ROCKING CHAIR STORIES: Special people in his life
I’M GETTING SO MANY CALLS I tell them that I’m tired; I done with that; I am finished.”
A response from the patriarch of Barbados’ dentists, Dr Jimmy Smith, who observed: “Working in one job for 54 years, you get tired; it has been a long time.”
Jimmy set up his Spry Street office in the early ’70s. Last year he decided to take a breather, opening only one day a week. “But my hundreds of clients don’t seem to understand; they continue to call.”
There have been many special people in the life of Jimmy Smith but the one he cherishes most is The Dipper – National Hero His Excellency the Rt. Hon. Errol Walton Barrow, Barbados’ first Prime Minister.
His parents James and Elaine Smith and their four children, Jimmy, Bunny, Shirley and Joan, owned a large property at Browne’s Gap (off Hastings, Christ Church), and on that property was a lawn tennis court.
Jimmy recalled: “We got together with our friends and decided to form the Melwee Lawn Tennis Club.”
Jimmy continued: “They have all passed on – Daddy was a civil servant, Shirley was the businessman, he was the gambler and Bunny a medical doctor in Montreal. They have all passed on; and my wife died in 2009.”
Gettting back to Melwee, he recalled that this was an era during Barbados’ transition when there were white clubs and black clubs and Melwee was regarded as one of the top black clubs.
Jimmy observed: “Dipper must have been ten years old when we became friendly and it remained that way until his passing.
“He played tennis with us up at Melwee when I was a little boy. He was a regular member of the family. In those days people like the Talmas and the Wards, Dr Scott [later Sir Winston, first native Governor General], Dr Cato [later Sir Arnott], ‘’Sinks’ Ashby, James Millington and so on, all of them were Melwee tennis players. I was a youngster then, fielding ball, a ball boy, when those fellows were playing.”
When Jimmy joined the Royal Air Force [RAF] in the mid-’40s Dipper had already qualified as a navigator.
“I was the only Bajan in a contingent of 20 West Indians which left for England. We started there and then they carried us to New Brunswick, Canada, for training. But after two years I was demobbed without having achieved that objective. My sight failed me.
“When we were both in Nova Scotia, Dipper would come over to my camp, pick me up and we would drive down to Montreal.
“There is no question about it. Dipper was my very good friend. He is the one who put me in local Government.
“When he became Prime Minister, he would meet with Howard Roberts when he visited Brooklyn, New York, and I would join them. He was also a very good friend of my brother Bunny’s.”
He recalled some of his moments in time. “I was the first Barbados Scout to attend the World Jamboree in Holland, along with Lisle Harrison.
Today, although he might complain of ‘being lonely, Dr Jimmy Smith can change the situation at any time by visiting the Barbados Cruising Club. He is a founding member and observed, “These days the Club is buzzing.”