Mr Scantlebury enquired if my t-shirt had “Smart” among the heroes. I replied, “Hold on a minute. I’ll go for it.” Checking through the names on the back arranged in alphabetical order, I read, “Harold Saldenha, Col Joffre Serrette, Shay Seymour, Peter Simon, Dudley Smith, Supt Jessica Smith and John ‘Bull’ Sutherland. That’s all. No Smart mentioned.” It was then he told me that there are ten members of the Smart family originally from Belmont, who are lawyers and he believes that is some sort of record.
The only Smart I knew was Anthony Smart whom I used to see walking around the Savannah early in the morning when my wife and I used to do the same, years ago after we had retired from the teaching profession. As a member of the NAR government, Mr Smart was trapped in Parliament during the attempted coup in 1990, but was smart enough to disguise himself and make a dramatic escape.
The next question Mr Scantlebury asked was, “What about the J’s?” I rattled through for him, “Anthony Charles Jacelon, ‘Chinee Patrick’ Jones, Tommy Joseph, Ken Julien. That’s about it.” He came in right away. “They left our Cyril Joseph. He was a wrestler – famous for the coconut butt. He was known as Ray Golden Apollon and campaigned in England and Europe. His father was a medical doctor who sent him abroad to study medicine but he switched to wrestling.”
I had the pleasure of meeting Apollon a few times at Clifford Sealy’s Bookstore on Queen’s Park West. He was really a massive guy, about three times my size. I asked him if he named himself after Apollo, the Grecian god of truth and beauty who guided men to know the divine will. Apollon added, “Yes, and he could shoot straight from a silver bow.”
I wanted to know who was this person mentioned simply as ‘Mancrebo.’ Scantlebury explained, “Mancrebo was a ‘character’ in the community roaming the streets shouting and screaming like a mad man. I was terribly scared of him when I was a child.”
There were the names of several groups from the area printed on the t-shirt such as Bel Ex, Dynamos, Burrokeets, Dem Boys, Rising Sun, Belmont Rangers, Luton Town, Casablanca, De Fortunates, Satisfiers, Colts, Shamrock, City Kids, Dixieland and Sunland. The knowledgeable Scantlebury explained that Rising Sun could be considered the mother of other steelbands because from Rising Sun came Sunland, City Kids and Modernaires. From Sun Land, we had Angel Harps and many more.
Mr Scantlebury seems to be a walking encyclopaedia on the persons and places in Belmont. He said that Norman “Tex” Williams was an ace trumpter and could be considered the Trinidad Louis Armstrong. Lester Newman was an outstanding jockey in the early days when horse racing was held in the Savannah. Kid Norfolk was a world class light heavyweight boxer who fought more than one hundred bouts in the States and put Trinidad on the boxing map. The Kid was a member of the Ward clan from Norfolk Street.
Towards the end of our conversation, I found out that Mr Scantlebury is the Chairman of ‘The Free Town Foundation’ and his ministry is to instill a sense of self-worth in the youths of Belmont. Actually, he himself should be on the heroes’ scroll. So stay strong, brother Scantlebury and don’t let anything deter you from your inspired mission.
In Shakespear’s “The Merchant of Venice” we read that Portia lived in ‘Belmont’ in Italy and many scenes are in her home. In Act 5, Sc 1, Lorenzo says, “In such a night / Did Jessica steal from the wealthy Jew, / And with an unthrift love did run from Venice / As far as Belmont.”