Saturday, June 27, 2015

Papa's Whistle

My father was a great story teller, a man so full of joy, being in his presence always call up one’s innate joy. He would act out the parts of the stories told and roar with laughter when he sensed there was something funny in one of his characters. Laughter so loud you could hear it from miles away. He would take me to Mr. Winny’s shoemaker’s shop where all his friends would gather in the cooling evening. Papa held center stage. All the men had stories to tell, but none equaled Papa’s so his would be the last before everyone left for their respective homes and cooling dinners. Papa would then say to me, “come puss you have to go home.” The warmth of those times in the shoemaker’s shop sustains me even now when I reach for my own joy.

Papa liked to tell the story of the time he met Errol Flynn, the movie actor and how his life could have changed. Mr. Flynn who had a home in Port Antonio was having a swimming pool built. Don’t know why as the beach and see was almost on his door step. Papa was among the laborers who digging the hole to make the swimming pool. The next best thing my father did, besides telling stories. was whistle. He had a beautiful trilling whistle that made birds listen not to and learn. He was whistling that day while digging and the actor himself heard him. Needless to say the actor was moved and wanted to know who was issuing such wonderful and amazing sounds from his lips. The foreman told the actor that it was my father and the actor asked to meet him.

When Papa went up the house he was greeted as a celebrity by the actor. Naturally, in those days one had to be respectful to one’s employer. Mr. Flynn told Papa how truly exceptional his whistling was and how much he enjoyed hearing him make music with his lips. My father was grateful for the compliment. But it did not end there. Mr. Flynn told Papa he was working on a new movie and he wanted Papa to whistle in the background somehow. Papa started making plans in his mind to go America which was where Mr. Flynn was making his movie. Papa knew his life would change, after he went to America. It did not happen however as Mr. Flynn died shortly thereafter and Papa had to wait several decades for me to make to America before he had his opportunity to see that country. Pity, I may have been from Hollywood and a different life had Mr. Flynn lived.