Things We Love

Jamaica in Pictures: Reminders of Way Back When

At the back of my St. Elizabeth grandma’s house was an “ole kitchen”. That’s what she called it; so, as children, that’s what we called it too.

It was a simple structure made of red clay and stones. It had a zinc roof, a board window in the wall to the right and a board front door which was kept padlocked whenever the kitchen wasn’t in use. The ground was rough and made of the same red clay and stones.

I remember seeing two irons, the kind you heat up over coals or firewood to press clothes and linen. I also remember the fireplace which was built up against the left wall of the kitchen, about two-feet high. The fireplace was filled with grey ashes, remnants of the firewood used for cooking. My mother reminded me that there were also three large rocks in the fireplace. The firewood would go between the rocks, and the pots would go on top of the rocks.

Inside her house, Grandma had a “new” kitchen equipped with a gas range, sink, shelves and a prep table. There were two windows in that kitchen: one which opened outward by the sink, and a sash window which didn’t open at all by the stove.

Although Grandma was satisfied with the functionality of her new kitchen, every now and then, she would cut across the yard to the ole kitchen to do any major cooking that could potentially smell up the house, like frying fish or boiling lobster.

There was always excitement whenever we children couldn’t find Mama and den hear seh shi in di ole kitchen. Being curious children, it was invitation to go faas an’ look round.

I love old things: old churches, old homes, old utensils, old anything. If it dates back a good century, at least, I’m a happy camper. If it’s early to mid 20th century, wi can still talk.

Years ago, as part of a work field trip, I had visited an artist named Will. He was a middle-aged, Caucasian, Englishman living in a two-storey house in the hills of Manchester, Jamaica. His upstairs studio barely had walking room because of the overflow of paintings, carvings and pottery.

The place had all the trappings of an ancient edifice: creaky, wooden floors; creaky, wooden doors and based on the unexplained movements of the studio door and a desperate cry of “Will!! Will!!” from a little boy in another room, I’m guessing it probably had a ghost or two.

Across Jamaica, there are many physical reminders of the past: of our indigenous Taino people; of the enslaved and free Africans who came to our shores; of the foreign powers that invaded our island; of the ships that docked in our harbours; of the battles fought over island ownership; of the Christian missions that set down roots; and of our parents, grandparents, great grandparents and so on.

Not all treasures are contained in museums. Some, like my grandmother’s ole kitchen, are within the boundaries of our ancestral homes, while others are scattered openly throughout the length and breadth of Jamaica.

My fellow Jamaicans and non-Jamaicans, take some time, now and then, to explore these old things and allow yourselves to be wowed.

To help stimulate the explorer in you, trigger your own memories and spark your imagination about what Jamaican life may have been like way back when, below are pictures of a few old things. These were found within St. Ann. My hope is to expand my own exploration, add more photos to this album, and, of course, share them with you.

Iron and three-legged pot
An Iron and three-legged pot. Did your parents or grandparents have any of these?
Cassava grinder, Ocho Rios, St. Ann
Cassava grinder. A reminder of cassava’s importance in our culinary history.
Ship's binnacle
A ship’s binnacle. Is it me, or does this remind you of a Minion (Despicable Me movie)?
Ocho Rios Fort
The Ocho Rios Fort was built in the 17th century then reinforced in 1760 when Jamaica came under attack from French forces.
Ocho Rios Fort
A close-up of one of the cannons at Ocho Rios Fort. It points out to sea. I wonder how the French felt when they spotted this through their telescope.
Anglican Church, St. Ann's Bay
The St. Ann’s Bay Parish Church (Anglican) is an imposing, cut-stone structure in the bustling town of St. Ann’s Bay. The building was completed September 1871 at the corner of Main Street and Church Street.

Catch yuh next time!

Peace and love,


6 thoughts on “Jamaica in Pictures: Reminders of Way Back When”

  1. Never seen those artifacts before, except the iron my mom used to iron our clothes back in the stone age 🙂 I like such quirky things now though 🙂 The cassava grinder is charming. If I had one, I would probably flog it on ‘Cash In The Attic’ here lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. When I saw Mama’s old irons, I remember being in awe that people could iron without electricity. But from what my mother tells me, those irons left your linens looking crisp:-)


      1. We grew up without electricity or running water in our house for 18 years. My mom became expert with her hands and so she knew how to manipulate using such irons until I was also taught how to use them. Wouldn’t now… too laborious 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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