Letter of the Day | Kindness lasts generations
THE EDITOR, Sir:
I arrived in Kingston on Christmas Day in 1962 along with my Canadian girlfriend, Gwen. We left Southampton in early December on the Spanish passenger liner, the SS Montserrat, for our three-week voyage.
When we disembarked in Kingston and walked out on to Port Royal Street, our first impressions were not very favourable, as it was a fairly run-down area and there seemed to be quite a few rather unfriendly-looking men hanging around. We asked a taxi driver to take us to a nicer area.
The cabbie took us to The Cloud Nine on Half-Way Tree Road, which was a bar and restaurant where, after a few minutes, we got into a conversation with a Jamaican who was absolutely flabbergasted when he learned that we had just arrived on the island, didn't know anybody, didn't have any jobs, and didn't have anywhere to live. What we didn't tell him was that we only had 40 pounds sterling between us.
There then followed one of the most amazing acts of kindness imaginable. The gentleman, whose name I am ashamed to say I do not remember, told us that he had a small cottage behind his house on Mountain View Avenue and that we could stay there until we got ourselves settled in.
We immediately accepted this very generous offer and all piled into his Morris Oxford, which was parked outside, and headed off down to Mountain View Avenue where, upon arrival, he introduced us to his wife and two teenage children, a boy and a girl, and then showed us the little cottage where we would be staying.
On Boxing Day, he said that I could take his car with Gwen and his two teenagers and they would show us around upper St Andrew. With me at the wheel, off we set, with the kids directing me to Barbican and other areas and then on our return journey, we drove down Lady Musgrave Road where, on a playing field, I saw a bunch of guys playing rugby.
We formed acquaintances with the rugby players that day, among them a chap named Colin Edwards, who was a lawyer who worked at Clinton Hart and Company, and another, Dr John Masterton, a vet who took care of me a couple of years later when I broke my collar bone.
So Gwen and I were happy, and through the host of friends and contacts we made through the rugby community, in no time we both had jobs and were able to leave the incredibly kind family on Mountain View Avenue and move to a little apartment at Beverly Hills.
I am very much indebted to Gwen, because I would not have made that trip 54 years ago by myself, and I am equally indebted to the man on Mountain View Avenue who is probably no longer with us. However, his children probably are, and if they see this letter, I would love them to get in touch with me.
JAMES H. SNEAD