“The first stage in my young life was about to end. The stage was set for the first leg of the triangular route to commence…”
In his memoirs accountant turned writer E.A .Samuels, charts his unlikely rise from Caribbean street urchin to senior financial executive of two Fortune 500 companies. The rags to riches theme is, of course, the common fare to be found in the autobiography section in any bookstore.
Born at Victoria Jubilee Hospital in 1948 Errol A. Samuels parents originated from St Elizabeth. He remembers living in a tenement yard at bustling Oxford Street in west Kingston in his early years, after which his family moved to live with his maternal grandmother in another tenement settlement in central Kingston.
“Every female tenement yard resident knew how to curse and swear, verbal insults, name-calling and the liberal use of cuss-words were the weapons of choice,” recalls Samuels, who also vividly recollects visiting Dudu, an elderly female relative who had a coffin under her bed. He also remembers the aftermath of hurricane Charlie in 1951, although he slept through the actual storm.
Age five, Errol attended infant school and his father taking him to school on the crossbar of his bicycle. It was at that time he began to appreciate American music played by Radio Jamaica Rediffusion, the only station on the island at the time.
“I have clear memories of those songs being played at sunset as I stood by the gate, looking out for my father to come home,” he writes. “When I saw him turn the corner I would be filled with joy.”
He also liked ‘country’ life and looked forward to visiting Mama Lue, his paternal grandmother who lived in Elderslie, St Elizabeth. He still remembers his first trip on the train to St Elizabeth and in particular the toilets. “There was no collection tank on the train toilets, so all the waste matter fell on to the tracks, eventually dried up by the hot tropical sun.”
Errol’s father moved the family to Sackville Road, in Vineyard Town, which had a higher social status than Allman Town, but when Samuel’s was around six his father went migrated to England and his mother went to work in the US. Errol and his grandmother then moved to Montague Street, in Rollington Town, a lower-middle-class community.
When his mother returned from New York it was with the news that she and Errol would be joining his father in England.
“The first stage in my young life was about to end. The stage was set for the first leg of the triangular route to commence, the segment joining the island of Jamaica to the mighty neighbour of the north, the United States of America,” writes E.A. Samuels.
Far from the implications of the title the book, The Triangle Route, has nothing to do with the ‘Triangular Slave Trade’. E.A. Samuels’ book is ‘the extraordinary life of an ordinary man’, who “travelled extensively between the Caribbean, the United Kingdom and the United States of America” during the first 27 years of his life.
To read the review of his book click here.