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GRENADA -- THE DAYS OF THE WOODEN BUSES

Grenadians are very creative people and their creativity, imagination and artistic abilities were reflected in the names given to wooden buses that were popular on the streets during the 1950’s, 1960’s and early 70’s. The names displayed on the back of the buses had messages for all. They were thoughtful, inspiring and even caused many to chuckle or “buss” out laughing.

Owners of those buses were proud of their parishes and villages and that was highlighted by the buses named FLORIDA PRIDE, MOUNT GRANBY PRIDE, PROSPECT PRIDE, PROVIDENCE PRIDE, ST. ANDREWS PRIDE, MOUNT CRAVEN PRIDE, MOUNT CARMEL PRIDE and VICTORIA PRIDE. Even the pride of the Guyanese people was emphasized on the back of a bus called B.G. PRIDE. Guyana was then called British Guyana. Pride extended to London, represented by a bus called LONDON PRIDE. One went straight to Central London for its name was WESTMINSTER.

One man was so proud of his accomplishments and became so contented, he called his bus CONTENT. A bus owner extolled the attributes of reliability by calling his bus RELIANCE. Yet another believed so much in the need for ease, he called his bus COMFORT. I must also include TAKE IT EASY.

There were buses with names that were meant to instill commonsense, morality and wisdom. I recall a bus called MODESTY. One pleaded with people to STUDY YOUR HEAD. There was a bus called POSITIVE and one encouraged us to “NEVER DESPAIR.”

A bus stressed how important it was to “PLAY IT COOL” and another underscored the worth of “DIGNITY.” Buses reminded us about the need for LOYALTY, HARMONY and PEACE AND LOVE.  EASY GOING, urged people to relax and take things in stride. One bus advised us to LIVE AND LET LIVE. And in times when patience was necessary, another beseeched us to HOLD STRAIN.

There was a bus that showed us how to view life’s regular and routine events for those happenings only amounted to everyday ASUSUAL occurrences as expressed in a popular song of the day. The mention of that song brings me to the bus named HEY LEROY, a song by Jimmy Castor.

Buses spoke of love as in the name TENDER LOVE. One tapped into the scientific field and came up with the name GRAVITY; and another told us of a LUNAR PARK.  

Another bus owner, so impressed with a particular bird, called his bus HUMMINGBIRD. THUNDER BIRD also raced along the streets of Grenada. An individual looked at animals and called the bus MONKEY TOE. Flowers were and are appreciated in Grenada so it was quite understandable that a bus was called SWEET ROSES. A bus stressed how wonderful conditions can become. It was called SPLENDID.

During the period when pound, shilling and pence were used in Grenada, a man called his small wooden bus FOUR PENCE. You jumped on his bus and he charged four pence. There was a happy bus called GAYETY. OOH LA LA constantly expressed the element of surprise.

The fact that there is reward and benefit in hard work was accentuated as evidenced on the back of a bus called LABOR REWARD. Lord, I remember the many times I traveled from St. George’s to Schaper School with that bus and the race to reach the school when we were late was exciting but fearful. Thank God I am alive today! We were lucky we did not end up in a serious accident as did the bus, JOE JOE. Seven people were killed.

A bus owner looked at the brilliant glow of the sun and noted its importance for the sustenance of life. The bus was called SUNLIGHT. A bus made us fight to pronounce its name. That bus was CHI CHO CHA.

There were buses with the names of people: THERESA B, LEADER G, VICKI, BELLA MARY and MARGARITA DE LUXE. There was a driver of a bus who gave free rides if he was called Boss. The vehicle called THE PEOPLE’S CHOICE left no doubt in the minds of people concerning the best bus.

ROYALTY was represented by a bus of that name. There was also a PRINCESS ROYAL and a LADY DIAMOND. A bus told us what Kings and Queens do, for it was called TRIUMPH AND REIGN.

Some of the buses had the names of countries written on them. Grenadians, including Prime Minister Gairy, had traveled to and lived in Aruba for a period of time. It was to be expected therefore, that there was an ARUBA SPECIAL for those who wanted to go back there. Similarly, LAGO PRIDE represented a rich oilfield in Aruba. A number of Grenadians who had returned from Aruba got into the bus business.

Other buses pointed to SANTA LUCIA (Saint Lucia), SAN NICHOLAS and SANTA ROSA (DE LUXE).

There was a bus that made us think of the far east for it was called ORIENT. VENUS the planet was featured. One reminded us that we had an ANGEL GUARDIAN, another prayed for our DELIVERANCE and a certain bus owner forgot that we spoke English in Grenada and his bus was called ADIOS. One bus emphasized the sweetness and gratification of VICTORY.

It was not necessary for individuals to be loaded in dough to afford the rides for there was a PENNY BUS. While riding the PENNY BUS one wondered if it was safer to take the bus called ANGEL GUARDIAN. We had the luxury of attending the fairs on a bus called MAYFAIR.

There was a bus that reminded us about the western movies we saw in Empire, Regal and Deluxe. It was called APACHE. Bus owners preferred particular routes so buses were named WESTERN SERVICE, ST. PATRICK'S TRANSPORT, WESTERN HOPE and CLOZIER TRANSPORT. That left no doubt where those buses were headed. There was a bus that was able to compete with any bus on the road so it was appropriately called PARAGON.

I must not omit two buses which drew attention to expressions that were popular in Grenada. One was called WELL YES WE and the other found happiness in good fortune for it was called WE HAVE AGAIN.

The time came when many of the large well-ventilated wooden buses were chased off the streets of Grenada during the 1970’s and a number of small sardine cans from Japan appeared. People crammed up in them but there was always room for ONE MORE, a very fitting name.

Let me at this juncture, (a word my teacher Algernon Antoine loved) say a warm thank you to all those who built the wooden buses, transported us and those who transformed them to trucks when they were needed to “drogue” cocoa, nutmeg and bananas. They took off the hood and the bus became a truck. On occasions, we had to wait long after the school’s dismissal bell had sounded for the truck to turn back into a bus to carry us home.

I must also express thanks to those like Mr. Sandiford who painted the signs on the buses. He had no hands but the work ethic of the Grenadian people was strong in him so he made use of his God-given talent to paint the signs on the buses.

@ANTHONY “WENDELL” DERIGGS.
February 2011


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