Sixty-two years ago, Florence Scobie took a well-earned holiday. She could not forget the time spent with her Cousin Evelyn and Nens Doona and Elsie. So she took time to acknowledge a “very pleasant time spent with” them.
To show how much she enjoyed being with the trio, she put a dollar in the letter she sent them. Light-heartedly, she wrote, "when I get rich, I will surely do better."
Life was full of promise. After a busy decade, leisure time spent with aunts and friends in Tobago left the letter writer "looking better than when I left home," as a namesake put it. She lived the dream of grandmothers Florence and Mary, who both dreamed of better.
A Sense of Purpose
Mary called her son Alpheus. The name reflected nothing of his birthplace, Lambeau in Tobago, or Cumana village, where he lived in Trinidad. Curiously, however, it suggested a school at Maracas, Trinidad, that set him thinking. When Alpheus heard of that school, he left Cumana. True to his strange name, he made his way into what, to others, was “a new-fangled belief originating in a foreign country.”1
For Alpheus, Seventh-day Adventism opened a door. Inside that door preachers saw “hundreds of natives taking work in mission or primary schools who are not yet members.”2 For my father however, what he found surpassed everything else.
“Taking work” transformed life for the former student of Anglais Anglican School in Cumana. For him, attending school in Port of Spain was out of the question. The closest possible school, St Andrew's High, also called Dasent High School, or Breadfruit Lodge, was a private secondary. Though this would soon open, the three dollar monthly tuition fee was as unthinkable for Alpheus as travel to Port of Spain. ((See Scobie, Beverly. Via the Roundabout. 2022. Paria Publishing, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. 129. Soo, Charles Kong. “Eastlyn Errol Dasent, 1916-1994: Pioneer of Education in the East” Trinidad and Tobago Guardian, Sep 2018.))
In those circumstances, Adventism customised post-primary education to suit persons like him. As his youngest child observed, nine decades later, entrance to Caribbean Training College (CTC) depended on his willingness to bring a cutlass or hoe to school.3
At age twenty-five, Mary’s son, Alpheus seized the opportunity to help build a school like no other. CTC would help make dreams come true, as lesson two shows.
Florence and Horace in 2004, at the hillside site of Phillipi House in Moriah, Tobago, where grandma's brother, Herbert and her sister, MeMe and her cats lived up to the 1960s.
Grandma Florence had a home of her own below the hill, on the roadside, at King’s Turn. The rusted boiler (water tank) on the left is all that remains of the two homes to and from which, as an infant, I shuttled regularly for foodstuffs.
To the right, on another hillside, is a neighbour’s home (painted white). Above it is the Post Office. Atop that hill sits the Public Works Department Office.
- Murray, Eric John. A history of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Trinidad and Tobago, 1891-1981. 1982. College Press, Trinidad and Tobago. 56.
- Rogers, H E. “The Progress of the Message” Central Union Outlook, 23 Sep 1930. 8.
- Scobie, Beverly. Via the Roundabout. 2022. Paria Publishing, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. 130.