Bubbly Iona recites poem 97 years later
THERE WAS NO FREEZING for centenarian Iona Barrow yesterday.
Ninety-seven years after crying and running away when faced with a crowd after memorising a limerick that she was to perform at her church’s harvest celebration, the birthday girl performed it for a special audience of family yesterday.
Barrow, who celebrated her 100th birthday with an early morning church service, a visit from Governor General Dame Sandra Mason and a lunch with family at a restaurant, was reminiscing about her early life to members of the media.
“I always used to be in the church as a child,” she recalled.
“Three years old, St Philip, I remember when they had harvest. They tell me I was three years old. They gave me something to say, a recitation: ‘Cappy was a red man/Cappy was a thief/Cappy came to my house and stole a piece of beef’.
“And the day when I was to sing, I saw a crowd of people and I got excited and I cried and never said it.”
The centenarian who had 14 children – ten of whom are still alive – revealed she was born in Church Village, St Philip, but later moved to Farm Road, in the same parish, to live with a great aunt.
She left school at ten years old and got her first job then.
“My great-aunt work with the postmistress and she wanted a live-in girl,” Barrow recollected, adding the woman Ms Crawford, was not only the postmistress, but the organist at St Philip’s Parish Church.
“But when I got there, she said: ‘Oh no, I can’t take this, you is too small’. But she took me in with the little hand broom and I work one month for one dollar a month until I knew the butler work, and then I work with her five years,” the many-time grandmother said.
She rattled off the routine like she had been doing it all alone.
“One day was glass windows. One day was brass and every chair foot, and one day was silver –about 15 silver waiters – and Fridays I used to clean about 15 knives and a knife board.
“They was very good to me,” she remembered, adding she continued to work as a maid long after she had grown up.
It was that woman’s daughter, who ran a school, who helped her to continue her education.
“She used to keep a white school. So when I do my morning work, I would go in and I did that work. I used to take lessons with the white people and one hour after I got through with the learning, she would give me work to take home for the next day.”
Barrow said while raising 11 children was not easy, she ensured she passed on that emphasis on education to her children. She proudly said she got ten of the 11 into secondary school. However, she rues the day she did not pay more attention to French and Spanish.
She was confirmed and married when she was 26, but her husband predeceased her.
Today, she still carries on the tradition of her morning walks, something long ingrained in her from those days of walking from her Farm Road home to St Philip’s Girls’ School. (HLE)