blog | werkgroep caraïbische letteren

Ole Tales, Sweet Memories

door Maria Christina Plantz
Toen ik, inmiddels bijna 10 jaar geleden, Jos de Roo ontmoette, had ik geen idee wat me te wachten stond. Ik wist niet dat mijn vader, die in 1987 overleed, had meegewerkt aan programmering van Radio Nederland Wereldomroep (RNW). Die was erop gericht om – in aanloop naar de discussies over autonomie voor de Nederlandse koloniën – aandacht te besteden aan cultuuruitingen van de koloniën.

Jos de Roo deed promotieonderzoek naar de invloed van deze programmering op de ontwikkeling van de literatuur van de eilanden en Suriname. Studenten van de eilanden en Suriname waren toentertijd benaderd om hieraan mee te werken. Zo ook mijn vader voor de Engels sprekende eilanden Sint Maarten, Saba en Sint Eustatius. Deze programmering  heeft gelopen van 1948 tot en met 1962. In zijn speurtocht in de archieven van RNW kwam Jos de Roo 18 Engelse verhalen tegen, geschreven door mijn vader Charles Irving Plantz en door hem voorgelezen voor uitzending.

Charles Irving Plantz, (1949) / collectie familie Plantz

De verhalen zijn kleine korte sprookjes in de orale verhaaltraditie van Sint Maarten, fonetisch opgeschreven om mijn vader te ondersteunen bij de uitspraak van het Sin Matin English. Hij sprak en schreef goed Engels, maar deze verhalen waren niet geschreven om door anderen gelezen te worden. Dit bleek een schat aan cultureel erfgoed van Sint Maarten te zijn waar niemand het bestaan van wist. Ik wist meteen dat dit terug moest worden geven aan Sint Maarten. Vandaar het boek Ole Tales, Sweet Memories, waarin ik bijdraag met een biografische schets van de man die de verhalen optekende: mijn vader Charles Irving Plantz.

Maria Christina Plantz and Charles Irving Plantz, Ole Tales, Sweet Memories, Soest: Boekscout, 2010. Hieruit een van de ole tales uit Sint-Maarten.


Damfool and sensible

A gon tell you a story mah Granmother tole me when a was a lil boy. In years gone by there lived a ole lady who had two children and because one was doting and the other one wasn’t everybody called the dotin one Damfool and the other Sensible. Nobody knew they real names and nobody cared to know them.
Sensible use to work on a plantation all day to keep up his mother and brother, and Damfool used to weed the lil garden while his mother watched, fraid he would pull out the potatoes and carrots instead of the weeds.

Tin ware / collectie NAAM

If the mother was cooking on her coalpots outside he’ed be standing around and if she was cleaning the house he follow her from room to room till she get vex and tell him to go outside to lay on he back and look at the sky. Hours later he would call out to her “Mammy, wa a mus look at now, a tired a lookin at the sky”.
But one day Mammy get sick from ole age and when they call the doctor he tell them that they must take good care of her and give her a spoon full of the medicine he give them and that every night she must have a hot bad as hot as she could stand.
During the first days Sensible stay home from his work to tend to his mother, but when she staid sick he had to go to the plantation and let his brother take care of Mammy. So every day Damfool woud give his mother her medicine and feed her with the porridge his brother had cook. And when Sensible would come home from his work, Damfool would have hot water ready for him to bade his mother, they use to bade her behind the house in a big copper in which Damfool had to throw the boilin water and add as much cold that his mother could stand.

calabash / water gourd / collectie NAAM

But one day Sensible cut heself with his machete when he was cutting cane and they bring him home and put him to bed. So that day Damfool had to take care of his brother and mother. When the time come to bade his mother, he put her outside in the copper and throw seven buckets of well water in it like he use to, but he forgot to throw in boiling water. When Sensible hear her scream he called out to his brother “The water ain hot enough”.
So Damfool, instead a throwing in hot water, he put a fire under the copper, piling up the firewood faster than it could burn and he keep on thinking: “The doctor say it must be hot. The hotter the better and the sooner Mammy get well.
So the water got hotter and hotter and when Mammy started to grin from the pain he called out to his brother: “Mammy feeling better, already she is laughing at me and the water aint even hot.”
And when Mammy let out a scream and try to jump out he cried to Sensible: “Man, she jumpin an laughin already.” 
In the end Mammy was cooked to death with Damfool calling out to his brother that now they mother was better and that she was sleeping with her mouth open.
That is the story how Damfool killed his mother but what happened to him and Sensible a don know.

Charles Irving Plantz, ‘Damfool and sensible’, uitgezonden 19 februari 1949, Radio Nederland Wereldomroep; ontleend aan: Ole Tales, Sweet Memories, Soest: Boekscout, 2010.

Maria Plantz / foto Aart G. Broek

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