East End Youths in Action are getting lessons in what East End cultural heritage is all about.
The daily schedule was compiled from a heritage and culture programme prepared back in 2007.
Each day’s activities starts with repeating an old time school morning prayer and devotions, followed by the children’s observation and participation in the preparation of local dishes sandwiches, fry fish, flitters, steam and stewed fish, stew plums and swanky; a local drink of lime and brown sugar.
The programme is the brainchild of Elaine Rankin and grand-daughter Brianne. The programme started a year ago with weekly meetings at Countryside Church of God on Thursdays evenings.
In May, with the summer holidays just around the corner, Linda Ebanks, programme organizer of Youth In Action, decided to coordinate a summer camp for the youths using the theme “The Way We Were”
The children are being instructed in the traditional way of preparing meals on the caboose built by Raymond Conolly assisted by Marylou Rankin.
Using Mr. Conolly’s 100-year-old iron pot, grape tree wood and dry coconut husks, the youths were shown how to light the fire by fanning the embers until they got a good blaze and how to cook coconut stew.
‘Dinna’, so the old people called it, was served on tin plates and enjoyed by all, but not before the old school ‘lunch grace’ was chanted by the youths.
So far, the children have participated in ‘gratin’ of the coc’nut on a ‘grata’ – the strainin’ of coc’nut trash using a coc’nut bark’ – ‘Cornin’ fish’ and ‘hingin’ it out on range to dry’ – Mixin’ swanky in a bucket – stirring it with a ‘stir stick’ cut from ‘coc’nut lim,’ drinking swankee from a milk pan and culminating the day with evening prayer all done the traditional way.
On Monday it was all about Silver Thatch. They went inland to cut Silver Thatch tops, look mangoes and rounded it off with a trip to‘Wentas Lan’.
The youngsters learned how to tie and set the tops out to dry, strip them for plaiting, save the straws for making brooms, single out the blades for twisting into rope and learned to twist rope.
On Wednesday a trip to net maker Jerlow Rankie’s residence had them observing the fine art of knitting a ‘seine’ known as fish net and an actual ‘hands-on’ experience of how it was done.
Friday the group visited one of East End’s famous rope laying sites; the lane in front of Eulene McLaughlin’s house.
There everyone got involved in the art of rope making being taught by Ms McLaughlin assisted by Grashala Solomon, Raymond Conolly, Elaine Rankin and Marylou Rankin.
This was followed by a trek to the Mastic Trail in Frank Sound where guide Raymond Conolly pointed out logwood, buttonwood, ironwood, wormwood and mahogany trees, small Silver Thatch palms, the majestic royal palms, a coconut palm, rosemary bushes the poisonous night sage and maiden plum, wire wiss, lizy hair, pond rushes and the wine pear – And of course, there were quite a few ‘trips Down memory lane’ as he pointed out the various trees.
Other trips down memory lane involved the youngsters in variety of skits of the olden days written and performed by Carmen Conolly – to insertions by Alan Ebanks of ‘happenings’ from his childhood and the special ‘spelling and pronunciation of words.
Artefacts on display included a scale from Austin Conolly shop; wampas, footwear of day was made from motorcar tyre and thatch strings; a brown glass gallon bottle; a rock dolly; a dishpan; a washboard and bathpan; a knitted rag rug; a calabash used for dipping up water from the bucket and bailing out catboats; and the ‘packet’ –both made from the gourd. A smoke-pan, a school slate, ‘miskitta’ mosquito brush made from sisal and a plait ’n sew basket, all compliments of Carmen Conolly.