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Genevieve, we have to keep these things alive. So many young Grenadians are following me on Facebook and eagerly seeking knowledge of our culture. I am so happy about that for there are those who believe that young people have no interest in our culture. Wrong! I am almost finished with a new book. God bless you.
THE SAYINGS ON GRENADIAN WOODEN BUSES
The words and expressions written on buses had serious messages for all. They were thoughtful, inspiring and even caused many a chuckle.
During the 1950’s and 1960’s, the wooden buses ruled the streets of Grenada. Owners of those buses were proud of their accomplishment and that was reflected in the buses called “Florida Pride.” There were four or five of them. Another bus was called “Victoria Pride” and there was a “St. Andrews Pride.” Even the pride of the Guyanese people was stressed in the words written on the bus, “B.G. Pride.” There was an “Aruba Special”, and a “Prospect Pride.”
There was a man from Gouyave who was so contented , he called his bus “Content.” An owner extolled the attribute of reliability by calling his bus “Reliance.” Yet another, believed in the need for ease so he called his bus “Comfort.”
There were buses with names that were meant to instill wisdom. I recall a bus called “Modesty.” Another advised to “Take it easy.” There was a bus called “Positive” and one encouraged us “Never Despair”. One told us how important is was to “Play it cool” and a bus highlighted the importance of “Dignity.” Buses reminded us about “Loyalty,” “Harmony” and “Peace and Love.” “Easy Going,” another bus, stressed to importance of taking things in stride. One bus told us to “Live and let live.” And in times when patience was necessary, one encouraged us to “Hold Strain.”
Buses spoke of love as in the name “Tender Love.” One tapped into the scientific field with the name “Gravity.” A bus owner, so impressed with a particular bird called his bus “Hummingbird.” I smiled when I saw the name “Money toe” written on a particular bus. Flowers were appreciated and one saw that on the bus “Sweet Roses.”
The fact that there is reward and benefit in hard work was emphasized on the back of a bus called “Labor Reward.” The brilliant glow of the sun and its importance for life was seen in the word “Sunlight” written on a bus.
Buses with the names of people as in “Theresa B” and “Margarita De Luxe” showed how people were proud of their family names .A bus left no doubt who was running the show for its name “Bossman” spelled that out.
There was a Royal bus named “Princess Royal” and a bus that told us what kings and queen do. That bus was called “Triumph and Reign.”
Some of the buses had places abroad written on them. I think of “Santa Lucia,” “San Nicholas” and “B.G. Pride.” There was one with a space name called “Orient.” One reminded us that we had an “Angel Guardian” and another spoke only in Spanish for its name was “Adios.”
One did not have to be loaded with dough to travel on a particular bus called the “Penny Bus” and when commuting it was always safe to take the bus called "Angel Guardian." We had the luxury of attending the fairs on a bus called “Mayfair.” There was a bus that reminded us about the western movies we saw in Empire and Regal cinemas. It was called “Apache.”
Anthony Wendell DeRiggs
I thought BG Pride and Aruba Pride were owned by enterprising individuals who bought and ran their buses from the proceeds of hard work, earned in the countries after which their buses were named. But I could be completely wrong.
Take Lago Pride, domiciled in Marigot. What an odd name!!. Just a few years ago (2006), whilst on a cruise around the Caribbean, I visited the island of Aruba and discovered that Lago was a large company which employed workers from around the Caribbean, so I deduced that the proud owner of Lago Pride must have made his fortune in Aruba working for the company called Lago.
Well that's my theory anyway.
As for Content and Comfort, I hear that despite being brothers, and naming their buses so imaginatively, the owners of these 2 buses were neither contented nor comfortable with each other.
Genevieve, you make a good nostalgic case for the return of the wooden buses. I believe that there are 1 or 2 still used for tourism, Comfort being one of them, but I doubt you would ever see these magnificent people movers on our roads in significant numbers again.
The Commer engines are now extinct, the carpentry/joinery skills have long gone the same way, the seats are hard and un-Comfort-like, the rain gets into the bus, an yu kno how Grenadians doh like rain. They are slow and unwieldy on the road and everybody want to drive fass fass in a modern Toyota...so it's history for these old transporters, sorry.
Yes, you are right about Lago Pride. There was a Grenadian community in Lago area of Aruba. Quite a number of Grenadians went there to work in the oilfields and the name of the bus points to a history that died with many of the Grenadians who went there. I missed the opportunity to talk to my father about that. If I did, I would have a story about the life he,Eric Gairy and others lived there.
You might be on to something. My own father worked at the Lago oil refinery in the 1940s and 1950s. I remember seeing that bus as a kid and thinking that Aruba could not be that far away if buses in Grenada had it's name. I know at least a half-dozen families in Gouyave with Aruba links.
Thanks for the discussion.
A few points about the wooden bus drivers:
More than a few of the wooden bus drivers were “bad” for their money. A driver called Man Man used to leave his bus and chase people who jumped from the bus without paying. Then more people jumped off his bus. He used to threaten to break people’s “scrutch” if they did not pay. Mayfair used to stop in a lonely spot like Woodford and used the words “Come up” to ask for the fare.
There were drivers who helped poor people and allowed them to ride for free. God bless their souls, Genevieve! It was not always easy to provide the money for transportation and just like the shopkeepers used to “Trust” people until they were able to pay, the bus drivers also are worthy of our thanks and appreciation.
Drivers took people to outings like beach parties and got drunk. In those days drinking and driving did not get the attention it gets today. God protected those people who rode with bus drivers who were “under their oil.”
Many of our wooded bus drivers were exceptionally good at the wheel. I recall the many times on our way to Schaper school that Dudley, the driver of Labor Reward had to “jam” the bus on the side of the road so another bus could pass. When I looked out the well ventilated vehicle, all I saw was precipice. The drivers held the steering wheel but God guided the bus.
There were drivers who reserved the seats next to them for special people like their girl friends. You could not venture there.
Bus drivers used to “speech people off”:
Bus drivers had to know how to “time the waves.” On the western side especially, huge waves used to crash on the shore. Not all buses had good tarpaulin to cover those side openings. Actually, there were buses that leaked so much, that it was better to go outside and find shelter. When the drivers saw the huge waves approaching, they stopped the bus and when the water receded, they raced to get away from more waves.
In times when there were heated football games, bus drivers had to make speedy get-away after the games before the big stones started raining down on the bus.
Bus drivers were noted for surviving serious accidents. Take the driver called Breakie for instance. The bus turned over in the road. Everybody believed Breakie was dead. The man crawled out like a Morocoy, the land turtle. Ironically, the man was called Breakie. There were people who wanted to sit near the bus drivers because they believed they too, would escape injury if accidents occurred.
Bus drivers drove in style. They loved to “squinge up” in a corner and hold the steering wheel. The Austin Cambridge and Morris buses used to sing so it was a joy to see those drivers “chuck in the gears.” and hear the sounds. Some buses sang better than people.
They were bus drivers who had no use for radios because there were people on the bus who talked incessantly and served as radios. Actually one fellow who rode on a bus was called Radio.
Bus drivers had good eyes. It was essential to spot policemen like Church and Boraggy who were never fond of overcrowded buses or people hanging out from the buses. Conductors especially, were famous for hanging out of the wooden buses and the traffic police got annoyed.
I recall riding on the wooden bus for the first time. All the trees on the side on the road looked like they were moving.