Friendly Lane and other tales

Friendly Lane is a short street with a lot of character.

It’s one of the shortest streets on Grand Cayman, but how Friendly Lane got its name is a big mystery.

The street off Hutland Road in North Side welcomes visitors with beautiful Christmas palms boasting vivid red fruit and – true to form – with some of the friendliest and most interesting residents of the Cayman Islands.

The entire Friendly Lane community consists of only three houses, and the occupants are all related in one way or another.

Living at the end of Friendly Lane is Edward Chisholm, son of former House Speaker Edna Moyle. At the top of the road live Roxie Smith’s son Bruce and the ever-smiling, 88-year-old Erena Ebanks, who has lived on Friendly Lane for the past 57 years. The other house is occupied by 92-year-old Lloyd Ebanks.

The area is quiet and clean, and the air is sweetened by the faint aroma of a Chanel No. 5 perfume tree, also known as ylang-ylang, that was planted by the late Ms. Moyle.

Some say Friendly Lane was named for Ms. Moyle, whom people in the area said was the friendliest person anyone wanted to know.

Ms. Ebanks said she has no idea how the lane got its name, but she has her theories, and knows some history of how the surrounding area of Hutland got its name.

“I was in the shop one day when a customer came in and said they had named my road right when they named it Friendly … who did it, I don’t know,” she said.

Christmas tree palms.

“All I know is, they named it Friendly Lane. I’m everybody’s friend … the comments I have gotten for this smile are many,” she said with a laugh.

Hutland

Her parents told her the first settler in Hutland was a surveyor by the name of Edmond Ebanks who came to Grand Cayman from Black River, Jamaica, and settled in North Side in the 1800s.

He lived in a thatch hut and that is how the name Hutland came about.

“They wanted to rename Hutland Road after another North Sider by the name of Craddock Ebanks but the people rebelled,” Ms. Ebanks said.

“History has it that Edmond Ebanks, who died at age 102, also brought over two of his brothers from Jamaica. He married and had five children.”

“The land in Hutland was shared between Edmond’s five children. I’m a fifth generation [descendant] of Edmond Ebanks,” Ms. Ebanks added.

She said her husband sailed for four years with National Bulk Carriers, making $100 a month, before the couple could build their house. They started building it in 1957.

Back in the day

Friendly Lane resident Lloyd Ebanks is a descendent of Edmond’s brother. He recalls the lane being a footpath that joined into Hutland Road.

He said his mother told him years ago that Hutland was populated with a few residents who twisted rope and tended plantations. One resident was Brimmer Ebanks, who rode a horse around Christmastime with a dressed-up image of a man known as “Junkanoo.”

(This is possibly related to the Bahamian tradition of John Canoe, a legendary figure portrayed either as a rebellious slave, successful African merchant or prince, and who is often associated with the name of the annual Junkanoo parade.)

“He was scary, and people paid to see him,” Lloyd Ebanks said.

The area also had many logwood trees, as well as squealing wild hogs that kept everyone up at night.

Mr. Ebanks said the Hutland community would take catboats to Rum Point for picnics.

Paul Ebanks, another of Edmond’s descendants, said Hutland flourished with fruit trees and flowering trees in the olden days, a time when everyone was leaving home for a better life on the ships. The money sent home by those sailors and fishermen helped to build homes in the Hutland area.