Mon | Jul 16, 2018

Egerton Chang | Christmas then; and CTL myth

Published:Sunday | December 25, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Egerton Chang

I was too young to attend midnight Christmas Mass at Holy Cross, my mother said, until I was probably nine years old. All my older siblings, who weren't helping out in our supermarket, attended. I had come to consider it an adult thing.

Chang's Emporium was just a stone's throw away, and we could hear the congregation singing Christmas carols from the hour before midnight in what was, by then, the still of the night.

On the nights leading up to Christmas, revellers would occasionally pass by singing Christmas carols.

Virtually everyone you met on the street greeted you with a "Merry Christmas ... and a Happy New Year".

Such was the Christmas I remember when I was growing up into a teenager in the late 1950s to early 1960s.

If I am not mistaken, Half-Way Tree Road was still a two-lane road. Mark you, it was a very wide one, for the tram used to travel up the middle before its demise near the end of the 1940s. Then in the late 1950s, we witnessed, at our very doorstep, the introduction of the new type of road finishing called 'barber green', much like 'Cutex' was the name used for all nail polishes.

Alice Chang was a deeply religious lady. And even though my father, Percy Chang, outwardly wasn't, he never stood in her way in raising all their 13 children in the Roman Catholic way and performing all her charitable works, always contributing to many causes along the way.

Miss Alice was a stalwart of Holy Cross. I met a very elderly lady on Half-Way Tree Road a couple of years after Mama died, and she recounted to me how Mama would often bring food and drink to the workmen on the Spanish Mission-designed church, which was built in 1939-40.

Mama was in the Sodality, the Vincent de Paul Society, the choir. She participated in virtually every way. And prayed and prayed, and prayed.

She took her children to Mass every day for one year straight after the death of her son, Glen. I remember attending Mass at all the Roman Catholic churches in Kingston. From St Peter Claver to St Richard's; from St Thomas Aquinas to Our Lady of the Angels; from Holy Rosary to Holy Cross. And, of course, Holy Trinity Cathedral.

These masses took place like 6 in the mornings, in Latin, and were normally over in 35 minutes as no homily was usually given. We reached home in time to have breakfast and to go to school.

She was so religious that she gave me the nickname 'Paul' after Archbishop Paul from Nanking, China, had visited Jamaica in 1951 shortly after my birth.

Married when just 15 years old, her mother raised her as an Anglican. It is strange that having 'convinced' Mama to marry in the Catholic Church, I never saw Papa attend a service other than for his children's weddings and Glen's funeral.

But while I was away at McGill, Mama's entire life's work culminated in Mas Percy's acceptance and conversion. Shortly after, within a few months, Papa died suddenly in October 1973.


No Sunday Racing


In my column titled 'Robbed and conned; cut the crap; CTL Myth', published on April 20, 2014, I pointed out the myth that Caymanas Park was doing better on Sunday races than on Wednesday's.

Supported by actual figures, I demonstrated the fallacy being pushed in favour of races on Sundays:

"As can be seen in the table that accompanies this column, it is a myth that CTL is performing better on Sunday races than on Wednesday races, which it is meant to replace. As can be seen, this is after muscling up Sundays with better races, promotions, entertainment packages, and various feature races that Wednesdays rarely get. As can be seen, this is before having to pay double time to its staff for work on Sundays. As can be seen, this is before forgoing most of the 'rights fee' (which goes straight to CTL's bottom line) it is accustomed to getting from the bookmakers, most of whose branches cannot sell on Sundays.

Moreover, it doesn't take a genius to realise that Sunday racing must be detracting financially from Saturday races. Punters just don't have the financial resources to fully support back-to-back racedays. Those who have ears, let them hear."

Well, after flogging it for another two and a half years, that donkey has finally kicked the bucket. The ears, hard of hearing, have finally heard.

There is no Sunday race meet programmed on next year's racing calendar.

What is most distressing is that after trying for more than 30 years to establish Wednesday races as a fixture, with all the effort of Chris Armond, who often made the Wednesday programme better than even Saturday's, all of that has been sacrificed at the altar of Sunday racing.

From a peak of more than 30 Wednesday race meets, this year has only seen a handful of such racedays.

I asked the question in that said column:

"And what if CTL were to devote the same time and effort to Wednesday races? That would put Wednesdays on an equal-opportunity footing with Sundays, and it would not be difficult to see even a 10 per cent increase in Wednesday sales. That would further separate the men (Wednesdays) from the boys (Sundays)."

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all!

- Egerton Chang is a businessman. Email feedback to and