Whenever he had drunk too much Madeira wine - and this was almost every night at this time of his life - he would rise from his chair, throw the empty bottle through a window and the glass after it, knock his booted toes he wore only boots against the walled partition of the room in order to ease the pain in his toe corns, wobble into his bedroom he was a short, fat man with a vast paunch, his large round head as bald as a husked coconut shining white under the naked electric bulb hanging from the ceiling take off his clothes in inelegant swaying motions, don his long nightgown reaching to his feet, bathe his head, face, and neck in bay rum, presumably as a deodorant of the wine, go to the side of the bed, kneel, and in a loud voice reverberating through the house, pray to his god in this fashion: I did not know what the word meant but in my folly and so as not to appear ignorant, I said I would be there.
We stayed with my father's first cousin on his father's side, John Franco, and his large family of girls, two or three of my age. There were several matters nagging at my mind.
My maternal grandmother then explained that she had reverted to Roman Catholicism soon after their arrival in Grenada, and that she had baptized all her children in the Church and that they were now practising Catholics. Look at the devil there against the wall. Francisco, my grandfather, was now a grown man and in had married the daughter of a family called d'Andrade, also of the convert migration.
Other correspondents with a strong literary interest included Benjamin Appel, William Saroyan and Malcolm Lowry, and especially Dorothy McCleary, to whom Mendes dedicated Black Fauns, and for whom he wrote a long short story: A slightly later memory is of my being awakened in my crib by the sound of an angry voice and the soft weeping of my mother.
In New York and London such recognition as had come my way was limited only to a few fellow-writers; and the fact that the University of the West Indies had conferred on me an honorary degree of Doctor of Letters as being one of the two or three pioneers of West Indian writing really carried no influence with it outside the Caribbean.
I have edited this draft into a concluding chapter that returns the reader to "Coolgardie", Mendes's home in Barbados and the departure point for his journey back through time. And then my father met my mother at the Jardines' home one evening and the whirlwind impetuosity of his infatuation-at-sight swept all obstacles aside.
As the phrenologists would say, his head was dolichocephalic.
XXlll Introduction On a note of interest, one of Mendes's fellow Beacon writers, John Basford, who wrote as "John Vickers", made a film, Dead Man's Gold Tucker Picture Production, Ltdin which Mendes played the chief part of an escaped convict from French Guiana, who stumbles upon a chest of doubloons and pearls buried two hundred years earlier by "a Spanish desperado".
The few who ascended to the top and there was room for no more except by death, and even then the place of him who died was taken by the eldest son - these few so fortified themselves that they were invulnerable.
In retirement he continued to write to family and friends, maintained a lively interest in the literature of the region, and indulged his lifelong love of music by listening to records of operas. One can only be grateful that he was able to recreate in it so much of himself for his family and friends, and for future students of his writing and times.
The whole family was there, including a niece with her husband, both of whom were strangers to me. The medium was stretched out on the floor writhing in an agony of pain. My father must have been quite upset at this startling piece of news. Did they bring their Presbyterianism with them to the new world.
After briefly returning to Trinidad inand very much against his father's wishes, young Mendes joined the Merchants' Contingents of Trinidad along with other like-minded young men, and sailed back to Britain. The Beacon, edited by Albert Gomes, with Mendes and Algernon Wharton as contributing editors, was launched in Marchensuring that from until Novemberwhen the Beacon folded, there were organs available for the publication of local writing.
Did his sister have anything to do with the invitation. Exhaustion from domestic chores; incessant worry over their financial status; the indignity of going on welfare; the blow to his pride at having to write to his wealthy father for assistance; perceived rejection by the country in which he had hoped to settle; the strait] acketing of his creative expression by the libel case; the hostile climate in which writers struggled to market their works: A chastened man, my grandfather was subsequently sent back by his wife to shoulder his responsibilities in the store, and my grandmother, suffused with a sense of having rescued the family from a perilous situation, returned to her home.
They were still sufficiently close in for him to have dedicated his long poem, "The Poet's Quest", to her, but by the marriage had disintegrated. Mendes is best known for two novels, Pitch Lake and Black Faunsand for short stories that he wrote in the s and s, several of which were published in the Trinidadian journal, the Beacon, edited by Albert Gomes from March until November From the talk around, in the subdued tones of people in a church, I gathered that the married niece was to be the medium.
When all were seated, myself and Maria included, the lamps were blown out one by one until darkness enveloped the room. Ellen Mendes as a young woman 7. Mendes owned an extensive collection of books and gramophone records, classical and jazz, from which his friends were free to borrow at any time.
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