Sun | Jun 20, 2021

Downtown memories

Published:Monday | March 26, 2012 | 12:00 AM
Kelly

Forgive me if this week finds me a little nostalgic as I go back to the happy days of my youth.

The Gleaner has been publishing a series of articles and pictures about downtown Kingston. This has led me to search through the brain for memories of that part of the city. My earliest recollections would probably be going to the pantomime at the Ward Theatre. I remember a few of the plays, and I always marvelled at the colour, the music and the real Jamaican jokes in our language. So what if I didn't know King Street from East Queen Street and if I thought 'Parade' referred to a marching band? It was fun.

My prep school was always entering the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission events, so twice we made the trek downtown to perform. Once was to St George's College, the history and fame of the school not truly registering with me at the time. Another trip was to what I believe was the Kingston Parish Church Hall. I can't even tell how we did in those competitions. I just remember the awe of being in a different part of Jamaica. The design of the buildings was nothing like what I'd seen before - it just felt magical.

Turning point

Then there were a few forays during my high-school days that took me and other history students to the Institute of Jamaica. Can't forget that trip because that was when we were told that the people who had come to Jamaica were the Tainos not the Arawaks! A turning point in my education, teaching me to always question every fact. Helps in my work. And speaking of work, in light of the affinity that I have for this part of the city, I really shouldn't be surprised that I ended up working on North Street.

Now mind you, there are things that need improvement downtown. The streets are cleaner than before, but we can still do more. Some of these old buildings need to go or be refurbished and we still have a few too many street people. Getting to know the one-way/two-way roads can be tricky, and there's nowhere to park.

But take nothing away from the aura of the city. There's a smell (not the gutters), a look and a feel about the place I love. The International Seabed Authority headquarters are down there for crying out loud. Many countries could have had that honour, but it was bestowed on us. Now that says something.

I have a little 'chill' spot by the waterfront. Sometimes I sit there and wonder what Kingston looked like back then and what it will look like in 50 years. Honestly, I can't wait to see.

Tell me your best views of downtown Kingston at daviot.kelly@gleanerjm.com