Music, music, music–by Gertie’s friend, Miss Lynn


EMA (Earnest Methodist Adults) hard at work in Tarpum Bay

A week ago the earnest Clemson Tigers departed TBay. The last evening they held a 90 minute sing a long in the Methodist meeting house across the alley. Now these students were GOOD,comparatively speaking. In fact, I'd give them a 9 in the "carry a tune" category. They were replaced by 40 earnest Methodist adults from S.Carolina, here to do good works too. The EMAs were the "tech" gang: their major task to assist in the two restoration projects currently underway in South Eleuthera. They were divided into two groups, the more skilled were dispatched to Bannerman Town where restoration of an old building to be used as a community center is almost done save for electrical and plumbing installation. Hence the need for some real skill. Tarpum Bay got mostly the women who wielded paint brushes on the Methodist church and helped in the conga line down at Old Prep passing cement bags up to the few men left in TB who were "browning" or "plastering", the Old Prep walls. These EMAs were full of song, before and after every meal, and again at night. I'd give them an 8. They piled noisily into buses at six a.m. to catch their charter back to SC. Such was the music of the visitors. Because my part of the Old Prep restoration involves taking down the oral history of people, old and young who were connected as students, teachers, headmasters, and parents to Old Prep, I was treated to some of the songs they sang. One man told me how each day began and ended with a hymn. The closing hymn was "Now the Day is Over" He reported with a grin, "Boy! could we sing that fast!" Another lady sang the times tables up to 100 for me. This was how students learned in the days before Royal Readers, the text series that covered everything from arithmetic to geography. During the days before electricity came to TB in the late 50ies, students learned by repetition, recitation, and rote, They wrote on slates, did their homework on pressed brown paper bags and used oil lamps on dark days. My favorite of all the Prep songs I heard was written by one of the headmasters, Mr. Stevenson. The words are wonderful: "If you go to Tarpum Bay any night or any day You will see them all, doin' the Tarpum ball. Every little Tarpum gal has a little Tarpum pal You will see them all, doin' the Tarpum ball. Everyting's bright an breezy Do as you darn well pleazy Why don't you make your way there, Go there, Stay there, Doin' the Tarpum Ball Hoo" Last night Paul, who arrived Tuesday, and I wandered down to the park where, it was advertised, that the homecoming committee would have a festival. There would be live music, and the usual island fare of conch fritters, fried pork chops, ribs, fried fish and sides of mac n cheese, Cole slaw and peas n' rice. This time, in addition to the food, there was a beer tent, similar to the one at the Traverse City Cherry Festival. When we arrived about five, the music was LOUD and recorded, featured was traditional rake and scrape, Bahamian love songs, and Junkanoo music. As we were walking home loaded with styro plates of food we heard "Kumbaya" played as a Junkanoo march: lively and loud. This was followed by a Junkanoo version of "Rock of Ages". Just last Sunday Brother Ian had chosen "Rock of Ages" as one of his hymns. I much prefer the Junkanoo version. In between the singing Methodists and Saturday night festival there are bits and pieces of music which fill the days: Will, the Bible Man aka "God the Fourth", walks up our alley evey morning between 7 and 9 stumming his make shift duct tape guitar and singing/chanting (?)something unintelligible. Then there are the endless choir practices of the Methodists led by their unmusical, but enthusiastic director, Brother Ian. There is a children, a youth and an adult choir. The best by far are the children who are able to drown out Bro. Ian with their energy. Of the three, I'd give the kids the top score of 5. The few teens who have cars, blast their loud music, windows down, as they drive through the streets. No different than teens universally. This morning we were awakened at SIX THIRTY a.m! It was She of the White Robes of last year's Easter week. This time she chose the end of Adelaide Street on the Bay as her podium. There are no houses at the end of Adelaide except for the Conch Shop which doesn't open til noon. But choosing this spot ensured her words, shouted by bull horn up the narrow walls of our street, would wake even those at the opposite end: US!! She shouted many holy and unholy things. I could catch "Repent!, SIN! Redemption! Hallelujah! and BE SAVED IN JESUS!" The preaching lasted long enough to make sure we were fully awake before she and her merry band of six ended with an off key hymn, unrecognizable and unmusical. This is Palm Sunday, and here come the Anglicans in their red and white robes waving their palm fronds and singing, "All Glory Laud and Honor" as they pass by our cottage, circling the block before entering their church. And thus another Holy week begins and the music plays.
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2 thoughts on “Music, music, music–by Gertie’s friend, Miss Lynn

  1. Sorry about the previous post. I get it. Ms. Lynn has access to the Gertiecranker weblog. I was a bit slow on my previous post.

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