by Ann Wilder ©2001
On the Carenage at the end of a Saturday, I sat down
next to a young lady who was selling fruits. These
came from plastic bags carried in her bucket. The
fruits were picked from the trees at her home in
Grenville. An adorable little girl, she had spent
the whole of Market Day in St. George’s, as she did
Her name was Petra. She came to town on the bus. She
talked about school starting up and getting books
from the school library with all the clarity of her
Darling Petra had one bag of fruits to sell at the
end of that day. When a Grenadian woman came over to
join our conversation and to purchase, Petra said
the cost would be $2EC for the remaining bag. I had
the feeling the woman was purchasing the last of
Petra’s goods to help put an end to a long day for
Petra would not budge on the price. She would take
no lower price. No splitting the bag. No getting rid
of it before she walked to get the bus to Grenville.
She was a hard bargainer. Petra is a special child,
totally enmeshed in her cute and savvy self.
felt like I was viewing the last days of innocence.
Petra was on the cusp of pubescence. Her status as a
free-roaming child treads a dangerous road to
too, that same age in 1951, was free to go downtown
on the bus for as long a ride as from Grenville to
St. George’s. I would be taking saxaphone lessons in
the city, taught by some dance band man making money
on the side. I had time, unaccountable to others. I
went to the library. I walked around every part of
the city. It meant the world to me to have that
slice of independence.
I went to the movies. Inevitably, some man would
sit down next to me and put his hand on my knee. I
never told a soul about these times. I would refuse
to leave because I had paid with my babysitting
money. I would pick up the big saxaphone case and
clunk my way into another part of the theatre. My
heart was pounding, but I knew what to do. At no
time was there trauma. It was what it was and I
moved and if he had persisted, I would have told the
usher. I could take care of myself.
We were free-roaming
children. We could scout the whole neighborhood on
our bikes. We could explore the woods. We could dash
around the yards at night. We could go over to the
school and run around the track. We could take the
bus downtown to our music lesson. We could sell the
produce from our town in the city, or from door to
Today, the aspect of free-roaming kids has
disappeared or is disappearing. Our children’s
cushion of safety has rolled into the history books.
In a couple more years, small children like Petra
will no longer be free to roam Grenada. One small
indicator, one little clue, and one step back of
each person from the other. What is to become of us
when children can no longer run free?