, we going theatre, man it was like going to a big-time event. We used to frequent Globe and Deluxe cinemas in town.
After cinema we would all walk back home and it was safe. Nobody harassed you and you never had to worry about being robbed. It’s not so now.
I don’t know, I think everything changed at the end of World War I. Trinidad became heavily influenced by American culture which at the time was a very violent one. America was accustomed to gangs and guns in those times.
Port-of-Spain may never return to what it used to be, or Trinidad for that matter. But if by some stroke of luck it does, the first thing I would like to see is the restoration of families and family life. And I am not talking blood only, but back to the times when we were all truly our brothers’ keeper.