Sunday, July 17, 1977

Got up about 6:45. Dressed after washing up. Saw A- while walking Greta, Guerly and Baby. Then sat on roof. Came down. Pop and I went to Biscayne. T. was so nice to let me go, so I let her play with Cantaloupe. Came back. I made quilts, T. made hearts. Ate dinner. Rested. Got up. T. & Pop took a walk. Stayed with mom. Saw A-. T& Pop came back. Showered, put on p.j.'s, ate supper, going to bed. I ate:
  • Breakfast: 1 JuJu, 1 mango, 1 busta
  • Dinner: quits, 1 "twist", pillows, hearts, pumpkin+chocho+rice+green banana+sardine soup. 1 busta.
  • Snack: "hearts", "pillows", crackers
  • Supper: banana+mango salad, quilts, pillows, hearts
The diary, as I mentioned before, was one of those 5x8 appointment books, and the days went from Monday through Sunday. Because the page was divided to fit two days, after the "Sunday" section was a space labeled "Notes", and there I would write a summary of my week:

A good week. Nice Joyful Day. Poor A-. We had a good chance to be alone, and we took it. I learned a little more about Neal and had fevers most of the week. Got to walk alone with Pop this week-end, the first in a long time. A- came on Thursday. She's so boring! Thank you, Mr. O, thank you.

I told you we could cook anything on an open fire, and that included different types of frybread. There is a staple Jamaican frybread called "Jonny Cake" but we discovered varying proportions of coconut oil in the flour and/or in the dutchie yielded different textures. This particular version I remember because we flattened the dough thin, cut them out with cookie cutters and cooked them in a "dry" dutchie. Mine were "quilts" because I have control issues, and had pricked little "stitch" marks in the squares with a fork.

If you ever read the book "National Velvet" as a kid, you may remember that the young, horse-obsessed heroine had a collection of paper horses that she played with. That seemed like a good idea to me, being that I was a young, horse-obsessed heroine myself. But there were no real magazines with horses to cut out laying around, and I couldn't imagine defacing a book, so I traced the horses instead. I had this "Ladybug Book of Horses" (I still have the book, even) and in the front of the book was a line illustration of a horse, naming all the parts. It was perfect for tracing. I'd glue the tracing to cardboard, color it in (of course I always colored *in* the lines), and cut the horse out. Then, because I couldn't stand having a one-dimensional "pet", I'd turn the paper horse over and replicate the other side, and color it in. To this day, I can draw a horse freehand; can't draw people without a lot of erasing, but a horse I can draw with my eyes closed.

I had a pretty decent collection of paper horses; bays, chestnuts and sorrels, palominos, duns. They all had names. I made bridles for them out of embroidery floss, and saddles (English, since they were easier to draw than Western) out of cardboard (complete with embroidery floss stirrups) and saddle blankets out of scraps of fabric. I made stables out of Foska Oat boxes.

Selfish beeatch that I am, I'm quite sure "Cantaloupe" wasn't one of my favorites, but because the Prof would have been thrilled that I had even let her touch any of my things, it would have been a good reward. (And do ya wonder now how the Professor came to be an MSW???? I firmly believe that all therapists/MSWs/psychiatrists in the world become what they are because they have issues of their own to work out.) I also know that "Cantaloupe" must not have been a "prized" possession, because the highly-coveted Golden Object--Susie the babydoll--wasn't even a consideration for a reward.

Ah, Susie. Wars were fought over her. Blood was drawn. Susie's "birth name" was Baby Nancy and she came to Jamaica on a plane with Grandma about two years after we'd settled on Montgomery Avenue in Kingston. She was manufactured the same year as my sister's birth, which is probably one of the reasons Grandma picked her out for the Prof. For me, she brought a "big girl" doll I named "Bunny" after my quarter-Chinese friend (the illegitimate daughter of a brown-skinned Chinese-Jamaican woman and a white American hotel tycoon who talked with a "twang" and claimed he was from Texas). Like my friend's little sister Melanie, Bunny had long brown hair, but had coffee-colored "skin" and big hazel eyes that opened and shut.

But I fell in love with my sister's doll, because she was chocolate brown and chubby like my sister, and had an afro like me. Though her painted eyes never blinked, she could wet! I made "do" with Bunny until I had the bright idea to give her an afro, sitting her down for a hair cut the way Poppy always did with me. I trimmed, I shaped, I styled, and went to bed. The next morning I realized that Bunny didn't have an afro--she had a mohawk--and at that point she promptly lost the remaining vestiges of any appeal she'd held.

I wrapped her head in a shred of a pink chiffon scarf, and then proceeded to convince my two-year-old sister that we should swap dolls. I was doing her a favor by trading her the better doll... see how you could change her hairstyle with the flip of a wig? The Professor was doubtful, but she trusted me, poor baby, and went along with it till she got smarter about a year later. Then she wanted Susie back, but it was a no-go. "Too late!" I said. The window for a trade-back had long since passed, and besides by now the Prof had several dolls and I only had the one. Which was true; I am and have always been a "one-trick" (um, read "obsessive") pony and if there were other dolls given to me over the years, they were always given to sis or ignored... because the only doll I ever played with was Susie.

We fought over Susie for the next 8 years, sometimes with fists. I gave her back when I got my first period, but by then her head had come off and sis largely ignored her. Somewhere in our teens, I took Susie back and she has lived with me, naked and headless, ever since. She sits on my computer desk at home, next to her head. One of these days I will see if the New York Doll Hospital can fix her; glue didn't work.

A few years ago, I found Baby Nancy on eBay... in her original outfit, in her original box. I won her--cost me almost $60--and gave her back to sis, who has forgiven me, I think though the subject is still a testy one.


Julie said…
Most of your tales of your childhood in Jamaica leave me speechless and thoughtful. I need to take time to absorb the words and the thoughts behind them. So I never get around to commenting. But this time, you just had me cracking up!!!! I know the Susie/Baby Nancy story - but you wrote it so well, I was sitting here laughing outloud!

And I can SO see you coloring in those horses - on BOTH SIDES - with much detail.

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