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January - April,  2005

 Charles the Teacher

Charles made all kind ah kites. He made bamboo kites and he make flex kites.
He made other things too!
 When Depo, Rawle and dem graduated from making and slacking cocorico, they ambled over to Marryshow pasture to look for Charles and his kite making skills.

The cocorico was the simplest of kites. Yes, we made cocoa leaves fly like dem ligaroos in Grand Anse.
One just had to find a suitable dried cocoa leaf, punch two small holes somewhere near the middle, then find something for a tail.
Then the cocorico was ready to sail in the wind.

We made cocorico and we made coolie kites. That was very easy to make and those of us with less creativity than Charles were able to craft the coolie kite with ease. Most of us, however, opted for the fancy and brilliantly colored flex kites.  Some preferred the bamboo kite with the madbull that enabled it to sing all day. While bamboo kites were singing in the air, Sweet Roses,  Monkey Toe and Labor Reward were singing in the streets.  Fatty Derek was teaching us how to sing in Palmer school. The bamboo kites sang all day until someone got fed up with all dat kinda music and placed a razor blade in the tail of his kite to cut your string.

Some of the kites were pretty, pretty, pretty but caught their nen nen to fly.  The wind would blow stronger than Ivan could but all those kites did was butt, butt, butt. When the bamboo kites started to butt, one had to clear out. MAKE ROOM MACMERE!  And when you finally succeeded in getting the kite into the air, someone was waiting with a stone attached to a string to sling the damn thing.  Frustration then overcame you so you decided to forget the kite and make a spinning cutter.

Charles did not have to teach us how to make spinning cutters. All we needed was a crown cork or the cover of a condense milk can.  We flattened the crown cork with a stone and passed a piece of string through a hole we punched in the middle. We were then ready to spin our spinning cutter.  That was a dangerous pastime and one had to be extremely careful because the spinning cutter was as sharp as the razor blade they put in the tail of the kites.

We slacked our kites and we played with our spinning cutters and when we got bored, we looked for Charles again. We sought his help to make a top. The harder the wood, the stronger the top but the tougher it was to be made.  Fellas like Charles mastered the art of making tops. He make great tops while Macmere Phillip made the most comfortable coconut mattress.  (Psssst, watch out for the bed bug when yuh pee the bed).  Charles even painted the tops to make dem look comely as the kites he made.  And those tops fell asleep in the road by Mr. Moore's house for long periods.  The tops stood up and slept like the drunken men near Marshall's rum shop.  And while the tops slept, we tapped our brains to come up with some other ideas. We then looked for a nice crook of a tree to make a slinging shot.  A slinging shot was a useful tool to knock down those mangoes on Teresita's mango tree that the hand could not reach.

We played with our tops and we used our slinging shots to shoot birds (sorry) and to lick down Teresita's mango.  Then we went to look for Charles again.  Charles knew where the best Bowlie rods were. We needed the bowlie rod to make our fishing rods. Then we headed for the Wharf to catch a few grunts or cacabari.

And when we were tired of fishing, we asked Charles for two ballswheel to make a scooter or cart. He was busy making kites but he still found the time to show us how to use a piece of rubber and wood to make a scooter. He also told us to watch out for Black Church and Boraggy on the police bikes. They hated to see boys on scooters.

  2005 Anthony Wendell Deriggs.

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