|Gerard Emanuel on Market and East St. Christiansted, reminiscing about his boyhood in town.|
Gerard is a retired history teacher and a social sciences professor who has long ties to St. Croix, but especially Christiansted. Like many of the people I interviewed he talks about walking the town and in his case carrying messages for his mother. Reminding us once again of a time without cell phones, without landlines, a time where face-to-face interactions were the basis of communication. A time where like today, when you passed someone on the street you greeted them, "Good morning" or "Good Afternoon", and stopped briefly to exchange pleasantries and inquire about the well-being of mothers, grandmothers or children.
|Gerard's family member's house on East St.|
Gerard also relayed some fascinating interpretations of how he felt culture operated as a form of social control. He commented on how jumbie stories worked as ways to keep children off of the streets, how discipline was often accompanied with proverbs that were not explained, but that you had to figure out the meaning to and how even the architecture of the buildings, like the jalousie windows, allowed one to observe the street and its "goingon" without the person on the street knowing they were being watched.
|Jalousie window on home on East St, Christiansted|
We also talked about the tension between celebrating and preserving a historic town, but still allowing for each generation to make its mark. He questioned the validity in wanting our town to only look the way it did in the 1800's especially considering that it represents a time where so many of the people were living under duress. He yearns for this generation to be also given the opportunity to use their imagination in fashioning our town. I hope that this work can open or inspire a path to making this happen, even if what this generation imagines is preservation.