STREET BEAT: Just cool in the club

Marlon Madden,

Added 23 November 2012


It is one of the coolest, if not the coolest place in Barbados. For that reason, a group of men who call themselves the Over 40s Club, gather for as many as eight hours at the location every evening – right outside the St George Parish Church. “Once you are over 40, you just come here and relax,” said Errol Reifer, father of the former West Indies cricketer Floyd Reifer. “This is one of the coolest, or the coolest spot on the island. When you come out here and sit, you don’t want to leave. It is that cool,” added Osmond Gaskin, another member who was interacting with Reifer and Alvin Clarke as the WEEKEND NATION arrived. A few minutes later they were joined by Ben Holder and Medford Padmore. When asked if the club was a real one, they replied, almost in unison, that their motto was “Just come here and sit down and behave yourself”. They said “membership” varied from day to day and as many as “ten or more” men, mostly retired, could be there on some days. Holder is said to be the “president” of the seven-year-old “club”. Asked where the idea originated to create the club, he explained: “It just came about like that. Before, there used to be tree roots and the boys used to sit on it and one guy in construction decided to bring some wood here and we made the benches and brought a domino table and we put up the sign The Over 40s Club. And that was it.” According to Holder, who spent many years in Germany before returning to Barbados in 2004, the men would gather each day at the Glebe and chat about “everything” and sometimes play dominoes. They start to assemble there from as early as 1 p.m. “There are guys who work but after work they would come and lime until about 9 o’clock. There is no action later than 9 o’clock,” said Holder. “When you have all blue skies it is hot, but when we sit down on those benches we get the breeze coming across the pasture and most people fall asleep. When they sit down there the breeze is so cool that they don’t want to leave. “If they have a date, they gine turn up late,” quipped Holder. The men said they had no female “members” but would get visits from a few of the ladies who operate in the nearby St George Farmers’ Market Co-op Society Ltd shop. These men are not only about talking and playing games. Realizing that they were spending a lot of their time at the church-owned spot, they decided to clean up the surroundings which were overgrown with shrubs and “unkempt” for years. They built a few benches, planted flowers, and transformed a derelict water fountain into a spectacular fish tank. With the area “transformed”, it became a popular spot for newlyweds and their guests to take pictures. “The priest was very proud of what we were doing,” Holder said, adding that while “members” did not pay periodic dues, they would all contribute financially and manually when the time came for the maintenance of the home of the ‘club’. “We bought a lawnmower and cut the grass and then plant all around and as soon as the place was looking respectable, the church people had a tea party here. And for weddings, they . . . come in here and take pictures,” he said. Holder said he believed keeping the location clean was something positive that younger men in other communities could emulate. “The Independence Committee in the constituency erected that, showing St George community heroes,” he said, pointing to a rock with names such as Ronald “Suki” King, Floyd Reifer and James Sisnett – the oldest man in Barbados – on it. The over 40s are planning a special Independence celebration to be held on November 30. Holder said that day they would be sharing in “a pot full of pelau, macaroni pie, sweet potato pie, souse, rum, whisky, brandy and beers.” “Members are always welcome,” he said.


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