Ivy Taylor reminiscing on her life, one with hardships and joy. (Pictures by Nigel Browne.)
As part of the Nation Publishing Company’s 50th anniversary of Independence celebrations, the WEEKEND NATION team – through this series – This Is My Story – will be speaking to people who migrated to the island and visitors who have come and fallen in love with our shores. We invite you to share with us or point us in the direction of an interesting person we can feature each week.
IVY TAYLOR HAS had a hard life – on her own from an early age and raising eight children mostly by herself in a land in which she was not a native.
However, the snow cone vendor remains joyful for her life and happy Barbados is her home. The WEEKEND NATION caught up with Taylor at Charles F. Broome Primary School, where she has been selling the sweet treats for the past 20 years.
Taylor said selling snow cones was not her first occupation as she began her work life on Bulkeley Plantation.
“I came here in 1961 at age 14 from St Lucia. My father was a Bajan and he brought me and it was real hard too at that time because I never went back to school and I soon got pregnant,” she said.
So there she was – 15 years of age and estranged from her father, as she said he did not want anything to do with her after she became pregnant.
“My father kicked me out so I went to live with my grandmother. For ten years, I had to load cane at Bulkeley and when the cane season was gone, I worked ‘hard time’ in the ground – picking potatoes and ting,” she said.
Such memories are not easy for Taylor, even all these years later. She said she had to leave her son in the care of her grandmother while she worked long hours in the fields. From Bulkeley, Taylor said she did maid work for a number of years before she picked up snow cones.
The story of how she got her first cart was actually told by her daughter Ann Boyce, who also vends at the school. She said her grandfather at least made a contribution eventually, albeit later in life.
“I remember one day my grandfather came by us and gave her a snow cone cart. I will never forget what he said to her. He said he had never given her much but with that cart, she can get her own and from there she just kept selling,” Boyce said.
Taylor said her first route was in town but she soon moved to the now Graydon Sealy Secondary School, where she spent a number of years, proudly adding she knew Minister of Finance Christopher Sinckler when he was s student there. However, she said times were harder now.
“When I first started, it was good but it is not like before now. I used to make more money then, even though snow cones were cheaper. Snow cones were flourishing at that time but today people do not buy like before. While I used to sell 2 – 300 a day, yesterday I don’t feel I sell 50,” she said.
Despite this, Taylor said she was thankful to God for her life and glad she came to Barbados because, as difficult as things had been for her, she believed she would have been worse off back in St Lucia.
“I don’t think if I had stayed, I would have earned the money I have as the EC dollar is lower that the Barbados dollar. Plus snow cones don’t really sell there the same; it is an altogether different culture,” she said.
Even so, she admitted times were easier in the past where she said it was easier to access help.
“When I first came things were a lot different here. The people were nicer; you could get anything to eat cheap – at Bulkeley I could get a bag of sprouts to take home for my children – and the Welfare provided clothes for the children. Nowadays things are harder.
“But I don’t think anything bad about Barbados. I worked here, I raised my children here. Despite the hardship, I thank God every day. I have my home here, my children all have their own homes and I give God thanks and praise for what He’s done for me and continues to do for me,” she said.
Boyce said her mother was and continued to be an inspiration to her as, when she was retrenched from the National Conservation Commission, she said her mother inspired her to work her herself as a vendor – a move she said she never regretted.
“She is my biggest hero and my inspiration, all through my life. Now I am a mother too and I will be to them what she was to me and my siblings,” she said. (CA)