A YANKEE IN THE WEST INDIES

My 3 children, (and I) were quite young when my husband (at the time) ) decided to go on his first overseas job.

there was so much to do! Rent out the house, sell the car, get rid of clothes, toys, furniture, etc. Also…..get shots,get passports, PASSPORTS! I did not have sole custody of two of my children.

That worked out, I did it by writing to their father and I got the paperwork for the adoption by return mail. It is amazing what you can accomplish when under pressure and when you are excited about a new life venture ahead.

The adoption was finalized, the house was rented out, the car was sold, the injections were given, and my husband decided to go on ahead of us and start his job. So I was left with 3 children all under 8 years old, and it was my job to make final arrangements

American Pipe Co. was a great company, as I remember. I was sent 4 1st class tickets for Port of Spain, Trinidad, West Indies, and we were soon off. The only thing I can remember about the flight is that the stewardess offered my young children wine with their dinners, after all, it was a first class flight. I, of course, declined, but drank some myself.

I can remember staying in the Trinidad Hilton, as guests of American Pipe co. for a time, until we were transported to the town of San Fernando, where we stayed in a hotel until we found a suitable house. The house we found, was on a form of stilts, and the rooms were grossly painted in bright colors, such as yellow, green and purple. Our landlords were of East Indian nationality, and their religion was Hindu. Apparently they were low casts, because when the Mrs. came to visit, she was accompanied by a low casts young girl who carried her purse and packages. It was certainly a new life for me !

We found a school for the children, but it was some distance away, so we had to hire a driver to take them and pick them up. Quite often, they were very late getting home and it did worry me. We eventually found out that the driver we had hired had TWO families, and the reason he often ran late was because he stopped to visit his (other) family.

I remember we were invited to a New Year’s Eve party by my husband’s native union leader. He also had two wives, and I was quite interested that the new, young wife took care of the children while the older wife danced with the husband.
This was also very strange to me….me, who is descended from a Mormon polygamist with several wives and many, many children.

Yes, then we were transferred to Port of Spain,  where we had a much nicer house, and schools were available for the children. We had a maid in San Fernando, named Agatha. I was quite fond of her and invited her to come and work for us in Port of Spain. I cannot remember the details, but it didn’t work out;  so.  after a time, we had to let her go. We had quite a time finding a good maid, but finally found Dorothy, who had 11 children, but she was afraid to go to the dentist. I remember I had an old sewing machine and was trying to learn to sew, and Dorothy happily took all my hopeless articles I tried to make. I often wonder what happened to Dorothy. I wrote to her for a time, but eventually lost track of her. I do remember she thought I looked like Doris Day.

There was a young Trinidadian teenager of East Indian descent, who my husband befriended while working on the pipeline. His name was Premnaut. and he visited our home quite often. For a time, we considered bringing him back to the U.S. with us, but eventually decided it was not a good idea. He was heartbroken, and I have always been sad about the outcome of his life, and I wonder if we made the right decision.

WHERE WERE YOU      NOVEMBER 22, 1963 ????

Where were you when you heard the news that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated?  I was visiting friends who had a home down on the beach.  We could not believe it and  we were all devastated

Unlike the millions of American living in the U.S.A., we could not watch the news about the assisination,  but we have seen parts of it since we have been back.

CONCLUSION

My children and  remember (faintly,) our years in Trinidad with fondness.  There were some great times and we had some great friends.  I have to chuckle when I remember the accents my little girls came back with.  How I wish we had video cameras in those days!

Thank you for reading my post about living in Trinidad.  I have enjoyed writing it, and it brought back many happy memories.

Janice Gustafson

May 29, 2019

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