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Big on Aunt Boo’s bakes

Chris Williams

Big on Aunt Boo’s bakes

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In the search for the sweetie woman at St Bartholomew’s Primary School, another novelty was discovered.
Unlike many of the women who sell food items around the island’s primary school, Buttell Bradshaw – or, Aunt Boo as she is called by many – has been selling mainly fishcakes and bakes for over 40 years.
Soft-spoken and unassuming, the 76-year-old could be the Guinness World Records person who has made the most Bajan fishcakes and bakes – she may win the prize for the best-tasting as well.
Hers is a story that would seldom be told, as she is a very reserved person who has just gone about her life in simple ways: praising the Lord, working hard, being a mother and a loyal daughter of the soil.
Aunt Boo grew up in Parish Land, Christ Church, and has lived most of her life there. She and her mother attended the Providence Methodist church and as they prayed together, so they worked together. Her mother was into buying and selling and she kept her young daughter close so she would learn how to provide for oneself.
When her mother retired, Aunt Boo’s days of apprenticeship proved vital and she started to fend for herself. Waiting for a handout was not on her mind; she chose self-employment.
Over the years Aunt Boo has also been a livestock farmer raising cows, pigs and chickens. In 1970 she began selling at St Bartholomew Boys’ School and stayed on after it amalgamated with St Bartholomew’s Girls’ school in 1995 and became St Bartholomew’s Primary.
“As long as the good Lord give me strength and these two old feet can keep me up, I will be at this school every school morning,” she said.
Work on the fishcakes and bakes starts daily at 5 a.m. with the making, mixing and setting of the ingredients. At 6:30 a.m. she starts to “drop” them in the frying pan and by 8 a.m. she is selling.
When asked why fishcakes and bakes, she said: “Why not? Is good Bajan food and generations galore grow up eating fishcakes and bakes.”
She admitted that with all the things children can choose from, they may sometimes go for sweets but will always return to her fishcakes and bakes.
Aunt Boo invited the SATURDAY SUN to ask Minister of Education Ronald Jones about his days at the school, saying he would be sure to mention her fishcakes and bakes.
Aunt Boo is a humble woman who doesn’t consider what she has done to be extraordinary. Life, she says, has a way of making and shaping people into who they are, and her upbringing, acceptance of hard work, her love for children and commitment to succeed have made her who she is today.
In a society that encourages people to make a positive contribution, Buttell “Aunt Boo” Bradshaw is a good example of a Barbadian woman with characteristic pride and industry.
Fishcakes and bakes is a traditional dish but as our nation becomes more affluent, this “survival food” may lose its rightful place in our lives.
Aunt Boo’s 42 years of providing generations of students at St Bartholomew Primary School with a Bajan delicacy must be considered a vital thread in our national fabric.