Sunday, August 24, 2008

If You Live In An Old House...

As a spry youth, I was raised in an old Caymanian House that embarrassed me to no end. No, not the one pictured!

Made of wattle and daub, the house stood on wooden stilts, that gave us access to her seedy underbelly, providing us with wonderful hiding places when I, my brothers and sisters would play rendless games of hide and go seek, as well as to provide a wonderful nesting ground for the births of numerous kittens and puppies from the menagerie of dogs, cats and one goat that called her yard home.

The house had an attic that we would access by scaling well placed furniture and doors. The attic was a treasure trove of historical wonders for us to explore, but not appreciate. We perfected the art of scaling up to the attic like monkeys, and have nary a broken bone to speak of.

I really hated that house. The house affected my ‘cool’ factor. No kiddie parties complete with clowns and ponies could be hosted for me in that old house. It was not a modern, cement house like my friends’ had. There were no beautifully landscaped lawns, as the breadfruit, mango, plum and papaya trees’ leaves would fall on a gravel and dirt ground that us chillun had to take turns raking every Sunday. I never did understand why we had to rake gravel and dirt, but when my mother placed us on leaf patrol, she loved to see the rake marks in the yard. She felt it made the yard look neat. What a weirdo.

I really hated that house. Whilst I was relegated to rake duty every Sunday, my sissified sisters were given polish duty. They were responsible for getting the coconut husks and polishing the cherry wood flooring to a ridiculous shine, using specific hand motions just like Daniel-san: Wax on…wax off.

I really hated Sundays. Sundays were full of cupboards noisily banging in the kitchen, an indication that us chillun were to wake up and start the house chores, whether we liked it or not. There was no use faking debilitating illnesses, for Mom could read right through it, and would whip out the vile castor oil as her cure all. She was a wicked ‘oman.

Some Saturday’s ago, Sonny and I participated in the ‘en plein air’ painting and drawing session, as an initiative to save Miss Lassie’s House (pictured), an old Caymanian wattle and daub house, which is over one hundred years old. This house has stood the test of time through tropical storms and vicious hurricanes, including the Rat Bastard, Ivan.

Conversely, the house also sits on a prime piece of beach front real estate, at the junction of South Church Street and Walker’s Road, and was for sale to the tune of US$1.6 million dollars. It is only logical to presume that the house would have been immediately razed on completion of the sale, to make room for a modern, elaborate mansion, and again, we would have lost a valuable piece of history. So, the National Gallery, National Museum, Cayman National Cultural Foundation and the National Trust, have all joined forces like the Super Friends, in an initiative to purchase the house, and to eventually restore it to its former glory.

Now, after having the pleasure of sitting in Miss Lassie’s yard on a beautiful Saturday morning, expressing my artistic vision, I became nostalgic for that old house that I hated so much, and which my Dad eventually converted into a modern structure. I miss the old structure, as it stood regally on its high heeled-stilts, and played a wonderful tune when rain would fall on her zinc roof. To this day, there is no more soothing sound, than that of the rain falling on a zinc roof. I miss the teeming fruit trees in the yard; me polishing floors, and raking the yard on a Sunday morning.

Of course, growing up and having been through my ordeals with my mother, I miss the fact that I can never do the same for my Sonny, that is, vexedly banging cupboards and waking him up on a Sunday morning, so that he could get his backside outside, to rake the yard. That legacy is gone, and Sonny will not be exposed to that house’s history, quaintness, and plethora of memories.

On that nostalgic note, I shall now exit.

Ta ta...




Numalali said...

Quite Interesting. When you think of it a house is more than structure. It represents so much and says a lot about the human character.

I have a great affinity for old historic houses. Up to this day it still pains me to see them razed for a more modern structure

PS Thanks for your comments

Abeni said...

It's not the house but the memories. We only realise these things when we get all grown:)

Jdid said...

ah rain falling on galvanized zinc. nothing like it at all

ms cute pants said...

Awesome post. I shall look for the house pictured the next time I drive by.

Stunner said...

I can still remember the sound of rain on my raw zinc house and the coconut brushes that used to polish the wooden floor of my house, But that changed when the house ceiling was put in and the floors tiled.

Isn't it amazing how we now get nostalgic about the things we hated when we were young? Nice read.

Ruthibelle said...

Lived in a board house too (first time I saying that with pride, lol) but that was long ago. Don't miss it tho... let bygones be bygones, bring on the concrete and cement... hehe

But I get ur drift: it's the homey feeling you miss. That, I miss myself...

MarkD60 said...

I drive by that house every day, and always want to go inside.

Mighty Afroditee said...

Here, its not just the house, but the fact that these houses are historic artifacts for the islands, and they are being razed to make way for more modern structures. More often than not, they were / are a part of the initial development of the islands, and occupy prime beach front million dollar land, and do not stand a chance to survive, and again, we lose vital aspects of our heritage (and we do not have much).