St. Thomas People

“It don’t make any sense you put your hand on your head and bawl; what you going to bawl for? Tell me….”

-Seventy-nine-year-old Hazel McLean’s response to the destruction of her home in White Horses (St. Thomas, Jamaica) by Hurricane Sandy.

Whether you put your hands on your head and bawl or don’t put your hands on your head and bawl, one thing that Jamaican children know about hurricanes and floods is this: There will be plenty of water to play in and a whole heap of school closings because of dangerous weather conditions. (Translation: “Whee!”)

Growing up on the eastern end of Jamaica in the parish of St. Thomas, I knew what these children know: The little ditty we’d been taught about hurricane season isn’t always true. “October all over,” proves to be untrue in 2012 as once again, a late-season hurricane lashes the island and Hazel’s home and is especially cruel to the people living in the eastern parishes of St. Thomas and Portland.

October is probably the gloomiest, darkest month on the island. Storms, floods and tropical depressions all make for dark, overcast skies and many rainy, sunless October birthdays. Here now, is the little ditty about hurricane season. It and Hazel’s phrase, “What you going to bawl for, tell me,” linger on from my childhood. Maybe in a later post I will write about this phrase and another one from many a Jamaican childhood: “You want something to cry for? Ah give you something to cry for!”

Ditty about hurricane season

June too soon

July stand by

August look out

September remember


all over.

Map of Jamaica (the parish of St. Thomas is to the extreme right, bottom of map)

All the photos in this post belong to Garfield Robinson (photos taken in the parish of St. Thomas, Jamaica,  end of October 2012).

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