A primer on old-time directions

Caymanians give directions much like a story progressing from beginning to end, traditionally turning to landmarks to describe how to get from one point to another. 

Fifty years ago, Bodden Town consisted of an area within a 3-mile radius stretching along the coastline from Guard House Hill to the Everglo Drive-in Theatre in Pease Bay. Directions did not involve street names; rather they included phrases like, “turn left at Uncle Biddle Shop, pass Aunt Gutty’s house, see the cows in a pasture and next to them you will find Pappa Touslin.” 

Giving directions in this manner is certainly one way to bemuse visitors, as they cock their heads, squint their eyes and take another look at the map in their hands. “We don’t see Uncle Biddle’s Shop or Aunt Gutty’s house on the map, are you sure?” tends to be their first response. 

Also, 50 years ago there was no talk of east or west; one either went “to leeward” or “to windward.” 

Except for a wooden structure, which served as the Church of God Church, Mr. Biddle’s grocery shop, the town hall and a few homes, there was nothing much else “to leeward.” “To windward” was Mr. Logan’s grocery shop, a few homes, the post office and jailhouse, the Presbyterian Church, the community cemetery and the drive-in theater. 

Some landmark references might be a mystery to those not in the know, but neighborhood convenience stores often served as key points when people gave directions. 

Then there were the better-known spots. People had a tendency to focus on using landmarks where people tended to congregate, like Mr. Biddle’s shop, the churches, the clinic and the post office. 

Then there were the spots everyone knew, like “cow pen” or “first well.” 

These old-time directions were easy to follow if you knew everyone and everything, and if Mr. Terry did not move the cows for the day. 

While much time has passed, that traditional way of finding your way around still lives on; there are still Bodden Towners who do not know the names of many of the local streets, not even the one they reside on. 

Directions in Bodden Town were often less direct in the old days.
Directions in Bodden Town were often less direct in the old days.


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