Thursday, July 5, 2012

Interview: Dr. Olaf "Bronco" Hendricks

House that Dr. Olaf "Bronco" Hendricks grew up in on Queen Cross Street, Christiansted.

Dr. Olaf "Bronco" Hendricks reminiscing in front of his childhood home in "Free Gut"
This is an exciting part of the documentary process for me: the interviews. I love talking to people and hearing their stories.  Recently I interviewed the well known psychiatrist, musician and talk-show host, Dr. Olaf "Bronco" Hendricks.  I've known Dr. Hendricks for many years, he was friends with my father. I also grew up with his son Kai. However, the interview we did a couple of weeks ago gave me new insight not only into his person, but into a fascinating community that he describes in the 1940's and 50's while growing up in Christiansted town.  During that time, "Free Gut" was known as "Upstreet" because these streets are literally located uphill or "upstreet" from the main sections of town.  During our interview he describes a nurturing, close-knit community and a childhood filled with romps in the street, swims in the reservoir, storytelling and stilt-walkers.  A community so close and so special that later in life many of them realized that although many of the families have moved from the old neighborhood, their bonds have remained.  They formed the group today known as the "Hillsiders" who meet annually. 
La Vaughn Belle interviewing Dr. Olaf "Bronco" Hendricks

One thing that struck me in the interview was when Bronco revealed that growing up they had no knowledge of the history of  "Free Gut". "Slavery was not something we discussed", he said.  Instead he learned about "Free Gut" on his own while he was in college.  We had a very interesting discussion about the possible causes of this collective amnesia as well as what could be done to reclaim this community. I look forward to being able to share all that and more when the documentary comes out!

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La Vaughn Belle & Dr. Olaf "Bronco" Hendricks at Belle's property on East Street. Looking at the original kallaloo bush.


  1. Nice LaVa


  2. LaVaughn, your work is incredibly important. I appreciate and continue to be inspired by your historical interest, creativity and passion! Please don't stop. And let me know what I can do to support you.