From Behind the Counter: Poems From a Rural Jamaican Experience

From Behind the Counter: Poems From a Rural Jamaican Experience

Ian Randle Publishers
216 pages
5.5 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
Paperback ISBN: 978-9768123879

Easton Lee

Photographs by Owen Minott

Easton Lee was born to a Chinese father and a Jamaican mother of mixed racial heritage in the 1930s at Wait-a-bit, Trelawny, Jamaica. The family lived in several villages and towns as his parents ‘moved shop’ in search of a livelihood. Life was different then – no television, no telephones, inadequate road systems, no radio. The life of rural communities revolved and evolved around the church, the school and the village shop. The majority of these shops were owned and operated by Chinese families. Lee recalls that many evenings during his elementary schooldays were spent under the counter of his parents’ shop so he could be near to his mother as she attended to customers and helped him with homework. Customers, unaware of his presence, often discussed the village happenings and their private business in the most intimate details, giving him insight and information not otherwise available. His mother who was born at the turn of the century, fed him with stories and legends she had gleaned from her older relatives. An avid reader and a great storyteller, she often entertained her children and their friends with fascinating tales she had read or had heard in her childhood. His attention later turned to his Chinese heritage with his father and other Chinese relatives providing the link to that source. He found to his amazement that those teachings were not all that different from those of other sources, and in some instances were identical. This lively interest in and knowledge of Jamaican folklore which began in his schooldays was broadened and enhanced when, in adulthood, he went to work with Jamaica Social Welfare Commission, now the Social Development Commission, in a job which took him to every corner of the country.

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