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My Roots and Aspirations

I had a golf course conversation with friends recently about whether the good life is more achievable in large cities or rural communities.

Joe said he wanted Thomaston to stay just as it is and doesn't want a lot of development, but Stephen said he would certainly like more amenities, and Greg advised that we should aggressively try to develop Thomaston as much as possible and create prosperity for our citizens. We would be so much better off if we attracted more business, more people, better health care, and more jobs.

Then Joe said: "We would pay a heavy price. Would you enjoy the crime, noise, hustle and bustle that comes with developments? I prefer low crime, peace and quiet. With the internet, I don't think I am missing out on anything except traffic and having to make tee times to play golf a week in advance."

Greg chimed in: "I hope you realize that people who live in New York consider country living as a dreadful experience. I would love not to have to travel an hour and a half to get to the airport, a good restaurant, a theater, museum, or specialized medical care. But I guess one man's bread is another man's poison,"

I agree with Joe, and here is why:

Between the ages of four and 15, I was raised by my grandmother in rural Jamaica. While some may feel sympathetic, I would contend that I was very fortunate as I came under the influence of my kind and loving granny. I recommend that all children should be raised by their grandparents; parents have no experience raising kids.

In the 1950's, never mind that we lived without running water and showers, electricity and had to use outdoor toilets, people who lived in Woodlands District believed that they lived in the healthiest and happiest place on earth. The community was blessed with cool breeze and sunshine that kept their personalities warm. Frequent rains provided fresh clean water that was stored in tanks and drums outdoors and inside the houses in Spanish clay Jars. The pristine green landscape and resulting air quality commonly associated with health and optimism kept their lungs clean and their thoughts pure.

Each household had their own garden producing corn, peas, yams, cassava, sweet potatoes, dashine, pumpkins, and bananas that they ate green or ripe. Some had their own cows, goats, chickens, and hogs. Crops were planted according to the calendar in MacDonald's Farmer's Almanac. Someone in the District made oil from coconuts and wet sugar from sugarcane. Oranges and fruits were abundant. Whenever someone used limbs as fence posts, they became live trees.

People were healthy and were kind to each other. They believed that if you were honest, industrious and considerate of others, a good life was assured.

The story of Brother Boogs was well know in the district. He left the community to continue his education in a large city and then worked in a factory. He was making good money and saving most of it as he lived in a rooming house where he shared kitchen and bathrooms with several other people. Although many women tried to befriend him, he never found the right one and continued living as a bachelor.

When he was 33 years old, he suddenly became sick and was admitted to Kingston Public Hospital. He explained to the doctors that he felt lifeless, weak, tired, depressed, had no appetite, and was losing a lot of weight. The doctors prescribed some pills, but they did not help.

He tried going to church but never felt comfortable as city people were too hypocritical for his liking. Many could dress up nice for church, but their lived were devoid of honesty, integrity, or caring for others. He was betrayed by several people he thought he could trust. He could never be sure that someone was not trying to take advantage of him.

He became so sick that he thought he was going to die. So, believing that he was terminally ill, he packed up his troubles and his clothes and headed back to the country. Like an old elephant, he thought he was going back to where he was born to die, but failed.

Once word got around that he was back, the neighbors took turns visiting him, bringing their plates of curry goat and rice, pumpkin soup with corn-meal dumplings, roast yam and salt-fish, brown stew chicken, June plum, custard apple and soursop juice and best of all, corn pone and sweet potato pudding. The carrot juice with sweet milk and dragon stout hit the spot, brought a smile to his face and lead back in his pencil.

The minister from the Moravian Church visited him accompanied by the choir. They sang songs of praise, laid hands on him and took turns praying.

Soon he no longer felt poorly and was well enough to visit the neighbors, (no appointment necessary) sit a spell and enjoy a conversation. He delighted in walking and talking with whoever was available. And they all showered him with lots of broad smiles, hugs, and kisses. In three months, his appetite returned and he was sleeping like a baby.

Miss Dinah was a good cook and a charming country girl who attended to his every need. As a member of the church choir, she sang his favorite hymns. They took long walks holding hands on their frequent visits to friends and neighbors. They had fallen in love and he asked her to marry him.

Miss Dinah looked absolutely radiant as she walked down the aisle on her wedding day. The entire community came out for the big day and everyone was invited to the grand reception at the social center adjoining the church. Their union bore two beautiful girls and a boy. Brother Boogs now had everything to live for.

Although I have lived in many places acclaimed for the good life, my soul is deeply rooted in country living. Thomaston is the place for me.

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