'Back in those days'
Darliston resident says the community has made significant strides since Independence
DARLISTON, Westmoreland — Sixty-seven-year-old- Ezzleton Davis says the euphoria which broke out in his Darliston community after local boxing legend Bunny Grant defeated British man Dave Charnley to capture the Lightweight title Commonwealth heralded Independence Day celebrations in 1962.
The bout was held two days before Independence Day.
According to Davis, the majority of residents who could not afford a radio during those days tuned in to the broadcast of the fight on the sets of the handful of persons who were fortunate to possess one.
"The next morning it was a big news everybody saying Bunny Grant beat up the white man," Davis recalled.
He also told the Observer West on the night following the fight, residents woke up minutes ahead of midnight and tolled the bells at every church in the district to signal the dawn of political independence.
"Just minutes before midnight all the church bells begun to toll and at midnight we here in Eastern Westmoreland saw much firework as far as Spur Tree Hill, Manchester. Very few people wanted to sleep," Davis recalled.
Fifty years after, Davis says the quality of life in his community has improved by leaps and bounds.
"We have made giant strides. Lots of people would say they don't see anything that we can celebrate for 50 years, but I would say they are among the persons who born after Independence," reasoned Davis.
He pointed out that prior to 1962 residents of Darliston had to fetch water for domestic purposes from three ponds situated on a piece of land which now houses the Maud McLeod High School. The land, he said, was owned by a Scottish man who reared cattle. The animals, he said, would drink often times drink water from the ponds in which they would sometimes defecate and urinate.
" It was the same pond from which the cows drank, defecate and urinate in the water. That is the same water we had to use for domestic purposes. What people did was to use white lime and throw in the water to purify it. So we have come a far way," Davis shared.
He also spoke of other experiences, which he said are still indelibly etched in his memories, such as the unavailability of ice to the majority of residents in the community.
" Only the affluent people in the society could afford to buy ice then. They would buy a quarter block of ice and would store the ice in saw dust or sea sand and it would last for a few days," Davis recollected. "But as for the living conditions up to 1962, it was much to be desired because the only persons then who were able to use a flush toilet were the white people who owned these (Maud Mc Leod High School) property" .
Davis was speaking to reporters last Saturday during a Jamaica 50 celebration event hosted at the Maud McLeod High School, by Luther Buchanan, the member of Parliament for Eastern Westmoreland.
During the well attended function, students drawn from most of the schools in the constituency paraded their talents in a variety of cultural items.
" What you are seeing here is an event kicking off Eastern Westmoreland Jamaica 50 celebrations. Most schools in the constituency came forward and displayed their talents," Buchanan boasted.
All the participants, including students and their teachers were presented with Jamaica 50 souvenir medals by Buchanan "in memory of the event and to mark Jamaica's 50 anniversary celebrations as well."