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Character Bio

By Lurline Martineau

What a contrast between where I grew up and where I live now!

 

My home for twenty-two years was beautiful, warm Grenada, West Indies. I was born five years before World War two started. The war affected every one in the island as we depended on imported goods including foods, manufactured goods, textiles, which came by boats from other larger countries. The Caribbean Sea was not safe from the enemies patrolling the area.

Being one of eight, I was forced to share everything. I shared a bed with three sisters; one older sister slept on a cot, my only brother had his own tiny room, and my two oldest sisters shared a small room. My father was a carpenter and as the family grew larger, he acquired bits and pieces from other houses to add to the house. Somehow he provided the necessities, so we did not starve. I had a fairly good education at The Anglican Girls High School. I received a scholarship so my parents did not pay tuition. My mother sewed for all seven girls, and I was quite familiar with hand-me-owns. She cooked every day, and was creative with the meals. We depended on our garden to sustain us, and we ate fish every day except on Sunday when we had meat.

We had to attend church services every Sunday. I had no choice in anything then. My mother made all the decisions in the home, and we had to abide by them. When I became a teenager, I envied the girls in my class, as they had nice clothes, things we could not afford, like toys, a bicycle, and spending money. Of course I was content as I did not know any better. After I passed my Cambridge School Certificate exams, I ended up sewing for people to make some money. I did not know what I wanted to do. Then Henry from New York came into my life. We got married in 1956, and three months later I arrived here to live in Brooklyn.

Big difference! Cold weather! Coats, sweaters, hats, and boots! I missed my family, and wanted to return to sunny Grenada where the sky was always blue. No family, except Henry’s sister and mother. I had to sleep with a man, my husband. We shared an apartment with his sister, and a year later we had our own apartment. I had a choice of clothes, furniture, entertainment, not going to church, getting a job, food (which was plentiful),and an allowance. Television was a novelty to me, and I specially enjoyed the mystery shows.

Two things I have in common with my early life are partying and reading. I learned to cook from Ma and Utha my sister-in-law. My first job was as a keypunch operator in 1957. I worked my way up in my data-processing career to magnetic media manager, when I retired in 1995. We had two sons and a daughter. Now they have their families and homes, and I live alone in my mortgage-free home, as Henry died in 1996. I enjoy reading medical and murder mysteries, cooking, entertaining, writing my memoirs, handcraft, facilitating, traveling, and of course–my grandchildren.

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