It was 1959 and the Ramirez family had recently relocated to #150 Newtown Barracks from Racecourse Street. We were right in front of the majestic Caribbean Sea, one house away from Wilson Street. It was two years before the great Hattie Hurricane and I, Alfonso, was nine years old. My brother Ricardo was eight and our youngest brother, Gustavo, was seven. We had two older sisters and two older brothers from Mama’s first marriage. They were the Petersens.
We were all enrolled at St. Joseph’s Primary School. The Cathedral that exists now had not been built yet and there was a small wooden Chapel next to the school.
It was about 6 p.m. and Mama was in the kitchen with her children performing one of her daily miracles of feeding the multitude with what was available.
Mama was shuffling with the fried beans and at the same time brewing a big pot of Brooke Bond tea. We were patiently awaiting our brother Ricardo, who had readily volunteered to go to Mr. Ellis to buy Creole bread and bun. Mr. Ellis was a Jamaican man who ran a small saloon at the corner of Victoria Street and Barracks Road. He sold the nicest cupcakes and made the best syrup for the fresco that he sold (shaved ice).
We boys were getting a little impatient when we finally heard Ricardo coming up the stairs. At first, he tried to say something to Mama, but nothing came out. After moving around the bubble gum that almost filled his mouth he managed to say, “Ma, a man wants to see you downstairs.”
Without paying much attention to him, Mama quickly took the bag with the bread and bun from him and started to cut them into even slices with her bread knife on the breadboard that she already had waiting, and she started to share the slices from younger to older brothers. The Blueband margarine was strategically placed on the center of the kitchen table.
Our brother Ricardo had returned downstairs after seeing that Mama was really busy. He soon reappeared and this time he told Mama, “The man says he must see you because I crashed into him and he lost his carrier with the supper he was taking for someone and I bend his fork.”
Mama quickly responded, “Tell him I will fix some supper for him and I will give him one of my best forks from the silverware.”
She hurriedly put some fried beans, some leftover stew, and a few slices of bread in a container and told Ricardo, “Take this food to the gentleman; tell him you are sorry and come back to have your supper”.
Our brother took the food but soon reappeared again and said, “Ma, the man says that was not the fork I bent.”
Mama was now a little agitated and decided to send our older brother Otto to investigate. After a few minutes Otto returned, and with a smirk on his face he told Mama, “Ricardo crashed into the man and bent the fork of the man’s bicycle frame, and the bike can’t move and will need some major repairs.”
Our Mom, who could solve any problem quickly, responded,” Tell him to take his bike to Mr. Jerry on Hyde’s Lane (who repaired bikes), and your father will pay for the damages.”
Finally, this brought an end to the incident at #150 Newtown Barracks. Our poor brother decided to skip supper.
He either wanted to concentrate on his bubble gum, or maybe the excitement got the better of him!
Respect. AC Ramirez.
*We boys would take turns in going to the shop and we were allowed to use the “ghost chaser,” the name that was used for a bicycle that had seen its better days. We were also rewarded with a few pennies if there was any change.
P.S. — I would like to dedicate this very true story to my brother Ricardo (Richard) who will celebrate his 67th birthday on Tuesday, July 18th. “May the Lord bless you and your family, seat yu saddle and hold yu rein!” From your family and friends in Belize.
Alfonso C. Ramirez, Sr., J.P.