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Kingston, Jamaica

21a Lincoln Road, Franklin Town, Kingston, is where I spent most of my 30 years in Jamaica. I had the good fortune of having two mothers and 1-1/2 fathers. My aunt-mom, with whom I went to live at about age 2 or 3 or 4, was extremely strict and a God-fearing woman. She would whip our ass because the Bible said if you spare the rod you spoiled the child. I absolutely loved her because although she was really my aunt, I could hit her son, my elder, and run to her as if she were home base. More than admonishing me to hit her son, she would remind him that was older and shouldn't retaliate. I absolutely adored him, but that didn't prevent me from cursing him from time to time. I have always had a long patience but very short temper.


Our mother was so strict that we had to hide to read, not only comic books but books period. To her, the only books we should be reading were our school books, because any other was wasting our time. So we would hide the comic books in our shirts and go to the toilet, or I would read them under the bed when I should be sweeping the floor, or we would go under the house to read them. About 60 years later, I can still remember the smell of the freshly-bought comic books.


And like most Jamaican parents, when she whipped us there was no stopping until we started to cry, and then she would whip us to hush up and stop making all that noise. I was tough at school, there the teachers whipped our asses as well, and never once cried. I remember once, maybe 1950, when I was whipped in front of the entire school, lying on my stomach while the headmaster of all people whipped my ass. I will never forget, heading back to my desk in Third Class and hearing this voice of a fellow studen, a girlt: "Don't cry, B. Barr."


BTW, you can bet that picture was taken on a Sunday because we had no time to be sitting around and taking pictures during the week. We all had our chores, no matter whether we had a maidservant or not. That has made me very independent in life and can do just about everything for myself.


It is a never-ending story, so I'll stop here.

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Taken on February 6, 1949