|Prince Street, Frederiksted, St. Croix, VI
Photo taken in 2005
|Queen Cross St., Frederiksted, St. Croix, VI
We lived here until June 1960
Photo taken in 2005
The pink house above is where I was told we first lived. I cannot remember the house. Prior to
Hugo, here stood a one story wooden house. The house was subdivided into apartments. Ma
calls these type of homes, "ranchones" or "cuarteles". From here, we moved around the corner
to Queens Cross Street. (If I am not mistaken the family lived in an apartment behind Johnny
Belardo's store for a while before moving to Prince St.)
My memories of Frederiksted begin on Queen Cross Street. The green house above, right side,
is the house on Queen Cross Street. When we lived there, there were no white bricks on the
porch and the house was a gray color, the color of cement, since it was never painted. We lived
in the left half, and Carmen and Bucky lived in the right half. Carmen eventually moved to
Puerto Rico. Bucky stayed on St. Croix and eventually became a policeman.
The quarters on Queen Cross Street were tight. I remember the bedroom being filled with
beds and a crib. There was also a "chiforoble", an armoire. Though the quarters were tight,
I had lots of fun.
During the years I grew up on Queen Street, the town of Frederiksted was filled with excitement.
Malls did not exist at the time. It was a time when we spent more time with family and friends.
There were less cars, less businesses. Some homes had no phone, no TV. Even with less,
we had more fun! What happened to the good old days?
I attended St. Patrick's School from Kindergarten to grade 8 then St. Joseph's from 9 to 12.
We walked to St. Pat's but took a bus to St. Joe's. In the classrooms, we were only allowed to
speak English, unless we were in a foreign language class. At home, Ma preferred we spoke
only Spanish and on the street we spoke Crucian, the local dialect. With my siblings, relatives
and Puerto Rican friends, I could switch back and forth between Spanish and Crucian.
That was fun. Most Crucians thought we were talking about them when we switched
to Spanish. That was rarely the case!!
The most incredible incident that took place in St. Patrick's was the note that was sent home
which my brother decided to answer. My teacher, a nun, wanted to know my full name. My
brother read the note and wrote, "George Wash The Clothes". At the time my mother washed
laundry for some neighbors. The nuns didn't think it was funny and called my brother in.
I can't recall if he was punished or not.
Growing up on St. Croix was exciting. Where else would I have learned Spanish, English and
Crucian (the local dialect)? Where else would I have been able to enjoy such foods as arroz
con pollo, rice and beans, kallaloo, red peas soup (the best red peas soup was made by Isabel
Romero!), molsillas, pasteles, pastelillos, souse, and the like? And then there were all the local
fruits: guava, gooseberry, guavaberry (used to make a delicious alcoholic beverage around
the Christmas holidays), mespel (nispero), sour sop, mango (a few varieties), custard apple,
sugar apple, jojo plum, coco plum, hog plum, genip, etc, etc, etc. My mouth waters just
thinking about the food and fruits!
Family was very important when I was growing up. Most weekends, we spent in Estate Whim,
La Granja. Most of the times, we'd walk to Estate Whim. There we'd visit Mama Lola and
Papa Leo. Other relatives would come by. Sometimes, they'd be relatives visiting from off island.
A big feast would be prepared when off island relatives visited and on other special occasions.
On some weekends, we visited Titi Guilla in Estate Coble.
On some weekends, we'd go to the beach. There was First and Second Target Walls,
Dorsch Beach, Prosperity Beach (now known as Rainbow), Sandy Point and Cramer's Park
(in Christiansted). We walked to some of these beaches we, while to others we went by car,
mostly with Pin (Pablo). In June, around "el Dia De San Juan", we'd go to Ham's Bluff with
Maria Monell and her children. We'd walk to the Bluff and spend the entire day there. We'd
fish and eat what we caught. Sometimes we'd have whelks (wilks).
And when I wasn't with relatives at La Granja or on the beach, I'd be with friends fishing on the
pier, hunting and/or looking for fruits. We'd walk to Annaly for mangoes in the summer. Mesples
we got from Clark's pasture. Coco plum were picked when we visited Sandy Point. Some times
we'd sit in the park on Strand Street and watch the passing ships. If a ship looked as if it was
going to visit the island, we'd try to guess what type of ship it was. There were more than one
group of friends since not each friend was interested in the same activity. The group going to
Annaly would not necessarily consist of the same individuals as the group going fishing, etc.
In the town of Frederiksted on Strand Street, we had Jacaranda. Jacaranda was an all-in-one
establishment. It was an ice cream parlor, a club, a place to hang out, etc. The jukebox had
great music. There was a photo taking machine that produced the photos instantly that
was very popular. I think it cost about a dime for 3 or 4 black and white photos. (See Family 4
for an idea of what the photos looked like.) By the time I became interested in watching movies
on a big screen, the theater on Market Street was closed. I did, however, go to the Alexander
Hamilton Theater in Christiansted. The first flick I saw there was a James Bond movie.
Some afternoons, my friends and I would play games. Games like hide-and-seek, touch the
post (an expanded version of hide-and-seek). We used discarded wooden boxes, cans, etc, to
make out own go cars. At other times, we'd play marbles, cock, bingo, checkers, etc. Some
evenings we'd go "torching". We'd fill empty bottles with kerosene, place an old piece of rag
into the bottle and light it. It would startle the land crabs thus making it easier for us to catch
them. It's a miracle we didn't blow ourselves up!! We also caught grabs during the day using
other techniques. We mostly went hunting crabs in what we called James' pasture. When it
rained heavily, we played in the gut that ran almost parallel to St. Patrick's School, on the north
side, and which emptied into the Caribbean Sea. The gut usually filled up during the
Cack was played using the seed from the locust fruit (see Fruits 2 for photo). We'd bore a hole in
the center of the seed, pass a piece of twine through the hole, and make a knot on one end.
Then, we'd take turns trying to break the opponent's cack. Some players soon discovered that
soaking the seed in kerosene made it softer and thus harder to break!
Touch the post consisted of two teams. One team would hide, and the other would look for
those hiding. Once found and touched, the person was no longer in the game. The team that
was doing the searching had to keep 2-3 members guarding a light pole, which was sort of a
goal post or home. If the pole was touched by an opponent, they would then be able to go hide
again. If the team guarding the pole was able to touch all the members of the opposing team,
then that team would be able to hide. What happened often was that someone would sneak
home never to be found and thus the game would come to a complete halt.
The weirdest game we played was called Stone War. It was a war with stones! We'd have two
teams, each would collect stones (rocks), and pile them up at opposing end of a street.
Once there, we'd begin throwing rocks at each other. What was the object? God only knows!
When did the game end? When there were no more rocks or when someone got hit and began
to bleed! An injury would be called "chap". Did we really consider this fun?
I moved to New York City in 1969 and have been here since. I attended St. Francis College from
1969 to 1973. In 1973, I began working with the Social Security Administration (SSA), which at
the time was part of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). I began at SSA as
a grade 5 and in 1993 when I left, I was a grade 13. Today, I work part time at
a non-profit agency in Manhattan.
|Frederiksted, St. Croix
My photos are watermarked with my name and © Cru-Riqueño Photos. Who or what is Cru-Riqueño?
Anyone born on St. Croix is called Crucian. My parents are from Puerto Rico (Vieques).
A Puerto Rican is known as a Puertoriqueño. Since I wanted to give credit to both my parents and
place of birth, I used the Cru- from Crucian and the –riqueño from Puertoriqueño. I suppose I could
have used Cru-Rican but I prefer the Spanish version of Rican.
|Written by Jorge L. Rodríguez © Cru-Riqueño Productions, 2006
|Written by Jorge L. Rodríguez © Cru-Riqueño Productions, 2006
Below are photos of what the back (yard) of the house on Queen Cross Street looks like. When
we lived in the house there was a shower, latrine and cistern in the yard. The house was shared
by us and a neighbor.
|Though not a clear photo, the cistern
should be located under these bushes.
The holes in the cistern can be seen.
Fisher Street, which is above the house, is on a hill and Queen Cross is at the foot of the hill. Due to this, there
were walls on 3 sides of the yard to prevent a possible landslide. The walls are not visible in these photos.
The part of the house under the plastic that appears to be held together with rocks is not part of the original
house. Other homes were located at either side of the house. In the next photo below you can see the ruins of
the two story house that was on the east side of our home.
|Ruins of house next door and houses across the street. McIntosh family lives
in the 2 story house. Originally McIntosh's house was only one story.
|"Reflections", by The Supremes
If music is distracting, please turn it off.
|Roof of where we lived.
|Ruins of the 2 story house to
east of us.