Olga Interviews 104 Year Old Rita Mayers  

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  •   Birthday wishes  
  •  Childhood memories : stealing sugar and soldiers 
  •  School days 
  •  Going to the shop 
  •  Games children played 
  •  Married life 
  •  Working and getting paid 
  •  Married life continued 
  •  Church life : having faith in God 
  •  Rita and the youth 
  • Olga : Hello darling
    Rita : Good evening
    Olga : Good evening. I'm Auntie Olga from Rediffusion
    Rita : Auntie Olga?
    Olga: That's right, and I come to wish you
    Rita: [This is my pastor]
    Olga : I know that's your pastor, yes. And he told me that you're celebrating your 104th birthday today.  And I bring you Congratulations from all of Rediffusion and from me personally, and all of Barbados.  Let's shake hands.
    Rita: God Bless you.
    Olga: Can I get a kiss?
    Rita: Yea
    Olga : OK. (Laughter)
    Sound of kiss being exchanged 
  • Olga: You seem to know my name. You listen to Rediffusion?
    Rita: I know...years ago
    Olga: Yes?
    Rita: When I was still a girl, I would say, I used to hear your voice, and hear the name...Auntie Olga. All down in valleys,gine searching for children...And I was but a young girl, but still didn't have the understanding of it, like I even have it now. Who is this? 
  • Olga: A whole lot a people come to wish you a happy birthday
    Rita: O, praise de Lord.  But this is my pastor.
    Olga: (Laughter).  This is your pastor.  He's a very good pastor.  He ....to you, yes.
    Rita: I love him
    Olga: Which church do you go to?
    Rita: Nazarene
    Olga: The Nazarene church?
    Rita: In Bank Hall.
    Olga: I believe you know quite a number of the hymns. 
  • Rita : I can't remember so good de hymns, I could hum them good.
    Olga: Uh huh
    Rita: One behind de next.
    Olga: Hum one for me now.  Hum one for me now. Hum one.  Which one you would think she know to hum?
    Rita: Give me a chance.  You have to give me a chance.
    Muffled voices in background.
    Olga: We have to give you a chance.  Alright, now tell me...let's go back to your childhood. What do you remember of your childhood? 
  • Rita: I can remember when I was a young, a young little girl.  Very very young.  I was still a child... I could not be a young woman at that time.  I used to live in Constitution..you know where I used to live.  You know where they got a church there right now?
    Olga: That's right.
    Rita:  Well, you know a lady did name Miss Brathwaite?
    Olga: I didn't know her, cause when you were a child, I wasn't a child.  You were a little ahead of me...(laughter).
    Rita: Oh yeah. Dey had a lady nuse to live... we live here and this lady live there, named Ms. Brathwaite.  She was a Vincentian or something like that...(mumbling)
    Olga:  What was it like as a child, what were those days like?
    Rita: Well, everything that would look beautiful to a child, would look good to me because at that time I was a child and I would do a lot of little wicked things.
    Olga: (Laughter).  Like what? 
  • Rita: If yuh put down sugar, Uh go and take it up. Mama used to keep lumps of white sugar.  It was in lil blocks, and she used to keep it in bottles, big bottles. And she would put these big bottles up pun de larder and I would climb up on de larder, put my hand down in de larder, in de sugar bottle, and tek out a handfull, and bring them and share them to de children from Riverside.
    Olga: (Laughter) So you do some stealing and some spreading...(laughter)
    Rita: I used to give de children from Riverside, and I would take some.  But I tell them, "don't tell pun me or I will get licks."
    Olga: Yuh ever got caught? 
  • Rita: No. I din use to get caught......when they miss dem and Mama say where my sugar bottle. Bring that little one dey for me.
    Olga: And that was you? (laughter)
    Rita: And she would bring me by my ears.  She would say hard ears yuh won't hear? And she would pinch muh. And I tell yuh don't steal. Stealing is not good for little children to do.  And yuh aint got no mother, yuh aint got nobody but me and when yuh steal de things from me then I ain't gun got nuttin to give yuh.  Mr. Winwood does have to give me these things to feed his children and I feeding you outta dem. So don't steal causin George don't like stealing children. And you is a thief. And I would cry. And say Mama don't tell me I is a thief, I don't steal. Yuh does take up. And if you put it down an I tek it up, I ain't do nothing.  I would cry, I used to cry.  And I can remember so good...she used to tell me..." i gine carry you and put yuh in de big jail 
  • Olga: OOh
    Rita: Dey got a big jail dey does put children in, and yuh doan see dem come back out
    Olga:Oh dear
    Rita: I say. but doan carry muh up dey with de soldiers (laughter)...cause de soldiers used to got on big boots (laughter) and dey used to run you down.  I was black and I was frightened fuh dem. Cause dey use to got on red and black coats,wid red pun de coats ......wid big boots.  And dey used to holler "squeaks, twa, tweek, tweek, squeaks, twa, tweek, tweek,squeaks.  And we used to sing "Yuh feel de heat, yuh feel de heat, yuh feel de heat under paddyman feet?  And dey would fire tins of corned beef at yuh.(Laughter).  And fire dem over de rail...old iron rail.  And we did glad cause we would get the corned beef but not me, de bigger ones would go and snatch it up, cause I couldn't run cross de road cause I  was too young.  But they had a shop did name...I can't remember de name...Sometimes yuh does remember....sometimes yuh can't remember.  It was a big black man used to sell bread.  I think he did name Foster, Mr. Foster. So he used to roll up de bread so in he palm in little pieces...and fire dem
    Olga : De dough at you?
    Rita: Yeah, action.  And he say "Da lil one dey. Da one dey of Tootie Farnum one, she won't keep from out here...and she always coming here and annoying me.  I gine grab yuh one o des days, I gine wring yuh ears off. So I get frighten, and I didn't use to like to run out there cause he would beat me. 
  • Olga: What was school like?
    Rita: I used to go school lil bit at Church Village School.  At that time dey had a lady name Miss Matthews...but quickly, de lady had to go away and when she went away, she had moved then from Constitution to Fontabelle and carry me wid her in Fontabelle.  Well at that time then we did live next door to Mac Fergusson.  He was a school master at one of the schools in Baxters Road but I can't remember where Baxters Road was at that time and I can't remember the school name.  But he used to teach de boys school and he did name Mr. Fergusson, Mac Fergusson.
    Olga: Did they punish you in school and how did they punish you in school when you didn't do your lessons well?
    Rita: When I was gine to school, there was only this lil prema things ABCs, C- A -T cat, R- A -T rat, F- A -T fat, M- A -T mat,and those things.  Just those lil things so.  Well quickly I miss sight of my mother, I miss sight of my mother, I didn't see my mother no more nor I didn't see her, nor I didn't know where she was.
    Olga: Why she died or she just wandered off?
    Rita: She died...no she died.
    Olga: How old were you when she died?
    Rita: I don't know.
    Olga: You can't remember. 
  • Olga: So you were brought up by your grandmother?  Is that it?
    Rita: No. my Grandfather was in the country...Society. He did name James Maynard in St. John.  I did born in St. John but come to town cause Ms. Thornhill who did use to live at Bowmanston Reservoir, up at Bowmanston.
    Olga: After school did you go to work?
    Rita: Well after I begin to get big, I telling you now what I can remember, when I could remember after I leave up there, now I was a girl that you could send at the shop and buy any litle thing, but she would have to give me a script, cause I couldn't buy it by myself.  And dey had a shop in Fontabelle named Ms. Griffith and she had 2 children, a boy and a girl.  De girl was brown skinned but the boy was dark like me cause de husband was dark. So when I go in de shop I would call de girl by her name                             Olga: And order your things from her? 
  • Rita: I wouldn't order nothing, I would give her the script...
    Olga: Give her the script
    Rita: That I carry and say, Mama tell me to carry this and give it to Ms. Griffith.  So she would give me de things and put it in a litttle basket and tell me to keep straight, don't go no where and don't put it down n de road, so I would go wid it.
    Olga: What was the price of some of the things you used to buy?
    Rita: A cent and a penny
    Olga: Really?
    Rita: Yea. I did only know bout when you could send and buy a cent in anything or she would tell me "Come and go and buy some corn for me for de fowls " if not you aint going get neither eggs wid yuh tea tommorrow morning.  I want de corn to feed de fowls...so she used to send me.  And then I think de corn was a penny a pint,  causin a half a pint of corn was big corn, big grains of corn.  And she would give me something to put it in, cause when yuh put it in you wouldn't swing it way in de road, eitherwise I would swing it way in de road (laughter).  And she would say don't swing it way cause it to feed the fowls.  Used to keep fowls in de yard.  But now we don't got fowls.  Why?
    Olga: No, well they have fowls in big fowl farms.  You don't have fowls in the back yard.  What sort of games you played at school as a child?
    Rita: Well, we used to play rounders, pickups, and um skipping and um, Mam used to say "Don't play hide and hoop." Nuh hide and hoop.
    Olga: Why?
    Rita: She never tell me
    Olga: But you know why?
    Rita: No.
    Olga: You don't know why?
    Rita: No. She used to tell me don't play Hide and Hoop wid no children.  "If yuh come home and yuh play Hide and Hoop, I gine beat yuh" (laughter). I gine beat yuh. "You is not to play Hide and Hoop." Go school and come back.  And I want yuh to open dese hey...dese is yuh ears.
    (Olga murmurs along with Rita)
    Rita: And if you come home and yuh can't tell me what yuh learn I gine flog yuh. I say, I gine school, cause she would send me school at Ms. Matthews in Church Village.  I can remember where it was good, but I can't remember the lady now.  The more I talk to you, the more I can understand you.  But I couldn't ...Ms. Matthews died and then they had, I think it is Ms. Wilkins? or Wilkinson, something like that.  And then Ms. Wilkinson came then and moved from Constitution and went to Fontabelle. 
  • Olga: You were married weren't you?
    Rita: Yes
    Olga: Tell me about your boyfriend who became your husband?
    Rita: My boyfriend, he came from St. Philip.  He was a Mayers.
    Olga: And where you met him?
    Rita: I met him when I was working at de Morrises...Fitz Morris, Yuh know Fitz Morris?
    Olga: Yes, I heard about him.
    Rita: Yes.  He used to work in Roebuck Street.  I can't remember the gentleman name now.
    Olga: And when did he propose?
    Rita: Who?  Oliver? When I was in my thirties
    Olga: Yes.
    Rita: When I was in my thirties.  He tell me that he like me and I tell him "I don't like you." (laughter) "I don't like you."
    (Background noises)
    Olga: Don't worry with them, Don't worry with them, you come to me.
    Rita:He say "Why you don't like me?  I ain't a... human? I say "yuh might be a human man" but I don't like yuh.  He say But I like yuh and I ain't gun left yuh.  I say "Where you gun carry muh... (loud laughter).  He say "Yuh got a lot of sense." But yuh know where we met?  We met one night gine home from my work and at that time I did live in Chapman's Lane and I doan know if you would remember...There was a place...I think it was somewhere...Lord, help muh to remember...sometimes I can remember things so good ...and another time...
    Olga:Yes, but that's not um, very important.  I want to find out when you eventually said yes and got married.
    Rita: Well, I telling you now.
    Olga: Okay.
    Rita: This fella saw me and liked me at the Morrises, no at de Sealeys...Pep Sealey and she used to live in Fontabelle.  So she was keeping a place dey in Swan Street at the foot of Busby Alley where they used to sell de things??? So she send and call me and tell me she want somebody to come and help cook.  She say Rita you oughtta could cook by now.  You big enough to learn to cook, and I want somebody come and cook...help me cook...um, and I gine pay yuh.  I say yuh gine pay me..
    Olga: What sort of salary you got?
    Rita:Very little.  I think at that day did only just seven shillings a month
    Olga : A month?
    Rita: Seven shillings a month. I had worked with Ms Sealy from sixty pence a month to seven shillings and well she used to treat me good.  Them used to make my clothes, and them used to make my aprons, pinafore aprons wid bows behind them.  And she always used to keep me just like Mama would keep me...clean and tidy and nice and I had to go up at de Ice House to her husband Mr. Duncan Sealey and carry his lunch and thing and... 
  • Olga : I still want to hear when you said yes to this man that asked you to marry him.
    Rita: Oh, Oliver?
    Olga: Oliver, yes.
    Rita: He did name Oliver Mayers.  So, I can't remember quite out in there.
    Olga: (Laughter).  But you said yes and you got married.
    Rita: I told him before...I tell him that I ain't living wid no man...nobody man, no man unless them gine married me, put a ring pun my finger.
    Olga: Quite right.
    Rita : I said becausin my mother, as far as I hear, see hell wid my father, and I ain't want no children.  I say Lord I ain't want no children.  I ain't got nobody to help me raise them and I can't get them to to come when dey tell me dem is to come.  And I ain't want no children.  Doan gi me none, I ain't want none. So Miss Olga I ain't got none and I thankful.  I tell de Lord doan gi me none.  And God hear and answer my prayer.  But..
    Olga: But you got married.
    Rita: I get married.
    Olga: He put the ring on your finger.
    Rita: Yes it hey...
    Olga: And you still got it too?
    Rita: This very ring that here on my finger and I would never move it.  It does come off now.  But I gine tell yuh, I love it, because he give me. Look he got a message, you could still see some of it. It was big.
    Olga: It was nice...
    Rita: It was big.  But de initials, still you could see dem in it.  I could see from here...a M, a A, and it look like a R... I can't see....dem wearing away
    Olga: Yes, It's very fine. 
    Rita: But it very, it thick.  I did promising every since to buy one.  But I can't get nobody that would buy it wid honesty.
    Olga: Buy what?
    Rita: A ring.
    Olga: You don't need to buy one.  You got one already.
    Rita: Yea, But it moltering, it gine along.
    Olga: No, it ain't moltering.  Gold don't molter 
    Rita: It feel..it look, it can come off my finger.
    Olga: Yes, because your finger has gotten a little smaller. So...tell me about marriage. How did you make it work? Or what do you think helped to make marriage work?
    Rita: I married from Ms. Sealey, from Ms. Morris in Britton Hill
    Olga:  Yes.
    Rita:Ms. Morris went to Britton Hill and she carried me with her.  She say wherever she was gine, she carrying me wid her.  She carry me to Britton Hill.  And she was renting a house you did call  "Maughan  Big House??" at that time up on top de hill...we did out this side and de police guard house was that side.
    Olga:  But what about the marriage itself man.  I want to know what you think about marriages being successful.  What you think men and women should do for each other...when they get married
    (Phone rings in background)
    Rita: Well, Oh, who's dat body dey?
    Olga:  That's the telephone, somebody will answer it, and that's one of your friends. (a visitor)
    Rita: Good evening, how?
    Olga:  (to the visitor) She'll talk to you just now...right you are. (To Rita) Tell me about the success of marriage, of course, marriage has its ups and downs.
    Rita:Well, I had mine, I had plenty,but Thank God I bear my ups and downs and I ask de Lord in everything that I had done wrong in my marriage, wid my husband,  that is to ...I would hit him, I would hit him because he would drink and I din like drinking. And if he lay down and I would tell he " Yuh got to stay down cause I can't tek yuh up, I ain't got nobody to tek yuh up.  So yuh gine lay down dere and yuh got to stop drinking.  So he won't stop drinking.  I tell him " Well I will lef yuh." And I did lef yuh, but I an't know wha to do wid yuh when I lef yuh.  (Laughter from Olga).  So I did leave.  I come up here.  I came up here pun dis land of my uncle own, dis land is not mine. It is my uncle own, but I does rent it from dem. And I came up here tell my uncle...One uncle was on his own in Bank Hall and he say it was to sell to nobody, but his family was to live.  Anything that name a Maynard was to live there but it was not to sell and my wicked wicked cousin sold it and he divide up de money and whatever he like.  He only gave me three hundred dollars outta all of that beautiful set of land next to All Souls Church.  We could just go to de wall and listen.  I remember when de Bishop came here and kept the service in All Souls yard, how I hang over de wall and listen.  And when my cousin sell that land, I most died wid crying. I cry to break my heart.  But thank God, de crying is over and I got land in heaven.  Jesus promise me.  And Jesus promise...me I don't have no toilet Auntie Olga, I don't have no toilet, but a galvanise toilet de government give me.  But God tell me here in dis house...doan worry, I got a beautiful toilet, praise God, fuh yuh.  I have lots of lil things put aside to help......build it.  But I can't get it build...it is too much for me to undergo wid.  And de gentleman where belonging to out here, he promise me a long time ago that he would come to see if he could help me wid de well, well de digging of de well.  And if he could help me, wid de digging of de well, he would try his best to see what could do.  And I got de boards under de cellar.  Lovely long boards.  They only staying under there and rottening.
    Olga:  Well, we'll see what we can do. You have a very strong faith, haven't you Mrs. Mayers?
    Rita:In de name of de Lord Jesus.  I depend upon my Jesus.  Yes ma'm, to tell you de truth I depend upon my Jesus.  I lie down here, I couldn't walk, couldn't walk at all, my toes, I got... callouses.  It is that? 
    Olga:  Uh um
    Rita:Under de bottom of my feet.
    Olga:  Yes, very sore
    Rita:Sore.  And I can't get muh feet to touch de ground.  I does have to walk wid a stick inside?? and everywhere cause I can't stay up too good.  I will fall over.
    Olga:  You still go to church? 
  • Rita: This is my pastor.  Ask him if he does miss me out of church.  Only when I can't go.  Otherwise I does send and tell Ms. Quimby "Come fuh me, I want to go church.  And I gine church in de morning.  This is tell... I get up early in de morning and you tell me Ms Quimby does ring me to tell me it is time.  Yes, yuh wake yet? Yes or no? I tell her how I stand, how I feel.  And she say "put God in front, he is able." And "I coming fuh yuh at such and such a time." And all of Quimby children from de lillest to de biggest, not one doan forsake muh.  God bless them. They does come and hold muh hand and carry me up de steps and carry me down to muh seat and they know good enough where I does sit down, better than I know.
    Olga:  You know you're a blessing to a lot of people
    Rita: Oh praise de Lord, I pray so. I pray so.  I pray that de people will hear my voice and what i try and what I am doing for my Jesus and that they will do the same thing.
    Olga:  Well lots of people are hearing your voice now.  Would you like to give them a message on the faith that you have embraced all the years of your life?
    Rita:Oh tell de truth, I have a faith to receive Jesus as my Saviour.  The Lord God is my shepherd and he is my salvation in whom I trust him.  I does trust in the Lord for he is the light of my soul.  This evening I'm indeed glad to give you the testimony that Jesus loves me.  And he loves me with an everlasting love.  And he first loved me and because he first loved me he went all the to Calvary and when I saw my Jesus - what they was doing to him, I can never do otherwise than love him with all my heart soul and body because he first loved me.  And when I was of no good, no good, Jesus taught me and he picked me up and he said "Daughter, give me thy heart and I will give you a kingdom and Jesus has...give me a kingdom.  I believe that Jesus give me a kingdom.  Have he not said it in his words that whatever we ask fro that he will give.  I believe that Jesus ...me.  And then when I hear de pastor on Sunday open de gospel word to my soul, I don't know for de rest in de church, but I know what he does speak is true and I know that he fills my heart with joy.  And I see when I come home, I can eat and I can drink and I can lay down in my old bed and feel happy and comfortable because Jesus has done it all for me.  Oh what a wonderful saviour.  (Starts singing the tune Oh what a wonderful savior)...help me Pastor Callender... I can't remember all de words, but I know de hymns.
    (phone rings in background)
    Olga:  Why don't you join with her Pastor?  Come on, what about the other ladies that are here, come, come on.  Lets have a nice little sing along.
    Rita: Somebody else out there?
    Olga: Yes, you have a lot of people come to greet you on your birthday.  All the Quimbys and everybody is there and we're going to sing some nice little hymns.  Please come quickly
    Female voice in background:  Come wunna come
    Olga:  Yes, that's right.  While they're gathering - some of them are shy of the microphone - I can't tell you what a blessing you have been to me...you know
    Rita: Oh praise the Lord
    Olga:  I feel so good to have met you.
    Rita: You have been a blessing to me many years ago you didn't know me.  If I did know how to get into you, you would have had me many years, because ....i heard the name....I didn't know the face, cause I didn't see it. But at that time I would've been able to walk bout.  I was able to walk a good walk.  But I didn't know really how I could find yuh, I didn't know how I could find yuh.  But I used to hear yuh travelling bout wid children that have nobody
    Olga:  I still do
    Rita:And carrying clothes...
    Olga: I still do, yes 
    Rita: Oh, but I am so glad that God has brought yuh and what God say he will do, he will do it. Praise de Lord.
    Olga:  Alright, come on now.  Let's sing her favorite hymn.  Go ahead you start...sing whatever you know
    Rita sings:  ""I was blind but now I can see, He rescued me , he rescued me"...

    All voices singing and clapping and singing "Oh Victory in Jesus"

    Rita: Praise the Lord. That is wonderful Ms Olga. I remember those hymns but yuh know de tunes does tangle me up.  Sometimes I start with one and I join another...(laughter).  Sometimes my pastor would ask me in de church to sing...not that I wouldn't know how to sing, but I does be shame and I does feel that I doan want nobody to laugh at me.
    Olga: Nobody will laugh at you.
    Voices talking all at same time
    Olga: Another little chorus. Come on.
    All voices singing "The Time to be Happy is Now."
    Olga: Well in this happy gathering wishing Mrs Mayers a very Happy 104th birthday there is a young man and I must say I get a very good impression by the look on his face.  Young people as a rule try to get as far as possible away from old people, but it strikes me that you know Mrs Mayers and you like her.
    Boy : Yea, yes please.
    Olga: What is there about her that you like? 
  • Boy : I like her kind ways,and the way that she treats you.  And she always care for you. And any little thing she has, although it is not a lot, she would still like to give you some of it.
    Voices : Praise the Lord. Thank God
    Olga: You're a wonderful guy.  What's your name?
    Boy: Warren Beckles
    Olga: Are you related to her?
    Voices : No
    Boy: No please
    Woman's voice: Only in de Lord.  He is my grandson and that is his mother there.
    Olga : Yes?  You're his mother?
    Woman continues : And another grand daughter, look.  This is my grand daughter.
    (Laughter from Auntie Olga)
    Woman's voice again:  ...comes up and see to her???
    Olga : Well there is another young lady.  Lets see what the young lady has to say.  Now you're a teenager.  Tell me what do you think of Mrs. Mayers?
    Teenaged girl : Well, I like she.  She get along well with me...and.. sometimes I does come to look for her cause I know there's no one here with she...with her... and...to see how she doing and thing.  And I ask her how she feel and she tell me she is OK.  And if any lil thing or money so she got she will give me  (Olga laughs) and I will do anything for she.
    Olga : My gentleman, you pray for her?  Yea?  (laughter) Let me hear what sort of pray you pray for her.
    Voices in background concur that he does.                                                                                                                         Warren : I pray that no one would come and try to thief the apples or coconuts.  And I pray that she will have a good night rest sleep , and nothing will be on her mind, so that she can go to sleep without any trouble.Olga: You're a blessed little person.  You see what an inspiration you are to the little one?
    Rita : yes, yes.  And when he was a little child in the hand...and he would just kneel and he would tell me he gine pray for me. And he would come and he woud kneel down and  he would pray his own lil prayer yuh know and I use to feel that it was ever so much to me.  Look mistress I feel happy ...(voices saying Praise de Lord).  I am a very happy old lady (voices saying Thank God).  I thank God for everything that he has done for me.  He has brought me out of bondage into a marvellous life.

Title:Olga Interviews 104 Year Old Rita Mayers
Creator:Lopes Seale, Olga