Joel Caverly, a blue-eyed Caucasian, from Massachusetts met his wife-to-be, Edna, an Afro- American from Georgia at the Baha’i Training Centre in the USA, came to Trinidad with her during the heights of the Black Power movement, and they became the first Baha’i couple to be married in this country on August 4, 1970. The Baha’i faith has grown from strength to strength, since it was introduced here in 1927 by Miss Leonora Armstrong.
Mizra Husayn Ali 1817-92 who spent most of his life in prison, founded the Baha’i religion in 1863. Their sacred texts are The Most Holy Book, The Seven Valleys, The Hidden Words and The Bayan. They believe in the oneness of God, the unity of all faiths, the inevitable unification of humankind, universal education and obedience to government.
In our year of Independence 1962, Caverly came to Trinidad for the first time as a member of the music band from the Washington DC School of Naval Music Training. He spent several months here, fell in love with the country and vowed that he would return someday. He and his wife have enriched the lives of hundreds of Trinis.
I met Joel in November 1970 when he was posted to St James as the music teacher. He was successful in explaining to me the rules of baseball but I failed miserably in trying to explain to him the rules of cricket. No matter how hard I tried, he would always end up asking, “How can two teams play a game for five days and still there is no winner?” But as time went by, he became an avid cricket fan, especially of the shortest version of the game — Twenty/w20 — which he finds most exciting.
While speaking to my group, he told us that one day his wife was very displeased when someone called her a “Yankee”. He explained, “Only persons in the Northern States were called Yankees, in a derogatory way, but my wife was from the South. It would have been okay if the person had referred to her as a “Gray Belly.” You see, during the American Civil War, the Southern soldiers with their gray uniforms were called ‘Gray Bellies.’”
When I was asked by Dale Kolasingh to televise more episodes of “Calabash Alley”, I wrote my own theme song — “Come to Calabash Alley.” I gave Joel a rough idea of the tune I would like and he wrote the music. The calypso introduces episodes 11 to 23 on television with Reubena Guy as the lead singer. At the beginning of the stave version, the cast would sing the theme song and very often, the audience would make it spontaneous singalong.
I also called on him to teach the ten actors in my play Shakespeare’s Dream, to sing the Elizabethan folk song, “Greensleeves” which begins, “Alas my love, you do me wrong.” The play was well received wherever it was staged in Trinidad and also in Miami-Dade and the African American Museum in Broward County, Florida.
Past pupils of St James Secondary such as soca artistes Destra Garcia and Maximus Dan, gospel singer Nigel Soyer, and calypsonian Black Sage just to name a few have all benefitted in one way or the other from this master music teacher and goodly gentleman during his 27 years at the school.Thank you Joel Caverly and continue always to walk with God.
When the pan tuner told the pannist he had come to tune his tenor-pan, the pan player said he did not send for him. The tuner replied, “But your neighbours paid me to come and do the job!”