Emma Weston

92 years - Freeport

Emma was the last of 10 children born to their mother, a housewife. Her father owned the cocoa estate where they lived. He, however, was an architect who built prominent public buildings. He himself built the many rooms and add-ons on the estate where they lived.

School was three and half miles away and they got there on the "soles of their feet." Before entering the classroom they would wash their feet and then put on their shoes. There was, however, the 'alpa gat,' a leather sole fastened with twine, that was sometimes worn.

Life on the Estate was hard work, "you doing it but you enjoying it," as Emma loved to help out wherever she could. At six-teen years old, she would ride their "Venezuelan" horse to meet her father at the railroad. He would then mount the horse and she would run the way back home (barefoot). There was always much cleaning and washing to be done as well.

Helping your neighbours was also a part of life. Any bread that was left over from baking was quickly sent to neighbours’ homes along with figs and milk, "nothing to sell, who want fig get extra." And in a subsistence lifestyle, much of your needs were accounted for, water from rain barrels, fowls in the yard and mountain rice for meals; any extras went to your neighbours without a second thought. "Long time people had something to live for, people used to live like people." At an early age Emma loved to help out on the estate. "When there was a man short, I would come to pick up the cocoa and put them in samboa [a large bag for collecting cocoa]."

"We buss dem open and put the insides in a big room to sweat under fig leaves…get men to throw them in the cocoa house." In the cocoa house, the roof would be drawn back, they would "sprinkle water and dance the cocoa [often to music while the cocoa seeds would be rubbed under bare feet of the dancers to strip them of the remaining pulp]."

When we bake bread we had to heat the brick oven, take out the wood when it was right [right temperature, known through intuition not thermometers]…We would use black sage bush to sweep out the oven and then toss in some flour to tell if it was ready for the dough [if the flour burst into flames the oven was too hot]. The fresh bread would be stored in a "roll top safe" - an oval metal type of pantry where the top was aerated for storing bread and the base for storing other goods.

This experience in baking was manifested later in life after she was married as she went on to cater for parties, weddings, and special events baking large cakes in brick ovens. Her husband was a police officer whose job it was to make his rounds to all the police stations between Maraval and Santa Cruz, including Maracas, which at the time had no street lights and no paved roads. Driving the motorcar through cocoa fields in pitch blackness and heavy mist, her husband was always cautious but stuck to his schedule. ‘Ms Emma’ carried her first-born in her arms while he did so. At each post, Mr Weston would make an entry into a log book and move on to the next station. Such a meticulous officer of the law must dress the part and to do so required much effort. "I would have to boil my starch to iron my husband's [police] uniforms. It was five coal pot heaters [on which the coal irons would sit]…take me three hours. When you finish so the shirt standing like a man."

Emma's domestic duties kept her very busy without the help of modern appliances. Even today with many modern aides, she finds it difficult to sit still. Her neighbours are always close at hand, dropping in at their scheduled times to entertain her, never forgetting the kindness and devotion to friendship she has shown them for as long as they have known her.