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Parties in Watooka

Looking back it seems that there was always a party or caberet show happening for one reason or another in Watooka. I expect our parents have a few stories to tell about what happened at these parties and I am hoping that someone out there will be able to put some names to faces in these photos. These are some of the photos I borrowed from Mum. There seem to be Hallowe’en, other parties and Cabaret shows all represented here. I have asked both Mum and Louie Hunte but they cannot recall the faces. These pictures are also on Flickr but I have not had much response as to who everyone is.

I hope some of the people in the photos will recognise their fellow party goers as well as themselves.

The only ones I am sure about is Mike Ideman in the white dinner jacket in the middle, Bill Forbes behind him and Kay Forbes on the right

Chris Wong is at the far right

ID from Pat Hunte - Lady on left and chap on right are the Roy Johnsons - he was manager at some point I believe.

Theo Hunte seated in the middle and Jimmy Hiscocks and Fred Proctor standing at the far right

Bill Forbes and Theo Hunte are standing at the back right

Dad on the far left

I think this is Marge Castel

Jimmy and Sheila Hiscocks on the left

That may be Bev Roza with her back to us on the right
Dad (Dr. C.F. Roza) and Mike Ideman
Los Tres Caballeros – Evan Wong, Bill Anderson? and ?
Dr. Roza and helpers
Sailor Vince Glenn and Bev Roza second from right
?, Chris Wong, ?, Bev Roza, Sheila Hiscocks and ?
Shirley Coles in the middle and Mum on HER left
?’ Bev Roza, ?, Chris Wong, Sheila Hiscock and Mrs. Manton

Hey Ho me hearties
Bev Roza in the dark dress with playing cards
Bill Forbes and Mike Ideman
Pat Hunte thinks this is Dot and Reg Grundy

Mr. and Mrs Hutt in the middle

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Sister Jenny and Dr. C. F Roza Above and below

It was with great sadness that I read about the recent fire at Mercy Hospital in Georgetown.

 My father Dr. C.F. Roza worked there for many years before he went to Mackenzie. He met and married my mother there and my elder sister Carole was born there. My personal experience with the hospital was from visiting Sister Mary Generosa whom we all called Sister Jenny and this is where I had an eye operation when I was 9 years old.

I probably was not the best of patients! I insisted I did not want to stay on the children’s ward and was given a private room at the front of the hospital (no doubt due to Dad’s influence). This turned out to be a bonus for me as it was Carnival time and  from my window I could see many of the events taking place  in the field across the road. Mum was able to stay in the room with me. I had one of the scariest experiences of my young life there. I had heard Dad and my doctor (unfortunately I cannot remember his name but it may have been Dr. Singh) discussing the operation when I was not supposed to be within hearing distance. What I heard was that if the operation did not work I would be blind.  At the time I did not think too much about it but when I woke up from the anaesthetic and could not see  I panicked. Mum told me it took a few grown men and herself to hold me down until they could remove the wrapping from both eyes leaving only the patch over the eye which had been operated  on and thereby convincing  me that I was NOT blind in both eyes.

Please check out the Hospital website at: http://www.sjmh.org.gy/index.html?tab=2#TabbedPanels1

I hope they will receive many donations to allow them to carry on with the wonderful work they do. If Dad was still alive today I am sure he would be the first to be there helping.

Christmas in Watooka

I’m not sure if it was just our family or everyone in Watooka who put up their Christmas tree on Christmas Eve and took it down on 06 January thus maintaining the traditional 12 days of Christmas.

Debbie with Christmas Tree

Debbie with Christmas Tree at 150 Watooka

 Of course that didn’t mean that nothing happened before Christmas Eve.

There was always the Christmas concert for the children each year. These were usually held on the stage at the “Cinema” which was very handy for rehearsals as it had a connecting door to the school. I do remember one year having the concert at the Watooka Staff Club. I think it was in 1959 and I remember having big silver stars each printed with words such as Peace and Love. We had blocks to stand on to form a tableau.

Christmas Concert

Christmas Concert

 

 

The children’s Christmas party was of course a highlight of the season. This was held at the Club and different fathers were conscripted each year to play Father Christmas and hand out presents. I remember times when babies were terrified and cried, but when we got older we would think ourselves quite grownup to say “hi Mr. X”. We had Christmas dinner with all the “fixings” and played games.

Most evenings when we went to bed we would ask Dad to play calypso records for us to fall asleep to. At Christmas of course we listened to Carols especially Harry Belafonte singing Mary’s Little Boy Child.

Christmas Eve was the time for loading up the Humber Hawk with presents for friends and driving around to all the houses to make deliveries. Of course you always hoped that the person you were delivering to would have yours ready to give you in exchange so that you could try and guess what it was! By the time we got home after playing Santa Claus we would usually have some and of course some would have been dropped off for us.

 

Silver Sprayed Tree and Watooka Ladies

Silver Sprayed Tree and Watooka Ladies

 

 

Then it was time to start decorating the tree. Some years we had those wonderful trees that had been sprayed silver and sometimes we had a fake green or Aluminium tree or on occasion even two trees. Once the tree was in place Dad would go through the yearly frustrating process of checking and replacing the light bulbs. This was the 50s so technology was not quite the same. The string would only light if each bulb was working. This was not a simple process!  The tree ornaments were more fragile in those days and there were usually a few that had not survived the storage since last year. However, there were new ones to replace these. We had crepe paper streamers and made liberal use of the tinsel. Once the tree was up of course we could put all those presents underneath.

 

Being Catholic we went to Midnight Mass and of course that was pretty special being allowed to stay up so late. There wasn’t much sleep that night of course.

Debbie Christmas 1963

Debbie Christmas 1963

 

 

On Christmas morning we got up even earlier than or usual 6:30 and rushed to see what was under the tree and as children each one claimed the largest gift as surely belonging to them. We were allowed to open one present before breakfast which was of course the traditional Guyanese Garlic Pork.

 

After breakfast came the fun part of opening all the presents. By 11:00 everybody had to have tidied their presents up and be washed dressed and ready for the party. This was the highlight of Christmas when people from all over Watooka came to our house. The usual cross-examination of friends occurred.  What did you get for Christmas? There was of course a traditional Christmas dinner but there were always curried chicken and other Guyanese dishes as well which my Mother would have spent days before preparing with the help of whoever was currently employed to cook for us.

 

 

Never having experienced snow of course I did not miss it and instead us children could run around downstairs in dresses, shorts and T-shirts and spray each other with water.  This Christmas party went on all day and people came and went. I seem to remember that it did not end before midnight.  The wonderful thing about Christmas in Watooka was that while it was very much a family occasion it was also a community celebration.

I am hoping to have more pictures from Mum to insert into this blog but in the meantime I am borrowing some of Pat Hunte’s.

Tower Hotel

 

 

 The Tower Hotel was where we used to stay when we visited family in Georgetown. There were too many of us to impose on family. Being on Main Street it was well placed for visiting Bookers and Fogarty’s as well as family. Other family members who lived on Diamond, Ogle, Enmore and Lusignan Sugar Estates were a taxi ride away.

Those taxis were a little different from the ones in London or any Canadian city. For a start the drivers all seemed to think they were in a race or some kind of competition. Horns were used liberally and the rules of the road did not seem to apply to them. Add all the donkey carts and cyclists into the mix and it was a wonder that there were not more accidents. I thought it was quite exciting however, I’m sure Mum was not impressed.

The hotel was owned by the Humphreys family and Mr. Humphreys always treated us very well. I believe he knew my parents quite well.

Staying in a hotel was such a treat for us though I remember that I was not very impressed with the Air Conditioning which was my first experience, and not an enjoyable one, of being cold.

The room service was excellent at that time and we thought it was the height of luxury!

The best rooms in which to stay (at least as far as I was concerned) were the ground floor ones, from which you could walk straight out to the pool.

I seem to remember that as kids we always ordered Chicken in the Rough/Basket. In later years with more “refined” taste I would order the Red Snapper which was delicious.

 

 

I used to enjoy standing on the balcony at the front of the hotel and watching all the activity on the street. I think it was from the balcony of the Tower Hotel that my sisters Carole and Debbie watched the Queen drive by during her visit in 1966.

These photos of the Hotel are all modern but look fairly similar to what I remember. The black and white photo of the Queen and Prince Philip is from a family collection.

METTAGEE OR METTEM

Though believed to be Portuguese in origin Mettagee is considered to be an Afro-Guyanese national dish. It goes by different names in other parts of the Caribbean.  

 6 oz                meat (salt beef OR pig’s tail)          170 g
1 tbsp.            butter                                             125 mL
                       water
8 oz.               salt fish (dried cod)                          250 g  
1                     small dry coconut                             1
1 lb.                green plantains                                 500 g
1/4 lb.            yam                                                   125 g
1/2 lb.            cassava                                              250 g
                       salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp.           thyme                                                2 mL
1 tsp.              hot pepper sauce                                5 mL
1                     large onion, cut into rings                  1
1 tsp.             sugar                                                    5 mL   
6                     okras                                                   6
                       Dumplings (see below)
                       Butter Sauce (see below)

  1. Cut up meat. In a large saucepan, fry meat lightly in butter; cover with water and simmer for 20 minutes.
  2. Soak salt fish in warm water for about 15 minutes. Drain. Remove skin and bones. Discard. Squeeze fish dry.
  3. Grate coconut, add 2 cups (500 mL) of warm water, squeeze well and strain off coconut milk. Coconut milk can also be purchased in tins.
  4. Arrange peeled vegetables and seasonings in layers over the meat, with salt fish on top. Add coconut milk and cook covered, until almost tender, about 30 minutes.
  5. Place onions and okras on top of salt fish. Steam, covered for 10 minutes. Add dumplings, if you wish and steam for another 8 minutes. Remove meat, salt fish and okras, place in a flat dish and moisten with butter sauce.

DUMPLINGS

1 cup              flour                           250 mL
2 tbsp.            butter                         30 mL
1 tsp.              baking powder           5 mL
1/2 tsp.          salt                             2 mL
2 tbsp.            sugar                          30 mL
1/2 cup          milk OR water             125 mL

  1. Rub the flour and butter together. Add baking powder, salt and sugar.
  2. Mix with enough milk or water to make a stiff dough.
  3. Form dough into balls and place on top of fish. Cook, covered, for 8 minutes. Do not open pot until dumplings are well risen

BUTTER SAUCE

1 tbsp.                       butter                                    15 mL
1                                onion, chopped                     1
1                                tomato, diced                        1
1/4 cup                     chopped green onions            50 mL  
                                 mettagee stock

  1. Heat Butter. Saute onions, tomato and green onions until lightly browned.
  2. Add 3-4 tbsp. of the liquid from the mettagee. Heat  and pour over meat, salt fish and okras. Serve hot.                       

GARLIC PORK

This dish is Portugese in origin and is traditionally served at Christmas in Guyana. I understand that it is has been  adopted by some of the other Caribbean nations. We always had this for Christmas day breakfast. I suggest you open a window when cooking this as it can really smell up the kitchen! While we used wiri wiri peppers in Guyana probaly small red chilis would be the best substitute.

 4 lbs.          cubed pork, about 2.5 cm               2 kg
1                 lime                                                 1
2 cups        white vinegar                                   500 mL
1/4 lb.        garlic, crushed (about 4 heads)       125 g
1 tsp           chopped fresh thyme                      5 mL
2                 hot peppers, chopped                     2
1 tbsp.        salt                                                 15 mL
4                 cloves                                             4
                   oil for frying

  1. Wash cubed pork, make sure there is some fat on the pork, with the juice of a lime; place in an earthenware or glass jar.
  2. Mix vinegar with garlic, thyme, hot pepper, salt and cloves. Pour over pork and completely cover with liquid.
  3. Refrigerate, covered for 2 days. Remove pork from marinade. Heat oil in frying pan and fry pork until brown, about 10 minutes. A small amount of teh marinade can be added if the meat gets too dry. Serve hot.
  4. If desired bread can be fried in the pan after all the pork is cooked to be served with the garlic pork. This will soak up all the flavour from the marinade and while not  for those watching their cholesterol is delicious.

PEPPERPOT

There are different recipes for pepperpot form each of the islands. This is considered the National dish of Guyana and is derived from the Amerindians. Casareep is a thick syrup obtained from boiled cassava juice. It is seasoned with salt, pepper, brown sugar, cinnamon and cloves and is considered a preservative for meat. Casareep is now bottled and sold commercially. It gives this dish it’s distinctive taste and is available in West Indian grocery stores.

Pepperpot develops more flavour if left for a few days, but it must be boiled up every day. Some pepperpots are replenished every time some is used and are said to be a hundred years old.    

2lbs.              cubed lean beff or pork                  1 kg
1/2 lb.           cut up salt beef                               250 g
2                    pig trotters, in small pieces            2
1                    cow heel, quartered                       1
1 lb.               pig’s tail, disjointed                        500 g
1                    lime                                                1
1/2 cup         cassareep                                       125 mL
2                    hot peppers                                    2
1                    stick of cinnamon                           1
3                    cloves                                             3
2 tbsp.           brown sugar                                   30 mL
                      salt to taste

  1. Wash meat with lime juice. Set aside.
  2. Boil cow’ heel and pig trotters with enough water to cover meat. When half-cooked, about 1 hour, add other meats and cassareep, simmer for another hour.
  3. Add remaining ingredients; simmer gently until meats are tender and sauce thick, about 1 hour. Serve hot with boiled rice.