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STREET BEAT: Times tough but they’re not giving up

CARLOS ATWELL, ​[email protected]

STREET BEAT: Times tough but they’re not giving up

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As part of the Nation Publishing Company’s 50th anniversary of Independence Celebrations, the WEEKEND NATION is dedicating the Street Beat column to a staple of Barbadian life – the rum shop – as we fire a shot for 50.

THERE IS A lot of history in Sarge’s Bar in The Ivy, St Michael.

The current owner, appropriately known as “sarge”, is Edwin Dailey but he said the name started with his late partner, “Miss Sarge”.

“Sarge’s Bar always used to have food selling. “Miss Sarge” was known for her chicken but I’m more about the pork. My favourite part about all this is cooking – I cook anything, especially when it has to do with pork,” he said.

Dailey said he had run the bar on two occasions. He has been at the helm for the past seven years after a hiatus and before that, for six. Currently he is the president of the Saints Pool Club and, together with the BUT Sports Club, they have leased the bar from the owners.

Daily recalled the halcyon days of Sarge’s Bar, saying it was not what it once was.

“For the last couple of months, things real slow. Before, it was thriving. We used to have pool competitions, dances and karaoke on Thursdays plus we had one of the biggest Q In The Communitys here but now everything gone slow,” he said.

As the team spoke to Dailey, a group of women came in and started to set up. They said they were part of the Let’s Move Out (LMO) together group which held Tuesday shop limes at various locations every week and this week was Sarge’s Bar’s turn.

Food, limes, pool, dances and karaoke are not things associated with the old- time rum shops but Dailey said such things were in the past, even though he said they represented a quieter, safer time.

“This generation is a computer generation. Once before you could walk in a rum shop, get a drink and eat some corned beef and biscuits but now they’re called bars and you can watch TV and get a proper meal. It’s a more modernised thing, nobody interested in the old ways anymore.

“I remember having to go for my grandfather in the rum shop and bring him home. Even so, it was a quieter, safer time. Now if you step wrong, a man would bring out a gun,” he said.

Dailey said Sarge’s Bar was not a place for trouble anyway as he was respected in The Ivy and he spent time teaching youngsters to play pool, trying to influence them positively.

“There will be a place in The Ivy for Sarge’s Bar for a long time to come,” he said.

One of the LMO members, Jackie Gibson is herself a shop owner. She runs Jackie’s Hideaway in Bush Hall, St Michael, an operation attached to her home that she began after working for others and desiring to open her own place.

“I opened this in 1991. My mum and all my family came along selling things so it is in my blood but I used to work at restaurants and hotels first before brekking for myself. I always said one day I would do it,” she said.

Like Sarge’s, Gibson said things had gotten slow after a “sparkling” start.

“We used to keep dances and have karaoke but things slow off with the economic times. Most of my clientèle comes on weekends and some after work on weekdays but I am planning to start doing things again,” she said.

Gibson said she intended to keep struggling with her hideaway as giving up was not in her nature. She said there was still room for bars in Barbados.

“Sometimes I feel like giving up but that’s not my style. I would tell anyone looking to get in this business to try; I feel everybody should get an opportunity to do something for themselves and if it don’t work out, so be it. I will hold on and see how times go,” she said.

Like Gibson, Kellon Gordon operates a bar, called K’s Bar and Variety, attached to her home.

“I have had this for 11 years now. From a l’il girl I did like selling things. I used to work with a lady in Bagatelle selling vegetables but after working for other people, I found I wanted to work for myself, although it is a lot of hard work,” he said.

Much like the others, Gordon said times were tough but she had her faithful customers to keep her afloat. One of them, Sheldon Watson, spoke about why he frequented K’s Bar.

“I come to play dominoes, talk with the fellas, drink a drink and enjoy the menu. It is a cool spot, no rowdy behaviour except when the men get hype and start to talk loud. The only thing is it so close to the road, you got to watch for traffic,” he said.

Gordon counted the proximity to the road as a plus as well as the fact she operated rent free. She said she was prepared to endure for the long haul and when she finally retired, was confident her son would take over.