ARTHUR INNES BARROW was the third son of Ebenezer Oliver Bunting Barrow, District Commissioner and City Councilor, and his wife Iris, nee Sebastian, born on 3rd April 1924. He was born under the sign of Aries, the goat, which he always contended to be superior to my Gemini – the twins. He was always competitive in everything and, his preferences in music, poetry or sports or any other subject were better than yours.
He was named after the great King of the Knights of the Round Table. His middle name was not an issue in our discussions: mine was. I do not recall telling him where it came from, because I didn’t know nor care.
Artie was a year younger than I was, and his elder brother, Douglas, a year older. We lived on opposite sides of the Southside canal, so we became playmates in games of marbles, tops, flying kites and sailing boats with grape leaf sails in the canal when the strong southeasterly winds blew.
I preferred the company of Dougie, who knew more stories, but he preferred to be with his elders. Strange what a year’s difference in age makes when you are very young, and how quickly it changes.
Artie was a playmate but not a schoolmate. He went to Wesley co-ed school. I went Holy Redeemer Boys. He went on to Wesley College, and I to St. John’s College.
The Barrow family went to Mullins River for the annual school holidays and there he found that he had a great love for sailing and sailing boats. Then, he could tell us of his wonderful adventures and discoveries, amongst them being that judge wig mangoes were sweeter than all the others. We had many arguments on that score. He always thought that his choices were better than everyone else’s. We had lots of arguments about these choices.
He liked music and one day he declared that Gershwin’s Rhapsody and Blue was the best ever composition. Someone argued that Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony was better. For obvious reasons, someone lost that argument.
He got a job as Apprentice Dispenser at the Belize Hospital, passed his examination as Dispenser, qualified as a pharmacist and later became Chief Pharmacist.
Around the time he became a Dispenser, he started to think of settling down, and he discovered a lovely teenager named Joyce. Artie was smitten, but Joyce would have no part of him. She loved being the baby of the family, who nicknamed her “Skippy,’ very aptly, and looked forward to have a gay life, much loved by family and friends.
But that was not to be. Joyce had a wise older sister named Nita, who was also a born matchmaker. She encouraged Artie’s suit, and he was very patient and persistent, which won her over in the end.
Artie then proceeded to demonstrate to all who were interested how to manage the financial affairs of a household. He rode a bicycle and procured a large canvas bag for stuff bought at the market and grocery shops. He made friends with all the stallholders, so he got the best meat cuts and freshest fish and foods. He compared prices of all the shopping centers and made sure he got the best value for what he spent. But what is more, he got to be on first name terms with everyone he did business with, and they went out of their way to give him useful information.
Athletics were not his forte, but he loved all sports, especially football. His talent was for organizing and management and, he was an extremely good judge of athletic talent. How he put together a football team which he got the group to agree to name “All Star” is ample proof. The team was composed of graduates of St. John’s College, St. Michael’s College, and Wesley College who were the best players from those schools and, also, his personal friends. He persuaded them to come together, assuring them of glory on the field.
Some had second thoughts, remarking that the established teams had a mixture including college dropouts, and even street boys, and we would become targets, which we eventually did. But, the lure of becoming a team of elites was too strong. Then, they objected to the name “All Stars.” It would be like a red flag. “Not All Stars: All Star,” said Artie. A team of college stars, he declared. Well, nobody had a better name, so we agreed and were immediately sorry when a team of street boys naming themselves “City Stars” was formed who took our name as a personal offence. All was well in the end. City Stars were eliminated in a playoff round to qualify for the Senior League, and we went on to win the championship the following year.
What contributed no little to the team’s success is that Artie was their physician. He took care of all their injuries and supplied medicines for all their ills and discomforts. It is fortunate that the law was not so strict as it is now, or he may have been charged for practicing medicine without a license. He had a lot of confidence in his skill as a physician. When his daughter’s legs were severely curved in the opposite direction of a knock-knee, he said that with treatment, he would make them straight. “Sister B” is proof that he almost succeeded.
No one could resist Artie’s courtship for very long. Joyce finally said yes, and they were married. Theirs was a fruitful union and, Artie’s love of poetry and fondness for alliteration may be noted in the names of their three children – Dean, Denys and Denise. It must be remarked that each of them, in their own way, have made an indelible mark on Belizean society.
On reaching his 55th year, he retired as Chief Pharmacist of the Belize Hospital and opened a drug store on Church Street, where he continued to minister to the medical needs of his large circle of friends of all walks of life for over 29 years. He retired a second time about a year ago due to failing health. He has been ailing, since then, from the complaints which attend advancing age, supported by the tender loving care of his faithful daughter, Sister B.
The end came suddenly last Wednesday night, when he had a stroke. He would describe his dying in his accustomed way: “He suffered not at all,” which is a blessing. Joyce predeceased him by two years and he has gone to join her. His children, Dean, Denys, Denise, Dawn, Melanie and Erolyn, and his relatives and friends all mourn his passing with the hope that he has gone to a better place. I’ll end by proposing a toast: “Here’s To A Life Well Lived!”