Barbados Lodge School Old Boys Battle It Out: “Dear Rodney” vs “Dear Peter”

Class, Race and Old Memories In Barbados – White vs Black vs Red

Dear Barbados Free Press,

Hey guys,

The Nation newspaper has not published the self explanatory letter attached. Please feel free to post on line if you wish.

Rodney Jones

Carol Martindale
Editor
Sunday Sun
24th March 2009

Dear Ms. Martindale
Re: Mr. Peter  Simmons’ column on Sunday  22nd March

I am submitting another letter in response to the captioned subject which, irrespective of  any further comments by Mr. Simmons are my final words on the subject:

My dear Peter,

I have digested your ‘Dear Rodney’ open  letter which appeared in the Sunday Sun of 22nd March and I have to advise that this is my final reply. I suspect that we may run the risk of not only testing the Editor’s patience, but readers may soon regard us as being two silly old Lodge boys beating up on each other, still living in a bygone age. Whats more, my Captain has warned me that whether or not I get past your defence, this is my last over, so here goes: six deliveries with no wides, byes or no balls (I hope).

If the outcome of this very public dialogue between us was judged on the eloquence and flair of the discourse, it would be a veritable no contest. You would be the winner by daylight as they sometimes say in racing circles. But, my friend, the issue is not about persuasion by grammatical expertise, it is about the facts and facts alone.

I note that you have checked with old (Lodge) boys across the generations up to 1961 when we left the school and that their recall is the same as yours. Hmmmm, I admit that I sometimes think that my short term memory is not what it used to be, but I insist that my long term memory is still crystal clear regarding the important issues we are now contesting. Therefore I have absolutely no need to check the facts with the many men of our generation who know only too well what took place. I will say that without exception, all those who have commented to me about the culture of Lodge School during that period are in complete agreement with my version of events. So, have we arrived at an unbridgeable factual chasm? It sure looks that way.

Peter, the rules do not provide for the shifting of goal posts during the game. For you or rather for callers to the radio talk shows  to now say that the boarders (who you claim to have been all white —– they were not) were in situ before the first day of term and were therefore able to grab the front desks before the day boys is rubbish. It didn’t happen. Firstly, the classrooms were locked up until term started, secondly no one knew with certainty which class would be in which room, thirdly no such preemptive strikes would have been permitted and fourthly  desks in the front were not some sort of treasure to be horded or were the keys to academic success and excellence. For if they were, all the bigger, badder boys would have commandeered them. It was as I repeat; generally the studious boys who selected them, friends sat close to each other and most of the  academically disinterested boys sat at the back of the classroom. I think its time for you to have a little chat with your imagination as it seems to be winning the battle over your memory.

Gosh Peter, dear oh dear, the irony of your advice to me “to steer myself, stop vandalizing the historical reality of The lodge School beyond recognition by reputable alumni by setting up a straw man to shoot him down”. Strong stuff indeed, but methinks you protesteth too much. Are you not in fact describing yourself precisely and accurately with those words?

Now, the boarders and the boarding establishment. The boarders were not all white boys as you now want to claim. Do you not remember the Savoury brothers from Antigua? Or the Hughes brothers/cousins from Grenada? What about Stud Mc Clean and my own cousins the Grells from Trinidad? Were they all ‘white’? I don’t think so. They were all boarders, but much more importantly they were just regarded as boys, Lodge boys.

Last Saturday, an ex (white) Lodge boy of our generation reminded me that far from being able to play tennis, he nor any of us other day boys could even take a short cut through the area, surely you remember that. It had nothing to do with race, you know that well enough Peter. You claim that Pappy would not let you play tennis, but  you must remember that he, being the Headmaster had no control or authority over the tennis courts. It was the Housemaster, Besse Walcott or Critchy who would have had to refuse you permission as you claimed. Might I suggest that you check out some memory aide vitamins?

A hotbed of racism etc. etc. What are you talking about Peter? This is a lot of unfair, untrue, inflammatory assertions. I have refuted (again) the foundations of your claims and you have not yet provided  any credible evidence to support your ‘remembering racism’column.

Your reference to your appointment to the school’s governing body in 1976 and supporting the closure of the boarding establishment reminds me of an incident when watching the horses train at the Garrison a number of years ago. Just after the grassed inner walking area was covered over with an asphalt surface, some trainers thought that horses might slip or fall. One morning, the Frenchman Gilbert Yvonet looked at me and pointing at the surfaced area said “Rodney, are you responsible for that?” (As I was part of the management of the Turf Club at the time I said that yes I was partially responsible). He replied with 3 choice words —- “you beeg sheet” and walked away. Well as things have turned out, I am not aware that the resurfacing has ever caused any horses to fall, so the Frenchman’s choice words were not really justified.

But the closure of the boarding establishment is another matter altogether. Whatever the reasons were, and  whatever influence the perception of it being a mostly ‘white’ establishment played in its closure, it seems to have coincided with the distressing deterioration of the school from one of the finest schools to be found anywhere in the Caribbean to  an academic shadow of its former self. What about the physical plant? Were you partly responsible for constructing the building on the middle of ‘the small field’? Sometimes I used to take visitors to see where I went to school, but have not done so for many years. It simply became too depressing to do so.

Peter, you  must lighten up a bit. Its too bad that you didn’t realize that my comments about the books you borrowed from the school library being ‘subversive’ etc. were entirely tongue-in-cheek with a dose of sarcasm thrown in. You really thought I was serious? On this subject, surely you were being a little naughty in trying to have us believe that the Headmaster was aware of what books you borrowed from the school library.

By the way, listen out for my call as there’s a lot more we have to talk about (in private).

With best wishes and much respect also.

Rodney

21 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Culture & Race Issues

21 responses to “Barbados Lodge School Old Boys Battle It Out: “Dear Rodney” vs “Dear Peter”

  1. Please

    For me and others, I am sure, this is hard to understand– but please there comes a time in an adults life where the high school or college one attends has become a non-issue… perhaps a time to move onward and upward and grow up? If this is what defines your identity it runs shallow in my honest opinion…

  2. Sad To Say

    I don’t know Rodney but I know Peter. Peter has never quite lived up to his own expectation and as a result held it against everyone in his world. Strange his kids – Peter Che and Debbie – have turned out to be very nice people.

  3. Pingback: » CJ Sir David Simmons’ on Ethics (Simmons’ Cross - VIII) Keltruth Corp.: News Blog of Keltruth Corp. - Miami, Florida, USA.

  4. John

    People see what they want to see and remember what they want to remember.

    I have been through a similar situation on these blogs with respect to “the other school” Harrison College.

    My memories are completely different from some people’s memories and yet identical with others.

    I gotta be careful.

    I am an HC boy and although these two factions are at war at the moment, I might unite them …. which would be good, …. excpept that it might be against me!!

    I believe that the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s saw ill advised comments by our leaders who really should have known better and those comments left lasting impressions on us all impressionable youngsters.

    Today nobody takes our politicians seriously. We have been burnt too many times.

  5. Hants

    I am a 60’s HC boy.

    The only whites who limited their contact in school with others were members of the closed brethren religion.

    HC in the 60s was a great experience for me.

    Leave the Lodge boys to beat up on each other.
    They seemed to have had a very different “environment”.

  6. Georgie Porgie

    Hants as an ex Harrisonian of 60’s vintage, I agree with you 100%. Even the closed Brethren were not bad. Thier exclusivity was reliigion based rather than racially based.

    I have a cousin who boasts how he made great profits on selling his lunch to one of these Exclusive Brethren which he then invested in Mary’s pone!

    I agree with you that the Lodge boys of that era seemed to have had a very different “environment”, as is demonstrated in the racist opinions of Trevor Marshall, and the great aggression my youngest brother learned during his days at Massiah Street.

  7. John

    I remember a brethren who rejoiced under the nick name of Caveman at school because he survived some of the most unbelievable accidents and lived to tell the tale.

    I think everyone who came into contact with him held him in “awe”.

    He once came of his bicycle at speed and landed on a cat wire fence, …. he drove a go kart under a truck, …. he arrived at school with a broken shoulder in a cast …. and …. he was a major exponent of the art of “bruise” which was played on the small field with a football which was dribbled back and forth during lunch.

    “Bruise” replaced “corkings” after it had been banned.

    Caveman was usually bracketed by his friends and the ball passed to him.

    He always received it and looked to pass it on to someone else so they could be kicked/bruised but only after receiving plenty kicks/bruises himself.

    The game was played by all colours and Caveman’s friends were also of all colours. Bruise was not the same unless Caveman was playing.

    I saw him a few years ago, same as ever, except he is a respectable business man and a staunch member of the brethren religion.

    I remember the brethren students could not attend morning prayers and could not eat with the rest of us but these were the only differences I recall.

  8. M

    I went to secondary school in Barbados as late as the 90’s and segregation between the ‘white kids’ and the ‘black kids’ was a reality more often initiated by the former, so I can only imagine what it was like in the 50’s and 60’s. I believe we should move on and upwards but we can’t sweep reality under the carpet irrespective of different perceptions or chasms in memory

  9. BOAR HOG

    BOAR HOG says that
    BOAR HOG is bored
    with the subject
    think positive people

  10. Rohan

    HC man here myself..mid 80s to early 90’s. There wasn’t racism per se, but there was an area by the quadrangle (The L bench), that we used to call Sun City (South Africa) because it was almost exclusively used by whites (and the bouge) of the time. LOL Hey, just the facts, any HC man of my era could attest to that.

    But otherwise though, HC was safe.

  11. Knight of the Long Knives

    I went to QC late 80’s and the white kids had their own areas and mostly stuck together, they were some who definitely were racist (two or three), the guys with a few exceptions were all good guys but (with one exception) would not date a black girl. The white females generally seemed to think they were too good to socialize with blacks. I saw one of the Maloneys who was in my class back then he did not recognize me but I remember having great times with him doing silliness with a bunch of friends at the “old school”.

  12. Pat

    Hants,

    So you would have known Stephen Pile? He was not a bad lad during his school days. Fairly bright too.

  13. Rumboy

    Once again you are right Sir. I went to the Lodge in the 60’s and I never witnessed racism in any form or fashion. I was a ‘ boarder ‘ as well and my cot was between an Afro Barbadian and an Afro Tortolan. Gentlemen it is time to end this debate, shake hands and have a rum. God Bless the Lodge for always, through the good and bad.

  14. Inhaler

    Long knives your experience mirrors mine at another older secondary. White prejudice is learned at home so white kids reflect that. Why dont whites admit racism and do something about it instead of repeating the tired bullshyte of let us move on.

  15. John

    If the all the “white” students stuck together it must follow that all the “black” students must have too.

    Is it then correct to conclude that the “black” students were also racist?

    Sometimes friends like one another’s company and what appears to one person to be a racist congregation is nothing more than friends congregating and talking.

    eg, at HC in my day there was a group of surfers who stuck together and they were mostly “white”.

    I had no desire or interest in joining the group, I am a landlubber, and most students were not seafarers and did not join in either.

    No doubt the surfers weren’t interested in pitching marbles or playing cricket or bruise in lunch time so they did what interested them and got on with their lives, …. as the rest of us did.

  16. Rumboy

    This continous debate about racism at the Lodge in the 50 and 60’s and the ‘ tennis courts ‘ where supposedly no colored students could venture is untrue. The truth is that no student could venture onto the courts unless to play tennis and which was not reserved for the boarders only. Now if we want to talk racism more specifically reverse racism then let us look at the 80’s where it was alive, well and rampant but with the coming of a new Headmaster called Mr Brown it was
    practically eradicated and more importantly the school started to climb back to its proper position within the secondary school system. He is a very good headmaster but unfortunately he was lost to the political system. I understand though that he has returned to teaching and is now presently the Head at another secondary school. God bless the Lodge always.

  17. Rumboy

    All prejudice is learn’t at home Inhaler, black and white. A child is a product of his / her enviroment, be they be black or white.

  18. Rumboy

    Boar Hog, press on.

  19. Douglas Newsam

    I am an HC 1950/60 alumni and in my experience there was no “racism” at HC during that period. Boys tended to stick in groups which certainly were not related to one’s race and usually depended on what your sports or other interests were. The cricket guys hung out, marbles, football, book-worms, etc.
    I really have to smile at Peter Simmons remarks about his experiences at The Lodge School (that other place in the country) and also Trevor Marshall’s recitation of his achievements there. They both demonstrate so clearly a certain failure to have derived anything from their education other than an ability to display proof of examination success.
    Rodney Jones has tried to put the matter into context as lightheartedly and as precisely as possible. I hope those two gentlemen will take it to heart and ponder it. It is not too late. I know that Pappy would be pleased to know that his former students were never too old to learn something new and improve themselves!
    Like 90+ per cent of all born & bred Bajans, Pappy was a “passing”. He loved to learn and to educate his fellow Barbadians. His contribution to The Lodge School’s academic achievements have been well recorded in other places.
    When I read in Peter’s letter about the bitterness he claims he still feels, I thought how much he must have detested his posting to London as the High Commissioner for Barbados. What a horrible experience he must have endured in the bastion of colonialism!
    take care –
    Kolij Rules!! OK!!

  20. I don’t know whether or not this discussion continues but having only recently ‘located’ Barbados Free Press, I would like to contribute my two cents worth.

    I attended Lodge School during the fifties and, to the best of my recollection, there was no division on racial or ethnic lines; students interacted irrespective of their social or financial situation. I do recall, however, that there was a certain sense of superiority expressed by the boarders and the longer one’s stay as such (termly or weekly), the higher was one’s perceived status.

    What is clearest in my mind was the culture of bullying, particularly of younger students, which must have been quite traumatic for those who were the recipients of the physical and mental abuse. This was certainly the case for me, so much so that even after an absence of over fifty years, I am reluctant to return to the island for fear that the recollection of such events may be overwhelming.

    Am I being unduly sensitive or are there other pupils of the era who share the same perception?
    Derek Johnson

  21. RUMPIG

    I am an ex Lodge student of the fifties- and sixties—i am amazed to read that some black guy felt slighted because he was not welcome on the tennis courts.
    Well,let me tell you my man,white guys were not welcome on the basket ball courts in the sixties—–they were told to piss off in no uncertain terms. What do you think about that MR Peter—-racism works both ways